More than anything in the Gundam universe, I love Valkyries. I inherited a love for airplanes from my dad and I just always liked robots going back to the Shogun Warriors toys that were out when I was 4 or 5. So when this show called Robotech came along with an actual plot and these cool robots THAT TRANSFORMED INTO JETS!!! It was the coolest thing ever for the eleven year-old version of me.
I’ve collected a bunch of Valkyrie kits over the years and even built a few back in my brush-painting days but this is the first time I tackle on in my “real model builder” era. The Gundam kits always call to me, “I’m easier… build me next.” This time I’m resisting the temptation.
For this project I’m combining Hasegawa’s 1/72 scale VF-1D kit (I like the longer nose on the VF-1D in fighter mode), which comes with a photoetch parts set, with a Super VF-1A (just the Super parts and the folded backpack and bent legs that go with them, I’ll still have a complete VF-1A fighter kit when I’m done), the weapons set (for the pilots and missiles) and the Option Decals Set 3 (http://www.hlj.com/product/HSG65766).
I’m going for the “7th Aircraft” of the Minmay Guard. Both the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels have a 6-plane aerobatic team, but they each have a 7th plane, a two-seater which serves as a backup plane as well as a promotional plane to take up VIPs and members of the media. I haven’t worked out the exact color scheme yet, but it will be more or less blue and white to go with the decals.
Anyway, here’s the progress…
Airplane models pretty much always start with the cockpit. I took one quick detour to deal with the landing gear doors (technically, the wheel well and cockpit tub are the same piece of plastic). I wanted the doors closed on this model. Like the Hasegawa Mustang I built last year, this plane is meant to be built wheels-down only and putting them up requires some surgery. At least these gear doors are in the neighborhood of the size of the hole they are supposed to cover. The Mustang gear doors were a joke.
I started by cutting the tabs off of the doors and gluing the two main doors together using a piece of plaplate to brace them into one solid piece. I then installed some plastic strip inside the wheel wells and them sanded them flush with the edges. These provide a lip for the gear doors to sit on when I glue them shut.
But, of course the gear doors are too thin, so I had to glue tiny thin strips along their edges to mate with the plastic lips I had added. Some careful sanding made for a pretty damn good seal. Once I finish the cockpit and really glue the nose halves together I’ll perfect the fit of the doors.
Next came the actual cockpit (or the front office as many plane modelers call it). I had actually done a bit of work on this kit about 5 years ago before shelving it, so the instrument panels and a few other random pieces are glued on already. This shouldn’t be a major problem to work around.
A few photo etch parts are meant to go in the cockpit, like these ones on the tops of the seats:
I assembled the two pilots, giving them different poses to make them not look like two identical pieces of plastic. The backseater gets to wave since the guy in front is doing the driving. I still have to work on his right arm. It’s ridiculously skinny and his hand is kinda limp-wristed right now:
Here’s a test-fit with the canopy, can’t have anybody’s head or hands keeping it from fitting later:
The cockpit on this thing is extremely simple, so once I get the pilots set and add a bit of mesh or something onto a bare and very visible piece of side wall, I’ll paint it and close it up.
I did one last thing and got sidetracked…
The last thing I did was to render some lineart to plan my color scheme since I can never find some good Valkyrie lineart. I made this in Corel Draw:
If you want your own to work on, here’s a larger version you can download:
I started to work on it with GIMP but then I couldn’t save it in layers so I ultimately got nowhere. I’ll have to put it on PSE4 on the old computer and work on it.
January 18, 2011
Alright… where was I???
Well now that the Bandai World Cup and my 20-something page report on my trip are out of the way, I can get back to my WIP. I’ve actually been working on this here and there for a couple of weeks, but have spent all my non-computer time either making my reports vegging out, so I haven’t been updating this WIP.
Work continued with the cockpit. I wanted to add some detail to this large piece of side panel that shows pretty well once you put the model together but is completely bare, so I tried something I see a lot of IPMS-type airplane builders do, I added some wiring:
Next, the armrests in the cockpit were completely devoid of detail, and real airplanes always have a bunch of switches and knobs there, so I added little plastic bits that should come out with some paint and dry brushing:
Next I worked on the arm of my backseater to give him a better pose. I sawed the arm into 3 tiny pieces, added some plastic strip and sanded and re-glued it into a better pose.
The next trick was converting back of the VF-1D for Super pack use. There is some “historical” discrepancy here. The Super Ostrich and Elintseeker Valks do not fold their fins when the backpack folds over to mount the Super packs. But then again, these VT and VE Valkyries do not really look like straight VF-1D conversions as their noses are more blunt and the pilots are packed almost on top of each other.
Now the regular VF-1D folds its fins like the regular VFs for Gerwalk mode ( http://www.1999.co.jp/itbig08/10082441a3.jpg )and older kits were made of the Super VF-1D with normal folded fins. The problem that arises is that the Hasegawa kits of the VF-1S/J/A all have a hatch that folds down (inwards) just a bit to clear the fins when the backpack folds over. This folded hatch is utilized for both the Super/Strike fighter kits as well as the Battroid kits. Back in the old 80’s Takara Valks these same hatches folded outwards so you could get the head through during transformation. The VF-1D kit does not have this hatch. Here’s a comparison, with the back of the VF-1D on top and the back to a normal VF-1S/J/A on bottom:
The VF-1D’s back is one solid piece, and is also taller where the backpack folds over:
The normal VF is both shorter, and has the retractable hatch:
If I were to slap the backpack onto the VF-1D, the Super packs that mount to it would be cocked upwards a good 10-15 degrees and look stupid. So, I had to do some surgery, starting with cutting both backplates in half so I could keep the unique VF-1D front half and use the normal VF-1S/J/A rear half with its cut-out for the hatch:
Next I had to cut the hatch out of the rear portion of the VF-1D, and cut some of the front off of it so it would be the right length. Then I had to file a groove into the back of it:
Finally, I cheated some and shaved down the front plate so the fins could clear. I really wanted to make sure that backpack sat solidly on its mounting posts so that the super packs would be as well-aligned as possible. These kits can have alignment issues even when they aren’t modified.
And a test fit:
Last step is to glue it together and fill it with gap-filling CA glue. Masking paper was used to protect the very VERY fine surface detail while I sanded this seam.
One of the last things I have to do before I start priming is to retract the rear wheels. To do this I had to modify the “legs” is to add a plastic shim inside the wheel well to support the rearmost gear door otherwise it just falls into the wheel well. Up front, I had to cut out the support from the landing light mount. The landing light is like a third landing gear door that opens forward so that the landing light can shine forward. Unlike the actual landing gear doors that fit pretty good in the well, the landing light “doors” were too long, too wide and too thick.
I had to file down the landing light door to the right dimensions and also file the edges so that it could sit flush on top of the “rails” that were left when I cut out the center of the door mount.
Now the doors fit pretty well. Like the nose gear door, I can’t do the final fit until I glue the halves of the legs together.
Next was the foot exhausts. The way the kit is made the feet are sandwiched between the legs and have to be masked off. That also means you have to paint them and everything inside before you glue the legs together. I didn’t want to do this so I shaved the circular shapes off the sides of the feet that hold them in place.
I thought I would have to make some kind of mounts for the feet but it turned out that when I test fit them they fit pretty snugly and touched the plate with the molded in exhaust detail inside the leg well enough that I decided I could just glue them in place after the model was done.
They sis slightly deeper than intended, but you can’t really tell. Here’s the comparison to the stock mounting:
I love it when mods just kind of work themselves out. That’s why test-fitting is so important. It’s amazing how many things fit that aren’t even necessarily meant to fit together.
The last thing was to glue the photoetched deteail inside the feet:
Now I’m ready to wash all the parts I’ve worked on for priming.
The next thing I did was to get back on the computer and work out my color scheme. I wanted to go with a stripes and sunburst pattern. It’s a real classic with airplanes. But it’s too classic. It looks right on a Super Cub, or Decathalon. These are fabric-covered airplanes from the middle of the 20th century so I wanted something to modernize the look of the color scheme. I first thought of fading them out with the airbrush but thought that would be kind of lame since the pattern would just kind of disappear.
But I liked the idea of the pattern starting strong towards the center of the plane and then breaking up as it got out towards the extremities. I don’t know when I made the connection, but I decided to do it with little white strips like the pattern was being cut to ribbons. I think the idea comes from what Gamerabaenre did with the patterns of blue and pink in his Gouf Cstom and Zaku II (http://gamerabaenre.com/gouf_conv.htm) but the pattern is applied in a gradient from one end to another. Here’s the mock-up:
The UN Spacy is upside down on the gunpod because it just bugs the heck out of me to see it upside down when carried in battroid mode, especially when that makes it rightside up in fighter mode WHEN IT’S RIGHT NEXT TO THE UN SPACY LOGO ON THE LEG!!! Why have it all rightside up in one mode and all upside down in the other??? It’s like the Zaku shield, it should really be on the left shoulder for right-handed pilots since that way it would deploy forward in the typical two-handed firing stance.
Well, I kind of disappeared with this project… A big part of that is just life getting in the way. In the last few weeks I’ve had to fight with my insurance company and the body shop that didn’t fix my car right to get them to fix it right. I’ve also battled a colony ants that moved into my bedroom wall. I’ve had to study for a promotional job interview (I got the job!). I’ve had to do online traffic school. I took a test in the class I’m taking and I made an “Intro to Mecha Modeling” presentation to the local IPMS club. But also, I’m just to the point of fixing the 20-odd seam lines on this kit and it’s not something I look forward to all day at work. I am almost ready to prime, however.
Anyway… I thought I’d be painting the cockpit soon since it needs to be painted before I close up the fuselage, but I started assembling some sub-assemblies and as I began to test fit some parts, I found a lot of small issues that needed attention. Some of these fixes are still in-progress, and I bounced around quite a bit from one small task to another but I’ll try to present it in an orderly fashion.
I test-fit the VF-1D head that tucks into the bottom of the cockpit and found that the head sits too low so that rim of the gun turrets on the side of the head stick out above the actual head. A lot!
To fix this I added some plates on the bottom of the head to shim it upwards (technically downwards since it’s on the bottom of the plane, but…) and now the guns sit flush with the top of the head.
Next was the Super booster packs. The very first thing I did was cut the tabs off the main thrusters so that they could be painted separately and slid into place afterwards.
The booster packs had some fit issues as the main thrusters didn’t fit inside them well without splitting the packs apart at the seams. If you look in the picture above, you can see the bulges on the inside on the right side that house the small maneuvering thrusters on the sides of the packs. These interfere with the fit of the main thrusters so I sanded them upper bulge down a bit and the side of the booster as well.
Next I looked at the way the packs mount to the backpack. The mounts have a really small contact point that doesn’t allow much glue to hold these relatively large structures to the plane. Even worse, there isn’t a positive fit that keeps them aligned, so you could mount them really crooked. I’ve seen Valks with this problem, even some of Hasegawa’s own prototype models can be spotted with crooked booster packs.
To fit this I used a 1.5mm brass rod and CAREFULLY drilled matching holes into the mounts for the booster packs. This rod will go through a plastic rod, which will be securely glued inside the backpack, which should give a secure and straight fit. The downside is that this will all have to be glued in place and aligned after painting is done.
The next fix for the boosters was the gaping hollow spaces visible behind the main thrusters when viewed from behind:
To remedy this I added some small strips of plastic as brackets to mount some plastic plate:
Once these brackets were in place I used trial and error to make a set of upper and lower formers to block off the hollow space and glued them in. I’ll add some detailing greebles to them before painting. I’m also going to add some plaplate or strips around the inside backs of the booster pack because there’s a lot of blank space visible around the main thrusters.
I test-fit the arms and discovered a big hole in the hollow “elbows” that will be visible once the plane is all assembled. It’s not horrible since you would only see it from certain angles, but still, it’s an easy fix so I blocked it off with some thin plaplate.
With the legs glued together, I went ahead and installed the landing gear doors. They still required a bit of filing but I got a pretty good fit. I’ll probably still need some filler here and there but I’m pretty happy with the results so far. The question is how much putty I’ll have to use to smooth them out and how much I’ll have to rescribe the door outlines.
That’s it for now. I hope to post pictures of a primed model with a painted cockpit in the near future. I’ll probably have a decent bit of work to do rescribing the panel lines that were lost in the seam-fixing process, but after that I can get to painting and hopefully the work will go faster.
After fixing the seam lines, detailing work continued. Most of that has been in the form of adding photoetched parts. I went ahead and ordered the normal VF-1 photoetched parts set from HLJ since I was also ordering the 1/48 scale VF PE set. At first I didn’t realize that the set that comes with the VF-1D kit is different from the standard aftermarket set, which includes more detailing for the booster packs.
While I was waiting for those to arrive, I built the missiles from the weapons set. The reactor missiles surprised me because they have raised panel lines. It’s about impossible to fix the seams around raise panel lines without sanding them off, so I just gave up and sanded the missiles smooth:
Next I realized I’d have to come up with some way to mount the model in a flying position, so I kind of put it together to see where I had room to put a stick in the model:
Next I added a whole bunch of photoetch parts and also added some traditional plastic detailing where I thought it was needed.
For the first time I used the Ako Hobby round chisel bits I had got from Hong Kong. These make circular impressions in plastic. It’s a nice way to add very small detail, which this kit needs with its small size.
Making this little vent from 11 tiny PE parts was no fun at all:
I just realized I want to add some detail inside those massive thrusters on the booster packs, but I’ve already started to skewer the parts and I’m finally about to prime the model.
Okay, there’s something wrong with me. I have 60 pictures of a kit that isn’t even primed yet…
Anyway, I added some detail to the main thrusters as well as the reactor missile thrusters, which were just a flat plate:
Then I went to work painting the cockpit. It’s like a kit in and of itself. You have to paint it, then clearcoat it. Then decal it. The clearcoat it. Then do a wash. Then clearcoat it. Then drybrush it. Did it all in a weekend of short spurts of work followed by waiting for clearcoats to dry. Those hasegawa decals are THICK it took a lot of MicroSol just to get them to stay in place, let alone conform to the shapes in the cockpit. Here’s a series of pics showing the progression:
Starting last weekend I decided this kit needs more decals so I started rendering this. It will go in the circles on the side of the Super Booster Packs. I’m going to make a few more things like numbers and stuff and also some decals for my VF-25 while I’m at it. In the meantime the kit is primed and I’m doing round two of fixing seam lines.
After a year’s hiatus I’m finally back on my Super VF-1D. It’s not an easy project and with a new baby in the house and an invasion of bird mites it’s been really hard to find time to work on it…
Huh…bird mites?!?!?! Yes, bird mites. I’m going to go on this tangent a while because I had never heard of such a thing (not the mites themselves, but them infesting a home) and I have a degree in Biology and took two Ornithology classes.
To start, never, ever, let birds build a nest on your house. Screw the wonders of nature and the Migratory Bird Act. If a pair of birds makes a nest on your house I doubt they’re that fucking rare anyway. In our case it was some House Finches. Still protected but just behind Rock Doves (pigeons), House Sparrows and maybe Starlings (all of which are non-native and non-protected) in the running for most common damn bird around. Okay, diclaimer: violate the Migratory Bird Act at your own risk. It’s a Federal Offense. Maybe just keep the windows closed…
So when the little birdies leave the nest, the mites they leave behind (which live in the nest, not on the birds) start looking for something else to eat. Like mosquitos they can detect and home in on the carbon dioxide you breath out and this bird nest was right outside my poor daughter’s open window so they just crawled right in during the night.
We thought we were battling lice and the RID shampoo didn’t kill them so we went to the doctor (who also thought they were lice, really tiny immature lice) and got some more powerful stuff (how many of you out there can say you’ve shampooed your hair with Malathion??? My daughter got Nix, less powerful but also did the trick). That got them off our bodies but they were still crawling around my daughter’s room, and a few hitched a ride to other parts of the house. When the ones we saw around my daughter’s room didn’t die like lice were supposed to (they can only live a few days off the host) my wife finally convinced me they were mites and not lice. Okay, I was wrong… Doubly embarrassing as a Bio major. But come on, your five-year old has tiny bugs in her hair and the school has sent three notices home over the course of the year about lice… Occam’s razor.
Having bird mites in the house feels like getting bedbugs. Their strategy is to come out, eat, and then find a nook or cranny to hide in. They can live for weeks without eating, whereas lice only live a few days. Once I realized they were mites and not lice and started doing my research it got very hard to say that lice wouldn’t have been better… There’s one very fortunate difference though and it’s that they don’t drink human blood (they bite, but they don’t inhale, haha) and without the blood they can’t breed once they get in the house. What scared the hell out of me was websites claiming that mites COULD drink human blood and WOULD breed in the house but I realized all those sites had links where you could pay your local exterminator to deal with the issue (jerks). All you boring neutral third party sites all agreed that bird mites pose no long-term threat. They’re just creepy as hell…
Over the course of a very miserable, stressful week and with the help of family we cleaned the whole damn house literally moving EVERYTHING out of our daughter’s room but the curtain rods. We took her furniture all apart and sprayed it down. Everything in the house except for the kitchen where we never saw any mites was either boiled, frozen, washed and dried on high heat, vacuumed (repeatedly), sprayed with copious amounts of Green Works cleaning spray (a damn RAID bug bomb didn’t kill the bastards but this stuff does, we went through 9 bottles of it) and/or bagged and thrown out in the garage. The garage is still a quarantine zone (you can’t walk through it it’s so full of bags like it’s like a hoarder’s livingroom) and as time goes by we’ll either get to washing/spraying what’s in the bags or declare that the last of the bugs must be dead after about 6 more weeks, whichever comes first. Ruby still hasn’t slept in her room yet and while the furniture is back in her room most of her toys and clothes are either in our bedroom where she’s been sleeping or still out in the garage. Once we declared the cleaning done and got the furniture moved back in, we did see two more of them in her room but we haven’t seen one in days so I think she’ll be back in her room this weekend.
So with all of this (plus $2500 shelled out on a new refrigerator, dental work, and termite control) and a new baby I’ve been stressed the hell out and VERY tempted to put aside the VF-1D again on the rationale that with all the demands on my life right now I ought to work on something easier. What’s kept me going is that this year marks the 30th Anniversary of Macross and I’ll be damned if this year of all years I don’t finally finish a Valkyrie.
So… when I left the Valkyrie it was primed but still had some surface flaws to deal with. The picture below is of the parts that still needed work and is sorted out to parts that just need to be reprimed after some sanding, parts that need panel lines rescribed, parts that need more putty and parts that needed punched circles to fill in ejector pin marks:
I got to use my BMC scribers for the first time rescribing panel lines that had been puttied over. They’re easier than the needle-in-the-pinvise because they carve the line without pushing up the plastic at the edges so you don’t have to scrape/sand all of your panel lines after you’ve made them.
Once surface prep was finally done I finally got to painting. I tried the Alclad gloss black base for the first time but REALLY didn’t like it. It says it’s lacquer but it also says it contains mineral spirits, a sure sign of it being enamel. The advantage is it comes in a big pre-thinned bottle. The disadvantage is it’s not as forgiving and doesn’t self-level like my beloved Mr. Color and even worse after a full 24 hours when I went to sand some imperfections, rather than sand smoothly with feathered edges like lacquer paints, the Alclad base flaked and came off in chunks in some places, leaving hard edges that showed through the following layers of paint. First and last time I’m using that stuff.
Fortunatley the Alclad metallics are still great and I used Steel, Pale Burnt Metal and Jet Exhaust on various vents, intakes and thrusters. This is as far as I got right before the Great Infestation of 2012. Afterwards I managed to preshade and paint the main gun pod, head lasers and FAST pack parts. I tried to keep the paint really thin and light so as not to fill in the delicate panel lines and surface detail on the model. In fact my plan for the white (up next) is to use the primer as the preshade and more or less avoid putting any more paint into the panel lines.
I completed a pretty significant (an daunting) step on the Super Valkyrie project, the white is painted!
There’s a bit of an asterisk in that I want to go through all the parts and whiten some of them up a bit more, especially the ones I started with where I was being extra cautious not to let the paint build up or get runny. I’ve painted lots of little details with shading before (as in my 1/144 scale tank and hovercraft) but doing the same with white is another thing entirely. It was kind of nerve-racking at the start. After touch-up will bu the blue when the paint scheme will really get interesting.
But before I’ll get that I’ll be at Anime Expo!!! Wooo!!! It’s just a couple days away!
Well it’s been another long stretch without an update. Having a baby in the house certainly curtails model building time. Also, Those Gundam Guys have all been sucked into playing Gundam Battle Operation.
It’s a fun game, especially if you like Gundam and have some friends to play with. Piloting mobile suits in the game is similar to the old Federation vs. Zeon but it also reminds me a lot like playing Mechwarrior if you ever played those games back in the day. The action is kind of slow and deliberate. Making your shots count matters because a strong hit will stagger an enemy momentarily, allowing you to move into an advantageous position for the next shot. You and an enemy will tend to circle each other moving in and out depending on which weapons you’re cycling through and you’ll probably fight for about 30 seconds before one MS runs out of HP and explodes. There’s also a Counter Strike element because it’s an online team-based objective-oriented game. We’ve all got mics so we’re calling out how many enemies are where and when their base is wide open or when our base is under attack. We’ve been playing several nights a week.
To play this game you need a PS3, and then you need to create a Japanese account:
Here’s an overview of the game, just Google for more info…
But here and there I’ve got some time in on this neglected model. So after making my whites whiter, it was time for some serious masking to paint the circles, striped and sunbursts that make up my custom color scheme for this model.
I sliced pieces of tape into long pointy shapes so I could get the shredded look I wanted in the blue.
After painting the blue it was more masking to paint the metallic in the vents and exhausts as well as the black canopy frames and radome nose tip.
Then it was more masking to cover all the metallic areas since I don’t want it to lose its luster when I shoot clearcoats.
Then it was a little more masking as I went over the blue parts with a very diluted white to add some fade to them, just like I did with my Spitfire. You can barely see it in the picture but it makes big difference in person, the blue was way too stark and perfect against the shaded white before this effect.
So with painting finally done, I’m now gluing subassemblies together. I added some internal braces to make this hip stronger, it’s very little glued surface to hold the rest of leg and armor on.
Next up will be a clearcoat. I may decide to do panel lines before decals since I’m concerned too many layers of paint will fill in this model’s very fine panel lines. Then I’ll have to touch it up after the decals but it may be worth it. I lost a lot of panel lines on my ANA Gundam, although I bombed it pretty bad with pearl coats and then clearcoats.
With painting finally done it was time to do a few subassemblies. I set up sort of a jig to glue the main parts of the super booster units to the backpack. I got it all aligned by laying the boosters on the table and then backing them up to my X-acto miter box. After a few rounds of test fitting I glued the parts using 5-minute epoxy for the metal-to-plastic joints and testor’s model glue for the plastic-to-plastic joints.
After that I glued the leg armor and arm armor onto the legs and arms. Once that was done I couldn’t resist some dry-fitting of the major parts to see how it was going to look.
The next step was a gloss coat. Notice that I’ve masked off all the metallic parts. It’s a pain but the Alclad looks so nice on its own, it never looks as good with either a gloss coat or a flat coat on it. For the gloss coat I used Mr. Color UV Cut Gloss Clear decanted from the rattle can. The cans are expensive but you get quite a lot of pre-thinned clear out of it and once you get over the first time doing it decanting is really easy. I also wanted to use the UV Cut ion this white model after the whole Unicorn experience, and seeing some yellowing on the decals of some of my older models.
After the gloss coat I broke from my normal order of operations in that I did the panel line wash before the decals. This is because this model has so many fine panel lines and relatively few decals that go over them. I really wanted to make sure I didn’t fill up those fine panel lines with too many clear coats before I got to fill them with the wash. That’s happened to me before and unless you want to re-scribe the lines after you’ve painted the model this is the way to go. I used Testors Dark Ghost Gray for the panel lines on the white parts and rubber (a very dark brown) on the gray armor parts.
After the panel line wash and subsequent gloss coat, there was one crappy thing I had to do. I had noticed as I handled the model that there was something rattling inside the fuselage. I suspected that something in the cockpit had come loose. So I carefully popped it off canopy (fortunately I hap glued it on with Elmer’s white glue) and the photo-etched control handle had come loose from the rear cockpit. I drilled the hole it mounted into out a bit more and glued it back in place. I then glued the canopy back on and as you can see from the masking I touched up the black.
Then it was on to decals. Lots and lots of decals. Decals came from the Super VF-1A kit, the VF-1D kit, the weapons kit, the Hasegawa option decals set 3, and my own designs printed by Samuel Decal. Decaling went quite smoothly and as much as people complain about all the decals in this kit, I was thrilled that they almost all had the pre-cut decal film. I usually decal my models with the Samuel Decals where you have to cut the decal to the exact shape because the film covers the entire sheet. It’s nice to just sloppily cut out the general shape of a decal and throw it in the water. Hasegawa decals, even the Cartograf decals, are THICK compared to the Samuel Decal ones I’m used to. It took multiple rounds of Mr. Mark Softer (love that stuff, btw) and some persuasion using a toothpick to get the big Minmay decals to lay down over the lumps and bumps. In the process of getting the decal onto the leg armor, I scratched up the fin that comes out of the leg so I had to carefully mask it off and touch it up. I masked it using paper and tape so that the paper covered the decals and the tape went onto the paint. I’ve had bad experiences with tape pulling off decals. Clem (Gamerabaenre) actually says he masks over decals that have a couple coats of clear lacquer over them. I have to say that the last time I tried it was with Future so maybe it works with lacquer but I’m not gonna try it unless I absolutely have to.
Once the decals were done, there was another gloss coat over them and then I touched up the panel line wash around and over the decals. Finally I could put on the flat coat, strip off all the masking and put the model together.
Oh no wait, there’s all the clear lenses. I painted these with clear Tamiya paints for the most part and painted the wells behind them with Vallejo silver. They generally fit very well, except for he clear lights inboard on the wings. Those took a fair amount of carving to fit.
Now I could finally assemble the model. I glued the arms together, making sure to scrape off the paint to get a really good bond. One arm gets the post that holds up the model on the base so gluing the two arms together reinforces it considerably. One thing that worried me is that the arms are hollow where they glue to the body, and they glue onto a place where there’s a lot of relief detail so there’s very little surface area to glue. To remedy this, I made a plate from very thin plastic, sanded the detail on the body a bit so it would sit flush and glued the snot out of it. This gave me a good surface to glue the arms to. Once the arms were in place, the legs slid right on with no problems.
Next up was the backpack with boosters. Once I test fit it, I saw that the boosters pointed up too much. This was really exaggerated by the stripes that I had painted on them that were not at all parallel with the stripes on the fuselage. The stripes aren’t really supposed to be parallel if you look at almost every piece of art and model and toy out there the boosters are not parallel to the fuselage but cant upwards. Still it looked really far off and I wasn’t happy with it. So out came the bastard file and sanding stick…
About this point there were 2 weeks until Orange Con, the IPMS show I attend. I wanted to finish this model for it and that would be no problem, but I also wanted to make a display base for my Airfix Spitfire and a couple of new, more manageable dioramas for my GM Assault Squad since they hadn’t been completed by last year’s Orange Con. So from this point on I was splitting my time and attention.
The next thing I started work on was the base. I got an acrylic picture frame from Michael’s, but it’s just a bottomless box with a cardboard insert inside of it. To hide the cardboardiness of it I masked off the front of it and sprayed the inside of the sides black. Next I built a substantial interior for the base out of wood, and raised it up on popsicle sticks so it was pretty close to the acrylic and kept the cardboard from sagging. The whole thing is three parts. There’s the ugly but functional wood base, the pretty acrylic façade with the Minmay Guards and Macross 30th Anniversary logos on it, and the Valkyrie-on-a-stick that slides through the acrylic into the wooden base.
The last “doing it the hard way” thing I did was to jettison the outboard nukes that were too big and ungraceful in my opinion and replace them with drop tanks from a 1/100 scale F-4 Phantom. Sure they aren’t canon but they’re certainly plausible either as drop tanks, ECM pods, or luggage haulers for the pilots (such things exist IRL). I glued and puttied them and then scribed rings around the front and back. I debated putting blue stripes on them but ran out of time. I literally finished them the morning of Orange Con. Once I glued them and the other missiles onto the wings the model was FINALLY done*.
*Well, sort of. It needs a bit of touch up but I ran out of time before Orange Con. That and my hastily-glued-on and probably ever so slightly crooked missiles are probably why I got third place with it.
So there it is. This poor model got shelved several times along the way having been started in November 2010 and completed in October 2012. Along the way I refurbished my GP01 Diorama for Bandai World Cup, I built my ANA Gundam for Anime Expo, I built my share of our massive Gundam Guys GM Dioarama (8 models) for the SCGMC, I totally rearranged half our house and added a new member to the family, I hosted and put the bulk of the work into completely refurbishing the Bandai 7-foot-tall Unicorn statue, I built a mega-Size Zaku for Roy at Robot4Less, and I built an award-winning Airfix Spitfire for me and my sanity. No wonder it took so damn long…