Thursday, 13 July 2017

Universal Unit : MSZ-006C1[Bst] Zeta Plus C1 Hummingbird

Today's feature is something of an oddity among mobile suit designs. With its legless configuration the Hummingbird reminds more of some Zeonic mobile armor than a Federal Forces piece of hardware. It seems to be more popular than its Zeonig counterparts though, I guess its more manageable size makes it a good choice for an EX figure. Being of Gundam Sentinel pedigree also seems to help even though if I understand correctly, it actually was never even built.

The Universal Unit Hummingbird however is a real and tangible thing. Not only that, Bandai loves it so much that they offer the figure in two different colourations - the standard blue Hummingbird and a spiffy red variant intended for Karaba Air Force, matching Amuro Ray's Zeta Plus A1.

The standard blue colour variant of the Hummingbird is a retail product and was released at the end of February 2017. Bandai's suggested retail price of ¥3800 seemed a bit steep though, and appears to have collapsed more or less right away. I picked up my Hummingbird(s) for ¥2500 which while still high feels a bit more reasonable.

With the Hummingbird kit though, you really are getting a lot of fun in one small box. The Hummingbird kit offers no less than three separate modes in which to build the figure and we will go through them one by one.

MSZ-006A1 Zeta Plus A1 / MSZ-006C1 Zeta Plus C1

Although not really advertised on the box, the Hummingbird kit allows you to build the Zeta Plus as a common mobile suit in either the A1 or C1 configuration. This is not exactly earth shattering information considering that the foundation of this kit is the exact same as used for the regular Zeta Plus figures that appeared in Universal Unit 2 last year (reviewed here).

A "custom" Zeta Plus C1 flanked by the proper A1 and C1 versions of the original Zeta Plus figures.
I didn't go through the paces of building a separate Zeta Plus A1 and C1 figure, but you have the detailed assembly instructions inside the box if you want to do so. Instead I decided to beef mine up now that there are so many awesome accessories in the box. So the figure you will see in these images is basically the C1 version borrowing some additional equipment.

I really like the basic mobile suit form of this figure a lot, mainly because it is not so static as the mobile armor forms of the kit. I can only really fault it for two things; there is still not an open right hand included with the kit and there is no action base support even though the figure actually comes with a stand.

A proper action base is sorely lacking for the Mobile Suit mode - par for the course in Universal Unit.
Just like all the common Universal Unit figures the Zeta Plus mobile suit form has impressive articulation on par with any regular Assault Kingdom figure. Without action base support though it has little means of actually making use of it. I will never understand why Bandai chose to handicap these kits so greatly. I have considered drilling holes in the soles of Universal Unit figures before and now that I have some spare feet available I might just give it a try.

MSZ-006C1[Bst] Zeta Plus C1 Hummingbird

This is the main mode of the Hummingbird kit and also the one that makes use of the most parts included in the box. It is basically the mobile suit form with a completely replaced set of limbs

The Hummingbird form is a really a formidable and menacing design. And with its attractive blue and white pattern it really has a unique look going for it as well. The articulation is of course hampered by the bulky booster units on the arms and there is not much action going on below the waist.

The Hummingbird sits tightly on its stand which has a special connector piece that can be tilted in a few different angles, but I think it makes little sense not to use the default level mode. This makes the Hummingbird figure feel a bit static since you cannot even do the simplest of attitude correction. The stand is completely static and the peg connection prevents even the slightest pitch or yaw movement, the figure will just sit firmly looking straight ahead. This could have been better. Hell, even the 1970's Matchbox model kits I used to build in my childhood featured simple stands where the connector was on a type of ball joint.

Still, a clear stand is better than no stand at all, or the eyesore which was included with the Gundam Converge version of the Hummingbird. Perhaps when Bandai reinvents the 1/220 figure line the next time (give them a year) we might see even better action bases for our figures.

MSZ-006C1[Bst] Zeta Plus C1 Hummingbird (Waverider Mode)

The last of the main features of this kit is the Hummingbird in its Waverider mode. Similar to the Zeta Gundam the Zeta Plus has a Waverider mode of its own. This type of transformation is so complex however, that the Universal Unit figure cannot even begin to perform it. Instead we get a completely new centerpiece for its body which the booster modules latch on to in a very specific way. In fact the Waverider modeis the simplest mode of the Hummingbird kit and will result in a rather respectable pile of leftover parts.

I really like the look of the Waverider mode, it is so sleek and beautiful, especially compared to the bulkiness of the mobile armor mode. The figure feels like a traditional airplane kit though, you are giving up the articulation here and going for another very basic design.

Again the connection to the action base is through use of a peg, although it is a different one this time. Sadly this is also of the rigid type which means you can forget any wild banking or rolling poses for the Hummingbird and that's a real shame. The whole arrangement feels very matter-of-factly as if it was an office use miniature intended for a bookshelf in some conference room.

Since the Waverider sits on the same stand as the mobile armor it ends up floating quite high above the ground. This gives it a nice freefloating look although it ends up a bit high up if you want to pose it next to standard Universal Unit figures.

We have of course seen the Hummingbird Waverider mode in Gundam Converge as well. I used to think that was a pretty nice looking thing but it cannot really compete for looks with the Universal Unit figure. In fact it might actually be fairly convincing to pose the UN Waverider with Converge figures. I will try that out some time.

Whichever mode you do end up choosing for your Hummingbird figure I would advice against repeated pulling apart of this figure as the joints will probably quickly loosen up.

The Hummingbird kit is a great source of spare parts for customizing other Universal Unit figures you may have lying around, especially the Zeta Plus figures. Considering the large number of leftover components I had hoped I might be able to build a basic Zeta Plus mobile suit from the spare parts from the two Hummingbird modes and it would indeed be possible, but a few signature pieces would be missing, specifically the flightpack and the hip guns. Still it might be something to consider if you ended up with a spare Zeta Plus from the Universal Unit volume 2 box.


Overall I think that the Universal Unit Hummingbird kit is a really nice product. I had originally just planned to grab one blue and one red, but after building my first one in Waverider mode I did not want to take it apart and was still curious to see what the other forms would look like (and not one of them disappoints). Now that the price has come down since its release I can easily recommend it to any Universal Unit fans out there. The figure still seems to be in reasonable supply (unlike the red variant) so grab it while it is still easily available.

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