Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hand's On: Robot Soul Strike Freedom

So for Christmas I treated myself to two more Robot Soul figures: Strike Freedom, from Gundam SEED, and V2 Gundam from Gundam Victory. I’ll talk about the former in this post.

Strike Freedom wasn’t actually in SEED, but rather its second season, Gundam SEED Destiny. It was preceded by the Freedom, which was very similar in design, and was used heavily by Kira until it’s destruction at the hands of Shinn Asuka. Strike Freedom came into being later on, as a replacement. Though the overall design (namely the wings and hip-mounted beam rifles) remained largely the same, Strike Freedom traded Freedom’s twin over-the-the shoulder beam bazookas for a set of DRAGOON remote turrets (basically Funnels; small pods that act autonomously to attack and defend, equipped with their own beam shooters); one for each wing “blade”, totaling eight.

In addition to a powerful new chest-embedded cannon, Strike Freedom ditches a physical shield in favor of a new energy based one, generated from either of the red gems on its wrists. It also comes packing twin handheld beam rifles (which can be combined into one absurdly long one), and two beam sabers, which are also combinable. So, to tally up, Strike Freedom is packing twin hip-mounted beam rifles, two combinable beam sabers, two combinable beam rifles, eight DRAGOONs, and a chest cannon, in addition to the traditional head-embedded guns that most gundams (regardless of the show) are usually equipped with as a last-resort. That’s a lot of heat. The wings also grant it a fairly insane amount of mobility, allowing it zip through the battlefield slaying grunts left and right.

Now, the model. Strike Freedom didn’t actually come with that many accessories. It comes with the twin beam rifles, a few typical sets of hands (closed fists, open hands, and grasping hands), the beam shield, beam blades and their hilts, and the wings, which are initially detached. That’s okay though, because the majority of Strike Freedom’s equipment is built into it. The DRAGOONs, chest cannon, hip guns, and shield generators are all part of its design.

The figure is pretty articulate. The head in particular seems to have “hidden” neck, which can be extended for further articulation, though it looks a bit weird from some angles. The arms are also not as flexible as some other models I have (namely Arbalest), but still good. Without its wings, the figure looks like it has a giant hump sticking out of its back (which are the central verniers, and act as mounting points for the wings. Once the wings are attached, it fits right in though, and they stay in place quite firmly (it takes some force to get them in and out), assuring me they definitely won’t come loose, which is good considering how heavy the wings are. They’re so heavy in fact that it’s pretty much impossible for Strike Freedom to stand on its own with them attached, which is a pity. If the creators knew that Strike Freedom wouldn’t even be able to stand up properly by itself, they should have included a stand.

The wings are also quite articulate. Not quite as much as, say, Guren Kashoushiki’s wings, but there’s definitely a lot of pose potential. Each wing blade (there’s four on each side, stacked in sets of two) can be extended slightly, revealing its gold internals (Strike Freedom is odd in that had its skeletal parts are gold-colored), and also unlocking the mounted DRAGOON, which can then be removed. In a surprising plus, the figure also came with a set of clear plastic extensions, one for each wing blade, that allows you set up poses with the DRAGOONs floating around the figure.

Strike Freedom’s twin beam rifles (both the hip mounted and hand held ones) are also a source of wonder. The handheld ones, while looking identical at first glance, have mildly different functions. One of them has an extending barrel, and the both of them have removable ends, though for different purposes. Combining them creates one absurdly long rifle. The handles can swivel upwards into a depression for increased portability and customization. For some reason, Strike Freedom’s grasp on the rifles is incredibly loose, though. It’s very difficult to get a decent pose with it holding the rifles, without them ending up lopsided.

The hip-mounted cannons definitely rank among one of the cooler facets of this figure. The barrel of each one is extendable (and in fact, removable), once more revealing gold internal parts. It can also fold up for portability, and be swiveled to the back when not in use. Mounted on ball joints, they also have a good amount of articulation, which prevents them from restricting leg movement too much.

One of the coolest aspects of this figure, in my opinion, is the fact that it can carry all of its equipment on its person at once, something surprisingly few figures achieve. The hip-mounted cannons have each have a hook for holding one of the figure’s two beam sabers. Swinging them around to the figure’s back cleverly reveals points on each side that you can hook the handheld beam rifles onto (though it’s a loose fit). With the DRAGOONs attached, you’re done!

Anyone who’s seen Gundam SEED Destiny knows that Strike Freedom is probably one of the most overpowered mechs ever created. So it’s only natural I’d expect a figure like this to do it justice, and thankfully it does. It sucks that it can’t stand on its own though; that pretty much ruins poseability, unless you have a stand. It’s also odd and disappointing that it can’t even hold its own guns properly, but the cool thing about Strike Freedom is that its handheld weapons are just a minor part of its arsenal. 4/5.

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