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Bandai's Transformable Macross VF-1D Kit Preview


By John Lester - images & text © 2003

Scale: 1/72 - ~20cm/77/8" long when assembled
Parts: Approximately 190 injection molded styrene, plus 5 metal, four rubber and a fret of polycaps.
Instructions: One page fold-out, exploded assembly diagrams on one side and photographic paint/decal placement guide on the other
Decals: Waterslide, markings for one generic mech
Molding Quality: 9 - state-of-the-art ten yeras ago, with no flaws
Detail: 8 -mnot as crisp as modern molds, but not at all bad
Accuracy: 8 - some parts noticeably overscale or simplified in order to allow transforming action.
MSRP: 1500 JPY (~$ 13.54 USD/ $18.16 CAN/ 11.59 EUR) available from HobbyLink Japan
Overall Rating: 9 - Good, if not simple, kit with many possibilities for display

[Box art]

For a brief introduction to the Macross series, and a look at Hasegawa's more recent kit, please click here.

[Click to enlarge]

Image: Wings & 'standard' Valkyrie nose

Image: Leg parts

Image: Engine halves & more leg parts

Image: The parts that make this a -D

Image: Weapons sprue

Image: Metal and and rubber parts

Image: Assembly diagrams are easy enough to follow, even if the text is in Japanese

[Paint guide]

^ Paint & decal placement guides use photos of a completed model

[Decals]

^ You're better off using spare Hasegawa decals, if you have them.

What You Get

Inside the box are three baggies containing:

  • Six sprues of cream-colored styrene
  • Two more sprues of clear parts
  • One sprue of polycaps

    Also included are metal and rubber parts on a cardboard header, instructions and decals. Included in the plastic sprues are a boarding ladder, a bomb trolley and the standard (single-seater) VF-1 nose.

    The Good

    The plastic parts are well molded, with no real flaws (flash, prominent ejector pin marks, etc. Panel lines are engraved. The kit is engineered so that you can transform the model between fighter, GERWALK and battroid modes after assembly. Durable die-cast metal parts are provided for the hinges that allow this, plus the landing gear (which needs to be folded out of the way when transforming). You get two pilot figures for the cockpit, plus the aforementioned accessories. I particularly like getting some weapons to sling under the wings - unlike the Hasegawa kits, for which you have to buy their separate weapons sets (good marketing on Hasegawa's part, but annoying to me the customer). The extra VF-1 parts can go straight to the spares box for a future kitbash.

    Being a new pop from a mold that's already been paid for, the price is also welcome. Even at the local shop, where this one retails for $24.99, it's significantly less than what the 15th anniversery reissues were going for on eBay as little as a year ago.

    Despite the Japanese text, the instructions and marking guide are easy to follow, thanks to the clear assembly diagrams and the photographs showing where every decal goes.

    The Bad

    There's nothing really "bad" about the kit. It does show it's age, though. The kit was originally pressed almost 20 years ago, and has been reissued by Bandai several times - as well as by Revell in their late 80's Robotech line. While the molds have held up well (or maybe have been redone, I don't know) so that there is no flash or big steps between part halves, detail is softer than you'll find on newer releases. Interestingly enough, the softness in detail gives this kit a more "anime"-like appearance than the hard-edged realism of the Hasegawa fighters.

    Because the completed model is meant to be transformable some of the parts are overscale (the landing gear struts jump to mind). Because the kit is so old, detail is more simplified than one would expect from the latest Japanese releases (landing gear wells and cockpit are prime examples). A good comparison is the old MPC 1/48-ish X-Wing.

  • The Ugly

    If there's a downfall to the kit, it's the decals. They're well registered and opaque .... but otherwise pretty much what you'd expect from a twenty-year old sheet. Tey're thick and the colors too bright, and the stencils are all illegible. Do yourself a favor and trade for someone's unused Hasegawa markings, or snag one of their "option sets".

    Conclusions

    So why would you want this kit instead of Hasegawa's newer release? I can think of three reasons:

  • Price: Bandai's reissue is slightly less expensive ( 300 JPY than the "standard" Hasegawa kit/ 500 JPY less than the special edition kit). Even at hobby shops in the US, the Bandai is usually less than the Hasegawa.
  • Availability: It's in production now, whereas Hasegawa is phasing theirs out (though the Virgin Road issue can still be found)
  • Options: Not only can you transform Bandai's kit into all three variable modes - if that's your bag - you can display it in any of the three. Hasgawa provides the fighter version, but nothing else - to make the battroid or GERWALK versions you'd need to buy another kit. Plus you get ordnance, a bomb trolley and boarding ladder in the Bandai issue.

    Bottom line? Bandai's VF-1D isn't as fine out of the box as Hasegawa's kit, but it is by no means an inferior model. The display options alone are strong recommendations - and with a little more effort, it is quite possible to build an eye popping model from the bits in this particular box (and I've seen several).

    Recommended to modelers with a few kits under their belts.


    Many thanks to my wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!

  • Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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    This page copyright © 2003 Starship Modeler™. First posted 3 October 2003. Last updated on 3 October 2003.