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Zebra Gundam

G Gundam
by yo go re

I've had quite a bit of fun making fun of the dumber elements of G Gundam, but I really do like the show. It's smarter than it would seem at first glance, and it's certainly one of the most original "giant robot" shows to come out of Japan. And while I've made fun of quite a few of the Gundams, today's entry out-dumbs them all.

Set in Future Century 60, it is the year of the 13th Gundam Fight! Each country has sent their Gundam to Earth in hopes of winning power and glory for their homeland. Which Gundam will rule the universe? Gundam fight ready, go!

Each Gundam is in the series is designed to represent its country. Or, more accurately, what Japanese animators think of its country. For instance, Neo-America's Gundam Maxter - run by a pilot with pink-streaked hair and a support team of bikini girls - combines football, boxing, surfing and cowboys. God, Japan hates us. Of course, it could be worse; Neo-Spain's Toro Gundam is a giant floating bull's head.

As dumb as that is, Neo-Kenya went all out to create their Zebra Gundam. I actually like the design of it; it's patterned after the type of skirt worn by Kenya's inidiginous Maasai, so at least that part of it makes sense, even if it forgoes the familiar red for delineated white and black. Like a panda or something.

Zebra Gundam's weapons are also based on the Maasai: he carries a large longo (shield) and an mpere (spear). The shield has a handle and a peg that allow it to attach to his left forearm, and a fold-out tab that will plug it into his back and hold the spear. He's even got a removable necklace, though his is probably made of metal instead of glass beads. The suit's feet almost look like they have toes. In fact, the only particularly stupid part of the figure are the two large zebra heads that adorn its shoulders.

The idiocy really gets underway inside the suit. Zebra Gundam's pilot, Conta N'Doul, is the problem. First of all, he's white. Another example of how, in The Future According to SciFi, everyone who's black is gone. I suppose the animators could have been making some kind of comment on the "White Man's Burden," but I doubt it. Secondly, his mobile trace suit (the skintight togs that control the Gundam) look like a zebra. I mean really look like a zebra: stripes, zebra head hat, and a tail. What the hell?

At 4⅜" tall, Zebra Gundam is represented at 1/144th scale. I'm glad that I got the Mobile Suits in Action figures for my G Gundam fix; I certianly wouldn't have wanted Zebra as a 1/100th model kit. The figure moves at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles. This is one of the few Gundams whose waist is actually functional; he rotates easily beanth his giant skirt. The three small jet boosters on his back are poseable, and he has alternate hands: a fist, a relaxed hand, and two gripping hands.

Though Zebra Gundam may look slightly silly, he's actually not bad, and fairly well researched. The only big problem is his pilot, who isn't really related to this toy, just to his backstory.

-- 06/27/03

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