The GAT-X 105 Strike Gundam
One of 5 prototype mobile suits developed by the Earth Alliance & Orb to give the Alliance a counter to the suits that form the backbone of the ZAFT military, the GAT-X 105 Strike is the most flexible of the 5 G-units. Able to mount mission-specific “Striker” packs to fulfil a variety battlefield roles. Whilst not able to truly excel at these roles in the same way that other 4, named Buster, Duel, Blitz & Aegis, it's also less prone to their weaknesses.
The Strike (nick-named Gundam by pilot Kira Yamato based on the acronym formed by the onboard computer's operating system) would form the baseline from which both the Earth Alliance and Orb would develop their own ranges of mass-production mobile suits to be piloted by non-augmented (Natural) humans. This was only possible once Kira modified the OS to compensate for subtle yet important piloting adjustments that genetically modified Coordinators like himself and most citizens of ZAFT’s colonies would handle as a matter of course.”
Ah the Strike. Gundam SEED’s poster-mech. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the SEED franchise’s specific take on Gundam design – a little less blocky, a bit sleeker and more overtly “anime” than the UC aesthetic, not as bonkers as G-Gundam or esoteric as Wing – and much as SEED is itself a retelling & remix of the plot of the original Mobile Suit Gundam, so the GAT-X 105 Strike is a reimagining of the classic RX-8-02 Gundam, with a little more grey, a little less yellow, and deeper reds & blues, all of which create one of the most distinctive and recognisable hero mecha in the Gundam franchise, which this kit might just be one of the best (and most cost-effective) representations of.
Now this is not the first 1/144 Strike in the High Grade line, but the basic frame is the most recent interpretation, coming as it does as part of Bandai’s “Revive” project that has served as both a line-wide refresh of the Gundam range across all the various timelines (if in doubt most retailers list the newer kits either with Revive, or by adding the series calendar system to the end of the High Grade descriptor, so for SEED kits it is the 1/144 HGCE for the Cosmic Era, whilst others get UC for Universal Century, AC for After Colony and so on as required), improving the kits with better tooling, improved joints, superior colour separation of parts and generally just to make them the best representations of the iconic Gundam mecha that they can be. From my experience so far? Bandai have accomplished that goal and then some.
The Strike consists of 7 plastic runners/sprues of parts, 1 of softer plastic polycaps for joints, a sheet of 8 stickers and the obligatory instruction manual. The manual is the usual excellent resource, Bandai having long ago mastered how to communicate the construction process visually in easy to follow steps, but the increased use of colour spreads is nice, as is the the move to incorporate more English text alongside the Kanji on the colour spreads providing background on the suit, as well as on the sides of the packaging.
In terms of construction, this was a joy to put together. All I used tool-wise were some plastic clippers for taking parts off the sprues (and nubs from the tips of the helmet crest), and one of my trusty (now ancient) needle files for smoothing off any nubs and obvious mould lines. Now I’m not usually one to use the included stickers, most of my prior builds just constructed vanilla out of the box, but this time I figured I’d use as many as I could, so the four larger red stickers have been used on the wings for that distinct colour separation, the sticker for the eyes went on, the stickers for the head cameras (front & back), and one blue sticker for the groin-plate. There is one white sticker left over that I believe goes on the shield, which I manged to forget to apply (I’ll get on that later methinks). I’ve not done any panel-lining, keeping the it as it came off the sprues, and my it’s a pretty kit. You get that distinctive, somewhat lithe and rangy silhouette so distinct to the SEED suits, with the colours working beautifully.
Before we get to the articulation a quick note on accessories – it’s pretty much the basic sword, board & rifle of 2 beam sabres, shield and beam rifle, a pair of armour schnieder daggers, the Aile Striker flight pack, and a single pair of fists that can hold all the weapons. Starting with the daggers, they are simple 1-piece sculpts. Sadly the limitations of the scale & price point mean you can’t store these in the hip armour like in the anime, so when not in use they go back in the box/baggy. The beam sabre hilts are 2-piece and store on the Aile Striker flight pack when not in use, whilst the blades are cast in translucent pink plastic. They slot into the hilts which then sit securely in the fists. The shield is very nice, formed from 3 separate pieces of coloured plastic in white, yellow & red. The interior of the shield does have a sculpted handle that is sadly non-functional, but a clip holds the shield nicely to a hole on the back of the forearm. The beam rifle – cast in dark grey and formed from 5 pieces, the model can again hold it securely and the forward grip folds up by 90 degrees, allowing the Strike to hold it with both hands. And lastly the Aile Striker flight pack – the most complex build outside of the Strike itself, you do need to apply stickers to the main wings for the proper colour separation, but the back is loaded with articulation. The main wings can fold up and fully down, the bottom boosters are hinged with good movement, and the holders for the beam sabres can move as well.
In terms of articulation I’ve been very impressed. The Revive Strike's joints feature less of a reliance on polycaps than previous kits I’ve experienced, with some excellent use of friction joints, plus multiple joints in the biceps and thighs that improve the range of movement massively. Joints are nice & tight, with no hint of looseness, and I ‘love’ the ankle joints on this thing as you can get some impressive tilts yet they are incredibly stable, allowing some dynamic posing (even without a display stand – on the “to buy” list). I was actually quite impressed by how stable the Strike is, even with the mass of the Aile Striker pack on the back. The Strike can hold all of the included weapons securely and the aforementioned articulation means you can get some great poses, and recreate some of the more iconic looks that the Strike is known for.
Ok, so I had never planned on buying another 1/144 scale Strike after grabbing the Perfect Strike a few years ago, but I happened to watch a review by Mecha Gaikotsu and, coupled with Gundam Mad running a moderate discount for Black Friday, I decided to take the plunge and see what it was like. Overall I am very, very impressed, and would have not been disappointed if I’d paid the full asking price for this kit. In fact, whilst I own a number of HG & RG Gunpla from various corners of the Gundam franchise, I have been eyeing up the updated Revive versions of several of these mobile suits if they match this sort of quality at such a reasonable price point.
Highly recommended, both as a starter kit for newcomers to the hobby, and for more experienced modellers who want to go to town on it. Should make an excellent base for custom builds.
And in the interests of fairness, beyond Gundam Mad the HGCE Aile Strike can also be purchased from the following sites:
Hobby Link Japan
Japan Cool (of note - Japan Cool do not have the Aile Strike listed, but the Strike Rouge linked to here is fundamentally exactly the same kit but just in different colours)
For further Gunpla-related news and features in addition to Mecha Gaikotsu I recommend the following channels on the Youtubes:
It would also be remiss of me not to note that the entirety of Gundam SEED is available to stream via Funimation Now, whilst All The Anime have their Ultimate Edition of Gundam SEED (including the HD remaster) coming in the early 2021.