|The following are reader's opinions of the Red Frame Astray made by Bandai.|
|Date Reviewed||May 4, 2005|
|Overall Rating||Well worth getting.|
Let me start this review by saying that the Gundam Astray designs are bar-none the best to spring forth from Gundam Seed, easily binding a crisp, seamless design with dynamic coloring. Other models in this series are menacing to behold, yet with suspect coloration (Aegis), while others are more or less top-down designs that seem a bit tried-and-true (Duel). While these other suits are not bad designs in any way, they don't hold a candle to the Astray Red Frame.
This is one of the few 1/100s that absolutely screams to be painted. At the very least, the scabbard for the elaborately designed katana Gerbera Straight is an absolute necessity to paint. Matching the exact shade of red is incredibly difficult for those of us who subscribe to the "Eyeball" school of paint mixing. I used some old Gundam paint diagrams to deduce that the large component for the Astray's red is, in fact red (duh) and the minor component (which is either 5 or ten percent on the paint guide, I forget which) is GOLD. All I can say is that Gundam Marker specialty sets, one of which is designed explicitly for both Astray Gundams, are worth every penny.
Thanks to Bandai's keen sprue design, those more serious modelers out there can keep the putty packaged up. Usual putty hotspots, such as shoulders and legs, are terrifically designed so that seams are nigh-invisible from the front and side. For those of us who cut our teeth on Gundam Wing 1/100 and 1/144 models, this is a godsend.
Where Astray really sets itself apart is in its posability. If you'd told me back when I was still assembling my 1/100 Gundam Deathscythe that Bandai would soon make an HG Gundam capable of such dynamic sword poses like those seen in Rurouni Kenshin, I'd have thought you were smoking something. In actuality, the Astray's flexibilty and posability are second in my collection only to my Master Grade Master Gundam. That alone speaks volumes as to the quality of this model. All the nessecities are here: two main grip hands, one gun hand and one scabbard-holding hand which can also accurately be used in stylistically framing the sword, such as in Goro Fujita's trademark killing stance (Rurouni Kenshin). Try cutting a small square from a CD cloth and placing it in the Red Frame's sheath-holding hand, then placing the sword in the same hand. That way, you can show Astray Red Frame cleaning Ginn guts off of its precious sword. Shots like that are priceless! Also, one-knee poses that would have been impossible with previous releases come as second nature to the Astray. Such versatility makes buying the optional resin Manipulator kit a luxury only for the most intense fans.
If I were to pick only one distinct feature of this model that needs to catch on, it would be the head. The Astray head has a style all its own, and is bar-none one of the most unique Gundam head designs ever, from the arrowhead slots on the upper brow to the distinct V-fin crest. All You need to make it showroom ready is a very thin pen.
The only way I could see this model being improved upon would be by including an in-flight stand, like the one included with the MG Freedom. An MG offering of this same exact suit would be lovely, but totally infeasible. The very Action Frame necessary to improve upon the HG model's posability would be visible from all sides, and the requisite armor plating left over would be so thin as to be laughable. The only real drawback that I can find is that the flight pack seen in the Astray OVA is notably absent, because this model depicts the MS as it was after acquiring the Gerbera Straight (Gundam Seed Astray R vol. 1, Get it!), so it is forgivable, since the Gerbera Straight is its defining weapon.
To sum it up, the Astray Red Frame is just within spitting distance of being an MG quality suit. Even at twice the price, it's a bargain. It's one of the few MS (including the MG Kampfer) that looks intimidating even in the most static of poses. Whether this is your first or fiftieth Gundam model, whether it takes you one five-hour stretch or a full month of hour-long sessions to finish it, you'll find the experience enriching and satisfying. For an HG, it's five stars all the way.
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