Valkyrie VF-1 Strike/ Super
Review by Showapop
Photos of the pilot figure and Missile Pack will be added later to the review upon completion of my Hasegawa Macross VF-1 Weapons Set review)
In 2008, I was roughly a year into my new career and it was time to catch up on purchasing toys and model kits that I could not afford to purchase in my lean years while I was in college and working at jobs that I just got by with. One of my first purchases was picking up a kit from Hasegawa’s line of 1/72 Valkyrie model kits from Macross.
By the 2000’s, modern model kit interpretations of the Valkyrie were desperately needed, as the old Arii, Bandai and Imai kits were starting to look their age. The kids who built the classic kits in the 1980’s were now young adults and modern Valkyrie model kits were needed to compliment our more advanced modeling skills. In 2001 Hasegawa announced that they were going to release newly tooled model kits from Macross. In my book, this was an amazing match made in heaven Kawamori’s brilliant real work Valkyrie designs paired with Hasegawa, one of the finest producers of plastic models jet aircraft in world. Seemingly all the planets were aligned for this project from the beginning.
Through 2002, Hasegawa released kit No 4 VF-1A Super Valkyrie and No 5 VF-1S Strike Valkyrie. These two kits were eventually taken out of production in 2007 with the Super/Strike Kits being repackaged in a single box with new artwork by Hidetaka Tenjin with optional parts for the A, J or S head. Designated kit No 17 VF-1A/J/S Strike/ Super Valkyrie this was my first introduction into Hasegawa’s Macross kits and the beginning of my five year nightmare.
Let us rewind a bit to discuss my love-hate relationship with Hasegawa. In the late 1980’s Hasegawa became the forerunner of how modern model kits were to be manufactured and marketed to the general model kit community. Believe it or not at one time model kits came with all the items you needed to build the kit, if anything needed to be added you just scratched built the part that was needed and that was that. The trend in the 1980’s began when Hasegawa decided to sell their aircraft kits without missiles, bombs and other accessories provided and sell individual kits with these components to be bought separately.
Together with the just burgeoning world of photoetch and resin aftermarket parts a modeler could spend up to triple the cost of the kit before two parts are even glued together. Throw in the price of paints and other supplies and you could easily spend over $100 on a $25.00 kit. It just all got real silly by the end of the 1980s. In my mind I was thinking “Why am I spending $100 on a WWII model airplane when I can spend the same money on real WWI and WWII Militaria?!” This began my introduction into collecting real WWII Militaria in the early 1990s.
When I started writing for CDX in 2006 I gradually began building kits again to review for the website as it was more about enjoying the building process and reliving my childhood. Everything would come full circle for me in 2008 when I walked into Frank and Sons and picked up this kit. Then the flood of bad memories came back to me like an ex-girlfriend who was hot but remembering why we broke up in the first place.
So how much did it cost to build this kit? The last count was about $140. Yes after buying the model kit itself, missile and pilot kit, display stand, photoetch and overpriced Gunze paints I spent around $140 to build this kit. Apparently Hasegawa understood that the Valkyrie enthusiast would go that extra mile to complete their Valkyrie model kits. The image below shows some of the items you will need to purchase from Hasegawa if you want to go all the way with your Valkyrie. I plan to write individual reviews for each support kit to properly document the madness.
If you are a model builder you will know that building a kit is more than just opening up the instructions and gluing the parts together per the instructions, but more about preplanning the painting and sub-assembly in smaller steps so the finally assembly of the model kit is done correctly. Upon opening the box I realized this was not my adolescent Valkyrie kit but some entirely different monster. First I was struck by sheer number of parts, and not just any type of parts but old school airplane modeling parts completely unlike the current snap together multi-colored Gundam parts. Just by looking at the parts on the sprue I sensed that this kit was completely overdesigned while other components were not designed well enough and both styles are going to come down crashing together when it went to final assembly.
This was not going to be an easy build and now in hindsight I now know this was the most difficult model kit I have ever assembled and finished in my life. Sure enough when I started building it in 2008 I quickly threw up my hands and pushed it aside and bought the VF 1A/J/S reviewed here on CDX. It made me take a step back and get familiar with the strength and weaknesses of these then new Hasegawa Valkyrie kit designs. Periodically I would go back and build small portions but finally last year I made it a priority kit to finish up for review here on CDX and made my last run to complete it. Sorry for the long background for this kit but you really should know what you will be getting yourself into!
The VF-1A/J/S Super/Strike Valkyrie kit comes boxed with multiple sprue molded in white and dark blue-grey, 1x clear sprue, 2x sheets of decals, instructions sheet. Options include Strike or Super booster set up and A/J/S style heads. If you have not built any the regular fighter mode Hasegawa Macross Valkyrie kits I do highly suggest building one of the VF-1 Valkyrie kits before building the Super or Strike kits.
Markings include decals for the following Valkyries: Roy Fokker VF-1S Strike DYRL, Hikaru VF-1S Strike DYRL, Hikaru VF-1S Super TV, Hikaru, Max and Kazizaki VF-1A Super DYRL. Various other stencils are included to create your own custom markings.
The first Items I suggest to build and paint are the parts that need to be prebuilt before the larger parts can be assembled. These include painting the cockpit interior grey, the landing gear area gloss white and all the metalized parts such as the boosters exhaust nozzles, feet nozzles, and backpack nozzles. I use Alclad paints for my metalized parts as you can tape the parts off without lifting the paint from the plastic but still has a nice metal look to the parts. Alclad is a two-part paint process where I apply a gloss black undercoat then a second coat of the Alclad metalized paints. It is a longer process but looks great overall when finished and much tougher than Testors Medalizers.
Photoetch parts should also be applied during this time. Two companies produce photoetch for these kits Valkyries, Hasegawa and the Hong Kong based Jasmine Models, they both have their pros and cons which I will go into in their own reviews.
Finally some of the inner portioned of the parts need to be painted as well. These include the aircraft color in inside of the leg parts and the gloss white in the landing gear area and intakes. These three steps should move along the build quickly so you can get to your major subassemblies.
In my original VF-1S review I stated that the wheels doors could be built open or closed. I decided when I was going to build this model that I would build it with the landing gear in the stored position as I feel these Super/Strike Valkyries look their best in flight. Unfortunately this ended up being a big undertaking, as the doors are not designed to simply close. The doors are thin and there is not much surface area to glue the parts to, and major modifications are needed on the parts to close the doors completely. Also, the rear landing gear doors need to be modified, a modification that ends up changing how the light fits into the door. Hasegawa could have easily included a closed door insert but neglected to.
The nose and cockpit section of the aircraft go together well, just make sure everything is properly aligned. Although the control panel, seat and rear block portion of the cockpit look good, the sparse detail on the side panels, rear wall of cockpit and control sticks are less than detailed or not even represented. This is where the photoetch is most needed.
The body is a quick build but photoetceh is needed if you would like to close up the area between the wings where they fold up into the body of the aircraft. Once closed up with the Hasegawa photoetche you cannot close the wings.
This is also a good time to build the wings. This is where Hasegawa shines as you can take off the wings off and add them later, which is great for transporting the kit from place to place after it is built. I painted the silver in the light crevasse and added the clear parts at this point. I prefer to glue and sand down the clear parts seamless into the wing and mask the parts. I also used colored plastic for the red and blue lights on the tips of each wing.
Be very careful about gluing the head hatch on the top of the aircraft body. It should be angled in as pictured and not flush with the body. One can easily miss seeing the angle of this part in the instructions. Not sure of any other Valkyrie toys has done this but it seems to be a unique feature only to Hasegawa’s take on the Valkyrie.
The arms present its own set of problems due to what I feel is an overdesign of the parts. The forearms should be glued together side by side after each individual part is built. Unfortunately all the weight of the arms are held in by two small prongs that do not offer any support of the weight of the arms, heavy armor and gun pod. This in my opinion could gave easily been a few parts at the most with some better support. It appears Hasegawa has changed this design; as it is a simplified build in their other Macross kits.
Most of the issues I had with the kit are the legs. The leg is split into four portions: The intake, the coupling, the middle leg and the longer lower leg portion. The problem is the coupling and the way the intake attaches to the underside of the body. First, the entire weight of the leg and armor is held in place by the top of the intake. When it comes to finally assembly make sure this area is clean of paint and other obstructions, as the bond between the parts needs to be properly cured to support the weight.
Second, the small coupling part has very little area to glue to hold the intake and upper leg to the lower leg and the armor. I predicted that in finally assembly this part was going to fail and sure enough it did when I finished it. The lower leg is just to heavy for the coupling portion of the leg. I suggest putting some inner support in these parts such as a brass rod to make sure the coupling can hold up the weight.
The backpack portion that holds up the booster pack builds well, with most of its issues appearing when it is in Valkyrie mode. One often discussed feature of these Valkyrie kits is how the vertical stabilizers fold into themselves in halves as opposed to the how the 1/55 Tokutaku toy vertical stabilizers fold upon each other. Many claim “Hasegawa did it wrong!”, but I will have to disagree. I believe when Hasegawa first designed this model kit as it was a real world aircraft some noticeable issues began to take notice, such as the impossibility of the vertical stabilizers folding upon each other and most importantly why the Hasegawa kit has the head hatch indent into the body of the aircraft. I believe the designers felt it simply was not going to work any other way.
I believe they noticed when they first designed it the parts would simply run out room and decided to compress the entire area together or else the backpack would be too much in the wrong angle and sit to tall. Already the booster attachment holes are angled so they appear more level with the aircraft body when connected to the backpack. Folding the vertical stabilizers upon each other would just give the backpack too much height and not indenting the hatch would make everything angled wrong. I would have to think when Hasegawa showed it to Kawamori, he looked at it, paused and then had to agree that it needed to be this way for this kit and approved it. Essentially, the backback and boosters hide all the folded vertical stabilizers, indented hatch, and booster holes, but it is there.
The head and gun build out very nice, my only complaint is that it does not come with the VF-1A TV glass sensor. Otherwise the details are very nice for both parts.
The armor parts are molded in a dark blue grey plastic. While this is good for the armor parts themselves it is the attachment parts where this becomes an issue, This includes the bottom portion of the backpack, the sides of the intake and the long panel that juts out of the back of the aircraft. Even with primer it took multiple coats of white paint to cover up the dark plastic and have it match the rest of the model kit. The original VF-1A Super kit had the armor parts molded in a light grey that was easily covered. Again another portion of the kit that took longer to complete than it needed to.
The armor parts and boosters look great themselves with only a few problems encountered here. The leg armor present the least issues, but again be mindful of making sure the inner leg portion is clear of any paint when you glue it to the side of the leg. I would save the nozzles painting until one of the last steps.
The arm armor I would do different next time. I did not glue them until the last step of the build but the next time I would glue them together side by side and then glue it to the arms just so there is some stability when you attach the gun pod to the arms.
The boosters present more issues. I do love how Hasegawa made it so the front portions of the boosters can separate from the back portion, for ease of taking the Strike and Super parts off. What complicates things is when you use the photoetch back-plate in these areas. While the plastic part fits very firm, when you attach the photoetch it just does not hold up well. I am not sure why Hasegawa made this photoetch in the first place but I will discuss this more in the phototech review. Next time I will just leave the photoetch off and just glue the boosters to the front portions of the booster. The Hasegawa photoech for the interior rear portions of the boosters corrects some seam issues and were a welcomed addition to the kit.
So now we have a bunch of unpainted parts. I decided to go with the Gunze paints as stated in the instructions, which also has it pros and cons. First Gunze is very expensive here in California, with all three dealers selling them for $3.50-$3.99 each. In my opinion this is major price gouging as in Japan these paints cost only ¥100-150 each. It can get very expensive to paint a kit such as this entirely in Gunze paints and I dare to say I spent upwards of $40.00 on Gunze paints alone.
As costly as they are I have been enjoying using these paints on my anime kits, as to me that Anime look in model kits is the Gunze look and this Valkyrie is no exception. The white they suggest I use on this Valkyrie is Gunze #316 F-14 Gloss White, which is a nice grey-white that perfectly captures the drab toned look of Macross: Do You Remember Love? Painting is very simple as everything is one color with the trim and other colors represented as decals. The only masking and painting is the front intake covers of both the legs and intakes on top of the body. Clear parts and metallic parts at this time should also be masked before painting.
Other than the issues I had with covering the dark plastic with white paint, the painting of the kit is one of the easiest steps of the build to get through, as everything is one color. The boosters’ color is mix of two colors and matches the plastic perfectly. I did not pre or post shade the white color but the armor was post shaded with a lighter color mix to give it a better depth and worn look.
The other area that needed painting was the armor nozzle holes that needed to be painted metallic. Each hole needs to be masked and then painted with the two-step Alclad process. After painting I would avoid getting clear or flat plaint into these metallic nozzle holes.
After everything is completely dried I began my wash, using burnt umber and black oil paints thinned with oil paint thinner. The gloss of the paint will quickly dull out and give off that nice Gunze semi-gloss I have grown to love so much. Apply the wash then quickly rub it out with polish, all the paint will stay in the panel lines and it will give the kit a nice worn luster throughout. I applied a Testors gloss coat and after drying it was ready for decals.
I spent a week putting on the one hundred plus decals throughout the kit. It is a long but necessary step if you want that real world Hasegawa look that we love so much. I applied the major decals first such as the wing stripes, vertical stabilizer black and other assorted larger decals. Generally more decals are put on top of these so it is best to do these first, let them dry and apply the top decals on a following day. Otherwise, you will get a mush of decals especially after you apply decal solvent. Again do not rush this portion, just take your time and you will be rewarded with a beautifully decaled kit.
The only problem I encountered was that some of the decals peeled up from the model kit, this was easily solved when I applied more decal solvent. I have not experienced that with the other Hasegawa kits so it could have been how my decals were stored or the temperature of the room when I put on the decals. After applying the decals I applied a coat of Testors Flat Coat and let it dry.
Then it is time for assembly. This was the portion of the build that I was dreading the most, as there are so many parts that need to be aligned and glued together correctly. The body and cockpit had already been glued together earlier on. The backpack was glued in with three very tiny prongs to hold the weight of the entire backpack and nozzle pack. Again, something needs to be added so these parts have more are glue area to hold the parts. I am not sure if I am going to glue the boosters to the backpack prongs, as the dry fit holds it firmly but not sure how long it will hold.
For the arms all the time I spent painting the sides of the arm were sanded off and glued so the parts can be much more firm in the body to hold the armor and gun pod. The armor was also glued together and the gun pod attached to the armor. Again I suggest some sort of pin to attach the pod gun to the armor, as the small area that is provided is not sufficient enough to hold the pod.
The legs in my opinion are the worst nightmare of the kit. Already discussing the weight issues of the legs to the small area that is glued, what I predicted what happen came true, one of the legs broke at the coupling area as I was gluing these parts to the body. I decided not to glue the front portion of the legs from the back portion as I can align it better, and detach them when I am moving the kit to another location. But I have no faith in any of these parts holding up together for long as the leg joint couplings are weak and the weight of the entire booster portion relies on three small prongs.
But wait I am not through yet. Let us discuss what this kit does not come with: the stand, the missiles and pods and pilot figure. First the stand is not important if you are building the Valkyrie on its landing gear but is needed if you decide to put the landing gear in stored position. Unfortunately the look and design of the stand is not very attractive and hides detail in the lower leg area. I suggest building your own stand for these kits, as the Hasegawa stands are an easy fix but not very attractive and cumbersome.
A pilot figure and missiles are not included but are included in a secondary kit. While the missiles are well produced it adds even more items to a kit that I believe is already overloaded with too many parts. With the missiles attached it makes it even more difficult to attach the plane to the stand. This kit also includes two DYRL figures but you are out of luck if you would like to use a TV style figure, as it does not include any.
So, why is there so much time and trouble to build this kit? I believe Hasegawa wanted to make the Valkyrie true to its real form, meaning that it should have all the joints and components real to the transformation to the Battroid although the kit was made to be a static Valkyrie display. While this is somewhat reasonable in the normal Valkyrie kit, overall both kits suffer with so many parts that should be simplified to speed up the process. Features such as the upper legs and the arms should have been new sprue parts unique unto themselves for either the Valkyrie and Strike/Super kits rather than sharing the same sprue for both kits.
While I commend Hasegawa for keeping to the true mechanical spirit of the Valkyrie/Battroid for their kit, they ended up creating a needless overly complex kit where both versions suffering for features to be used on the other kit. I am sure saving costs with cutting new molds was most likely a variable in deciding this but overall both kits suffer for this.
Overall one has to remember that this is an 11-year kit being released in 2002 and one of the first sci-fi/anime kits Hasegawa produced in 50+ year history. There were going to be some teething issues involved. When Hasegawa released their excellent 1/48 VF-1 kit in 2010 many of these issues were fixed to produce a more solid model kit and thankfully did not simply scale up the 1/72 VF-1 kit from 10 years earlier.
But I do have to tell you it is a beautiful kit when finished. The pain in building it is not without rewards. The sheer beauty of the Super VF-1 shines when I stand back and look at it while on display. This is the dream model of Hikaru’s VF-1A Super from DYRL that I always wanted to build and own since I was a kid and I am happy that I finally completed it. Unfortunately, there is an unsettling feeling that this kit is going to fall apart at any moment with the weight of so many unbalanced components and protruding parts tediously glued onto the body of the Valkyrie. Sigh….
©2013 Review and Pictures by Leonardo Flores & CollectionDX
|Posted 22 January, 2014 - 14:30 by Showapop|