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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Friday, September 23, 2011

Review- Real Grade Aile Strike

Kit Review- GAT-X105 Strike Gundam (With AQM/E-X01 Aile Striker)
It certainly has been a while, hasn't it? Unfortunately, I wasn't able to pick this guy up right away, but then again, I had no real urge to- my last Real Grade experience was a little lackluster, and I wasn't exactly looking forward to this kit. Gundam SEED has never been my favorite series, it feels like a more stylized retelling of Mobile Suit Gundam... which it is, so I don't know why I said that. However, the series do divulge, so I don't really dislike it for being a clone, per se... I just don't like it much. The next RG review is going to be a LOT harder for me to type up, as Freedom Gundam and its successor are really not my favorite suits.
When I first saw the Strike Gundam, I acknowledged the fact that it was an updated version of the RX-78. Heck, aren't all "main Gundam" supposed to be? The design is more angular, and has plenty more detail- but I never really saw myself getting a version of it because of the similarities it shared with the more iconic original. However, having these two side by side, I must respectfully admit that they are far more different than I would have liked to believe. The RX-78 looks soft and plush next to the hard angles and points of the Strike- the body proportions are different, and the Strike has more bulk to it in completely different areas. When I was all done building this suit, I appreciated it far more than I used to.
Speaking of building experience, if you've constructed the RG RX-78, you'll pretty much know what to expect here. There are some obvious changes, of course- the armor shifting gimmick is relegated to the lower arms on the Strike, and there's a lack of inner frame swapping in the torso, which makes the kit a little more solid. The balljoints on the fingers do seem a little looser, but that may just be my model. Props to Bandai hardcore for keeping each shade of red different on all three of these suits. Strike's seems to pop just a little bit more than the others, because of its vibrancy. RX-78 and it may sharesome similar colors on their white frame, but definitely not their blue.
The Strike looks sharp and mean with all of its hard lines. One thing that I've found is that the feet seem to be a little more awkward in regards to their joints- they're flat, more so than the previous two kits', and they lose a little bit of maneuverability because of that. Bandai did very well with making the arm connection point for the shield, but the whole piece feels as if it will flop outward (it's connected to the back of the arm, not the side), and with the weak joints of the fingers, it tends to do just that.
View from the front. I do like the blue accent on the waist, it's very nice. Strike's head seems to sit higher than the RX's, but that might just be a proportional difference. Bandai has once again improved on the shoulder pads- the Zaku shoulders worked well, but I wasn't sure how they would look on a Gundam. Upon returning to Gundam designs, the issue sees to be all but fixed, with the shoulders being clipped on to the inner frame- they don't feel loose or unstable in the least.
A view from the back. the black highlights (oxymoron?) really look great on this kit, and give it a whole lot of detail. You can see that, like the RX, he has three different shades of white. Some nice detail on the back of the torso, as well as a port for his overly large accessory, which we'll get to in a second.
Here's an articulation test, from the side. Unfortunately, that is the extent of his foot articulation, which is a little more subtle than the other two kits. The armor shifting on the knees is really fantastic, with a little curl of the kneepad itself. The armor skirts can really get very high, so his leg articulation is very nice- the same goes with his arms. Lo and behold, Bandai seems to have avoided their weak pelvis syndrome, as Strike's legs stay in very well up there.
From the front, you can see a minor issue with this kit. The side skirts really don't give this kit much of a wide stance- at least nowhere near the level of the RX. Of course, he has waist articulation, and an ab crunch, which, though subtle, gives a very dynamic look to him while posing. That's about as high as his arm can go, with a slight horizontal move forward and back- it is very impressive. His head has a very good amount of articulation as well, partly because it sits so high. Strike can look down and up fairly far.
Now, onto accessories! While small, these little daggers are quite an important, and well-appreciated addition to the accessories. He comes with two, and they are both able to fit into those side skirt armors- partly the reason their articulation is so hindered. They fit very snugly into his hand.
Behold, the largest "accessory" in this kit, the Aile Striker. Considering it's a very large piece of the set and this is supposed to be a Real Grade kit, I was very underwhelmed in constructing this piece. It's very simplistic, almost High Grade. There's no inner frame to this section, and although it has five different colors on it, there really isn't much to the entire thing.
It plugs in well enough, and it serves as a place to plug in two of the four beam sabers that come with the kit. It has four points of movement, in the thrusters and the wings. Most people were upset to hear that the wings don't fold up, and I agree with them- this is supposed to be a Master Grade level of construction on a 1/144 scale, and I was hoping that they would at least try to do something impressive with this large accessory.
Still, when all suited up, the entire package does look quite impressive! Minus the extra beamswords, this is everything- which is another slight disappointment. The RX and the Zaku came with rifle, bazookas, and melee weapons, while this one comes with only four beamswords, a rifle, and... the giant backpack. By the way, the only real use I can find for the beamswords without the hand peg is that they are more aesthetically pleasing when stored- they fall out of the hands too easily.
However, all nitpicks aside, the Aile Strike is a great kit, and when placed next to the other Real Grade kits, looks just as good. The Aile Striker, while simplistic, looks fantastic when plugged in, and the kit can balance very well even with such a massive backpack. Do I recommend it? Being my second Strike kit (the first being Stike Noir), I'm not entirely sure. However, it has convinced me to buy the MG Strike/Launcher, because of the design. After holding this kit in my hands, I've come to appreciate the Strike design much more, and I look forward to reviewing an MG version of it.

As far as Real Grades come, though, it is definitely on the level of the RX-78, though a little light on accessories. It is visually impressive and captures the essence of the RG line- great builds, impressive final product, and fantastic detail. I suppose I would recommend it, as it has made me admit my excitement at the next RG installment, even if its a suit I'm not fond of.

And it's way better than the RG Zaku.

Up next- Master Grade Sinanju! Koto Metabee! Figma Append Miku!

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