Secret Santa Part 1: Lightning Z Gundam


2015 marks the first time I participate in any Reddit Secret Santa. I had intentions of participating last year, but without knowing where I was going to be for Christmas (and the lack of money), I decided to pull out last minute. With a more stable situation this year, I decided it was time.
My gifter, u/supakoji, was generous enough to send over two HGBF kits (Keeping an eye on Amazon prices, the total would have been close to 40 USD worth). Thank you so much for these kits, koji! I definitely enjoyed this build.
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Though I am not normally interested in lead suits, this suit caught my eye because of the level of meta that was put into the design. Whoever was designing Yuuma's suits, from calling the upgraded mobility "Full Vernier" to this mashup, is a genius (or a ridiculous Gundam nerd).
What really turned my head towards Lightning Z Gundam was a 2015 GBWC entry by ぼば (@bbft). Replacing the feet with that of the Z II, among a whole bunch of amazing tweaks got me thinking about a custom I could do for myself. Whether or not it will be at the level of ぼば's is beyond me (probably not).

Lightning Zeta Gundam shows up in the last episode of Gundam Build Fighters Try. Yuuma Kouska once again upgrades his Lightning Gundam for the next Meijin Cup, this time seemingly from the ground up. We see it fight against Super Fumina, save Kamiki Mirai's Petit'gguy, and fly off to space. Does this upgraded suit drive the plot? Only for this episode. Like most everything in the last episode of Build Fighters Try, it felt like a cheap way to sell more kits.
...and it worked.

In terms of the aforementioned meta, the original Lightning Gundam was based on the Re-GZ, a distant relative of the Zeta Gundam that appears in the beginning of Char's Coutner Attack. Knowing this connection, the reveal of the Lightning Z Gundam came as a delightful surprise. Though the frame is still based on the Re-GZ, aesthetically there have been many tweaks to make the suit look closer to its predecessor, Zeta Gundam.

Out of box, this build looks beautiful! Lightning Z has the right amount of color separation and detail throughout the kit that any lead suit collector would love and then some: The kit uses the staple Reds, Blues, and touches of Yellow to catch the eye, but it also has a touch of light gray and a massive amount of panel detail.

In contrast to its two teammates, Star Winning Gundam and Kamiki Burning Gundam, Lightning Z Gundam does not use any effect parts to catch the eye. The only clear parts included in the kit are the effect parts for the Phoenix Burst Mode, which will be covered later - the suit itself uses absolutely no clear pieces.

No Clear Parts: in contrast to HGUC Banshee Norn [Destroy Mode] Ver. GFT
Most everything in the build is solid, however, there are some pieces that could have been better or just omitted for less frustration. Most of the problems are in the legs. Though the core structure is amazing (with fun panel details), there is a single fin in the back that loves to fall off. A little glue can fix it, but I would have rather just not have the fin at all. In addition to the fin, the knee (guards?) feel like an afterthought. Once again, this can be fixed with glue, but the pieces seem so out of place to me.

Another minor problem is the head. Because of the height of the collar, the head's movement is restricted. I like the head sculpt, I like the collar height, and they even look great together, but they get in each others way.

For play options, depending on how you look at it, you get four. Two of them are the staple of any lead suit: a shield and a rifle. The second two are Lightning Z Gundam's "wings." Like any other rifle, it can be held in the hand to give the humanoid machine a stance of authority. The rifle looks quite nice, but the lower guard (or air break) is loose and the upper guard does not fold flush like its counterpart. The handle can fold into itself to reveal a tab that can be held on the back, in place of a wing, or on the arm.

The tab on the rifle is also shared by the shield which attaches to the arm and back the same exact way. I wish the shield was held upside down like the Zeta Gundams before it. Though it is possible, it does not sit flush like it does in the recommended position.

Moving on to the wings, in the stored position, these mammoth blocks make the Lightning Z Gundam top heavy. The kit can stand on its own, but the weight of its back is quite significant.
 If you watched the episode, you will see these wings are used in conjunction with the shield for its Phoenix Burst System. The inner side of each wing block reveals a tab that, like the rifle and shield, allows the pieces to be attached to the arms.

Turning the wings into position, and shield on hand, we can see the true power of Yuuma's new mobile suit!

Effect parts are included but they're underwhelming compared to the scale of energy seen in the episode. I refuse to take them off the runners.

Overall, the kit is a fine one. The problems I have with it are minor and/or fixable. Even if you are not a fan of the Build Fighters series, I think you might find this kit enjoyable. The Lightning Z Gundam is definitely not my taste, but as I mentioned in the preamble, I have every intention of using this as a base for a future custom project.

I think that covers my thoughts on the Lightning Z Gundam. I hope the rest of the year wraps up nicely for everyone. Thank you once again, supakoji, for the gifts in Gunpla! Have a merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year! Please stay tuned for more Secret Santa content. Until then, keep your cuts clean!

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