By John Lester - images & text © 2001
Next to the Gundam property, Macross is one of Japan's longest running series (TV, movies, and OAVs). It's one of the three animes that was used to create the U.S. Robotech series in the '80s. The popularity of the Macross saga led to a number of sequels and spin-offs.
Many of the newer series contain innovative new mecha designs, as well as new twists on older favorites like the original VF-1 Valkyrie fighters.
Which leads us to the subject of this preview: Hasegawa's new VF-1A kit in 1/72 scale. Various Japanese manufacturers have released kits based on Macross vehicle designs over the years, but none as state-of-the-art as this.
What You Get
The box is litterally crammed with plastic. There are eight sprues of white plastic parts and a sprue of polycaps in one bag, clear plastic parts in another, plus instructions and a huge decal sheet. There is no flash on any of the parts, as befits a new tool, and no sink holes or ejector pin marks anyplace where they'll be visible when the model is complete. Hasegawa has been releasing some phenominal aircraft kits over the past year, both in terms of engineering and detail - and the good news is, they didn't dumb down anything to make this one. Panel lines and other detail are grisp and finely engraved. Landing gear are so fine I'm almost afraid they won't bear the weight of the kit - but I know they will. The cockpit is basic, but captures everything I remember from the show. Clear parts are included for the canopy, running lights and Battloid "eye". ("Battloid" is what you get when the vehicle transforms into giant robot mode).
Despite the presence of polycaps, the kit does not transform to the Battloid configuration. The caps are intended to smooth the action of the swing wings, which you can sweep back. No pilot figure is included, either - sadly the standard for aircraft kits today.
Instructions are typical Hasegawa - which means all but the most inexperienced should be able to follow them. This despite being completely in Japanese. There are 16 assembly steps, each of which is laid out in clear, logical diagrams. In a nice touch, painting and marking instructions are provided via a four view drawing that is the same size as the kit. The only area that may cause confusion are the actual paint call-outs. They're standard Hasegawa - big numbers inside a circle inside black box denote version of the aircraft, small numbers in a black circle denote a specific color, and small numbers inside a hollow circle denote the specific decal to apply. There's a paint chart that's keyed to Tamiya and Gunze paints, with English names and FS numbers where appropriate.
Decals are provided for all the markings, including the canopy framing. One could, theoretically, not bother with painting .... but of course, the model will look better with paint and weathering. I'll probably paint the anti-glare panel, twin tails, and other black areas - and just use the decals for smaller markings and stencils. You certainly get enough - there's decals for the red, green and blue marked fighters, plus enough numbers and letters to (again, theoretically) do any of the VF-1A fighters. Specific markings for aircraft such as those of Skull Squadron are not included; these fighters have different different battloid heads, which are also not present in the kit.
OK, it's a great kit - but is it accurate? The short answer: I think so. The long answer - the vehicles differed between TV series and movie/OAVs. Differences are more noticeable in the Battloid form. To my casual eye, the model looks more like a VF-1A than it does a Siberian Husky, so that's good enough for me.
Assembly & Finish
This is a modern Hasegawa model, folks. You can almost toss some glue in the box, shake it a bit, and pour out a model. Almost. Follow the instructions and go slow, and you should not even need putty (unless you're like me and need putty for every kit).
Interesting subject, affordable, well-engineered .... I'd say Hasegawa has another winner here. It's a kit even a novice can build (though kids will probably need a bit of help from someone more experienced because of the busy pictorial instructions). Highly recommended to those with the interest. I'm looking forward to the next kits in the series - the VF-1J (already out) and VF-1S (probable, given Hasegawa's penchant for kitting multiple versions by adding a sprue or two to cover the differences).
For another perspective and more pictures, see John Decker's VF-1 Page.
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 2000+ readers a day? Contact us!
This page copyright © 2001 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 15 January 2001.