Amidst all the announcements and reveals during last week’s double billing of the All-Japan Model & Hobby Show and Bandai Spirits’ Hobby Next Phase 2022 Autumn is a reveal of a kit that I found to be much more interesting than most of the items from the two aforementioned events, the HGUC Gundam GP00 (Engage Zero).
Say what you will about its Gundam U.C. Engage and its canon status in the grander Universal Century timeline, but you have to admit that Engage Zero has a really great design. This mobile suit is an offshoot of the original Gundam Development Project as evident by similar design cues but takes off on a different aesthetic with more pronounced use of curves as compared to the more angular lines of the GP series. It almost gives a feminine vibe which also fits given its designated pilot.
One unique characteristic of its design is the rear waist armor that, as seen in game footage, can open up and flare out (like an actual skirt) to reveal additional verniers for added mobility. It’s doesn’t show in the images ‘s not shown in the images I used here but the special Premium Bandai page they have does confirm this functionality.
If you think those rear armor verniers are enough, then the kit also includes another backpack unit housing even more verniers and thrusters. Each pod is articulated that allows a single axis of rotation. Unfortunately, and as you can see in the accessory image below, the backpack unit doesn’t use the same double peg connection that’s standard with most modern High Grades. It instead uses a single square-shaped peg that connects to the main mobile suit, which also means you have to remove its default backpack unit.
The other accessories this kit comes with include a shield that’s very reminiscent the GP01, beam rifle, two beam sabers, replacement manipulators, and a display stand which would be helpful when displaying the Engage Zero with the additional booster backpack.
There’s an ever-growing trend of kits with entirely new molds going on the Premium Bandai route. Granted most of them come from non-mainstream works, like Gundam U.C. Engage which is a Japan-only smartphone game. And while there are now more Premium Bandai shops in other countries, most of these have limited pre-order quantities, making these kits still challenging even to reserve. I’ll just have to try my luck.
HGUC 1/144 Gundam GP00 (Engage Zero)
January 2023 / ¥2,500