Sunday, February 17, 2019

[Kit Insight] Bandai Hi-Resolution Model 1/100 MBF-P02 Gundam Astray Red Frame (Straight Build)

Model Number: MBF-P02
Designation: Orb Union Prototype High Performance Close Combat Attack Use Mobile Suit

This is easily the best model kit iteration of the ever-popular Astray Red Frame, and that's saying a lot considering that it's a Hi-Resolution Model.
Bandai's Hi-Resolution Model (HRM) line of premium model kits sounds like a really good idea on paper: a model kit that features fancy parts treatment with components that go onto a prefabricated inner frame containing die-cast elements. However, released kits-of-the-line have been disappointing at best, with shoddy engineering, a loose inner frame that cannot possibly handle the rigours it was intended for, as well as ill-fitting parts that come off faster than flaky skin. The HRM 1/100 Wing Gundam Zero EW is the best embodiment of the line's flaws: while the end-product is undoutedly gorgeous out of the box, the model kit cannot do much except stand still, which it does with some difficulty. You can see my review of the HRM 1/100 Wing Gundam Zero EW here.

When the HRM 1/100 Gundam Astray Red Frame was announced, the community was visibly taken aback. Apart from the usual sentiments such as "Why the Red Frame again and not something else?" or "Where's my XX mobile suit in MG?", most of us took notice of a key trait of the HRM 1/100 Astray Red Frame - its #THICC proportions.Way beefier and bulkier than any previous iteration of the Astray Red Frame, the HRM 1/100 treatment of the iconic mobile suit is apparently more faithful to the original line art, which doesn't illustrate the Astray Red Frame as the lanky, nimble unit that it is now known for.

For some reason, I have a fair number of Astray Red Frames in my collection and most of them are (astonishingly) built. It's safe to say that I'm drawn towards the #AstrayAesthetic and also the fact that the Red Frame is a giant robot with a giant sword. The following are most of the Red Frames in my collection:
  1. Bandai Tamashii Nations NX Edge Style Gundam Astray Red Frame
  2. Bandai HG 1/144 Gundam Astray Red Frame (Flight Unit)
  3. Bandai RG 1/144 Gundam Astray Red Frame
  4. P-Bandai MG 1/100 Gundam Astray Red Frame
  5. Bandai MG 1/100 Gundam Astray Red Frame (Art of Gundam Ver.)
  6. Bandai Tamashii Nations Metal Build 1/100 Gundam Astray Red Frame
  7. Nillson Works 1/60 Astray Red Frame
The HRM 1/100 Astray Red Frame, therefore, has plenty to contend with.

Bearing in mind the lessons from previous HRM model kits, Bandai completely revisited the line's core characteristic: the prefabricated inner frame. Instead of providing a fragile, bare-bones skeleton a la the HRM 1/100 Barbatos or a structurally-unsound armour rack like the HRM 1/100 Wing Gundam Zero EW, the HRM 1/100 Astray Red Frame features a complete inner frame, down to the piping and mechanical detail. Arguably the most important aspect of any Astray model kit, the HRM 1/100 Astray Red Frame's inner frame also achieves what its predecessors could not: stability.

The revised proportions play very well into the HRM's aesthetic, with a hulking inner frame that looks like it hits the gym (and a GINN) everyday. The frame is very well made, blending plastic and die-cast parts together into a superb structure that has ZERO loose parts. The rigidity of the inner frame also enables it to be extremely flexible and nimble while still retaining its stability, allowing the HRM 1/100 Astray Red Frame to easily strike and hold dynamic poses.

The well-built inner frame also translates to a smaller amount of parts that need to be freed from their sprues. Indeed, the majority of the HRM 1/100 Astray Red Frame is already pre-built as the inner frame, with only the outer armour as well as its weaponry requiring work. As a result, the number of parts contained in the package of the HRM 1/100 Astray Red Frame is less than the amount of parts in the HGUC 1/144 RX-0 Unicorn Gundam Unit 03 Phenex [DESTROY Mode] (Narrative Version) and takes about three hours to complete.

The parts themselves feature a variety of surface textures usually reserved for higher-end releases (like Metal Builds). The two-tone red hues come in matte and metallic finishing, the black is high-gloss (almost reflective), the light grey, grey and dark grey parts are all matte and the white parts are finished with glossy white. The shoulder and thigh armour sections also have a carbon fiber weave imprinted on them, giving off a very real-world mechanical feel. The Gerbera Straight's blade is coated with a very brilliant silver chrome that still allows the hamon line to be seen and the gold parts are all done up in semi-glossy gold paint. These textures work together to give the HRM 1/100 Astray Gold Frame a very premium look and feel.

The set comes with a small sheet of stickers, most notably the pretty cool sakura motif. These stickers are cut with the exact shape of the intended parts and are very sticky: you basically get one shot at aligning the stickers before the entire thing gets ruined. I used almost all the provided stickers along with leftover ones from the RG 1/144 Gundam Astray Red Frame just to shake things up a little. The stickers, once placed, elevate the HRM 1/100 Astray Red Frame to a whole new level.


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