Hasegawa Valkyrie VF-1A/J/S Model Kit 1/72
Review by Showapop
This Valkyrie Macross VF-1A/J/S kit comes courtesy of Hobby Link Japan
This is a review I should have done years ago. Between 1989 and 2002 are generally known as my anime/manga sabbatical years and after those years I have been slowing catching up to the anime programs, toys and model kits I had missed out on those very important years. For example, I only started to watch Macross Plus last week and I still have not seen Evangelion yet. All in good time I say and Hasegawa’s Valkyrie kits are one of those products that have taken me some time to get around to.
Hasegawa Models, generally known for their real military line of airplane model kits, released these Macross Valkyrie kits sometime in the late 1990s. In my book, Macross and Hasegawa is a perfect match for each other. Macross because of Shoji Kawamori’s quintessential real robot and aircraft designs and Hasegawa with their accurate and nuanced portrayals of real military in plastic model, they are a perfect match made in heaven.
In Hasegawa’s eyes, this must have been a real gamble for them. In the 50-year history of the firm they have never strayed away from what they do best which is military subjects. It is only within the last 10 years that they started to dabble in Sci-Fi kits such as Ultrahawk Jet, Maschinen Krieger (SF-3D), and Virtual-On with the Macross brand being their biggest non-military lines. It is my suggestion that some of the kids that grew up in the 1970s and 1980s are now in their 30’s and 40’s with engineering degrees and are now working for Hasegawa and want to see some of their favorite designs made into kits. I only see more Sci-Fi and Anime related kits made in the future from Hasegawa.
This is not the first time at attempting to build a Hasegawa Valkyrie kit. About a year earlier I purchased and tried to assemble The 1/72 Valkyrie VF-1S/A/J Strike/Super kit. Hey, no problem I’ll just breeze through this kit, heck I build many Imai, Arii and Bandai Valkyrie kits before. Why should this be any different? Well I am here to tell you it is very different from any other Valkyrie kit you have ever built. These are very demanding kits to build, I would say even more difficult than the old transformable Imai Valkyrie kits from the 1980s.
There are many small parts that come with this kit that have never been represented in any other Valkyrie kits before. There are also paths of part construction that have never been represented in a Valkyrie kit before as well. The Super Valkyrie kit was way too much, and I just could not grasp the base construction of the Valkyrie plane itself much less adding the complex armor to it. This is not your typical Bandai multi-color snap together kit but a traditional and demanding jet airplane kit in the form of an anime airplane we recognize.
Another hit on me was I lost a few parts, something that has never happened to me before while building the Super Valkyrie which led me to purchase/receive another kit from Hobby Link Japan to replace the missing parts. This time I chose the standard 1/72 Hasegawa Valkyrie VF-1A/S/J kit. This is probably better as I can now get a better grasp of how the base model should construct. If you have not built any of these Hasegawa Valkyrie kits I suggest you start with this kit first so you can get a feel for what the entire Hasegawa Macross series is like before you go on to build the more complex armored Valkyries and variants.
Hasegawa’s 1/72 Macross Valkyrie comes with: 1x clear sprue, 11x white plastic sprue, 1x instructions, 1x decals. The kits features fine Hasegawa recessed panel lines. Options include lowered or raised landing gear and airbrake, and moveable folding wings. VF-1A, VF-1S and VF-1J heads are included. The box art in typical glorious Hasegawa fashion is beautifully illustrated by famed aviation artist Hidetaka Tenjinin, features a pair of VF-1’s in flight.
This kit does not come with any ordnance but of course Hasegawa has an aftermarket 1/72 Valkyrie ordnance missiles and missile pods and an aftermarket photo etch detail set. A 1/72 DYRL style pilot figure is also available in the Macross Weapons Set if you would like a pilot for your Valkyrie.
There are two details I love most about this kit. One is the decal sheet that is just incredible. How many markings are included with this kit? Here’s what I counted:
Roy Fokker VF-1S TV
Roy Fokker VF-1S DYRL
Hikaru VF-1J TV
Hikaru VF-1S TV
Hikaru VF-1S DYRL
Hikaru VF-1A DYRL
Hayao Kakizaki TV VF-1A (name included and basic numbers)
Maximilian Jenius TV VF-1A (name included and basic numbers)
Numerous other basic generic numbers are also included. What is also great is the three choices of ships the aircraft could be based from: SDF-1, ARMD-1 or Prometheus. It is these three tiny decals that could change the nuance of the airplane you are building from let's say a Fokker TV Prometheus version to a Fokker SDF-1/ ARMD-1 DYRL version.
Also included is what Hasegawa is known for with their modern military jet model kits and what set them ahead from all the other 1/72 military model manufactures in the 1980s. These are numerous non-random and readable “Do Not Step” and other minor stencils decals. Yes you might have seen these on older Valkyrie kits but there is a way that Hasegawa does it that is just different. This is what makes a Hasegawa model airplane pop and it is great seeing all these stencils on a Valkyrie and really brings the kit to a realistic level that I have yet seen attempted.
With some input from all you good people with a poll on CollectionDX I decided on building Hikaru’s VF-1S from DYRL. Believe it or not this is not my favorite scheme but I was in the mood to do something different for myself and this is what I settled on as I never build this scheme before.
Typical of Hasegawa kits, the pieces look nice and crisp and the recessed panel lines are nicely molded in. When building Hasegawa model kits careful fitting and gluing are very important as the panel line details are just slightly deep that if you have to make any sandpaper or paint corrections you can kiss all that great detail goodbye as it can easily get sanded away or multiple paint coats could make the detail disappear under heavy coats of paint.
The cockpit details are my other favorite details of this kit. Unlike older Valkyrie kits where the small pilot figure sits in a sea of cockpit, the Hasegawa cockpit is snug and tight like a real military aircraft. I enjoyed putting this part of the kit together. You have a choice of using the relief surface control panel or decal or use them together. The decal once again uses an anime accurate portrayal of the control panel and looks great although I accidentally ripped the decal while putting it on.
An aftermarket Hasegawa photo etch set can be purchased to improve the look of the cockpit, which includes two handles, one seat part and the back panel. I plan to go into detail with a review of the photo etch set by itself at a later date. The only details that are missing are the side control panels that are neither represented as relief plastic, a decal or photo etch. Why they dismissed that important piece of cockpit detail is beyond me.
I will be honest and say that building this kit is not fun and a grind to get thought and takes a lot of careful work. If you have built the old Arii 1/72 VF-1 variable kits you will understand what I am talking about. Many leg pieces can be glued in backward, with the wrong sides being represented if you are not careful. Small parts that have never been represented in a Valkyrie kit could be easily bypassed. Reading the instructions carefully is important on this one.
Perhaps my biggest complaint in building this kit is that Hasegawa acknowledges that builders were going to customize these fighter and Battloid kits to make Gerwalk and even a fully transformable VF-1. This might be good but the plane portion of the kit suffers for it.
For example there is a big centerpiece where the head fits through when transforming that is represented with a huge hole in the middle of the airframe. The modeler has to plug the hole in with another part. The part is on a panel line and accordingly if you mess up gluing the part you can destroy many of the delicate panel lines that surround the part. This is an absolute needless hole on such an important part which only purpose it seems is to allow the head through for kit bashers. There are many such parts throughout the kit that are needless if you are going to just build the fighter plane and a lot of time building is wasted on these portions of the kit.
The VF-1A/S/J heads are excellent and well produced. Many of the details are not going to be seen in the final product but it is great Hasegawa chosen to include the complete head and not just the top viewable portion. Originally when they were first released the VF-1A/S/J kits were released as separate kits and I am glad Hasagawa now includes all the heads in one box for a be-all one stop basic Valkyrie kit.
The subassemblies are represented with: The cockpit, the body and wings, the tail-plane and rudder, two leg portions and the arms. Aftermarket photo etch that used in these steps are the two antennas on the back of the airframe, nose antenna, jet nozzle prongs and the grill in the “backpack” portion when it is in Battloid configuration.
The only parts I had to putty were behind the wings. Again why Hasegawa did not just mirror the parts so there is not an injection hole pins relief on one side is beyond me. Another aftermarket photo etch part is to fill the open hole between the two body parts when the wings are wide open. Keep in mind that if you use the part you cannot close the wings.
The only real fit problems I had was when I was gluing the cockpit together. I am not sure that if it was myself not fitting the parts together properly or if it was the parts themselves but the cockpit parts became slightly nonsymmetrical and noticeable in the final product.
There is one part that I was completely upset about and was completely needless was the seam line that runs straight down the center of the clear cockpit window! C’mon Hasegawa! I have seen hundreds of cockpit model kit glass over the years and putting a seam right down the middle is frankly unacceptable. And to not have an aftermarket vacuform replacement available is even worse.
A lot of the leading flight lights are clear parts including the wing tip lights, the four headlight wing lights, the landing light, VF-1A glass, the nose lights, and the leg lights that are usually represented with decals in past releases. No ordnance is included except the gunpod. This is the way Hasegawa has been doing business for years which is to get you to purchase another kit to finish the first one.
I did not primer the kit in fear of hiding the fine recessed panel lines. I painted the kit using XF-1 Tamiya flat white. If you have built Valkyries before you have a tendency to pick up the kit from the forward portion of the airframe just forward of the wings. Accordingly that area becomes dingy with fingers touching it so I made sure this time around I did not touch the kit there.
Besides the flat white overall, every other paint detail is represented with a decal. I have built many other model kits where other paint details are represented with colors on decals but I usually paint them in with my airbrush. I made it a point this time to use the colored decals, as I wanted to represent the true integrity of this kit. Make sure you spray your gloss undercoat before you decal the kit. The exception was the black flashes on the tail rudder as I applied them in the wrong position and needed to be stripped and I painted them on.
This is both a mixed blessing and curse. Some decals are not simply going to go around complex trailing edges and intricate shaped parts and need to be touched up with paint. Hasegawa also chose to go with a layering system for the intricately colored decal that are stacked on each other. Many decals are stacked 3-4 deep that a lot silvering is shown. I thought it was myself not decaling correctly but I have seen many excellent VF-1 kits online and the weakest part of their kits is the silvering on the stacked decals.
Because of so many open trailing edges on the colored decals that did not bond to the paint, when I fired up my airbrush to spray the gloss overcoat I blew off some portions of the decal that were not noticeably attached to the model. More paint touch up was used in this step.
Take a week to put on the numerous “No Step” stencils, stacked on decals and dozens of other microscopic stencils thrown across the airframe. Keep in mind that the inner leg decals are shown being put on at an earlier step and I missed some of those smaller decals in the inner leg. Another troublesome decal is the black and red flash top decal. Because of the optional top airbrake that could be built open, that decal is split into four parts. Two parts make sense, but four? This step was incredibly difficult to line up all four parts. It is noticeable if applied incorrectly and many paint touch ups were needed to fill the gaps of the decals that did not touch.
I usually paint the cockpit glass by taping it off and airbrushing the frame. Since a decal is used for the black frame, I had to ask some modeling friends how they usually apply decals on a window. Decals need something to bite on and if I just applied the decal to the clear window, the decal would not have bonded to the smooth clear plastic.
After I carefully scraped the seam down the middle of the window with a new X-Acto blade, I carefully sanded and waxed out the scuffmarks from the X-acto scraping. Then I polished the entire window with modeling wax. Next I dipped the window quickly in Future floor wax bath and pulled out the window when it was completely covered. I let it dry over night and carefully trimmed and applied the window frame decals and the “I. Hikaru” pilot name. Once dried, I dipped it again in Future Floor wax to seal in the decals. I enjoyed the cockpit so much that I went against my natural tendency to glue in the window and left it unglued so I can admire the great craftsmanship of the cockpit from Hasegawa.
Another example of the over complexity of this kit is the forward landing gear made up of seven parts. Some of those parts could have been easily molded in. The landing carriage and wheel wells and wheel details are excellent and well executed.
After a flat coat and touch up came the real challenge: Panel Lines. Japanese kits and Hasegawa in particular are known for their beautiful panel line finishes. This is not easy to pull off and much is at stake because I could ruin a perfectly built model.
Although I have done panel lines hundreds of times, I knew for the sake of Macross, Hasegawa and Collection DX, I could not mess this one up. And my first attempt I royally screwed it up…badly! I was going to issue an apology and state that the model beat me after all the work I put into it. Luckily, a few days earlier I went on You Tube and watched this tutorial and documentary on a Japanese master model builder building a 1/72 Macross Zero VF-0:
After he put on the panel lines he proceeds to buff out the outside area with polishing compound! I was planning to do this on my next kit but the panel lines came out so bad that I was forced to do this technique on my kit. I carefully got some metal polish compound on a Q-tip and proceeded to polish out the kit. I fell off my chair, as the new look of the kit finally emerged. This is the finish style I have striving for in my entire modeling career and here it was on my own model. So what could have been a disaster became the best Valkyrie kit I have ever finished.
My huge complaint with the kit itself is the needless complexly of the kit at times and the seam line going down the clear cockpit window. My issues with the Valkyrie photo etch and Missile Weapon sets will be covered in their own separate reviews.
Overall when the kit is finally assembled it is one of the most accurate representation of a VF-1 Valkyrie ever attempted and produced. The shape is excellent and there is a lot of nuance throughout and the details are many. Every time I look at this model there is always a new detail I did not notice before.
With the other Valkyrie kits being a bit long in the tooth, it is great to finally see a modern model kit of the VF-1 Valkyrie by a giant of the model kit industry who knows what they are doing. The kit looks great all around when finished in a way that only the Japanese and Hasegawa could do. I will say it again that this is not an easy or fun kit to build and a lot of careful planning and advanced model building techniques and vocabulary are needed to build this one out correctly. I do not recommend this kit to beginning builders due to the complexity of the build and demanding decal sheet which I suggest the old 1980’s 1/72 Bandai VF-1 kits as it is easier to assemble. But if you are ready to step up to the plate and really express your modeling skills and put them to a real test, Hasegawa’s VF-1 Valkyrie kit is more than a rewarding kit when finished correctly.
Now if I could just get my hands on the new Hasegawa 1/48 Valkyrie model kit...
Thank you Hobby Link Japan for providing this kit for this review.This Valkyrie Macross VF-1A/J/S kit can be purchased from Hobby Link Japan
©2010 Article and Pictures Leonardo Flores & CollectionDX
|Posted 22 July, 2010 - 00:56 by Showapop|