Review by Gunpla Rob
Price of model: 44.99 USD, price of supplies: 32.55 USD, price for replacement parts: 30 USD. Waiting three months for the replacement parts order to be found, shipped, delivered and completing the model said time from the time you originally got it: priceless.
Sometimes when something has more problems than its worth, the only solution is to leave it be. Not in my book. Sometimes you just have to stick it out, wait it out, and finish things up. In the long run, they’ll be worth it, much like this model kit.
Master Grade: From the One Year War to the Battle of Yachin Due
The Master Grade line from Bandai has been the staple for quality and prestige for both mechanical designer and machine. However glorious and well produced the line has been, it has been slim in its variety of series. The majority of the overall Master Grade collection has been dedicated to the Universal Century between the years UC 0079 and UC 0093. When Mobile Fighter G Gundam made its big re-emergence, Bandai opted to produce its first Master Grade from another Gundam Universe. At its conclusion, G Gundam saw four designs made plastic.
When the Version Ka (named for Hajime Katoki) assortment was developed, a new opening was established for other Non-UC models such as the XXXG-01W Wing Gundam. It however was a concept version according to Hajime Katoki, and not the animated version by his senior Kunio Ohkawara. Following this version, was its animated relative, the XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero Custom from Mobile Report War Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz.
While the Version Ka line introduced Gundam Wing machines, Bandai had released its first entry from the Cosmic Era (the calendar table for the universe) with Gundam SEED. The GAT-X105 Strike Gundam set a standard for future models from this series if they were to be produced in the Master Grade line. This standard continued with its second model kit entry, the ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam.
As seen with my recent reviews to CDX, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Cosmic Era. While I could seriously use more Zakus and GMs, I have to admit Gundam SEED has offered some nice ideas to the ‘multi-Gundam’ concept. Like past ‘Alternate Universe’ Gundam series, SEED started with a generic five and ended with upgraded versions of past machines and new ones based on the older ones. The ZGMF-X10A Freedom, although an entirely new machine to the SEED era, it was the first jump back to an ‘all powerful’ winged Gundam I’ve seen since the Wing Zero.
No Nukes is Good News
According to the history of the Cosmic Era, a brilliant scientist named George Glenn was the first of a new generation of human evolution called “Coordinators.” Coordinators are genetically altered beings whose mental and physical prowess surpasses the normal, “Natural” human being. His death marked the first in anti-Coordinator movements on Earth, forcing virtually all Coordinators to live in space and beginning a new age in Genetic Segregation and giving birth to new organizations such as Blue Cosmos, an aristocratic organization in control of the Earth’s military and political structure.
In the year C.E. 70, Blue Cosmos orders an event known as “The Bloody Valentine” which leads to the full scale war between the Earth and its orbiting space colonies, the Plants. As a strike against the Coordinators, the event was a preemptive attack by the Earth against Junius Seven (a natural resource and farming colony for most of the Plants) with the use of nuclear warheads. With their superior technology, ZAFT (the Zodiac Alliance of Freedom Treaty, the military government of the Plants) launches its retaliation against the Earth in the form of Neutron Jammers. Long story and scientific words aside, Neutron Jammers cancel out all nuclear energy power sources. While it didn’t bring about the direct loss of lives like the attack on Junius Seven, the Neutron Jammers did their job to cripple the Earth’s arsenal of nuclear weapons and power plants.
With its arsenal of nukes disabled, the Earth Alliance is forced to rely on mobile weaponry, and slowly begins developing mobile suits. In secret, the first five Gundams: the Blitz, Buster, Duel, Aegis, and Strike are created but later stolen except for the Strike. Although they cannot use nuclear reactors, the Gundams use a battery type power source that produces an energy field that changes the color of its armor, the Phase Shift Armor. On an equally important concept, the SEED universe gives meaning for the most of their mobile suits with anagram names. So GUNDAM translates into General Unilateral Neuro-link Dispersive Autonomic Maneuver
After reverse engineering this Phase Shift concept and combining different components from ZAFT’s already superior types of mobile suits, the mobile suits ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam and ZGMF-X09A Justice Gundam are developed. Along with their enhanced weapons, the Freedom and Justice are built with the N-Jammer Canceller, allowing the mobile suits to use nuclear reactors. Thus, while they share the Gundam name the Freedom and Justice’s anagram of GUNDAM are different: Generation Unsubdued Nuclear Drive Assault Module.
Let Freedom Ring
The story of the Freedom spans two series, Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny as the personal mobile suit for Kira Yamato until it is ultimately retired in favor of the ZGMF-X20A Strike Freedom.
In a final battle against the stolen Gundams chasing the Archangel, the GAT-X105 Strike Gundam is heavily damaged against a self-destructing Aegis. While Kira is left for dead, he was taken to the Plants and cared for by Lacus Clyne. While in her care, Kira decides to fight against the war between the Earth and ZAFT and vows to return to the battle. Lacus believes in the same ideology, and risking her political position and becoming an enemy of the state, lets Kira steal the Freedom and return to the Archangel.
Knowing full well of what the N-Jammer Canceller meant, Kira used it on a defensive offence, protecting the Archangel and also fighting against both militaries. On one front, ZAFT wanted to recapture it and the Earth Alliance was after him because of the Archangel’s rogue status and the Freedom’s power. However because of the Freedom’s power, it remained elusive and proved itself to be a force to be reckoned with.
Power to the Red, White, and two tones of Blue
The Master Grade Freedom Gundam is the third machine from the Gundam SEED series to be done in MG form. The first and second were both the Strike Gundam in its standard colors and the additional ‘Strike Rouge’ colors. Ironically this is the third time I’ve built the Freedom. In its debut, I got the 1/100 scale High Grade and then when the 1/144 METEOR unit came out, I got the 1/144 scale version that came with it. Both of which shared similar demands for paint work, most of which made up Freedom’s additional colors aside from its primaries.
The Master Grade Freedom comes out of the box in its final colors, leaving essentially nothing as far as paint work on a large scale. You have the basics: white, red, deep dark blue, cobalt blue, pale gray and gray. There are the usual clear parts for eyes and sights and only one yellow part for the crest on Freedom’s forehead. Design wise and construction, the Master Grade title lives up to expectations and makes up for a lot missing from the earlier produced High Grade. Essentially, the only paint work that the Freedom needs is for the striping across its gun and vent areas.
Some fair warning before I begin is how certain parts are attached to the runners. Some parts are connected in an odd, almost scar-certain area. For instance, the red ‘band’ piece that is on the Freedom’s cockpit hatch is connected on the front edge on a fat root stem. To the novice, building this model will take some patience, and care not to rush when cutting parts free.
Like all my kits, the first place I start on is the head. The head of the Freedom has nine parts of assembly to it. This makes three parts for the face: nose/chin, cheeks, and face plate. The eye piece which goes on into them is clear and has the eye point for the top of the head which is held in place by a front and back helmet assembly. On top of that, you have the three part crest which is comprised of the yellow center crest the white outer ‘V’ and the red central block. Completed the head is very solid and much more proportionally accurate than the previous attempts. With some build work comes some color work, while in final colors the head needs filling in for its vents and panel lines. There are also two gun points on the side of the head that need a touch of gray. Visually the head is sound, construction compliments that as well.
The torso has an excellent display of improvements on past attempts and some tricks brought over from the MG Strike. Aside from the two gun points on the top of the chest and inside the thruster vents, there is almost no paint work to be done. In terms of construction, the torso has a full inner assembly and the body armor fits onto it. There is no inner mechanical detail to inner assembly. Its purpose isn’t so much for detail as it is for construction and stability. The armor plating would make from the waist, abdomen, upper torso, and collar. One area of interest is the shoulders. Catching up with more current MG kits, the Freedom has a full swinging shoulder block. Horizontally, this block gives an extra 20 degrees frontward motion and can go to nearly 90 degrees vertically. Compared to the Strike, the Freedom does not need reinforcement screws. Instead it is fully plastic on plastic friction with heavier grade ABS. The torso also features an opening cockpit. Unlike the Strike with a folding block and a swinging cover, the Freedom has what looks like a sliding block which is actually a swing arm built lower in the torso. Inside of course shows the control seat molded in gray plastic (but improved with paint) and a fixed sitting figure of the pilot molded in white plastic (again, improved with paint). While worth painting, the seat is recessed almost directly in the center of the torso. So while the cockpit opens, you need a directed light source to really look inside.
The Arms share some of the highlights and some of the dimmer lights of the MG Freedom. Constructed with a simplified internal assembly of polycaps, the arms have an excellent display of good form and design. The forearm has the detail for internal details, and the bicep really has no stripped down form. The Freedom’s elbows are double jointed, thanks to how it connects from the bicep assembly and forearm. The shoulder armor is where I have my doubts. The shoulder armor is constructed in full color and connects to the shoulder peg from the torso on a sleeve. What hurts here is that the armor almost hangs, and is dependent on tension from the arm for how tight it fits. However the arm has only so much range to connect due to sculpt of the shoulder peg.
The hands are done in the typical MG form; thumb, trigger finger, fingers, palm halves, and back guard. Construction is tight, and the hands ball into a fist smoothly. The one drawback I find myself having is that they have issues gripping the rifle completely. Also on the subject of holding weapons, the forearm has two points for holding the shield. There is a polycap connector on the back of the elbow guard and a port on the side of the forearm. Instead of following the trend of the MG Strike with a swinging plate that connects to the back port and brings the shield to the side, the MG Freedom relies on something less sophisticated. To connect the shield to the side of the forearm, there are two cover plates on the sides of the arm that need to be removed and realigned. These cover plates are essential in building the forearm because they act as locking tabs for holding the forearm armor in place. This fashion for attaching the shield was present in the original Freedom's 1/100 scale form. Instead of leaving them off, the plates fit into a different peg port in the same area. This keeps the amount of excess parts laying around to the minimum. What hurts is that this method was done plain and simple.
The waist area follows the basic laws of construction, the inner portion with a wide mouth polycap in the center for the torso's ball socket connection, and two hinge polycaps on the hips for mounting the skirts. The front skirts are connected in place on the waist assembly and held in place by the center block. There is no polycap placeholder like in the traditional 1/100 scale use, so there is a slight degree of plastic on plastic friction. The rear skirt has an additional amount of assembly to allow it to swing forward and backwards. It’s a simple inner plate with a polycap sleeve on the inside that connects it to the waist. In addition to assembling the waist there is a square shaped polycap piece that fits into the main waist assembly from underneath. What this piece does is connects the Freedom to either its display base or the suspension rod for the 'Action Base' that came with the MG Strike Gundam. To display the Freedom standing however, there is a smaller cube piece that fits into the polycap and fits the contours of the waist.
The legs of the MG Freedom are built up from the inside out. This includes inner frame construction from the hip down to the ankle with the body armor attached in the standard fashion. Contrary to the MG Strike with its simulated quadriceps in the thigh, the Freedom has a shifting knee block through a simulated tendon assembly in the lower leg. The end result is a near 180 degree rotation in the leg that is complimented by the knee guard flexing in regards to degree of the knee bend. The armor around the ankles connects via ball topped pegs molded into the armor guard on the back of ankle assembly itself. What this does for aesthetics is opens up the sides of the ankles and allows the ankle for an uninhibited range of motion. The feet are done in the upper level MG style, meaning that they are designed for added detail, articulation in the toes and balancing the weight of the upper body.
The distinct character features of the Freedom Gundam are its wing binders. From past experience, the wings for the Freedom have always been molded in whole sections rather than individual binders. Another drawback but cost saving method was having them need paint rather than construction. This really hurt in matters of character value and displaying the wings in full flight. For the MG version, the Freedom's wings come broken down to their smallest, individual parts. This means all the wing plates are separated and given their own range of articulation.
Construction begins at the base of the wings in the swing arms, where they connect to the back pack thruster assembly on the torso. There is a primary assembly done in heavy grade ABS for the amount of part friction, with covering armor over that. In that assembly there is a smaller, secondary binder that swings freely in between. The main wing plates have a rather awkward assembly style almost like a tongue and groove. The construction requires fitting the topside piece onto a main portion (that connects it all together) and onto the main body of the wing at an angle before shifting it into place and somewhere in between connecting another secondary binder plate. While in the full primary colors, the wings do need some secondary color work to do on the inner trim. Going down the wings where it connects the upper portion to the lower portion is a crevice that is shown to be gray. Painting this area will add to the detail value.
While the wings connect through the back of the wing arms using the backside wing assembly, the front wings require mounting on the Freedom's wing mounted cannons. The overall assembly is tight, and visually awesome. The design of the wing binders were great but this really shows how well it works when its model is assembled to the design specs. When completed, the wings stretch from the top of the Freedom's head down to the ankles. With the tight assembly to the torso and legs, the Freedom can hold its weight standing with the wings adjusted properly on the back. Posing the Freedom in flight however requires some getting used to, having to adjust the rear wings first and then adjusting the front rather than swinging either section freely. Fully opened, the Freedom has an impressive 15 inch wingspan.
The Freedom Gundam has a fairly balanced arsenal at its disposal and the model showcases them in their best form. As said through paint, the Freedom has its four gun points on the head and torso. Adding to the weapons count are the hip mounted rail guns, the two cannons in the wing binders, a beam rifle, its shield, and beam sabers that combine.
The Freedom's handheld weapons are its primary artillery. The rifle is constructed to MG specifications by having its upper rail being detachable to show the detail underneath. Construction of the rifle follows the formula of two halves to make the body, an extension grip, barrel tip, sight, clear optic, and the upper rail. The upper rail needs paint. Having been molded in solid white plastic, the trim needs to be painted blue. For the beam sabers, Bandai wanted to maintain a characteristic from the show without the addition of extension parts as seen in the 1/100 scale HG of the Freedom. While molded in full (no assembly required), the ends of the sabers have triangular cut outs with micro locking tabs. What this allows is for the sabers to connect to each other and stay interlocked. While they are molded nicely, the sabers have a band of color around the ends that needs paint. Their color is essentially a match to the chest area of the torso.
The Freedom's shield is nicely done to MG form and with a few additional ideas. The main body is two halves, front and back with a polycap cube in a central port for connecting it to Freedom. For the backside, the polycap cube is locked inside the main shield body and connects to a double ended peg plate that holds it to the Freedom's forearm. There is an adjustable grip for the Freedom's hand, however due to the grip strength being so weak it mostly sits flat against the slide rail. The front side of the shield has some more assembly work such as vent ports, top plating, and a broad crest in the center. On the side is a now detachable piece designed to be a gun port (opening through which the rifle barrel can fire through). What this does is connects to these side ports on the side of the shield on either the left or the right depending on however one wishes. For the standard, it is mounted on the right side of the shield. The shield does need some paintwork to its back side. Molded in white plastic, and detailed with a mounting rail and inner frame, it needs a major touch of gray.
Rounding out the Freedom's added firepower are the hip mounted rail guns and wing mounted cannons. The hip mounted guns are designed to fold in half and fold down to the side of the legs. Molded in the final colors, there is almost no paint work to be done here, each piece fitting its needed color. Construction is basic, half and half for each of the three sections. At the end of the rear section is a stacked vent assembly on the front most section is a stacked barrel. There are heavy grade ABS couplers to join each section rather than polycaps for their tensile strength. On the larger, rear portion, of the main cannon there are triggers that swing outward for the Freedom to grab onto. The rail guns are then built into a side skirt assembly that also acts as the dock for the beam sabers. As an added component, the block attaches to a swivel peg that fits into the polycap on the sides of the waist.
The wing mounted cannons are an essential part to both the weapons and the main wing assembly. In fact, their construction requires being done prior to building the wings all together. Construction is mild, with just the right number of parts to do the job and leave you with an amount of detailing to follow up with in paint or panel marking. The main assembly style is half and half for the body work followed by the additional parts for the colored areas such as a red trim rail and a dark blue colored block in the center. What makes the wing cannons so unique are the new swing assemblies in the rear. Unlike the previous Freedoms, the wing cannons could only open forward when the wings were perpendicular to the shoulders. Now through this assembly, the Freedom's wing cannons can be extended with the wings fully opened. What will be tricky to some is setting this pose. Adjusting the rear wing, you need to adjust the cannons, after that it’s a matter of readjusting the front wing. Also, taking into account their proximity to the head, the wings need to be set to the proper height before you knock the Freedom’s head off.
Added to the kit in its general release is a base stand. While not like the incentives released with Gundam SEED Destiny, the base that comes with the Freedom is always guaranteed. The Freedom connects via the insert on the bottom of the waist. Also, should you have the MG Strike Gundam it can also be displayed on the base.
Like every other Master Grade, the Freedom has its own branding marks in Dry Transfer Decals. In the recent trend of DTDs, the Freedom has an assortment of optional marks for areas. Cutting some free, some will end up being destroyed and a decal covered Freedom could end up looking like a NASCAR racer.*
*This Master Grade Freedom is brought to you by ZAFT! Now with Neutron Jammer Canceller!!
In short, the MG Freedom is worth it. It’s a good model based on a unique design and makes for a great display. Should anyone want this kit, be cautious when searching. There are two types available in general, the standard and a chrome plated version (celebrating its battle with the Impulse Gundam) and other types released for conventions. Not that any other version is bad, but its worth noting because these versions are more expensive than the standard release.
|Posted 5 January, 2007 - 15:41 by Gunpla Rob|