Review by Showapop
1/72 VF-11 Thunderbolt
Model and Review by Leonardo Flores
In 2013, after a few years of reissued and recolored kits, Hasegawa finally introduced a brand new kit of a Macross Valkyrie that previously had not released by the company before. Heralding from Macross 7 and Macross Plus, the VF-11 Thunderbolt in my opinion was an excellent but underutilized Valkyrie design, being used as cannon fodder in Macross 7 and as the main character introductory mecha which had a brilliant but fleeting moment in the opening chapter in Macross Plus. It is like somewhere along the line the VF-11 was cheated out of a Macross series where the VF-11 was the hero aircraft. It breaks my heart!
Although there have been some great toys of the VF-11, as a model kit release, only two previous kits had been released, Bandai’s amusing 1/144 VF-11 Battroid/Fighter Dual kit and WAVE’s 1/100 VF-11 Battroid, a long out of production resin garage kit from the early days of WAVE. Not being a hero mecha of any Macross series it was interesting that Hasegawa chose the VF-11 Thunderbolt as a release, but the reception by modelers and fans was overwhelming positive, especially in light of being able to complete the three main Valkyries from Macross Plus: YF-21, YF-19 and the VF-11 in Isamu markings. Being a huge fan of the VF-11 I could not wait to acquire and build one of these for my collection.
Hasegawa’s VF-11 Thunderbolt comes boxed with: 5x light grey sprue, 1x clear sprue, 1x decals sheet, 1x instructions. Options include markings for Isamu Dyson’s aircraft from Macross Plus and various New Edwards Test Flight Center aircraft, although no instructions are included on how the New Edwards aircraft should be painted or marked. Airbrakes can be built in the open or close position. Landing gear can be built up in the reclined stored position although major modifications and fitting is required. Pilot Figure included.
This really was an interesting build for me as I have never built any modern non VF-1 Macross kits and although there are some similarities it was an entirely new experience for me. Please note I used Jasmine VF-11 aftermarket Photoetch parts from Hong Kong with this kit, which will have its own, separate in depth review.
The kit is generally split into three main components: The cockpit, the body/airframe and the legs/intakes, and the arms.
The cockpit area goes together fine with no real issues. I generally add the seat or other smaller details as one of the last steps of building. Unfortunately later on in the build I found it difficult to put the seat in the cockpit, most likely due to the PE used in the cockpit that made things fit tight. I would attach the seat injection handle on the top of the seat last as its the highest point on the aircraft and could easily be broken off when putting decals on in later steps.
I did not have any issues with the fuselage as well. Be careful not to glue the rear parts of the top half of the frame, as its open area for the swing-wing system. The speed brakes can be built in an open or closed position. Another area to be careful with is the clear lens in the front of the fuselage. They should be sealed up, I normally never have a problem with dust getting into a sealed clear area but somehow it happened here on the right light area. So make sure the area is sealed properly so dust particles cannot get inside the glass.
The arms are simple to assemble but very unusual to paint due to not have any demarcation line on the side, so make sure you are masking correctly. Most of the detail is hidden behind the gunpod and legs but can be seen through the top hole in the aircraft where the head gun is located.
The legs are very straightforward as well, assemble and mask properly and you should be OK. I painted the intake areas gloss white at this point. Keep in mind the side panels are a separate piece. Do not glue this on the side of the legs until you are ready to assemble the entire leg and glue it into the rest of the aircraft. The panel works as a lock to snap everything together. Also the panel makes it easy for the thin orange decal to be applied to the leg panel at a later step.
The nozzle feet are somewhat fragile and the joints can be easily glued and be made unmovable, just be careful how much glue is applied so the joint does not get locked up. I painted the feet with Alclad steel paint. These feet can be attached later when the model it finished which is convenient during the build of the kit.
Wings are fairly simple they are a two-part piece. Really, my least favorite area is the wing lights, it is very difficult to get a nice clean look without destroying the detail around the light and without the interior areas fogging up. I have a better idea on how to do it next time. The wing tip lights are attached by cutting out the wingtip portion on the wing where the lights will go and attaching the clear parts. This appears to be very standard on Macross Hasegawa kits these days.
The only weapon included with this kit is the gunpod, which was an easily assembled and is well sculpted. Pay attention to the paint colors that Hasegawa suggests to use to paint the pod as it was a great blend of two colors and makes the gunpod visually standout on the kit.
Most of the pre-painting of the kit includes the feet nozzles, the white intakes, the interior of the body where the head is and the cockpit area. Once these areas are masked up it is time to do the painting of the kit.
As stated before the Gunze colors that Haseagwa suggests always look great and unique. For example the landing gear is a blue grey color that I almost painted white. Glad I checked, as the blue gray color looks great.
I first started with all the white areas of the aircraft including the wing flaps and vertical stabilizers. These were painted with a light grey then highlighted with white. These were taped off then the fuselage grey coat was painted. This grey was also a mix of grey and brown that Hasegawa suggested. After the bottom coat was painted I mixed a lighter shade and lightly painted the inside of each panel giving the shaded look I like.
I did my usual panel line technique of a thin oil paint wash and then polishing out the panels. There are a lot of great panel lines throughout so its great to see these lines pop out on the VF-11. Its something that Hasegawa does best and it really brings out the look of the kit. Keep in mind the model is not fully assembled yet and just the larger separate component parts.
When finished I spayed a gloss topcoat and after it was dried it was time to attach the decals. As many of you already might now, Hasegawa decals are usually a massive undertaking and one should set aside a week to apply all the decals. Many people do leave some of the decals off but I like the full-stenciled look.
The most difficult decals to attach are the orange lines around the side-leg panel lines. A lot of care and patience are needed when attaching those decals as they are thin and very fragile and can easily be broken. It is a miracle that I applied them without any issues.
The other issue I had was attaching the decals to the front fuselage lights. In my opinion they should be one piece as the contour is not that complex. As Hasegawa has it the decal is split into two parts and is difficult to line up properly. If you get it match the top, the grey will show on the bottom and vice versa. They don’t match up properly as they should, it is best to cut the decals to the proper shape then apply them. It its also difficult to apply the flat coat at the end as you cannot tape up the area due to the decal being present, as the tape will stick to and revoke the decals. When spraying the final flat coat you will have to just avoid the area or make a paper mask and hold it over the area.
Although not seen in Macross Plus, Isamu’s “107” call number is included with the decal sheet, a nice addition to the kit and great throwback to the old Arii and Imai model kits of the 1980’s.
Overall the decals go on great and look good. Really my only disappointment is the markings themselves, Isamu’s markings are very generic overall, and besides the orange markings on the legs and canard wings, it is just not a standout scheme as other Valkyrie markings over the years. Decals for other units at New Edwards and low viz markings are included but Hasegawa does not give you a color scheme or diagram to where they go. Kind of disappointed with that as well although I am sure some Model Graphics issue has a scheme for these markings.
After a final flat coat was spayed and dried it was time to assemble the kit to its final configuration. Most of this was quite easy but great care is needed when assembling the legs and arms to the body. It all snaps snugly in place into the body with some pressure that feels like one is going to break the kit. It is a bit intimating but it all does fit together and looks nice when completed. The final landing gear and doors, fins and vertical stabilizes were also attached.
As stated before I also added the seat, control panel and figure at the time. I tend to model my kits with the cockpit window unattached when possible. The canopy was dropped in future floor wax and after it was dried the decal window frame was attached. When the decal dried I dropped it in future to seal in the decals. The bottom of the frame needs to be cleaned of excess future floor wax so it can sit snug on the cockpit.
The Isamu figure is small but has some great detail. I painted the figure with Vallejo paints after a basecoat of Gunze white. I gave the figure a nice wash and after a Gunze spay can flat coat I put the figure in the cockpit, which fit well. I am glad I took the time to paint the figure.
When finished the wings can be put in an open or closed position, just be careful when doing so, moving both wings at the same time with both hands.
As Hasegawa Macross kits go, the VF-11 Thunderbolt is a moderate to difficult kit to build, with most of time spent painting and decaling the kit. If you are a beginning modeler this might be a good place to kick it up a notch with a reasonable challenge. The only real issue I had was the front fuselage and wing lights, I certainly could have done better and will approach it different the next time I build a VF-11.
Overall this is an impressive kit that had just come out of nowhere and a must build if you are a fan of Macross Plus. Hasegawa overall has done a great job with this release and highly recommended to all Valkyrie kit builders everywhere. It is great to finally add another beautiful Valkyrie to my Macross Model kit collection.
©2015 Photos and article by Leonardo Flores and CollectionDX.
|Posted 11 August, 2015 - 16:01 by Showapop|