Metal Build Strike Freedom Gundam
The Strike Freedom was the final evolution of Kira Yamato's Gundam machines in the SEED series - as such it contains the ultimate version of every weapon the series had concocted - the beam sabre became a Darth Maul style dual-beam saber, the Freedom's wings are now an advanced version of the DRAGOON system of remote drone lasers, the beam rifle combines, the shield is replaced by dual beam shields and the railguns can now rotate to the rear of the unit leaving room at the waist for the rifles.
Basically, this thing is a complete beast.
The edition we have here is the second release of the figure, entitled Soul Blue. It has slightly different colours to the original release from 2015, and was made available at NYC Comic Con 2019. It has some extra tampos and matte paint on the blue areas. Originally overseen by Satoshi Shigeta, the figure has been radically overhauled to bring a new, detailed aesthetic to the base design.
To go with all of this incredible firepower is a sturdier frame. Honestly, this revision makes the Freedom look anemic by comparison - the arms and legs in particular are much heftier, with the calves being significantly thicker than even the original Strike Gundam that Kira started the series with.
The other striking update is the gold detailing that coats all of the metallic detail - every joint and grill just pops, which makes it a bit ostentatious, but manages to keep just the right side of gaudy (some Gundams in the series were entirely golden - they were never to my taste!)
Putting all three figures together makes for a stunning display. Each has it's own unique charm, from the Strike's practical metal shoulder detailing and bronze bars for a myriad of attachments, to the frankly beautiful open-winged elegance of the Freedom, the Strike Freedom really does seem like a practical and logical evolution.
Let's talk build quality. The Strike Freedom is not the latest release in the series, that honour goes to the Strike with it's red and black Aile flight attachment, so it could be excused for a few flaws that hadn't been ironed out yet, but honestly I can't see anything here that tells you it's an earlier model. Joints are tight, which they really need to be in order to support the immense weight of the backpack attachment. Finish is absolutely flawless, and I really mean that. There's not a sprue mark, paint blemish or decal out of place anywhere. No visible screws are present, only pins. It makes a massive difference to Takara's Masterpiece Transformer line, which claims to be premium but isn't even close. And yes I know they have to Transform, but that's not an excuse given the massive price-hike in the line and the fact that it would be easy to accomplish if they took the time.
Articulation is very good, but there are some slight issues. The arms are somewhat hindered by their bulk, but swivels in the right places on the forearms provide enough motion to pull off most poses. This is aided by a selection of hands, some of which are angled at the wrist to make posing the weapons more natural.
The legs have a double joint to allow for full curl, and even with all the armaments, the legs can moves pretty freely in whatever direction you need. The waist doesn't just swivel, it can bend in any direction - this makes for some very dynamic poses , especially when coupled with the included stand. The head is on a ball-joint, ankles are on rockers and swivels, and of course the wings can fold out with a degree of flexibility at the base.
Comparing Freedom to Strike Freedom feels a little unfair. The Freedom Gundam was only the second figure to be released in the line, but in terms of finish and accessories it's absolutely on par. But where in animation I've always preferred the more elegant lines of this model over the beefier Strike Freedom, in toy form the opposite is true. The thicker build, greater detailing and sheer presence have me switching allegiances. Maybe I'm just a tart.
So am I glad I dropped the significant number of dollars this thing requires to fill Kira's garage with all of his rides? Oh yes. It's been a hell of a year for adding premium bots to the Garden Room (known as "the robot room" by my nieces and nephews) and this is a centrepiece. I loved Gundam SEED, it was my Gundam. Yes, I was around for Wing, but it did nothing for me. SEED injected energy, pacing and likeable characters. It felt urgent and vibrant at a time when my interest in anime as a whole was on the wane. SEED pulled me back in, it therefore has a very important place in my heart. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the series than having these three figures in my collection.
But maybe an Infinite Justice Gundam could be the cherry on the top..?
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