VF-1D Valkyrie Trainer / Orbot
Review by Showapop
1/72 Imai Macross VF-1D / Revell Robotech Changers Orbot
When I turned 15 years old all those years ago, some friends of the family had bought me for my birthday Revell’s Robotech model kit of Orbot, the USA re-boxed version Imai’s variable VF-1D Valkyrie. Due to many circumstances, I was finally able to complete the model kit a week ago, which just happened to be my 34th birthday! This is the saga of one VF-1D, changing modeling skills and one of the greatest Macross model kits series ever.
What prompted me to finally complete my long unfinished VF-1D is when a few months ago I bought Hasagawa’s 1/72 VF-1A/S Strike/Super Valkyrie model kit. I have been anticipating the building of the new Hasagawa kits for years and it was great to finally build one. I bought the Hasagawa kit, the photoetched parts, the display stand set and optional weapon packs kits. Then I pulled out my trusty x-acto #11 blade. But something lingered in the back of my mind. “I know, I can’t start this kit until I finish the last Valkyrie I started all those years ago”.
Back in the 1980’s model kit manufacture Revell was keen on the growing US market of Japanese related robot model kits and picked up the license to re-package some of Imai’s model kits. The bulk of the line was Fang of Sun Dougram, but a few Macross and Orguss model kits were thrown in for good measures. The model kits were released under one banner, most likely coined by one of Revell’s still nameless marketing employee. The name of the model kit line was called Robotech, which actually predated the Robotech TV series by at least a year. How the Robotech model kit line became the name of a TV series produced by Harmony Gold is another story for another review.
Robotech model kits could be bought at many shopping mall outlets such as Kay-Bee Toy & Hobby and Playco Toys stores. When Revell repackaged the kits they did not keep to the original names, paint schemes and decal placement as Revell decided to publish new instructions in English and photographed new model kit box art. Thus the VF-1D became the Viet Nam era camouflaged Orbot, the VF-1J Millia became Axoid and the VF-1S became Vexar.
I was indebted to the friends of the family who gave me the kit but for some reason, life has given me VF-1D model kits to build when I wanted to build a VF-1J, VF-1S or the even better VF-1A Hikaru from Do You Remember Love. As a kid, I thought that the VF-1D was the silly trainer version that got all shot up in the first four episodes of Macross. I had built four VF-1D's and quite frankly I am tired of building them. Even the Hasagawa limited release of their 1/72 VF-1D blows me out just thinking about it.
First off, if you have not experienced more than a few model kits I would flatly suggest you pass up building this kit. Although the VF-1D is a well-produced kit this is a very difficult and trying model kit to build. There are many seams to fill, many parts to easily confuse and assemble backward, and many complex and fragile parts to easily break or accidentally glue together.
Revell Robotech Orbot/ Imai Macross VF-1D come with the following: Set of sprues, 1x clear sprue, 3x rubber tires, 2x metal landing gear, 2x metal shoulder joints, 1x screw, 1x polycaps, 1x set of decals, 1x instructions, and 1x Robotech model one-sheet catalog. I do not know if the Imai VF-1D came with any other extra inserts such as an Imai catalog or stickers. The plastic parts are finely molded with recessed panel lines and the metal castings are solid with hard sturdy metal, not soft pewter type metal.
The designers at Imai had thought this kit through; two of the most fragile parts were cast in metal such as the landing gear and shoulder hinges. A screw is used to keep the many body parts together. For a nice added touch the wheels could be assembled with an optional choice of plastic injected molded tires or rubber tires.
The assembly of the kit can be broken down into three main components: 1) body assembly 2) leg and arm assembly 3) cockpit assembly. Although this is a variable model kit the cockpit needs to be pulled off and replaced with a shielded cockpit for the legs to attach to in Battloid mode.
The arm and leg assembly are the most difficult parts to assemble. Always remember to check and check again before you apply glue. I remember my friends and I building these kits when I was a kid. It happened more than once when we glued the wrong intake parts to the wrong leg parts. This was partly the fault of Revell as they attached the legs backward on the box art.
One feature I did not like on the kit was the kneepad armor in Battloid. That is one feature I love about the Battloid armor and was, until recently, consistently being left off toys and models of the Valkyrie and this Imai kit was no different. I am sure it would not be too difficult to scratchbuild that mod.
Be careful with only using just enough glue to attach these parts together. If the glue overflows into a joint, just forget finishing the kit, as it will be dead in the water with an unmovable joint. This happened to one of my arm parts, I broke it apart and now the parts fall off if the arm joint is rotated. This also happened with the gun pod as I put too much glue and it spilled over into the sliding joint and now the gunpod is glued opened. Special care is also needed when gluing the sliding fist parts into the forearm area.
The only major modification I made to this kit was making the fist shields on the hands and the squared off fingers Do You Remember Love style. Sausage fingers on real robot era robots do nothing for me and it is a great and simple mod that improves the look of the kit. Unfortunately, the shields are too big to fit in the hole when they retract so I plan to steal some other fists from another Imai Valkyrie kit I plan to purchase soon.
As stated before the center cockpit capsule needs to be changed out when transforming from the Fighter/Gerwalk mode to the Battloid mode. The cockpit is finely detailed but the undercarriage wheel well is plain and is best to use some sheet styrene to spice up the look of the wheel well. The shape of the two cockpits is different to compensate for the minor scaling issues from the Fighter to Battloid mode.
I started building this kit when I graduated High School in the early 90’s when I felt that I could approach it with better skills. Another mod that I planned to do was convert it into Hikaru’s VF-1A DYRL style as the kit does come with extra parts such as the shortnose glass and standard chest plate. So I thought I would be cute and cut the long glass shorter and use that part to fill up the second seat space and use the short window as the main window. Very much my chop job was a nightmare. Not only that the VF-1A head I was going to use from the Bandai 1/72 Valkyrie kit was too thin looking for the body.
I used a dark grey Testor’s “primer” that was too dark for the light colored paint scheme. It was not a proper primer; just a grey color that I thought would work for the kit. That alone was another nightmare as the paint never really grabbed onto the plastic and up until the last day, paint still flaked off when I pulled the tape off.
The body part is straightforward but take special notice of making sure you do not glue parts that should otherwise move freely. The wings are capable of holding the missiles on pylons using polycaps but keep in mind it is near impossible to paint polycap material and it is just best to keep them unpainted. The missiles do come off the wings.
One of the best details of the model kit is the head, it is well molded and the front sensor glass area looks great when painted in clear green and grey. The only regret is that it is not on a ball joint. Otherwise, it looks accurate when use in both Fighter and Battloid modes.
For about 15 years I worked on and off again on my VF-1D. My skills improved over the years and I have not made those types of mistakes in many years, but at the time for every step forward I took on the kit it put me two steps backward. You live and learn. When I bought the Hasagawa kit I still had the sense to finish one Macross Valkyrie project before I started another. So I pulled out the Imai kit for one last push to finish the model. It seems in 2008 I had new tools and friends to help out.
The first step I took was to convert it all back to what the kit was intended for, as a VF-1D. So I took all the irrelevant parts off and put on all the VF-1D parts again. Also these days I am a part of a local International Plastic Modelers Society (IPMS) model building group and a fellow member was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule and vacumform a new canopy for me.
I finished the kit with Testors Radome Tan and a custom flat orange I mixed up using Testors flat yellow and flat red. Having built a few VF-1D’s DO NOT underestimate the black stencils on the chest area and shielded Battloid cockpit area. Take out a day to paint the intricate black stencils, as they are very time consuming to paint and to line up properly when masking. And whatever you do not use Comico's Robotech: The Macross Saga comics as a paint guide!
Another nice tool that was not available in the 1990s was the Internet. Macross World has a great gallery of classic Macross model kit box art and instructions. Revell left out all the decal and painting information in the Vexar instructions but I was able to use Macross World’s resources to complete the kit properly.
Once assembled the transformation of the kit is quite easy. The kit looks well balanced and appealing in all three modes. Considering this kit came out in 1983 it still holds up very well and is still the only 1/72 scale transforming model kit of a Valkyrie. Because of the thick paint application, many of the parts do not close properly like the cockpit to the body section and the top seam of the chest plate and back plate when it is in fighter mode. The vertical stabilizer backpack section does not hold well on the back in Battloid mode. Any idea of making it hold better would be greatly appreciated.
I am content that I was finally able to finish the kit after all those years. It is one of my most commented models I have on my display shelf although these days I could definitely build and paint a better version. I must have done something right as I was able to finish up the model in time of our regional IPMS model kit contest in Ontario, CA last summer and I was quite surprised when I took home the second place trophy in Sci-Fi category ( I displayed the model in Battloid mode at the contest, I did not finish the cockpit until a couple of weeks ago)!
The Imai variable Valkyrie kits are definitely worth picking up. In all reality, the first Valkyrie we see in Macross in Battloid mode is this VF-1D and it is must to have a representation in any form in the collection. Hobby Link Japan right now has the current Bandai reissues of the Imai kits of VF-1A and VF-1D for about 1700 yen. The Robotech boxed kits are surprisingly hard to locate unbuild these days and most of the boxes are crushed due to the thin cardboard that Revell used for all their model kits in the 1980s. My only suggestion is if you decide to build these kits is to double and triple check your parts before you glue them together and take your time when building and checking seams, although I do not think you will need to take 15 years time in doing so!
© Article and Photos Leonardo D Flores “modcineaste” and CollectionDX
Comments11 comments posted
I had a few of these when I was a kid, and I remember them being a nightmare to build. I got glue everywhere, nothing fit right, and I never painted them, so you can imagine how it looked. Still, those lazy summer days were occupied by model building, and its an experience I won't ever forget.
Thank god for modern model building technology! No paint and glue!
Awesome review Leonardo!
Thanks! I just read your Dougram review from 2007 about your Dougram Soltic action figure and Robotech Defenders DC comic book. For some strange reason I still love that comic book, it was well done and it still stuck with me all these years later. A belated great review to you as well.
I've must of built most all of the boxed Revell Robotech model kits. In all reality that was the only way Anime model kits officially showed up on department store shelves in the USA. Later I discovered shops like Funny Business and Pony Toy Go Round that carried the original Japanese Model kits...that blew my mind!
I have a couple more model kits to review coming up!
CollectionDX Staff Writer-West Coast Bureau
Great review, Leonardo! But it sort of stinks, too, since now maybe I'll have to lay off Sanjeev for slacking on some of his projects I've seen sitting around the last couple of years. Now he can just say "at least it's not taking me 15 years like Leonardo!" Hahaha
"This must be settled the way nature intended....with a vicious, bloody fight!"
Principal, Flatpoint High
HA!! I win again!
Great review, Leonardo! I like how you essentially dry-brushed in some shading to give the surfaces depth. That's not easy to do with Testors enamels. If you have a scrap kit laying around, I'd strongly recommend trying out Tamiya acrylics (water-based paints). For kits like these that require a more "organic" finish, acrylics work the best.
I find that enamels (oil-based paints like Testors) are good for car kits or other machines with very even, slick surfaces with hard edges. Everything else, from people to weathered vehicles, acrylics are the way to go. You'll find the mixing and dry-brushing infinitely easier with acrylics than with enamels.
Anyway, I also love your scratch-built hands. Are you planning on cutting joint lines into the right hand? They came out great on the left hand and if you made them match, they'd look stock!
The last variable kit I took on, I think, was either the Bandai 1/72 Fire Valkyrie or the 1/100 VF-2SS. Both were neat, but nothing compares to these guys! Leonardo, have you ever tried your hand at one of Bandai's variable 1/100 VF-1 kits? One of my buddies growing up completed about 85% of the Super -1S before giving up. Despite my pleas to see it completed, he never went back to it, so I never got to see how it turned out!
Thanks for the comments on the VF-1D!
I used a combination of Testor's dry brushing and Wilson Burnt Umber oil paints. I had so many coats of paint on the wings and fighter style nose pod that it all bled out from the panel lines. I'm not real happy with the wings and nose pod but again I've spent so much time on this one that it was time to move on.
I have a love hate relationship with Tamiya, some colors look beautiful but others look too "wet" when they are applied to the model. I painted my Porco Rosso 1/72 Folgore with all Tamiya paints, I should have that review up in a week or so. The red came out great but the Tan was kind of blah. Tamiya paints are also a bit translucent which is great but hard to get used to. That's why tank builders use it as they spray a darker undercoat on hinges and hatches and when the over spray is applied it had a very deep quality to it.
Testors paints on the other hand are very thick and a pain to thin out correctly. One paint that I have tried recently that I've really liked is Hubrol. It airbrushes perfect and hand brushes well. I might head that direction.
For figure painting everybody is telling me I should use Andrea Miniatures acrylics from Spain which I will use when I start building Hayao Miyazaki's Akuyaku 1/72 tank shortly. It comes with about 20 pig soldiers to paint.
I painted up and modified the right hand at the last minute, I actually have a third hand that modified just like the left hand. I forgot to mention that the kit comes with four hands two closed and two open. One of the closed hands holds the gun pod.
Yes I have built that 1/100 scale Valkyrie when I was a kid, and it fact it was another VF-1D (although it was a super valkyrie version which I also got for my birthday from my parents) Arii actually scaled down this Imai kit to 1/100 scale, a great kit and really the only way to go in 1/100 for a Valkyrie because Arii other Valkyries were so badly made. I'll will build another eventually!
CollectionDX Staff Writer-West Coast Bureau
Wow! You actually build and paint an Imai kit... I bet you chew with ease these days model kits (snap fit and very little gap to fill)
Nice! This was one of the earliest Macross kits I ever built, back in the Robotech kit days. (My avatar is the Robotech Zoltek kit I built back then, painstakingly done in proper Dougram colors!) I didn't have much trouble with it then, but I didn't bother to fill any seams and just used the stock orange for most of the body.
Sadly, it got traded away long ago. I'm thinking of getting the recent Bandai re-issue, though.
Amazing that the Robotech releases of so many of these kits sell for so much in comparison to the original - or even more recent reissue - Japanese editions. Are people that dumb?
you have a point there. Today I'm sure if they were going to release a new 1/72 Valkyrie it would be engineered so much better. For it's day it's a demanding kit but it was the best of what manufactures had to offer in kit technology. Today it would be pre-colored, polycapped, etc.
Great looking kit! I build that one as well, but painted it silver like the box, how was I suppose to know! I sold what was left of the Robotech Defenders / Dougram models I built on Ebay a few years ago, but they were very fun to build.
For $17.00 I would pick one up, they are actually cheaper now then when they were first released. Most of their Bandai reissue model kits are on sale right now on Hobby Link Japan, now is a good time to to pick up some Macross kits at blowout prices.
It's odd that people price things so high! I was so close to buying that VF-1D on Ebay right now for $60 but I didn't want to build another one. Luckily one of my IPMS club members had a vacuform machine and was able to pop me out a new window.
CollectionDX Staff Writer-West Coast Bureau
Honestly, I've been inspired lately to try to buy one of these variable and re-live a bit of my founding anime fandom years! This review helps! :-)
HLJ's entry for the reissue kit:
My Zoltek/Dougram, still intact after all these years!
The build looks really good.
Unfortunately I've never been a fan of these transforming kits--they always have to sacrifice some looks to make the transformation gimmick work, and they end up having all kinds of big nasty seams and parts that don't quite hold together (i.e. nose section in Fighter mode, backpack in Battloid mode.)
Also, is it just me or does the aft part look too "fat" in Fighter mode? The arms seem like they're too thick, and that spreads the legs out too far. (Of course, it might be that the Hasegawa VF's I'm used too are too "thin"...)
One trick that might fix the backpack would be to use magnets. Put a small magnet under the spine, and then a piece of metal in the backpack for the magnet to grab.
Those hands look AWESOME. I agree that the squared-off fingers are better than the rounded ones; although there is some precedent for that in hard-SF. Rounded, streamlined structures with lots of panel lines and rivets were commonly seen in 1970's-era SF stuff. The idea continues today; see the "Lockheed Lounge", for example.
Sorry for off topic but what is the female figure in your collection called? It looked very nice!