SD Week Review: SD 259 Strike Gundam Striker Weapon System

strike-theworks

It’s Day 6 of SD Week! Your sixth and final review of the week comes from Mario Lebel, this time checking out a tiny model tricked out with an accessory so big it’s named after it—the Striker Weapon System. Find out why he calls it the “Gundam Swiss Army Knife!”


First Impressions

Sometimes you buy a kit you know you’re going to love and the SD 259 Striker Weapon System is one of those kits. It features one of the most popular Gundams—the Strike Gundam from Gundam Seed—and it’s loaded with extras. There was no doubt in my mind that this was going to be a worthy addition to my Gunpla collection. The only reason I held back and built three other SD kits before building this one was my fear that it would outshine any other SD and ruin any chances that I’d have fun building less impressive kits. As it stands, I think that was a good decision.

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Color and Design

There’s no doubt in my mind that the RX-78-2 Gundam is the most iconic model in the entire Gundam franchise. There’s also no doubt that the GAT-X105 Strike is the runner-up. There are a few reasons for this. Let’s break it down, shall we?

The Strike looks like a Gundam. It’s clearly a design that evolved from the RX-78-2. It pays homage to the original Gundam without simply copying it. The Strike is more nicely proportioned and it adds a bit of bulk without losing its sleek quality. It’s essentially a really well balanced design. I’m of the opinion that the Strike uses those classic Gundam colors to better effect than most other kits. There’s a bit of restraint in the overall design and I think that helps to sell it. It really, really works. Consider a single design element. The Strike has a double V-fin but only one of the Vs is colored yellow while the second one is white. You get a double V-fin but it’s not an obtrusive design choice (really, what justification do you have for two V-fins?) because the white one blends in with the rest of the kit allowing the other one to pop and catch your eye. It’s essentially got a single and double V-fin incorporated in the design.

Not only is this a superbly well design Gundam, it also works in an idea from Mobile Suit Gundam that completely failed to get any traction until decades later with Gundam SEED. I speak, of course, of the idea of Striker Packs and the use of a support vehicle to add and change a Gundam’s equipment mid-battle while also being able to use some of those armaments itself. Do you remember how awkward and long those sequences from Mobile Suit Gundam were? The G-Fighter and the endless combinations with the RX-78-2 were brutal then, and worse now that the Strike has demonstrated how that kind of design gimmick needs to work.

The Strike manages to include the use of Striker Packs in its design in a way that no other kit has. It makes the Strike something akin to a Gundam Swiss Army Knife. It allows it to be versatile without making it look busy or hastily designed. I continue to be amazed that it succeeds at doing this. In all likelihood it should not have worked. It’s the kind of idea little kids cook up that sounds cool on the surface but simply can’t be done without looking lame and gimmicky. But here I am, telling you how amazing it looks. It’s an elegant Gundam and I’m so pleased there is a kit out there that combines all of it.

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Difficulty

Honestly? There isn’t much here that is difficult, which should delight all fans of the SD grade. If you really want me to point out something difficult you’ll have to settle with getting your hands under control, because the pure joy of owning and building this kit is enough to make even the most experienced builder tremble with excitement. It’s hard to apply stickers and remove nubs when your hands are shaking. Just take a deep breath and enjoy the process.

Articulation

Here also, the Strike had good marks. It’s comparable to that of the SDEX-Standard RX-78-2 which I found to be the best articulation of the four SD kits I’ve built. The articulation in the arms and shoulders are noteworthy. It’s a good thing too, since this model comes with plenty of worthy attachments and you’ll get to use those thanks to the nicely articulated arms.

Having built a few SD models, I’m beginning to see certain trends and accepted limitations of the SD grade. One of them is that the legs usually have really poor articulation. There is a simple reason for this: the models don’t have any knees. You essentially have a hip joint on one end and an ankle joint on the other. This isn’t so much a criticism against the Strike or even really the SD grade. It’s more of a known characteristic of SD models. The grade’s entire reason for being is to produce models that share a common aesthetic, that of being squished down and have deformed proportions. A necessity for achieving this is to give the models stubby little legs that don’t bend.

The second problem I’m beginning to suspect is a common occurrence for SD kits has to do with the size of the weapons. I might be wrong, but it seems to me that the weapons provided with these kits aren’t a superbly deformed as the Gundams themselves. That’s not true of all weapons. For example, the Anti-Ship Sword; it’s clearly shorter and wider than its HG version. However, other weapons like the cannon and the shield seem too large for the little Strike. The out of proportion armaments and the limited articulation lead to difficulties when trying to pose your kit and that’s a downside. Why put so much effort in building a model you can’t show off with cool poses? I had this problem with the Sinanju, too. I managed to get some good action shots but it took much more effort than expected.

strike-accessory

Extras (weapons, hands, effect parts)

A short version of this review could simply be this portion, with the rest of the text cut out. The main draw for buying this kit and the most enjoyable parts of the SD Striker Weapon System are the extras. There’s more than a dozen items! It’s a huge amount of extras!

Here’s what you get: the Skygrasper, which is a support vehicle, along with three Striker Packs. In the Aile Striker you get a high-powered thruster backpack with two additional thrusters. You also get a beam rifle, the shield, and two beam saber handles. In the Sword Striker you get the large Anti-Ship Sword, a beam boomerang, a grappling hook with small shoulder shield, and two combat knives. Finally, with the Launcher Striker you get a long-range impulse cannon, a shoulder mounted gun launcher which includes Vulcans.

That’s a lot! Best of all, you get to swap the weapons and extras on your kit just like in the anime. You can even combine all three Striker Packs on your kit at a single time. The manual encourages you to do so. As if that wasn’t enough, the Striker Packs can be attached to the Skygrasper. Again, just like in the anime. I get no end of enjoyment out of this. If for some reason you’re still not satisfied, the Skygrasper is designed to accommodate all three Striker Packs simultaneously. All of these attachments and combinations are borderline ridiculous, but because there is a precedent for it in the anime (well, not the three-packs-at-once combination) it feels justified. It’s essentially a skillfully executed weapon combination gimmick that I first experience with my previous SD builds. Those didn’t impress me but the weapon combinations on this kit are a lot of fun and occasionally just look really cool. Either way, you certainly won’t be disappointed with the extras in this kit.

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Final Verdict

In another world, this kit might have been called the SD Fully Loaded Potato Skin Gundam because it has everything. A great design, one that even works with SD proportions, good articulation, and plenty of extras that aren’t just added goodies, they’re based on the Gundams actual design in the anime. It’s simple and accessible as SD kits should be, but because it has so many pieces that you don’t often get in your average SD kit, it’s much more exciting. The highlight is the extras as this isn’t the kind of kit to be placed on a shelf and ignored. It’s the kind of kit you play with and pose and most likely show off to all your friends and your inquisitive family members who don’t know about Gunpla. Simply put, you cannot ask for more or better. In my mind, this is the SD to beat. Any SD I build from here on out will be competing with this one.


P.S. Be sure to check out Mario’s other SD Week reviews:

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