Friday, February 01, 2008

PLAMO Review 27: MG Strike Freedom Part 1

* A very long posting ahead ^^; *

Can't wait to try the model to mimic this action pose on the box cover ^^

So sorry for the long wait, everyone ^^; I finally got my lazy butts up to do a review on my 'latest' Gunpla - MG Strike Freedom, but not without a very red face of embarrassment actually.

I checked on my previous postings and found out that the last review I did was on HGUC Hrairoo back in October last year. For a blog which started off as a platform to share my hobby of Gunpla-ing, a two-month gap between reviews of a completed work sure is S--L--O--W ^^; After seeing so many others started their own blogs about Gundams, as well as the many gentle reminders from loyal readers, my MG Strike Freedom has got to come out XD

As a matter of fact, I think I'm about the last person who blog about Gundam to be reviewing this kit ^^;

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This MG comes with a bonus: a booklet introducing the latest (back in 2006) SEED Stargazer Gunplas, as well as some development notes of MG Strike Freedom, including an interview with its mecha designer, Kunio Okawara.

The display stand is obviously designed after Strike Freedom's wings, but somehow it looks like a giant spider to me XD

Anyway, I'm going to divide this reviews into four parts (tentatively), which will include pre-assembly, assembly, action, and comparison with MG Freedom, and maybe with MG Strike Noir as well.

Pre-assembly work on this model started shortly after the reviews on HGUC Hrairoo actually, but the amount of work was simply overwhelming for me. Then again, instead of the model itself, I believe the main problem is human factor, which is me actually ^^; Apart from the large number of parts that need panel-lining, as well as their complexity, most of the parts are identical, making the work quite dull and dry after a while.

To start off with, Strike Freedom is a perfectly symmetrical design, i.e. fold a picture of Strike Freedom (front/back) right in the middle and you will get the both sides matching each other perfectly. While I don't have much problems with the body (most models are symmetrical anyway), the Super Dragoon is a major challenge for me ^^; There are four sets of wings, with a pair of Super Dragoon on each. So for that, there are eight different sets of parts to panel-line, most of them are two-faced, so you'll get 16 sides of details to take care of. Given the excessiveness of details provided by Bandai's superior technology, I'm sure you'll get the whole picture of the work clearly ^^;

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Here are some of the panel-lining work you can expect from this model.

The details on this model are super-rich. Apart from the inner frame, which needs no mentioning of their rich details, parts which are to be concealed after the model is assembled, mainly the interior of ALL armor pieces are molded with details as well. This is not exactly new anymore, since such careful attention given to the mecha design of the MG Gunpla by Bandai can be traced all the way back to Aile Strike released in 2003. I'm particularly amazed that the interior of the Super Dragoon are filled with details as well. You'll only get to see bits of them once the parts are snap-fitted, but you know they are there, which adds to the feel of realism that they are indeed the mechanism of Strike Freedom, not merely a model.

There are details inside the shoulder joint compartment of the chest - details which you can only take a glimpse at when the finished model bend his shoulders forward in certain action poses.

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Plenty of details even inside the Super Dragoon - stuff you won't be seeing much after the parts are assembled.

There are 393 parts for MG Strike Freedom in total, with no screw at all. Many of the parts are very delicate, for example, the golden verniers that sit inside the cheek of Strike Freedom which are molded separately, parts of the beam shield generator on either forearms and some other parts are very small, so you better be careful not to lose any of them. Also, you have to extra careful with the Super Dragoon system as well. Although all of them look identical, their inner mechanism are not. If you mixed up the parts, you might not be able to get it to work as expected.

Some of the tiny-biny parts in this MG.

For 'safety' precautions so that I don't mix up the parts, I use labels to differentiate between the four sets of Super Dragoons.

As for the color, most of the parts are molded in their designated colors, so no worries. I particularly like the golden parts. They are 'gold' enough to show off the shiny interior of Strike Freedom, but since they are of ABS hard plastics, they work very well as the joints for the model too. But if you like extra 'bling-bling-ness' for Strike Freedom, we should consider getting the Full Burst mode instead. With the parts molded with golden metallic coating, I don't think panel-lining will be necessary, but those extra coolness will cost you an extra 2,200 Yen as compared to the normal release of Strike Freedom which I am reviewing now.

Mike assembled his Full Burst Strike Freedom long before this review. Check out his review on that model.

There are some parts where the colors are not given though. You can choose to paint them to stay loyal to the designated paint scheme, or not at all. It won't affect the final work since the model itself is full of details here and there. The parts where some paintings are needed include:
- vernier of the ankle armors
- Head Vulcan (formally called CIWS I guess),
- interior of the backpack, shoulder and knee thrusters/verniers - should be in red,
- targeting sensors of the rifles,
- hydraulic pipes on the ankles and elbows - purely optional actually,
- and of course the pilot figures of Kira Yamato, as well as him standing and Lacus Clyne in 1/100 scale (Good luck painting that ^^;)

I also colored part of the extension tail (?) of Strike Freedom's beam rifle (bottom left in the picture) to silver - personal preference only ^^

There are a total of four tiny hydraulic pipes on each of Strike Freedom's upper arms and elbows, which I colored in silver as well.

All the parts mentioned above are optional in terms of painting, but there's a part where I think painting is a must: the blue stripe on the rifles. The stickers given only cover the side of the rifles, while the top is naked. With the blue Gundam marker, the task is no problem at all. I tried other marker, but their colors do not match that of the stickers, so the Gundam marker is the solution.

The combo of sticker and Gundam marker is a technique I used all the time ^^

Still on painting, the interior of the knee is an interesting part. That particular part is molded entirely in black, but the designated color as according to the construction manual is gold. You can opt to paint it accordingly, to blend it with the rest of the leg's inner frame. I didn't paint it though, since retaining that part in black shows that there's another layer of armor beneath the knee covers, which adds to level of complicity to the mecha design of Strike Freedom. Different options - different stories - cool~ XD

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Color variations on other parts of Strike Freedom.

Finally, my progress:

Head: The last to be panel-lined in my plan

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Body: One more piece of the chest, the cockpit and the pilot left
Shoulder & Arm: OK!

SF_Progress_Waist_s SF_Progress_Legs_s
Waist: OK!
Leg: OK!

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Backpack: OK!
Super Dragoon: One set left.

Weapons: OK!

Almost there! ^^; Stay tuned for Part 2.