Spotlight: Zoids – The Gustav

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Welcome back to the wonderful world of Zi, readers! This Spotlight! post is focused once again on a zoid from that magnificent planet in the far reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy. This zoid, however, is not used in combat – unless combat is offered to its pilot. It is a transport zoid.

This is the Gustav. Before we go any further, you pronounce it ‘Gus-tav,’ not ‘Goos-tav.’ The latter is how you enunciate the Scandinavian name, but it is NOT how you say the name of this zoid!!!

Another way to remember the difference is, “Must have Gustav.” Must – Gust. Have – Tav. Get it? Great!

All right, now to the zoid’s specs! The first Gustav of any import was the one Van Flyheight’s friend Moonbay piloted throughout Zoids: Chaotic Century. The zoid is based on a snail and so it is not very fast, especially when it is hauling trailers. I have never seen a Gustav hauling more than two trailers; it appears that two is the limit.

You can carry almost anything on the trailer(s), from another zoid to a container full of ammunition. The armor on the Gustav is what weighs the transport down. While it protects the zoid and the pilot against most missiles and ammunition, the fact is that it weighs several tons! This is the factor which lowers the zoid’s speed the most. The trailers and their cargo add to the weight.

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These are the features which relegate the Gustav to transport status and which make it a less-than-optimal combat zoid. Nevertheless, the zoid can enter battle zones. The pilot just has to know what the zoid can and cannot handle as well as think quickly in a combat or high-adrenaline situation. Moonbay was capable of all of this and then some. That girl, as Irvine was wont to say, could “take care of herself in dangerous situations.” Sometimes it seemed that “dangerous situations” were where she functioned best!

That green antenna which you see projecting from behind the cockpit of the zoid is a sensor array. It allows the Gustav to scan the surrounding area, projecting what it sees to the cockpit. If this antenna is shot off, then the pilot for the Gustav loses scanning and visual capabilities throughout much of the cockpit.

The antennae extending from the non-existent mouth of the Gustav are said in one profile to be mine detectors. I never saw them used as such in Chaotic Century or any following series, but the name makes sense. When Moonbay lost her primary antenna in one episode, she still had partially functioning scanners in her cockpit. So it seems reasonable to conclude that these other antennae serve as some sort of sensory units for the zoid, mine detecting being one of the purposes which they can be tuned to perform.

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Moonbay’s Gustav also came equipped with a hidden double barrel cannon, positioned below the antenna and above the cockpit. The rounds were not high yield and would not do much damage to bigger, predator-based zoids. But anything the size of the Gustav that was also lightly armored would not fare well against this intrepid little cannon. It was hidden behind one of the green “joints” keeping the Gustav’s “shell” together, and Moonbay did not use it all the time. But when she used it, she made her shots count!

Unlike most other zoids, the Gustav does not make sounds like a real animal. This is doubtless because snails in real life do not make any noise. They simply slide along the ground. The most noise I recall hearing from a Gustav was the whirring of its wheels.

This means, obviously, that despite being based on the snail the Gustav does not slide like one. It is instead propelled by two large wheels under both sides of its shell, with two or perhaps four smaller wheels beneath the cockpit. In spite of its low speed, the Gustav can be relatively quick in tight spaces. Moonbay, a former professional racer, was able to coax quite a bit of nimbleness out of her Gustav when fighting within tight quarters.

The cockpit for the Gustav is beneath the orange canopy you see on its head. It can seat up to six people, maybe eight in a pinch. The rear seat is a bench seat; the forward seats are bucket seats. The controls for the Gustav can be moved from one of these seats to the next via a track system in the “dashboard” of the cockpit. This means that the pilot of the Gustav need not remain confined to one particular seat. In fact, there seems to be no law confining a Gustav pilot to the left or right front seat. Moonbay is seen in either of the front bucket seats of the Gustav during Chaotic Century’s run. She prefers neither the left nor the right seat to the other, switching between the two for no apparent reason every episode or so.

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Gustav cockpits are not reinforced, as the rest of the zoid is. Why I cannot say; I only know that one well-placed shot – especially from a high-yield round at a rather short distance – will put a hole in the cockpit or obliterate it altogether. This is something Gustav pilots have to keep in mind, though even then it is not always possible to avoid getting hit.

Most Gustavs have armor that is painted grey/silver. The colors of their cockpits are not always the standard orange; Gustav cockpits within all the Zoids’ television series have been orange, green, and blue. Other colors are likely available as well.

The one Gustav we saw which had a unique armor paint scheme was Moonbay’s. This Gustav was fuchsia, a flamboyant color which grabbed the eye and made the transport stand out from the crowd. Moonbay was like that, too. The zoid’s coloration was just another way that she made people sit up and notice her.

Moonbay’s Gustav retained this color until the second half of Chaotic Century, when she used her zoid to protect Van’s damaged Blade Liger. This resulted in an armor patch for the Gustav which was painted white. To those accustomed to the previous color of the armor, the contrast seemed a bit blinding.

Why did Moonbay leave the patch white instead of having it repainted? It was never brought up in the series, but perhaps it was something she considered a badge of honor. She may have kept the patch white the same way a warrior bears an old scar. Having defended Van when he was down, she might have decided that the difference in color could stand as a testament to the strength of their friendship.

Or maybe she just could not afford to get the patch painted. Knowing Moonbay, though, I seriously doubt that theory. She is an expert at making money, by hook or by crook. It is impossible to believe she could not find a way to acquire enough money to paint the patch.

While it is not confirmed, a Gustav that appears to be Moonbay’s – white patch and all – is noticeable within the background of one of the last New Century Zero episodes. It is a brief glimpse which is never explained, but it is nice to think that some heir of Moonbay’s has kept the zoid down through the centuries.

This is not the only time a Zoids’ series has given a direct nod to a previous one; Fuzors and Genesis have zoids from both Chaotic Century and New Century Zero in them. But there is never an explanation of how they come into the series, nor is there a mention of who their previous pilots were. The palpable closeness between Chaotic Century and New Century Zero, however, makes it easy to think how and why Moonbay’s Gustav ended up in Bit’s era. No other hints are truly necessary.

Before signing off, readers, I would like to present you with one last tidbit related to the Gustav. Moonbay liked to sing during Chaotic Century, regardless of the fact that she never could sing on-key. It was often implied that her singing irritated her traveling companions to no end. But I found that her voice tends to grow on you after a while. Though she always sang slightly off-key, I find myself belting out the lines of her song every now and again.

Below is a video of Moonbay’s full-length debut as a singer. Here she is singing her own song – “I Am a Transporter of the Wasteland” – as she pilots the Gustav in the episode Jump, Zeke! :

I hope you liked it at least a little, readers. For myself, I enjoy hearing and singing this song, since it makes me feel like a “transporter of the wild wasteland” myself!

See you on the battlefield!

The Mithril Guardian

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