After much delay, I have managed to work on and complete the 1/60 Perfect Grade (PG) Gundam Astray Red Frame over my extended vacation. Although it may have been completed for about a week, I have been procrastinating with typing something up only because I have been working on a few other items and playing a lot of Gundam Breaker for the PS Vita/PS3. But without ado I present my comments on the construction and the mecha itself now that it is complete.
The kit itself is presented across 36 sprues molded in white, gloss red, deep red, gold, silver, clear green, grey, and also includes decals, an LED, foam that is used as a non-slip material for the soles of the feet, and in the sheathe of the Gerbera Straight. Like all Gundam kits it starts with the leg and waist assembly. Unlike my past builds, given that this is a rather large kit with a lot of detail I have chosen to apply panel lines as I build, using fine line Gundam brown (for the red parts) and Gundam grey (for all others) markers.
Starting with the feet and building up the legs are quite detailed with a lot of articulation and frame showing through. As you can see in the pictures below we have a completed leg on the left and an incomplete leg on the right missing the foot and most of the armour. The second picture shows the range of motion that can be had from the assembly.
Next up the torso, head and backpack were built up (next two pics). In this case I don’t have much in the way of in-process photos, but it was a rather straight forward assembly and the torso flexes side to side and forward and back once complete. Buried under the armour is piston that will move as the Gundam flexes which is a nice touch. The head is packed with detail and during the build process a simple battery/LED pack is assembled that slides into the back of the head and will light up the eyes when switched on (I will get a picture of this someday).
Strangely the next items up for construction were the weapons. Normally the weapons tend to be the last items built per the instructions for all of the other kits I have built. It was a nice change of pace as normally they are the last to be built and as many Gundam builders may say you can get burned out once the mecha is complete and all you have left is some simple weapons.
The Astray Red Frame includes the standard lead Gundam load out with a beam rifle, crusader style shield, and two beam sabers. In addition to these items you also get two Armour-Schneiders (switch blades) which are left overs from the normal PG Strike Gundam as well as its signature weapon the Gerbera Straight (not a katana). All of the weapons have slots in them to help them stay in the hands of the Gundam and are highly detailed.
The last section built is the arms before final assembly. Similar to the legs they are packed with detail under the armour plating as well as the nefty modeled as a single piece hands. From the picture you can see that the arms have plenty of articulation as well as the newer style hands (which are the basis for the new MG style hands).
With all of the parts built its time to put this guy together and compare him to the first Perfect Gundam Gundam kit (made and that I built), the RX-78-2.
From the pictures you can see that he stands about the same height as the old RX-78-2 Gundam, and is similarly equipped in the middle picture, with the bottom picture showing showing him getting ready to unsheathe the Gerbera Straight. Overall it was a fun build that took roughly 20-25hrs to complete, probably longer had I choose to flat coat all of the plastic to mute the plastic appearance.
-Clear instructions that are easy to follow even if you don’t read Japanese.
-Lots of detail molded into the plastics
-Non-slip pads on the feet
-Die-cast metal used to support the knee joint and the waist where the legs attach
-Lots of the detail on the plastic gets hidden behind armour
-Stiff finger joints
-Cost. This is an ¥18,000 ($180~200) kit if you can find it in stock online/in store as Bandai batch builds kits so there can be a delay in getting it.
-Unknown long term durability of the poly-caps that are used on the major joints
-Unknown long term durability of the hands
I would recommend this kit to those that enjoy Gundam SEED or just detailed mecha and Perfect Grade kits. It would also be a good kit to step into the Perfect Grade line of model kits as some of the older ones are a little more difficult to built as the engineering as evolved since 1998.