Having moved to Japan for the express purpose of studying old school Japanese martial arts, you would think anything with the word Sengoku in it would be right up my alley, but that isn’t always the case. What we’re going to find out right now is if the 1/100 MG Sengoku Astray Gundam is up that alley. Or somewhere else.
Overall Look: 7/10
I am a fan of the sleek, modern-looking Astray suits for the most part but the Sengoku seems like a step in the other direction. On top of those sharp, quick lines you’ve got a bunch of added parts that seem to fatten this guy up and change the proportions of what you’re looking at. It’s not horrible, of course, but different. It has to be different as it’s a new concept in a new anime, but sometimes different isn’t always a good thing.
The old Red Frame was red, black, and white so this changes the equation a little bit by adding the gold on the face and the clear green parts found on the shoulders, knees, and lower legs.
The fit of these transparent parts is very tight so if you do plan on using the stickers be sure to put them on during initial assembly. If you’re thinking of going a different route it’s best to leave the clear parts on the runner until the last step.
Two Japanese swords (with famous signatures on the handles)! Given my love for this type of stuff you’d think I’d give out the perfect 10 here. Unfortunately, being a sword nut means I can see all the details on these plastic toys that are a bit ‘off’. Not to mention that in the future, where these giant fighting robots are part of a supposed reality, fighting with an edged weapon, in space, is probably the most idiotic idea ever. Most Japanese weapons became irrelevant when the Portuguese introduced firearms into Japan in 1543. Other than the two swords there is no offensive weapon in the Sengoku Astray’s arsenal, but he does have this.
Dat freak shield. Actually, I think this part of the kit is pretty cool except for the… (we’ll get to that.)
The articulation of the Astrays has always been good and the Sengoku doesn’t depart from that. You will be move this kit around quite a bit and with the inclusion of those fancy arms located on his shoulders there are even more possibilities with this guy.
However (and there always is a ‘however’, right?) one of the things that makes the Astray Red Frame so posable, the huge amount of motion in the ankles, works against the Sengoku Astray a bit. With the added weight added up top the ankles have to do a lot more work and as the ball joint/PC connection loosens you’ll find this guy leaning at times.
For now he’s fine, but in the near future…
Build Design: 9/10
I’m several years removed from building the MG Astray Red Frame and I forgot a lot about it. At the time it came out I was relatively new to Gundam models and didn’t really know how it compared to the many kits that came before. Having built dozens of kits since then it was good to go back to the Astray and experience it again. It’s a great kit. With the Sengoku you basically get two all-new features; those shoulders and that shield. One of those is great, but the other…
Let’s start with the shoulders and those arms that connect to them. While they may look a little goofy when not in use they are actually well-designed and can be moved into pretty much any position.
You can also lock them closed thanks to two little tabs.
To get the swords into those giant hands you have to take off the end of the handle (the kashira, 頭, I believe is the correct term). With that off it slides into that huge closed hand.
Then simply put the kashira back on and you’re good to go. No worry about anything falling out.
If you don’t wish the swords to be in those big hands well you can mount them on the shoulders.
The fit is snug and you needn’t worry about them going anywhere.
So what’s the one big problem I discovered with this kit? Well, it’s the something I thought might be the best part; the shield.
To be more clear, the shield assembles no problem and functions fine. It looks cool and even has a gimmick where the mouth can open.
So where’s the problem? The handle.
When I first saw this I thought that rod would plug into the poly-cap found in the back of the Red Frame’s lower arm, but that’s not how it works at all. There is a small opening on the side of the handle.
This is meant to fit onto the tab found in the palms of the Red Frame’s hands.
And it doesn’t work. It’s a simple concept so I don’t think I made a mistake anywhere when I tried but attempting to get the handle into the hand was ridiculously difficult and time consuming. At first I had problems because the shield was quite large which hid the area I was working with. I tried taking the hand off of the Red Frame and was able to get it to connect, but once I tried to put the hand back on the Red Frame the shield handle just came out of the hand’s grip. So I left the hand on but took the shield handle off the shield.
Again I got it to connect but when I tried to plug the handle back into the underside of the shield it came loose again. I gave it many attempts but eventually after what could have been ten minutes I gave up. No aspect of any build should take ten minutes to get to work. The best I could do was this.
The handle isn’t attached to the palm of the hand. The only thing holding this shield in place is the grip of the fingers, which is weak at best. It was actually irritating.
One other aspect of the Sengoku that maybe could have been done better is the mantle that takes the place of the old V-fin.
The connection is the same concept and size as the old Red Frame V-fin but the Sengoku’s head ornament weighs probably three times as much.
This piece will fall off a lot. Just so you know.
(Though I kind of like the look of the head without the headdress.)
Fun Factor: 8/10
Re-experiencing the Red Frame was a good time and there’s also plenty of new stuff here. The building aspect is very enjoyable. Playing with this kit is also fun, if you leave the shield on its back. Which you kind of should because the kit looks odd from the back without the shield covering up the connectors.
There’s not much in the way of extras with the Sengoku. You’ve got lots of markings and foils you need for the clear green sections. You also get a new type of stand attachment.
Few extras could be disappointing for some but on the flip-side of that, you get a huge amount of parts that were originally for the Red Frame and now are not used on the Sengoku. You will end up with a huge amount of spare parts to do whatever you want with.
Most die-hard fans of this Suit will have already gotten their hands on it and anyone on the fence should be reassured when I tell you it’s a good quality build if you look past some issues that have been mentioned. With the Gundam Build Fighters suits being re-envisioned variants of existing suits we are going to see a lot of what we think we know mixed with new stuff. The Sengoku Astray is the first of this new kind of MG.