Gundam Astray Review

By Loran

When Gundam SEED came out in 2002, one hell of a merchandising push came with it. Several new model kit lines were introduced like the new and unposeable take on the No Grade kits and the short lived Quick Model series. The first kit in the No Grade series was the Gundam Astray-a design not featured in the series, intended for the very cool Manga series. It was the first time we got kits from a manga side-story released not only at the same time as the TV kits, but well before the manga was out. Just goes to show you Bandai’s motivation with SEED, eh?

Three versions of the Gundam Astray kit were released in High Grade form. Unlike the 1/100 kits, all three High Grades were identical aside from additional weapons-Blue Frame comes with a bazooka, Red Frame comes with a katana, and Green Frame comes with that beam rifle/saber combination… thing. Sadly, the Gold Frame never got a release I know of, so I took the liberty of painting up my own.

One thing I have to say before getting into the “limb breakdown” is about the assembly. This model was designed to be released as a Gold Frame kit. This is evidenced by the way the parts are attached to the sprues. Unlike most kits, where the frame attaches to the side of the part, they go underneath the part here, so as not to damage any chromed parts when removing them. While this can be a valuable asset on chromed kits, it’s downright annoying on kits that aren’t chromed. As a result, I’d only recommend this kit to people who glue and paint their kits as it would actually make this kit easier to deal with.

For this review, I’ll only be covering the aspects shared within the three kits, and not the individual weapons.

The head for this kit comes molded in four pieces-chin/eye piece, front head half, back head half, and V-fin, connected to a basic polycap joint. There are a lot of colors on the head, so it requires quite a bit of paint, an unfortunate recurrence with this model…

The torso is also pretty basic, but the construction of the armor is pretty cool, thanks to its design. For some reason the backpack on this kit is on a hinge that allows it to move up and down for… some reason. I still haven’t seen what purpose this is supposed to serve. The connection ports for the beam sabers are really annoying, and will unfortunately take the paint off with them when you remove them. The red bits on the torso and the gold (or whichever color you’re building) parts on the skirt also need to be painted.

Thanks to the design of the arms, they offer a wide range of poseability. For starters, the double joint at the shoulder gives the kit the ability to hold its beam rifle with both hands, well, if the front handle of the rifle were longer, that is. Also, because the polycap for the elbow is located on the inside of the arm, it can snap its arms up to its shoulders without the use of a double joint. The knuckles need to be painted, which can be pretty irritating.

The legs, again, are nothing special, capable of only 90 degrees of movement at the knee, and a standard ball-and-socket in the foot. However, thanks to the waist design, it isn’t limited by a skirt, so it can spread its legs out much wider, but not as much as the 30th Gundam or Full Armor 7th Gundam. Expect some detail painting on the legs similar to the skirt and the head.

On the basic kit, the weapons are your standard Gundam fare-beam rifle, shield, and beam sabers. The beam rifle is a sold piece of plastic with no movable handle, and the shield has the latch gimmick similar to most HGUCs these days. The shield needs the most detail painting of all, as the front part is molded entirely in black.

One big upside of the weapons is the beam sabers. While they have the paint scraping issue, they have a unique little feature. Thanks to their design, they’re incompatible with regular saber blades. Instead, they have a custom design that’s rather detailed, with more fuzzy, “active” detail closer to the hilt.

I know I sound a bit negative in this review but it really isn’t that bad of a kit, just not one I’d recommend to a beginning modeler. The mold flash requires extra sanding to cut through which makes things difficult if you aren’t gluing or painting the kit. Also, the kit has very poor color distribution and requires a lot of extra paint. However, with enough care the kit looks really nice, and hey, you’ve got three distinct weapons to choose from, including a really nice katana. Recommended for intermediate modelers.

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