Saturday, July 18, 2020

[GALLERY] Bandai HG 1/144 RX-78-2U Gundam & MS-06U Zaku II [Uniqlo Ver.] - Customised Builds

Even after the end of the One Year War, the legendary rivalry between the White Devil and the Crimson Comet continues.
Thanks for the feature Uniqlo!

An Eternal Rivalry

At the end of the One Year War, mobile suits were put to use for the more benign purpose of reconstruction and recovery, assisting the Federation in restoring a semblance of order to a war-torn populace both on Earth and in the colonies. While mobile suits were ostensibly developed to wage war, the peacetime applications were also virtually limitless, and greatly accelerated reconstruction efforts across the globe.

In Sydney a year after the cessation of hostilities between the Federation and the Principality of Zeon, a special mobile suit event was afoot. Taking almost the full brunt of Operation British, the city of Sydney was reduced to a radioactive wasteland for months after the Zeonic colony drop, rendering any recovery and/or reconstruction attempt fruitless and meaningless. Radiation levels had since dropped considerably and efforts were underway to clean up the harbour and grant closure to all affected by this unprecedented tragedy. Leading this noble effort was apparel conglomerate Uniqlo Inc (9983.T), one of the most revered civilian actors in the Universal Century.

During the One Year War, Uniqlo sheltered many refugees, its proprietary Airism and HeatTech lifewear keeping shellshocked civilians warm, comfortable and clothed. While primarily an apparel manufacturing giant, a sizable number of Uniqlo’s production lines were converted to factories for emergency essentials during the war, producing much-needed items such as personal protective equipment, portable bedding and temporary relief shelters. These greatly assisted the Federation throughout the war and the period immediately after, allowing essential resources to be diverted elsewhere.

At the request of Uniqlo’s chairman, the Federation granted the apparel giant temporary use of a replica of the legendary RX-78-2 Gundam, designated the RX-78-2U. Essentially a simplified reconstruction of the White Devil using military surplus and civilian parts, the RX-78-2U possessed no weapons (apart from dummy beam saber hilts and a faux beam rifle) but was still able to achieve the mobility and dexterity that were expected of modern mobile suits. The RX-78-2U was repainted with Uniqlo’s corporate colours and placed at the harbour overlooking Sydney bay, awaiting the second half of the anniversary collaboration.

In a somewhat controversial move, the Federation also provided Uniqlo with a captured, refurbished version of the MS-06 Zaku II for the event, designated the MS-06U. Repainted in what the Federation deemed “Zeonic Commander Colours”, the MS-06U similarly possessed no fixed weaponry as well as dummy armament including the 100mm Zaku Machine Gun and an inert heat hawk.

Both mobile suits were meant to pay tribute to the One Year War, portraying the struggle and eventual victory of the Federation through a mock mobile suit battle in a specially designated area of Sydney Harbour. The Federation pilots assigned to the event put on a spectacular show for the crowd of thousands, trading blows with one another while recreating iconic scenes from the One Year War. At the end of the 30-minute show, the MS-06U was moved to the heavy vehicle parking lot of the event compound right beside a couple of enormous trailer trucks while the RX-78-2U was moved into a hangar to prepare for its next assignment.

Intended for more than just a mobile suit sized puppet show, Uniqlo planned to have the RX-78-2U kick off a large-scale harbour clean-up campaign by diving into Sydney Harbour to bring a section of a sunken cruise liner to the surface. While the RX-78-2U was merely a replica of the original machine, its specifications were still considerable and more than adequate for light underwater operations. Not willing to take any chances, Uniqlo specially designed a Marine Rescue Unit for the RX-78-2U, a set of add-on equipment that the Federation viewed with great interest. Consisting of a high-powered underwater propeller backpack, twin calf-mounted hydrothrusters and reinforcements to the shoulder and ankle armour sections, the Marine Rescue Unit also equipped the RX-78-2U with an underwater-use blowtorch, a small shield to ward off debris as well as a large grappling claw with enough power to singlehandedly move the smokestack of an oil tanker underwater. Although the Marine Rescue Unit was not intended for war, it inevitably enhanced the base performance of the RX-78-2U, with the added technological components able to be quickly repurposed for wartime applications to create a formidable underwater combatant.

Launched into Sydney Harbour once again, the RX-78-2U was met with exclamations of adoration and awe mixed with isolated instances of post-traumatic stress disorder as the mobile suit now looked very much like a weapon of war instead of a deactive showpiece. Plunging into the frigid depths, the powerful underwater propulsion systems of the Marine Rescue Unit quickly drove the RX-78-2U to its intended destination and the pilot began the arduous task of removing a section of the stricken cruise liner with the blowtorch.

While the public was fixated on the underwater exploits of the RX-78-2U livestreamed on a giant LED screen, something more sinister was taking place at the heavy vehicle parking lot of the event compound. Taking out the sole Federation guard on duty, Zeonic Remnant special forces operatives infiltrated the event compound and stealthily moved towards the MS-06U. The Federation made the mistake of not installing performance inhibitors into what was essentially a decommissioned machine, allowing the MS-06U to retain most, if not all, of its output during the One Year War. The Federation pilot assigned to the MS-06U – who personally despised Zeonic technology with a passion – was not the most invested, seeing the assignment as a “joyride for the rich” and a “blatant slap in the face” for war veterans such as himself. As such, he left the MS-06U with the cockpit open before going to grab a beer, the activation keys placed haphazardly on the pilot’s seat. A Zeonic commando whose masked helmet bore a command fin entered the cockpit of the MS-06U and with a practiced hand, performed the necessary start-up procedures.
The mobile suit’s distinctive red monoeye buzzed to life.

The RX-78-2U had completed its cutting task and was in the midst of surfacing when its proximity alert chimed seconds before an unknown projectile screamed past and detonated a few metres behind the mobile suit. Over the radio, frenzied screams and panicked shouts could be heard, punctuated by the staccato of small arms fire.

Something was wrong, very wrong.

Clearing the last few metres, the RX-78-2U broke through the water’s edge and was met with a grim sight: the MS-06U was indiscriminately opening fire on everything and anything it could get its monoeye on. The MS-06U was equipped with what looked like a 200mm recoilless cannon, undoubtedly retrieved from the pair of trailer trucks that had been ripped open like so many cans of tuna. Zeonic Remnants had smuggled the weapon in parts to the event days before and had the MS-06U assemble the cannon onsite before using it to wreak havoc. The 200mm cannon shuddered and spat out a high explosive round at the newly-reconstructed Sydney Opera House, once again reducing it to ruins.

The RX-78-2U stared down the MS-06U, the Federation pilot deciding his next course of action. While the RX-78-2U was still a formidable mobile suit with extremely high performance, it had next to nothing in terms of weaponry and it was facing a proven war machine equipped with an instrument of destruction. However, the RX-78-2 was not any random machine: it was a symbol of Federation hope and victory.

The MS-06U levelled the 200mm cannon at the RX-78-2U, its red monoeye pulsing with anticipation. The RX-78-2U braced itself, its white armour glistening in the sunlight, grappling claw at the ready.

Even after the end of the One Year War, the legendary rivalry between the White Devil and the Crimson Comet continues.

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