Kit review: HGCE 1/144 Black Knight Squad Rud-ro.A (Griffin Arbalest Custom)

The main machine of the Black Knight Squad, independently developed by the Foundation but incorporating ZAFT technology. Its official name is “Rud-ro.A,” and it is sometimes called “Roa” for short. It adopts a new generation of “Femto-Tech armor” (FT armor) which beams cannot penetrate. 
There are four of these machines in different colors. Griffin’s machine, painted in black and green, is known as “Emerald.”

– Info: 
HGCE 1/144 Black Knight Squad Rud-ro.A (Griffin Arbalest Custom) 
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Freedom 
Price: 2970 yen 
Release date: Mar 23, 2024
Order yours here!

– Design:
Also a “Black Knight” like Shi-ve.A, Rud-ro.A is also a machine with Western armor knight style and a main black color tone, just slightly less bulky than the Shi-veA. This version of Griffin Arbalest has green highlights to distinguish it from the other members. Rud-ro.A is also a mono-eye machine with a helmet that makes it resemble a two-eyed machine. The machine’s inner frame parts are metallic gray mixed with gold and steel color. And the most unique feature of the machine is the same as Shive.A, the beam mantle inspired by Tokai Teioin Uma Musume.

– Build quality: The plastic quality of Rud-ro.A is similar to that of Shive.A, it is easy to process nubs, especially the black parts. The color of the frame is also a special color mixed between metallic gray and gold instead of regular gray. The mantle effect part is a flexible plastic sheet coloured with a red gradient that looks quite interesting.

Although this kit also has a large decal sheet, most are unnecessary. In particular, 2 types of face decals if you want to create the effect of mono-eye moving at high speed  (the sample in this review does not use any decals).

– Articulation: Since they belong to the same machine series, Rud-ro.A uses the same runner “SEED Action System” with Shive.A (just a different color). The neck joint can be deeply folded to support the head with large armor parts that can move freely. The shoulder joint uses a butterflly joint system that can be pushed deep in front of the chest and up and down, helping to move the arm comfortably without getting entangled with the large shoulder armor. The new waist joint part helps bend deeply forward and to the sides simultaneously, making posing much easier. The hip joint also doesn’t have a push-down gimmick but can still move freely like Shive.A. The knee joint can flex deeply and the ankle joint can move freely with a ball joint.

– Gimmicks & Accessories: Compared to Shive.A, Rud-ro.A’s equipment is not as diverse: 

+ X1 High-energy Beam Rifle: The basic beam rifle is usually held in the right hand. When not in use, it is mounted behind the side armor.

+ X1 AMS Heavy Blade: A long sword similar in shape to Strike Gundam’s Anti-ship Sword but smaller to be held in just one hand. When not in use it will be mounted on the left side of the backpack.

+ X1 Beam Mantle: Mounted on 2 small wings on the backpack. This part replacement mechanism is also quite simple so it can be swapped conveniently.

–> Overall: the HGCE Rud-ro.A is a grunt suit kit worth experiencing from the HGCE Seed Freedom series. Although it does not have many diverse equipment, it still stands out with its Western knight-style design. In addition to the green version of Griffin, the remaining 3 members are sold as a set through the P-Bandai website. Because the design is the same, you can buy 3 more copies to paint if you want.