Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Mobile Suit Ensemble EX 05 : ZMT-S29 Zanneck

When Mobile Suit Ensemble was first announced I was very curious about them, given how similar they looked to the Gundam Converge figures. Actually they looked almost exactly like Converge figures except that now they would be made in hard plastic and feature a lot of articulation. I was mightily disappointed when I finally learnt that they were not size-compatible with Converge and their high prices kind of killed off my interest right off the bat... at least for a while.

My interest was piqued once the series started moving away from the designer comfort zone of Unicorns and RX-78s and moving into Advance of Zeta territory. And when the ludicrously large Hazel Custom and later Dandelion II EX-figures appeared I knew it would only be a question of time until I got sucked in. So, I made a couple of high profile purchases in late 2017 and from then on began slowly building up a Mobile Suit Ensemble collection. Go figure...

This completely useless suzu jingle bell was apparently included as a bonus for people who bought the Zanneck early. Yay...
The first review to appear here on the blog will be the latest MS Ensemble EX offering; the equally funky and silly Zanneck - a design very rarely seen in figure form. As Mobile Suit Ensemble has continued to grow the designers have dared taking steps into some really unusual mobile suit choices and I hope they will manage to keep the series running now that they have worked up some steam. The Zanneck figure is a P-Bandai item released on March 20 2018 where it sold for a whopping ¥3900.

The MS Ensemble Zanneck comes in a flat cardboard box stuffed to the brim with components. Most of the space in the box is taken up by its peculiar flying saucer-like base. The Japanese-style suzu jingle bell that I also got with this item was not included in the box but was given as some sort of bonus item. If you (like me) haven't seen the Victory Gundam anime it will be rather impossible to see a connection between this trinket and the mobile suit. However, as I have since learnt from the Gundam Wiki, apparently Earth Federation newtype pilots could detect the imminent approach of the Zanneck from a sort of bell-like sound. Fine... ok then.

The MS Ensemble figures follow in the recent tradition of other Shokugan and Gashapon figures in that some parts come loose in bags and others sit on small runners. We've seen this also in e.g. the Senshi Forte and Universal Unit figure series.

One important thing to point out here is that not all parts included with the figure should be used. MS Ensemble figures feature standardized joints and hands which come on rounded runners (optimized for being stuffed inside Gashapon balls) but the Zanneck has some additional pieces which replace these. Pay close attention to the instructions when assembling the figure.

So here we have the Zanneck on its flying saucer thingy and rocking its huge mega beam cannon. This weapon is a pain to get into the right position and effectively nullifies most of the figure's articulation in the torso in case you want to field it. On the shoulders sit its two Minovsky Particle Accelerators which generate the power necessary to fire the beam cannon. From what I understand, only the red pieces are the actual particle accelerators while the yellow circles (which are removable) are some sort of beam effect parts.

The Zanneck guarded by two Gedlav mobile suits, one of them sporting a land-based Einerad combat support craft (the Gedlav and the Einerad were both released in MS Ensemble vol. 5 in February 2018).
One thing I wish was included with the Zanneck would be a stand for its base, even the most rudimentary one. When you consider how the MS Ensemble figures feature many holes for action bases it is strange that a couple were not made in the bottom of the base to get some more interesting poses out of it. On these figures I have slid in an Assault Kingdom figure base underneath to raise the figure up from the ground a bit.

There aren't a whole lot of Zanneck figures out there and here is the only other one that I know of. It is a "normally" proportioned Zanneck sans base which was released in the Mecha Selection volume 7 Gashapon set sometime in 2004. The new figure looks more than a little inspired by it as well.

So, is the Zanneck worth the meaty price that Bandai is asking for it? It will most likely come down to how eager you are for something unusual in your collection. My guess would be that a lot of Gundam aficionados treat Victory Gundam with skepticism at best so I wonder if it will become that popular. The other MS Ensemble EX figures have done rather well on the secondary market with prices slowly increasing. Of course those are tried and tested staples like the Full Armor Unicorn and the Kshatriya so it might not be that good of an indication. Still, if you are attracted to this design it is probably a good idea to strike now that it is relatively easily available.


  1. The bell was worn by Zanneck pilot, Fuala. She used it to detect vibrations and then fire shots according to her instinct. In short, because of her unique newtype ability, she could fire from great range. In return, newtype pilots from the "good guy", could detect the presence of Zanneck and Angel's Halo (a weapon of mass destruction) by hearing the bells. Quite absurd, but yeah interesting back story there. No doubt that fans would really appreciate the bell.

    As a side note, Victory series is actually good, provided you could bear 30 episodes of boredom first.

    1. Thank you for the input, hopefully Bandai will decide to make the series available on their Gundaminfo channel at some point in the not too distant future. And as for slugging through a slow start I am suffering through the ZZ Gundam series myself and it is taking forever. After several weeks I am still only on episode seven. Absolutely dreadful stuff so far but hopefully it will pick up speed later on.

    2. ZZ started to get more serious after 20+ episodes, but it still maintained its comedic tone until the end. But at least, we've got nice bulky mecha designs for the bad guys. In Victory, we started with an animation so awful you would thought it was produced before Zeta series. Mecha design? The worse. Imagine an insect-like mecha which could transforms into helicopter (lol) in the supposedly most advanced timeline of UC. But it ends quite well, very well that I would want to place it above Zeta.