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High Grade Aile Strike Gundam

By Dominic Handl - images & text © 2003

Scale: 1/100 - about 9"/ 23cm tall when completed
Parts: 7 sprues of injection molded sterene parts plus 1 sprue of poly-caps
Instructions: Clear step-by-step diagrams with Japanese text
Decals: One small sheet of foil stickers
Molding Quality: 10 -state of the art
Detail: 10 - Very sharp detail. Panel lines are very visible
Accuracy: 9.5
Fit: 10- The parts fit together well.
Ease: 8 - Took about 3 weeks to complete.
MSRP: 2000 JPY (~$16.94 USD/ $24.98 CAN/ 15.53 EUR) available from HobbyLink Japan
Overall Rating: 10 - I would recommend it to both the novice and the advanced modeler. It's a well made kit.

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Bandai's 1/100 High Grade "Aile Striker" is from the new series currently being aired in Japan, "Gundam Seed."

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You get a total of seven sprues of pieces, poly-caps, and a sheet of foil stickers for your 2000. The kit is made from a high quality injection plastic almost no flash and sharp detail throughout. It's a snap together type model. With the quality of this kit, it almost seems like all it takes is to pour some paint in the box, shake it, and pour out a model. Not so in this case - and here's why.

Preparation

Checking the contents of the box to see if everything is there or if anything is missing or damaged is an important part of making a model. I opened the box only to see it crammed with plastic - lots of it. .Trying not to damage anything, I took each sprue out one-by-one and lined them up on the table. One-by-one, I tok each sprue out of its plastic bag and very gently put those I wouldn't be using immediately back in the box.

Cutting and trimming each piece off the sprue can be a very tedious process sometimes. .A Swiss Army knife works well for me. It has everything built in to it for jobs like this, which is why I have one handy - with a steel file next to it. With the pair of scissors on the Swiss Army knife, I go in as close as I can to the pieces and cut them off. Then with the main blade, I just trim off the excess flash. Next, I take my steel file and sand the pieces smooth. After that is done, I put them in bags according to their proper sub-assembly, each bag labeled to what part it is (Legs, Arms, Body, etc.).

When taking the pieces off the sprues, you do not want to pull the pieces off. It will damage them. I did that on one of the pieces for the back pack and of course damaged the forward part of it.Even after I trimmed it and sanded it the damage was still visible. Oh, well - a minor set back.

Test fitting pieces is an important part of making any any model. I saw the pieces came together flawlessly with no seams or gaps. Now of the hard part: getting the pieces apart. Using very little force, I pulled the pieces apart, so there was a gap in between. With the blade of my Swiss Army knife, I then pried the pieces apart, turning the blade a little to get the pieces to come apart on their own.

Building the Sub-Assemblies

I started with the feet, which were very straight forward. On one foot, I put the poly-cap that connects to the ball joint of the ankle the wrong way. I had to take the whole thing apart, remove the poly-cap and put it the proper way again before assembling the foot again. The ankle joints were separate pieces. So, I put that together and joined it with the feet.

The legs have multi-pieces, designed differently from other High Grade (HG) kits. I started off with the inner section, putting the poly-caps in, closing it and then putting all the outer armor on (ankle armor, knee armor, etc.). The put the knee joints together and connected them to the poly-caps on the top part of the legs. I assembled the thighs and connected them to the knee joints.

The lower body is also a straightforward assembly. The two side armor pieces have scabbards in them that open to put the knives in. There are two knives for both sides. I painted each one with a grey on the top of the blade and a steel color on the edge. The rest of the pieces were put together according to the directions.

The main body was built in two stages. The upper half is blue. The separate shoulder joints connect to this part. The lower half is red and connects to the lower body. On most HG kits I've made, the shoulder joints are not multiple pieces like this one, but molded to the body ot attach the arms. There is also a white lower back piece that goes on to the lower part of the main body, similar to the part of the Full Armor Double Zeta, which houses the core block unit. Then something looking like a roll cage goes on the chest and back. The neck joint is also a separate piece. It's housed with in the collar.

The shoulders look neat. The upper arm goes into the shoulder armor. The forearmis designed to be able to accommodate the shield on both sides. This why the poly-caps had to go in before the outer covering was put on. The hands have no joints on them. They were fixed to either hold the gun, the shield, the knife, or beam saber. It reminded me of a Gundam F-90 kit I made back in the 90's.

The backpack has many parts to it. I did not use the foil stickers that came with the kit for this assembly as I felt they would make it look "toy" like. I changed the boosters from the suggested red to a steel color on the outside. The insides were the usual flat black color. The lower boosters have fins I painted a grey color. I painted the edges of the wings that are on the top of the backpack grey as well. All these touch ups were done with paint markers. I assembled the whole unit, after the paint dried. The lower boosters were designed to move. I'm thinking according to concept of the original design it intended to improve the Mobile Suit's agility in combat situations.

The head is the last part of the sub-assemblies. The head itself was pretty straight forward. I colored in the recessed area around the eyes first, then painted the eyes a metallic green color. This made them look better. Then I put the face guard on and closed the head. There were two V's on the head, a smaller one on the forehead and the larger one just above that.

Painting and Detailing

The model itself is molded in color. Paint still has to be used for some of the touch up work. I did have a lot of touch up work to do in certain areas. I do painting in two stages. First, while the pieces are on the sprue I do the entire major detail work. Then, I do touch-ups during the assembly. I go through the recessed areas with a fine tipped marker, wiping any of the excess ink on the surface of the model. This way the detail shows very neatly. If using a pencil for the detail work, I would recommend a mechanical pencil. The lead is always sharp. The lead has to be dark - almost a black color.

Final Assembly

It was time to put the whole thing together. I just assembled the whole from the feet to the head. After that, I posed the modelin different ways to see what it can do. Then finally, I gave it a pose like it was ready to fight.

Conclusion

Bandai's kit is a slick piece of engineering, and a pretty good design for an HG kit. I saw no flaws in the model. The difficulties I went through while doing the kit resulted from my own carelessness. Even with the setbacks, it didn't affect the value of the model. I'm satisfied with the results. I would recommend this model to a novice or advanced modeler. It's worth getting.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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