Ah… Prototypes of the main Gundam… what a perfect concept for Bandai to milk the same Gundam design/frame over and over and over again. Actually I do like this version of Astraea though simply for the color scheme. The red is almost like no other Gundam and the dark face mask makes it look that much more badass. Since I don’t have a clue about this Gundam’s story, I can’t really feel attached to it ^^;. The pilot, Fon Spaak, looks hotblooded enough for the machine but heard he was a douche though xD.
Out of the Box
As expected of a RX-78-2 type Gundam, there aren’t many runners and things look simple enough. Most of the runners belong to the 1/100 Exia (no surprise here) and you can pretty much assemble a complete red Exia if you want instead of Astraea (minus Exia weapons and shoulders). There’s just that many shared parts. Before I started on the model, I painted all the clear orb pieces with clear green. Oh yea, and ditch the foil stickers; this model comes with like the most pointless stickers for the most pointless areas (gray bits here and there). They make absolutely no difference on the model and in some cases (like the GN Sword), make things worse.
The body is comprised of the most pieces out of all the body parts. It is is almost on MG level in that aspect (minus cockpit). You build inner frame then you snap on the armor around it. You can also swap some of Astraea’s parts here to make Exia’s body ^^.
Cool! Three different v-fins (one belongs to Exia)! two faces (three if you count Exia’s…)! two heads (if you count Exia’s…)! Painted the yellow on the F2’s v-fin and painted the crest with metallic green but it turned out darker than I thought ^^; (still better than foil stickers). I’ve also painted in the gray area on F2’s face. Nothing going on here… pretty simple. I must point out that the head is not designed to allow you to readily swap between the faces. I hate that blunt and short v-fin from the original Exia so I’ll be swapping it with Exia’s.
Throughout the whole instruction manual, you’re provided with steps to either build the original Astraea or the F2 (which is basically Exia hahaha). There aren’t any gimmicks in the arms so it’s a solid straightforward construction. Props to Bandai for actually caring about putting inner details on the shoulders that get covered up by its outer armor, making this pseudo MG-esque. Two pairs of hands are included: open fist and open palm.
Continuing with the MG-esque, the legs are composed of an abundance of parts with what seems like an inner frame. On the negative side, there’s a serious overusage of polycaps here. Every point of articulation here is through the PC parts… meaning it will become loose easier.
Nothing much with the waist except that you can swap it with Exia’s front skirt to make the Type F’2 waist.
I slapped on the gray foil sticker for the GN Sword just to see how hideous it is and…wow, it is hideous >_>. Removed it right away before assembling. The weapons here are nicer than what I’ve seen in most HGs; the GN Launcher has internal details and the rest of the armaments actually consist of more parts than simply halves! Beam sabers are on the waist.
Gundam Astraea Type F
With one layer of top coat to tone down the shiny plastic, the red on this model isn’t as much of an eyesore as the toy red on…say, the RX-78-2 or MG Sazabi. The model looks great and goes very well together. While the proportions are not slim (see: anorexic), it is definitely not bulky. I’m glad I painted the chest orb instead of using that obnoxious green sticker.
Astraea looks much better with Exia’s v-fin ^^;. Now it’s time for some Astraea action…
GN Rifle… standard stuff. the back of the rifle plugs into the arm so I’m guessing it draws power from its GN drive (hence the name?). It looks more like a pew pew gun to me.
So the GN Launcher connects to the shoulder after you remove one of those uh… “spikes”(?) protruding there. When I first saw Astraea, I’ve always wondered how the launcher was just hanging in front of the Gundam and now I know. You can’t really aim much with this weapon though.
TYPE EXIA TYPE F2
Change the face, remove the astraea parts on the arms and legs and replace it with Exia’s orbs and you’ll have yourself the Astraea Type F2. As mentioned earlier, the parts are not really designed for swapping back and forth so it’s a kinda easy to break a peg or something. One thing of note: I actually forgot to replace the front skirts as well ^^;. Not like it makes any difference…
I’m guessing Astraea Type “F3” would be Exia after this >_>
Astraea, eliminating the target *deploys Proto GN Sword*
If anyone is wondering, the blade is actually painted ^^;. Now for some Double GN Sword…
Now let’s go over its articulation… It is GREAT! This Gundam is very dynamic, very flexible, very free moving (a little too free). There are no obstructions like side skirts or protruding body armor so the parts can twist and bend to its limit. Now the downfall… the damned polycaps in the legs and the part where the legs connect to the body (hip?). Astraea inherits the same weakness as the Exia (or the other way around); the model can gradually do the splits just standing there if the legs are even just a little wide apart. It’s very annoying posing it on the ground because of this. The white sheet of paper you see on the ground poses above serves to provide more friction so the model can actually stand. Pop it on the action base 1 (the model comes with its own holder) and all stability problems will be solved. This model excels in aerial poses ^_^.
So how should you go about deciding this model? Well, if you already have a 1/100 Exia then you are basically buying another one with a few bits changed here and there. If you don’t have a 1/100 Exia, I’d say go for this instead. It looks better, has a hotter color scheme, and you can even assemble a red Exia instead (almost). You also gotta love the clear black mask, this model’s most unique characteristic. Given that this non-MG beats many MG in terms of poseability using faulty HG engineering, I’d say I’m pretty happy with this model ^_^.