Well, it's taken almost four months since I wrote my review of the Buster and deluxe Strike
Gundam figures, but I finally managed to track down the remaining basic figures, the Gundam Astray
blue and red frames as well as the basic versions of the Strike Gundam. So without further adu,
on with the review.
Packaging - 6/10The Gundam Seed figures get the same packaging as the other figures. The card is fairly basic but the figure and parts are nicely displayed in the large bubble. The figure isn't particularly cleverly displayed, it is just placed in a neutral standing pose in the center of the card with all of the parts spread out around it. A sticker with the logo for the series is applied to the front of the bubble at the top while the insert at the bottom gives the name of the Mobile Suit. The card has a bright red spot, like a light source centered behind the figure which illuminates various technology based images before fading to black around the edges of the card. The back of the card has images of the first basic and deluxe waves of Gundam Seed figures, a promotional image of the Aile Strike Gundam with two of the characters from the series and a brief introduction to the series. The back is functional though not very informative and the fact that for some reason they used the image of the Earth with the Gundam Fight ring around it from Mobile Fighter G Gundam behind the story write-up suggests that they didn't put a whole lot of effort into the packaging.
Sculpting -Strike 7/10, Astray 8/10Both versions of the Strike Gundam figure are the same, not to mention the same as the deluxe versions. The figure follows the same tradition as other MSIA figures, retaining the simpler nature of an animated character while still providing plenty of detail to avoid seeming dull. The proportions look pretty good, though since I haven't seen the show I not sure what it is supposed to look like. The sculpt also incorporates the articulation nicely which is to be expected on a mechanical design like this.
The Astray Gundam is very different from the Strike. It is all around thicker and stockier. The legs are much thicker and lack the taper towards the hips that the Strike has. The torso is also much stockier. It appears to be similar to the Stirke's design, but with much thicker armor. The head has a very tapered look from the front, but the back seems to be an exposed thruster panel. The back pack is one of the most interesting features of the Astray design. The backpack is mounted on a beam that extends out of the back of the figure and down to the figure's waist. The red frame Astray has two mounting brackets to hold the beam saber hilts attached to its back between the backpack and figure itself. The blue frame version didn't have them even though the instructions indicate that it should have them as well.
Paint - 6/10The paint work here is solid but not very complex. The design of the figures offers less contrast in the colors. The large white areas of the Strike Gundam would be improved with some subtle panel lines. The Gundam Astrays' don't offer any more varity of color but the figure design distributes the color better over the entire figure.
Articulation - 7/10Strike Gundam is articulated as follows:
The Astray Gundams are not quite as articulated. The ankles are still double jointed with two ball joints; one from the ankle to the foot and another from the ankle to the leg. The knee is double jointed. But it is the newer style of double joint. The lower half of the joint is embedded deep within the lower leg. The result is a joint that provides almost the same range of motion, but is much less visible. The Astray Gundams have another odd feature, the armor over the 'knee cap' will actually lock the leg into a straight position. I don't know that this really adds anything to the figure or if there is any basis for the feature from the show. Still, it is an interesting design. There's no opening side skirt armor obviously and the waist is only a rotating joint. It has very little range of motion, but it is still better than the Strike Gundam. The same ball jointed shoulders and rotating biceps are present, but the elbows are only single hinge joints. The hands are attached to a ball on the end of the wrists. The neck is a ball joint with a decent range of motion (360 degrees of rotation and 30 degrees of tilt) The finally, the backpack can be tilted up or down on the mounting beam.
Accessories - Strike 3/10, Astray (blue frame) 5/10, Astray (red frame) 7/10Both basic versions of the Strike Gundam, Active and DeActive modes come with the same accessories. You get the beam rifle, shield, two switch blades and two extra sets of hands. The beam rifle is the same one that has been packaged with the other two versions of the Strike figure. It looks pretty good, but I have found that the handle is a bit too thick for the hands. It tends to warp the fingers out of shape and then it flops around quite a bit. The shield is excellent, probably the best shield produced in the entire MSIA line, which is a good thing since we've gotten seven copies of it so far and the Sword Strike Gundam will probably make eight. Still, it looks great, both from the front and back, and it offers multiple means of equipping it. It has a adjustable handle so that it can be held by the figure's hand. It also has a clip to allow it to be attached either to the back or the side of the forearm. My personally preference is to clip it to the side of the forearm and place the handle in the figure's hand. This makes for an incredibly stable means of displaying it and looks very natural. The switch blades doen't position well, the blades are too loose. But they do fold up and store neatly in the side armor. The extra hands are the normal ones. The figure is packaged with two closed fists. Then there is a pair of grasping hands and a pair of hands with seperate trigger fingers. They are made of soft enough plastic that placing weapons into or removing them from the hands is fairly easy.
The Astray Gundams add a bit more variety. The red frame version comes with the prerequisit shield, a regular sword and scabbard, two beam swords with removable hilts and the mounting brackets on its back to hold the hilts and two extra sets of hands. The blue frame version comes with the same shield and pair of beam sabers as well as the two extra sets of hands. It also comes with a beam rifle but lacks the mounting brackets for the saber hilts. The shield for both versions is the same shield as the Strike Gundams. The beam saber hilts are the traditional off whit plastic with a whole for the blade to plug into. The hilts are a fairly wide rectangular shape which allows them to be held quite firmly in the grasping or trigger finger hands. The blades are impressively long, so long that the complete hilt and blade are actually just a hair taller than the figures themselves. Unfortunately they are also very thin and are going to be incredibly proned to warping. The beam rifle that comes with the blue frame version is a completely new sculpt. It is much thinner and longer than the Strike Gundam's, almost like a sniper rifle. The front handle can also be positioned to the side for a two handed pose. The red frame version's sword is not quite as long as the beam sabers, but still measures in at just under four inches. It is made of soft plastic, but seems less prone to warping. The scabbard is hallow so that the sword can be stored in it. It plugs into a small red piece that clips onto the left side skirt armor. Both pieces can be removed or even attached to the right side. But it really only looks right when placed on the left side. Both figures come with closed fists, grasping hands and hands with seperate trigger fingers.
Value - Strike, Active mode 3/10, Deactive mode 4/10, Astray blue frame 5/10, red frame 6/10All four of these are basic figures and should retail for between $6.99 and $8.99. The Strike Gundam could be a decent figure at that price, but since the exact same figure is available with better accessories for just a few dollars more as a deluxe or boxed figure, there isn't much point to buying this figure. (I'm still trying to figure out why I did.) The DeActive mode version gets an extra point not for being a better figure, but simply because the different paint job means that at least it is not the exact same figure as the other releases. The Astray Gundams are nice, solid figures but not standouts. The red frame version gets an additional point for the rather unique sword and scabbard as well as the mounting brackets for the beam saber hilts.
Happy Hunting:Why do I never get to just say that the items I'm reviewing are available everywhere? Oh well, these and the Duel Gundam figure I reviewed earlier are the first wave of basic Gundam Seed MSIA figures. They have actually been out for quite a while, four months in fact. But they have yet to receive wide distribution. And now to make things worse, Target and Walmart both seems to be dropping the MSIA line from their new floor plans for most stores. Locally, I was able to find the Stike Gundam figures and Duel Gundam at Toys R Us. But I had to order the Astray Gundams online from Big Bad Toy Store dot com. They seem to be sold out at present, but they may restock.