Gaijin Gunpla

With the suit all done (and looking spectacular, I might add) all that’s left for me on the PG Red Astray build is the weapons. This is kind of bittersweet to me. A Perfect Grade kit build is quite extensive and takes a significant amount of time and coming to the end of it almost feels like you are losing something. I guess I will just have to play with, paint, and customize this guy in order to continue enjoying him. Sounds tough. I didn’t choose the Gunpla life. Oh wait, I did.

Here are the runners I need for the last leg of my marathon

Oh, and these.

The rifle is first and pretty much everything you need for that is on this runner.

Step 1:

I see I need a red poly-cap. It goes right inside.

There is also this little piece of plastic which looks like it could be a trigger.

Close that up and add the smaller parts.

This particular piece fits snug with the side of the rifle but will come out when you want to attach the rifle to the back of the Astray.

These is the last of the rifle parts.

This little whatchamacallit fits into the hollow below the barrel of the rifle.

And now for the weapon I really like, the Tachi known as the Gerbera Straight.

First off the tsuka (柄) or handle.
(Warning: I’m about to go all technical on ya here with my terminology. Japanese swords are another one of my -far too many according to my wife- hobbies.)

You can see there are two black parts meant to represent the handle wrap, tsuka ito (柄糸), and they are molded correctly to represent the crisscrossing pattern, tsukamaki (柄巻).

The handle looks good and the handle guard, or tsuba (鍔) looks pretty cool with lots of detail.

The pommel of the handle or kashira (頭) is rather elaborate, which kind of fits with the look of a tachi (太刀). However, the curvature (sori 反り) of the blade seems to be torii sori (鳥居反り) which means the deepest part of the curve is in the middle, however many tachi tended to be deeper with the deepest part of the curve happening near the handle or waist of the person carrying it which came to be known as koshizori (腰反り). It wasn’t until the late kamakura period (1300 AD or so) that the curvature become more shallow and more centered. Is this Gerbera Straight from that period?

Before sliding the blade into the handle you first put on the habaki (鎺) which is the metal collar that is used to keep the sword from falling out of the scabbard, or saya (鞘). When you actually get the handle done and then remove the blade from the runner you can see there is a signature, or mei (名) on the handle/tang, or nakago, (茎)

It reads Kiku-Ichimonji (菊一文字). Wow! Kikuichimonji wasn’t the name of just one swordsmith (刀鍛冶) but the collective name given to the Japanese swords made by the thirteen swordsmiths who were in attendance to the Emperor Go-Toba in 1208. Each swordsmith was in attendance to the emperor for a month of the Japanese calendar. The swordsmiths of the Fukuoka School traditionally inscribed only the character “Ichi” (一, one) on the tang as their signature. They further received permission to append the Imperial chrysanthemum crest (菊, kiku) on the tang, thus their swords are known collectively as “Kiku-ichimonji”. Go-Toba was interested in the construction of Japanese swords, and so he summoned these swordsmiths, granting them court rank and title, and asked them to share the secrets of the production of higher-quality swords. So can we deduce the Gerbera Straight blade was forged by one of the swordsmiths?

Many may recognize the term Kiku-Ichimonji from the Final Fantasy video game series where that name was given to a weapon of quite high quality which was hard to obtain. But back to the plastic.

The detail on the Gerbera Strait is illustrated right down to the hole in the handle known as a mekugi-ana (目釘穴).

This is the hole that allows the pin, mekugi (目釘) to slide in and hold the blade in the handle. Yes, there is a mekugi pin in the build as well.

This is quite small and easy to lose so be careful. It’s worth noting that pins for Japanese swords are wedge shaped while this pin is just one size along the whole length.
I slid in the blade and inserted the pin.

Now let’s look at the blade. The most distinctive characteristic of a Japanese sword is the hamon (刃文), the visual effect on the blade created during the hardening process. While Japanesese swordsmiths became masters at creating beautiful hamon the hamon is actually there as a side-effect to the process of creating a strong yet resilient blade. I’ll let wikipedia explain it to you.

Hamon is the visual effect created on the blade by the hardening process. Blades made in this manner are known as differentially hardened, with a harder ha, the cutting edge, than mune, the back edge as a result of clay applied on the blade during the cooling process. Less or no clay allows the ha to cool faster, making it harder but more brittle; more clay allows the mune to cool more slowly and retain its resilience.
The hamon is the transition between the region of harder martensitic steel of the blade edge and the softer pearlitic steel of the back of the sword. This difference in hardness is the objective of the process; the appearance is purely a side effect.

The pattern of the line is determined by how much and where the clay is applied on the blade thought it’s often hard to determine exactly whih type of hamon is on a blade because the characteristics can be mixed. It looks like the Gerbera Straight has a pattern known as Gunome (互の目) or wavy pattern. There are dozens of different types of hamon but they can basically be broken down into four basic patterns.

Just like trying to take a picture of a real blade’s hamon is difficult so was taking pictures of the Gerbera Straight. The lighting has to be just right and at the correct angle.

And then we get to the tip of the blade, or kissaki (切っ先). Normally there is a distinct line separating the tip from the body of the blade. This is known as the yokote (横手). This is kind of strange. Blades made during the Heian Period (794 – 1185) largely lacked yokote. Many blades made afterwards lacked it as well but usually these were smaller blades like daggers. I’m actually in over my head when it comes to the ‘rules’ regarding blades and yokote so I’m just gonna stop right here.

(If anyone is interested at all in Japanese swords I recommend you pick up this book; The Connoisseurs Book of Japanese Swords. It’s the definitive book in English about Japanese blades and an amazing resource. And it’s got most of these difficult Kanji, which weren’t coming up on my PC leavign me with no choice but to search for them.)

Here’s a plastic tube.

The reason this is in the PG Red Frame box is to allow the builder some way to protect the Gerbera Straight sword. You slide this tube over the tip.

You know, this was a really nice thing for Bandai to do.

With the sword done I have to make the scabbard, saya. That’s this runner.

Take the longest parts and insert some of that cool rubber you first encountered way back when you were starting the PG by building the feet.

At that time I wondered why there were two unused squares of that adhesive rubber. Now I know.

You put them inside the large scabbard parts near the opening. This creates enough friction to hold the blade in the scabbard while you’re moving the kit around.

And some red parts.

These next four parts are all the same.

Two are placed on each side of the scabbard.

And then the tip sees some more of that gold to go along with the red.


I built the shield next however iphoto crashed on my mac and I lost those pictures so we’re just gonna skip that section and say, “it’s just like the Strike’s shield”. But I didn’t lose the pictures of the Beam Saber handles. Oh boy!

Each consists of three parts and are really quite large, even for PG standards.

They also fit very precisely into the backpack.

For some reason this picture makes me think of the Beam Saber handle as a stepped on cigarette butt.

Now I gotta mount that scabbard on the Red Frame and there’s a cool assembly designed just for that purpose.

This design gives you a rig that expands and contracts, or maybe I’m being too fancy and should just write ‘opens and closes’.

You attach a red part onto it and then plug it into the holes that are hidden underneath the movign armor on the side skirts.

On the bottom of the scabbard is a little hollow which just so happens to be the exact same size as a little tab jutting out from the bottom section of the rig you just assembled.

The scabbard fits onto that little tab and then when the rig is closed the top part slides into position and a little lever comes downward to hold the tsuba, hand guard, in place to the sword doesn’t come out.

Ready for action!

Actually he’s just ready to be taken comletely apart and painted.

Categories: Astray Red Frame, Builds, PG

7 Responses so far.

  1. Sonar says:

    Cool. I’ve been waiting for your input on the Gerbera Straight. Of particular interest to me is reading about the mei translation: Kiku-ichimonji in detail. I suppose that much like the MG RF you did some time ago, the Tiger Pierce (the limited clear parts set plus extra Katana & sword display) came with a different mei, probably Kotetsu as well. It has a slightly darker maroon in place of the red too. Interesting to think that whoever was tasked with designing and detailing those weapons had done some homework to make it cool for sword geeks, or was one himself/herself.

  2. Paul says:

    Nice! never expect to read info about japanese swords while reading a Gunpla review. Love the part about Kiku-Ichimonji (菊一文字).

  3. GN says:

    One of your best posts yet Syd. I love all the details about the sword, and it makes me appreciate the details that have gone into the kit even more.

  4. Woodfish says:

    I have a question though and I was torn between either posting it here on on HLJTV new blog/facebook thingie. I’ve seen this in a few more places but the question remains. Why? Why do some people do the complete kit just so that they can tear it apart again for painting purposes? It may be due to viewing the “whole picture” kind of thing for that special custom paint you want to do or to visualize how it’s going to look like and/or something like that. Do explain. Thanks.

    • GN says:

      I’m keen to have this discussion. I think I posted something along the same lines on new HLTV site. I paint before assembly, with some component sections painted as a unit if I need to deal with seam-lines. You can see this here: where I remove the pieces, sand, paint and detail long before assembly. It does take some mental gymnastics to ensure shading etc. goes in the right places. And I will do some painting after assembly too, but I do try to get most it done beforehand.

      With some of the smaller kits like the RG, I’ll paint most of the pieces on the runner itself as the design of the kits hides the nubs very well, and usually only small touch-up is needed if you’re going for an as-coloured paint scheme.

    • syd says:

      Well, I test build because I know a lot of people want to see details of the build as well as a review so it makes sense to get a test build done quickly. If I’m buildings kit for the second time there’s no need for a test build and I just take the parts off the spruce and paint them.

      • Woodfish says:

        Of course people would like to see your stuff Syd. After all, this site is meant for just that. I was just curious because following your blog made me realise how often I actually see this kind of thing. I myself never built an RG and the only kit that I had was undergated (to some extent anyway) was the old MG Hyaku-Shiki. But with whatever I tend to build, be that an MG, HG or some older no grades I try to slap together everything I can and what colour permits me to do before I jump to painting so I can relate to what GN said though due to gate marks I never paint on the runner itself. I’m an airbrush kind of guy and masking the runner just won’t cut it for me. Wasn’t trying to be rude or anything, just curious as I’ve seen this behaviour a lot, blog owners, youtubers and more or less any ordinary Joe (or Jane for that fact) out there. Thanks for the answer guys though, much appreciated. I’ll jump on GNs blog, see what he has to say on the link he gave us. Thanks again.

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