Typhoon Nuri has managed to hover over Hong Kong like a massive UFO today, so I've finally got some time to do my own stuff. The first thing completed in my build-up list is the Astraea Gundam featured in the prequel of Gundam 00. Let's see how this white Goddess of Justice brings light to us.
It is 15 years before the war waged by Setsuna and his companions.
On Earth, the "Solar Power Generation System Conflict", which was sparked by the space elevator, is taking place.
It is in this age that the days of anguish and conflict of the young Celestial Being members who are continuing their development of Gundam on Gundam 00P in order to eradicate war by force are described.
- Text from box cover of 1/100 Astraea Gundam model
The Astraea Gundam, being a prototype and predecessor of Gundam 00, resembles a lot to its successor, except being a lot whiter. Not surprisingly, it shares a lot of parts with Exia itself in terms of model kit. My gunpla is a straight-assembled one with quick Gundam Marker touchups, so I hope you don't mind too much on my casualness on gunpla building.
For standard armaments, Astraea comes with a GN Beam Rifle as well as the Swiss Army knife-style Proto GN Sword. This GN Sword is actually shorter than Exia's counterpart. A review of Astraea and comparison with Exia are available via dalong.net). The shield is similar to Exia's but blunter, and is also shorter than Nadleeh's.
The GN Launcher replaces one of Astraea's antenna on its shoulder. It probably is the predecessor to Virtue's GN Bazooka. I find its standby position quite strange though. One can buy the Type-F as well in order to get the double GN Launcher action pose, as seen in Ngee Khiong's post several months ago.
Astraea shines in different combination of equipments. With the GN Launcher and the GN Shield available as its other equipments, you can give it its own armament setting to your liking.
Beam weapons can take in the form of GN beam sabres or GN daggers.
Overall, Astraea is a very nice alternative to the Exia Gundam. A fine black Gundam Marker pen will greatly boost the details on the vast number of white parts. It's not without problems though. The wrists and antennnas on the side of its head can come off easily if you fiddle around too much. The hip joints are made out two polycaps in different axis instead of ball joints. I don't find much problems with that so far, but it was said that they can become loose and you can wobbly legs, which is the case for the top heavy Avalanche Exia mentioned by Z (I hope I have addressed you correctly) and Prime92.