Metal Build Freedom Gundam

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My second Metal Build experience, picked up at Robo Toy Fest just like my first, Exia. I’ve always wanted to add a Freedom to my collection simply because I like the suit, and have considered getting the MG kit more than once, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it when the Metal Build exists and looks so much better.

Normally, these Metal Builds are on limited production runs from Tamashii Nations, so if you don’t grab the first batch when they come out you’re screwed with the price later. Thankfully, Freedom happened to get a second run, driving the price down on the market considerably. I managed to snag mine at RTF for $100 flat.

MB Freedom

Since Freedom was the first Metal Build ever, I figured it would be a bit of a guinea pig when it comes to testing out the nuances of the line. It has a few issues that were clearly addressed and refined with later Metal Builds such as the Exia, but overall the Freedom has still been given a massive design overhaul for this line.

I’m pretty sure it was released to coincide with SEED’s HD remaster treatment, as the head design seems to follow what the new artwork looks like. Generally the redesign is a pretty radical departure from what the original suit was; they even added areas that were straight-up just never on the original suit (i.e. the new silver sections on the side of the thighs above the knees).

At first glance, I actually thought Freedom didn’t use much metal; it felt almost lighter than Exia and seemed to have much more plastic due to its large armament and wings. However, I actually weighed the two on a small kitchen scale and found that Freedom was heavier with its wings attached.

It seems that the entire inner frame is metal, though the armor isn’t removable so I can’t exactly get inside to totally confirm this.

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Despite all my love for the suit’s new aesthetics though, I’m not actually very fond of its standard standing stance; it just looks wrong on the ground. Add in the fact that the wings still cause back-heavy issues even with the metal feet and you know this figure came with a display stand for a reason.

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Another something that bothers me about putting Freedom on the ground is that its feet don’t actually stand flat. I don’t understand how this could’ve possibly been a blunder committed on such a high-end piece, but the front half of the feet actually extend lower than the heel.

The above shot of the balls of the feet touching the ground is actually how it stands the most flat. Placing the front of the feet parallel to the ground will cause Freedom to tilt backwards because the heels aren’t high enough.

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As articulation goes, Freedom has some unique points. For one, the front skirt armors split aside in order to cover the thighs during wide poses. I’ve never seen this sort of mechanism before on any Gunpla, but it actually works really well and lends a better aesthetic to the area overall.

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Perhaps the most interesting point however, is the shoulder armor. Usually, Gundam shoulders rotate back and forth with the arms, meaning if you have the suit’s arm stretched straight out in front, the top of the shoulder armor will usually be facing towards the back.

shoulder mechanism

Freedom defies this conventional system by keeping the entire shoulder armor piece generally stationary to the torso. Instead, when the arm is extended outwards, the shoulder armor will bend and fold at a few articulated points to allow for movement.

I honestly can’t really see any advantages of this system over the traditional shoulder-moving one, but I can’t deny the fact that it still accomplishes its intended task. The arms aren’t restricted in movement much due to this, and it’s admittedly a unique look that isn’t common on many mobile suits.

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A fair amount of spare manipulators are given; they’re all molded in a soft PVC-esque material, and sadly the soft gray paint doesn’t quite match the shiny gunmetal of the rest of Freedom’s frame.

I do like the clear stylization of the hands though; they’re all well detailed and aren’t too much of a hassle to change out.

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As is standard for Metal Builds, Freedom comes with a unique plastic base and reinforced locking pole arm to support its hefty weight. It looks like the base itself is painted to emulate the Archangel/Eternal’s launch deck.

Up in the air where it belongs, toting the standard beam rifle and shield loadout.

Interestingly enough, Freedom seems to sport a deliberately glossy finish. It doesn’t seem that this was a production oversight; everything is deliberately almost pearl-y. I don’t mind this much, but it’s noteworthy for the fact that Metal Build Exia sported a nice matte finish for its armor instead.

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A closer look at its primary weapons. I’m actually really fond of the shield; it was pretty radically redesigned so it looks more layered and plated now.

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The beam rifle on the other hand, is a little less impressive. Aside from the nubs that seem to plague every Metal Build’s weapons (thankfully they number as close to none on the actual figure itself, but it seems the trend is for the weapons to get downgraded with more nub marks than usual) my biggest gripe with the rifle is that giant butt peg sticking out the right side.

It’s meant for attaching the rifle to the rear skirt, but it seems Bandai missed a basic figure rule again with not making the peg fold-able and retractable. They’ve made countless Gunpla with pegs in the rifles that can fold in/out for storage (see: MG Unicorn) so I’m not sure what the deal was with the Freedom’s giant nub here.

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A look at one of the uglier nubs on the rifle I was talking about. At least it’s relatively well hidden when the secondary handle is in standby position.

Speaking of which, the double jointed secondary handle is a nice touch; it certainly makes the rifle look much more streamlined than the original design, with the handle just sticking out the bottom.

The shield has the little hole in the side that’s really meant to stick the rifle muzzle through. I actually explained this function to a friend and it kind of blew his mind. I believe this little bit is actually removable on the Master Grade, but it’s completely attached here.

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The connection methods for getting Freedom in the air through the display stand are interesting. Two options are included; the larger connector clips into Freedom’s beam rifle mount on its rear skirt, and the smaller one pegs into the backpack.

thruster mechanism

The backpack mount is actually hidden though; the thruster actually pulls out and slides up to reveal the slot underneath. I’m curious as to why Bandai went through these convoluted methods instead of just including a classic crotch connector.

Like the shoulder armor, it’s a strange deviation from the norm that somehow works. However, using the skirt connection negates the ability to store the beam rifle, and using the backpack plug looks a bit strange from the back.

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The biggest reason why I dislike using the backpack plug for the display stand is because of the backpack connection to the Freedom itself. I’m not sure if it’s just mine, but the clamps that hold the wings to the back of the mobile suit are ridiculously weak.

Freedom actually almost fell (Jesus Yamato forbid) while I was working with it because the wings were the only things attached to the display base. I could technically glue it, but I wouldn’t want to do that to a figure like this, and I really shouldn’t need to.

I’m chalking it up less to the wings and backpack unit being super heavy (they don’t feel that way to me at least) and more to the connector simply being flimsy and loose.

Moving onto Freedom’s most powerful weapons, the M100 “Balaena” Plasma beam cannons.

P1120820The cannons are stored against and inside the wings when not in use, and actually have clips where they peg into the wings themselves, to make things a bit cleaner and easier to work with when posing.

Next up, the MMI-M15 “Xiphas” Rail Cannons, which take the place of traditional mobile suit side skirts. They fold out of storage mode at three points, with handles that can swivel out for the Freedom to grasp.

I love the two-tone grays used on these weapons. The folding mechanism is simple and generally hindrance-free.

While most of the wings are plastic rather than metal, they aren’t too brittle and thin. The plastic feels sturdy and solid; I wouldn’t worry too much about breaking them unless you’re seriously bending them to snap.

They’re articulated at quite a few points, allowing for just about any amount of spread and positioning you could want. The downside to this is that they become quite difficult to pose when you have some form of an absolute symmetry perfection complex.

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Freedom sports two beam sabers, both mounted above the railguns while in storage. Like Exia, the beams themselves are frosted at the base and clear at the tips.

Of course, the Metal Build’s dynamic stylizing lends some great aesthetic appeal to the suit’s swordplay ability.

The handles of the sabers can clip together at the pommels, forming a Darth Maul-style double-edged saber. I’m glad there’s no part-swapping necessary for this; the clips are molded in a way so that they peg together both securely and easily. They’re also surprisingly well secured to the side skirts while in storage.

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And finally, full burst. Wings open, all weapons deployed. Classic Jesus Yamato beam-spam combat style.

I might’ve had a bit too much fun and been a bit too ambitious with those upside-down poses.

All of Freedom’s weapons are actually molded from plastic, not metal. It seems most of the metal on the suit comes from the inner frame, with only select armor sections such as the feet being made in the same fashion.

P1120805As much as I hate to say it, I think Exia really is objectively the better Metal Build here. It’s generally more stable and refined than the Freedom, though the latter certainly isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. Again, Freedom was more or less the guinea pig for this line so it makes sense that the Exia, which came later, would be a more developed figure overall.

I remember holding Exia for the first time kind of blew my mind with its weight and heft. Fast forward a year after I’ve grown accustomed to handling that weight and Freedom actually felt light to me. When I first took it out of the box, I was kind of put off because I thought Bandai just didn’t include as much metal with this figure.

However, I actually threw both on a kitchen scale to confirm this, and as it turns out Freedom clocks in at 12.3 ounces while Exia falls slightly shorter at 11.3. This technically makes sense given Freedom’s wings, but considering they’re only an ounce apart Exia’s got some fair weight behind it. For reference, a normal Gunpla like the MG Duel Assault Shroud weighs a mere 5.8 ounces.

DAT BLURR

I don’t know why, but I love radial blur effects nowadays. I actually just figured out I could do this for certain photoshoots.

Anyway, all things considered, Freedom is a solid starter for the Metal Build line. Of course it’s rough around the edges, but at least these little flaws provided good guide for future installments in the line-up. I’m pretty sure it’s currently the most common and cheapest Metal Build around, since it received a second production run. The other Metal Builds generally have a one-time limited run, meaning if you didn’t pre-order them, you’ll quite literally be paying the price and feeling the weight (har har, Metal Builds) on your wallet.

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