Hi-Resolution Gundam Astray Red Frame Review
Ever since I started building Gunpla, I’ve been asked, “Do you ever get bored of building the same robot over and over again?” several times. Despite the question usually coming from someone who only builds ship models (Aren’t they all the same, too?), it is a totally valid question. A quick glance at any selection of Gundam model kits will show only a handful of unique designs. Now, you and I both know that there’s a lot more to building models than what’s on the surface; I’ve built the Unicorn Gundam three times now, and all three times have been completely different experiences. However, there is a definite order of things in any model’s building process, and sometimes building Gunpla can get a little monotonous. So, when I received the Hi-Resolution Gundam Astray Red Frame as a gift over the holidays, I relished the idea of a brand new way to build Gunpla.
I suppose before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that I have no idea what the hell the Astray Red Frame is. My knowledge of it thus begins and ends with: I hear the Master Grade is pretty nice. Fortunately, we live in the day and age where any asshole can build their own website and put whatever they want on it — including the origins of the Astray Red Frame. Turns out its from a SEED spin-off manga and it’s piloted by a dude named Lowe Guele (I had to read the katakana to figure out how to pronounce that one. It’s Gyuuru, if you’re curious). So, yeah. Mystery solved.
Moving on, Hi-Resolution kits are quite different from other 1/100 models — and I don’t just mean that they cost more than twice as much money. The Astray Red Frame is the third kit in the series, with the previous two being the Barbatos and Wing Gundam. Essentially, these kits provide you with a fully-built inner frame and many runners filled with parts used to complete the model. Despite being seemingly much simpler to build than a regular Master Grade (to an extent, it is), there are just as many runners in the Hi-Resolution box as you might find in a normal Master Grade box. This results in a very detailed final product that also happens to be crazy sturdy, seeing as the frame itself is held together with screws rather than the hopes and dreams of your inner geek. In my case, the Astray Red Frame is my first Hi-Resolution kit.
Let’s talk about the materials you’ll need. Because the Hi-Resolution Astray is meant to be super high-detailed out of the box, all you really need is a nice pair of nippers, a hobby knife, and something to add decals with (no water slides in this box, unfortunately). You are more than welcome to paint the Astray. Just keep in mind that a large portion of the inner frame is actually die-cast metal, so you will need to consider that when choosing your paint. I personally recommend against painting it, though. It looks really good out of the box, and I think you would need to be an extremely talented painter to make it look any nicer without potentially ruining the look of your model.
The build process itself is more or less what you expect: You slap a bunch of pieces onto a mannequin until it looks like a big, samurai robot. As I alluded to in an earlier parenthesis, the build is a tiny bit simpler than a regular Master Grade model. However, what makes it simpler is the omission of building the inner frame. To be frank, the inner frame is often the most complicated and boring part of building Gunpla, so you might almost argue that the Hi-Resolution kits are a way to bypass that and focus on the more entertaining parts of building. Because of this, the Astray Red Frame is a joy to build from start to finish. There’s little to no tedium (which I say only because if there was any, I don’t remember it), and the pieces even have a premium feel to them that helps to increase the overall quality of the build.
My favorite part of the build was probably the Astray Red Frame’s head. In particular, the head already comes with pre-molded cameras — Pre-molded cameras! Not having to peel off the annoyingly small, green foil stickers only to spend the next ten minutes fiddling with the head in order to slap them in place correctly was like Oprah telling me to check under my seat. If that wasn’t enough, the V-fin having an enormously long peg that fit snugly into the Astray’s head, with absolutely zero chance of it ever falling out after-the-fact, was probably the most satisfying moment in any Gunpla build I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The Hi-Resolution Astray Red Frame’s head is a testament to Bandai’s genius engineering, and all they did was stick bits of green plastic into a bit of red plastic and call it done.
The rest of the build was largely similar, with unexpected and welcome moments of convenience throughout. While a lot of that convenience is most likely a result of the high price, it’s still a very nice model to put together. As someone who enjoys the Gunpla build process more than the final product, I was very happy with the Hi-Resolution Astray Red Frame, and not at all put off by half the build being finished out of the box. It’s also a good thing that I enjoyed the build process, because the final product…
The Astray Red Frame looks very nice. The gloss-injected plastic practically glows in the right light, and the detail on the kit, down to the very awesome textured armor plating, is nothing short of fantastic. Even the gold pieces, often the least impressive part of any model, look great due to nub marks being entirely hidden. Unfortunately, enjoying how it looks is probably all you’ll be doing here.
The Astray Red Frame’s limbs are unbelievably tight. The joints in the legs make such horrible crunching noises as they move, that I genuinely believed I had broken it more than once. The arms aren’t much better, though they are quite a bit more manageable. The head, which I praised so much just a moment ago, is more or less immobile as soon as you pop it on the torso, too. I would definitely recommend finding a pose you like, and just leaving it there. I am 100% positive that archaeologists will dig up your home in ten thousand years, and it will still be right where you left it — and even they’ll have a hard time trying to pose it. I suspect that you might be able to take a screwdriver to the screws in the joints and loosen them, but I’m certainly not confident enough to try it myself.
Despite that, the poseability is insane here. You can make the Astray do more or less whatever you want if you can manage to find the strength needed to move it. The balance here is pretty impressive, too. Likely due to all of the metal in its legs, I was able to get the Astray Red Frame to stand in positions that I would never be able to do with any other model I’ve built. If you’re willing to put up with the tight limbs, I’m sure you could even play with the Astray if you wanted, too. It’s a very durable little kit.
Accessories-wise, it’s a little light for such an expensive model — though, I don’t believe the Astray really has a lot going on in the first place if I’m to believe my earlier research. While the beam sabers, rifle, and shield are pretty standard, the star here is the Gerbera Straight: a giant, awesome-looking katana that Lowe apparently “created through lost techniques that [he] learned,” whatever the heck that means. I guess I do know what it means, though: Dude wanted his giant robot to have a giant katana, so he made it happen. Life well spent, I think. What that means for the model is that you get a really cool sword to pose the Astray Red Frame with. In fact, while you can get some interesting poses with the sabers and rifle, I think I’ll be sticking with the Gerbera when I choose the Astray’s final resting spot on my shelf.
In addition, you’ll also get five sets of hands: standard closed fists, open hands, hands to grab the beam rifle and sabers, hands to grab the Gerbera, and some weird karate hands that I couldn’t figure out what to do with other than make it look like the Astray was doing the robot. Of note, the hands are extremely detailed for what they are. Almost all of them have an extra joint to swivel around in, and they just look slightly cooler than the average pair of hands. Despite being a little finicky, I think they are the best hands I’ve seen on a Gunpla so far. I kind of hope Bandai makes an attempt to use something similar on future, standard Master Grades.
Ultimately, the Hi-Resolution Astray Red Frame is a very nice model kit. It offers a unique approach to building a Master Grade-like model, an extremely detailed and satisfying build, and a very pretty final product. The Astray Red Frame is definitely on the pricier side, costing more than several Perfect Grades, and the mannequin’s joints are practically immovable. But, if you’re a fan of the Astray, then I can’t imagine too many better models or figures to display proudly on your shelf. It’s a pretty Good kit, basically.