I think most Gunplars new it was just a matter of time before we saw the Astray Red Frame in Real Grade form. When I saw it at the Shizuoka Hobby Show this past May I wasn’t surprised it was coming but rather I was more surprised at how soon it came. I was expecting another kit, or two, from the Wing series due to Bandai already hinting that they were doing five of them. I have been enjoying the RG line so much that for me it might not matter which MS comes next. This time it’s the 1/144 RG Gundam Astray Red Frame, so I’m going to enjoy it before the next one is announced in the coming months.
Overall Look: 10/10
I’m not as much a fan of the Astrays as many other Gunplars out there but I can appreciate the uniqueness of the design. It definitely resonates with you. Mobile Suits, for the most part, are complete frames covered in armour for protection. The Astrays, on the other hand, have minimum armour protection which means the frame is much more important to the overall look. Bandai has done an amazing job on this Astray not only because they did it using the RG frame, which I’ll write about later, but also because they’ve kept the same methods and themes that we’ve seen in all the previous RG kits. It looks like an RG of the Astray should.
I’ve already seen some comments and questions regarding the head sculpt and I’m not sure where that concern comes from.
Considering the scale and grade I feel Bandai’s done a fine job with it.
It’s an Astray Red Frame and this kit is all red and that could be all I would need to say to describe it but I’ll write that Bandai incorporates the different tones (again an RG theme) quite well. I do wish instead of giving me two small green stickers for the sides of the backpack that they would have incorporated a small clear green part there.
The only little disappointment I have is with the hands.
While the hands molded on the RG frame runner are molded in both red and white, the fixed-pose hands are all red only.
All the Astray weapons are here and while simple, look really good. The shield especially looks good once all the stickers are applied (no pic, sorry. coming soon). The best part of the weapons is the Katana. Just like the PG you’ve got a mekki-plated sword with a mei (signature) reading ‘Kiku Ichimonji’ on the nakago (hilt). As if that weren’t enough Bandai has even added a hamon (cutting edge pattern) to this one.
Very well done considering the scale, and just like a real katana the hamon is hard to photograph.
With minimal armour you would expect the Astray to have good articulation and I’m happy to report that is the case. With nothing hindering the knee joint the leg bends completely.
The toes also bend up quite well for when you want this guy low and ready to spring into action.
If I have a gripe about the articulation it’s that the arm doesn’t seem to move upwards that much.
I think the use of the red inner shoulder piece is what gets in the way but really this is a minor issue that won’t really hinder people when it comes to playing with this guy. He is a lot of fun to pose, especially with that Katana.
Build Design: 9/10
Real Grade kits have the multi-colored armour, and all those marking stickers, and amazing proportions but above all they are all about the frame. Usually you assemble it and put on the armour and stickers and even with the frame functioning wonderfully you don’t really get to see it. The Astray changes all that. The RG Frame needed to be visible and to work and for that Bandai made some design changes. First of all they molded it in two colours. That’s easy to see right out of the box. What you notice when you put it together is how much of it you get to see. The best example is the back of the legs.
That white bar running down the middle of the back of the leg, that’s all RG frame. In fact, the entire back of the leg is all frame molded together on the B runner. It is really impressive.
Also interesting is the engineering in the arm.
Previous RG kits had the arms engineered the same way the legs were, with mechanisms that fit together and slide while the arm bends. With the Astray Bandai does away with that. There are no parts linking together and instead the arm is molded as three sections joined together via a single point. The wrist pivots on the point where it connects to the lower arm. The lower arm pivots at the elbow and the upper arm pivots above the elbow. It’s completely different but probably it was necessary for the Astray and its exposed frame. This design allows you to handle the arm without much fear of damaging some small inner frame area.
I do have two complaints, or maybe just one.
The lesser of the two is I’ve experienced the small part at the bottom of the front torso pop off quite frequently.
It’s right there under the hatch. You can see it has popped out. This seems to happen a lot.
The other area of concern I have is the joining of the upper body with the lower body at the waist.
It seems the connection is rather weak or at least for me it is. Now, this may be my fault because when I originally assembled it I had the skirt facing the wrong way when I dropped the upper body on. I did flip it around but the problem persisted. I pulled off all the armour around the waist and made sure to trim the gate marks down. There are some difficult to reach gates in that section so take your time and be sure to get them all removed. With that all done it still seems the connection isn’t terribly strong but I can live with it.
And while I just remembered, the ankle armour can pop off its connection quite easily but it’s not really a problem as it doesn’t move much in the first place and there’s not anywhere for it to go if it does come loose.
When you’ve got it together and are posing it you really appreciate what Bandai has done here.
Fun Factor: 9/10
It’s a completely new experience (for the most part) as far as Real Grades go and it’s a great experience to see it all come together as you start with that distinct frame and start putting the frame parts then the few armour parts on. Once done you have just as much fun, probably more, playing with this guy and his sword.
I’ll be posing this guy in a lot of kamae (stances) to see what he is and isn’t capable of.
More stickers than you ever thought you would see on an Astray including options for both the shoulders, the upper left thigh, the side of the right knee, and the left ankle armour.
You’re given a small piece that just hooks on to either side armour so the sword can attach to the hip.
And Bandai gives you two extra hands just for gripping the Katana.
I actually found that the RG frame hands worked well here but the extras are great to have.
Tenchi Jin no Kamae.
Get this kit. You won’t regret it.