Monday, January 29, 2018

[Kit Insight] Kotobukiya Frame Arms 1/100 JX-25F Ji-Dao (Straight Build)


A pretty unusual design, even for Frame Arms standards!

The Frame Arms series of model kits can be considered the OG of High Grade scale models, being the pioneer of the armour-on-inner-frame building technique. While Bandai was content to produce its HG model kits without an inner frame until the rise of Iron Blooded Orphans, Kotobukiya has been doing it for decades with their amazing Architect frame.

Frame Arms mecha shy away from "real robot" design, instead blending fantastical elements with practical design philosophies. That's why we sometimes see Frame Arms mecha with clear wing parts or outlandish weaponry, something only reserved for protagonist machines in Bandai franchises. The Ji-Dao however, seems out of place in the Frame Arms universe.

Unique name notwithstanding, the Ji-Dao has much lesser weaponry and equipment as compared to its other Frame Arms brethren. Compared with the Gourai, the Ji-Dao is outgunned more than twice over, having just a rifle and a shield (that looks a lot like the binders on the NZ-666 Kshatriya). In fact, the whole machine practically screams grunt, from its dull olive colour scheme to its relatively simplistic - therefore easily mass-produced - design as well as its very basic weapons complement. 

Construction of the Ji-Dao is pretty uneventful with armour parts snapping onto the bundled, pre-fabricated Frame with little resistance. Some sections however, are inexplicably loose-fitting and are prone to falling off. Although glue can easily solve this issue, it's rather strange for the manufacturer to let it slide. Ji-Dao has pretty decent parts and colour separation, which can be further enhanced with paint but the machine looks pretty nice just snapped out of the box.

The kit fails somewhat in the articulation department. For one, the arms can't achieve anything more than a 45-degree bend at the elbow due to the design of the shoulder armour. If you move the arm outwards a little, you can get a little more bend but it just looks weird. The frame's leg bend is hindered after armour goes on and if you are used to the delicious knee bends of contemporary Bandai HG model kits, well, don't get too used to it. Despite the restrictions placed by the armor components, you can still coax a few nice poses out of the Ji-Dao.

Frame Arms kits can be fun to do but a full inner frame can be restrictive to posing.

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