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Master Grade Zaku-I MS-05B Ramba Ral's Custom

By Joe 'Gundamhead' Belding - images & text © 2003

Scale: 1/100
Parts: Over 200 injection molded plastic, ABS, & Polycaps
Instructions: 15 page assembly guide and painting/marking guide, diagrams and photos with Japanese text
Decals: One sheet each stickers and dry transfers
Molding Quality: 10
Detail: 10
Accuracy: 10
MSRP: • 2500 JPY (~$21.30 USD/$28.42 CAN/ Ä17.94 EUR) available from HobbyLink Japan
Overall Rating: 9 - see review

[What you get]

[Click to enlarge]

^ The kit builds up easily

[Click to enlarge]

^ Accessories include Ramba Ral figure, Heat Hawk axe, bazooka, Zaku machine gun and Zaku rifle

Image: Sub-assemblies

Image: Another look at the whole package

Bandaiís Master Grade (MG) series kits are without question some of the finest models available. They are equal to, and in many ways superior to anything Hasagawa or Tamiya offer. Even if you are not a fan of the Gundam series, you should really try one of Bandaiís MG kits to see for yourself the amazing level of engineering and quality that goes into one of these models. They are snap together and sometimes use a small screw or two, but I always recommend gluing them, especially if you plan to pose them often.

This kit represents the Zeon General Ramba Ralís personal Mobile Suit (MS). It is an early Zaku lacking the familiar hoses on its legs, hips and head. It also lacks the left shoulder shield and instead has 2 ball shields on its arms. It comes armed with a 2 Machine guns (MS-05 machine gun and 120mm Zaku II machine gun), 280mm Zaku bazooka, and custom heat axe. A 1/20 figure of Ramba Ral is also included.

Bandai's MG kits are state of the art. Not only are the parts molded clean and crisp, they are molded in color or clear on the same trees! When assembling they generally require minimum sanding and minor clean up of molding lines. There is a set of P-caps (Polycaps) for the moving parts, and a tree of ABS for certain area that require a little strength with flexibility. These kits really earn a 10 rating.

Iíve never seen pictures of Rambaís Zaku before this kit, but it is accurate to Zaku-I line art. (Though modified for Ramaba) Iíd give it a 10 for accuracy.

Instructions are a superb mini-book listing all the trees, clear assembly steps, history and technical information, plus black and white line art and high quality color pictures of it ďin actionĒ in various dioramas. ALL models should come with instructions like these. A flawless 10 for the instructions. The only drawback is the text is 97% Japanese, which I canít read.

Assembly and Finish

There is a false belief in certain circles that you need to build a few High Grade kits to gain experience before building a Master Grade kit, and a few Master Grade kits before building a Perfect Grade kit.

ALL of them, however, are snap together that only require you to pay attention to the excellent instruction book. If you can follow step by step directions and if you can line parts 1 and 2 with a P-cap between them you can build any of Bandaiís HG, MG, or PG models.

Now just because these are snap kits, donít expect them to be a simple. I average around 5 hours of assembly time on a MG kit, but that includes sanding a few seam lines that would be difficult to clean up after fully assembling the kit. Knees and elbow joints come to mind. That time is not padded like some of the times you may see in Fine Scale Modeler, that is sit-down-and-build only time.

Bandai does not include water slide decals in HG, MG, or PG kits. This kit comes with two small sheets. The first are actually dry transfers that require you to rub them down onto the model. They look painted on when done correctly, but can be difficult. The difficulty increases with curves or detail on the model. The other sheet is a set of high quality stickers that you peel and place. They lack the painted on look, but can be improved using a clear coat after the are applied. Iíd rate the transfers a 8 and the stickers a 6.

As for poseablity, there are a few MG kits that are more like gymnasts and a few that are like fully suited football players. The Zaku-1 falls somewhere in the middle. You can achieve a cool action pose, but forget about handstands and fully kneeling. Iíd give it a 7.5.


I love the Zaku-I. Iím not going to use mine as Rambaís though. I plan on modifying it to a normal Zeon grunt. Thatís why mine isnít quite finished yet. It is shown totally assembled and sanded, but no paint. Admit it, youíre impressed with the molded colors. The build was great, the fit was great, the subject cool. There are also several extra/option parts left over when you finish this kit. Iím giving it a 9. I highly recommend this kit for any Gundam fan looking for some Zeon MS, and deeply recommend anybody to give one of Bandaiís MG or PG kits a build. You wonít be disappointed.

Many thanks to Joe's wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2003 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 8 July 2003.