There’s something inherent in being a fan that compels one to want to experience the shows you love in various forms. Watching anime is the start, but the community abounds with different ways that people delve deeper into the experience of anime and the community surrounding it. Blogging, making AMVs, cosplaying, and drawing are just a few forms that fans use to further their experience. Having recently watched and retroblogged the original SDF Macross and the ‘Macross: Do You Remember Love?’ movie, I’ve been itching to get a hold of a Valkyrie model kit and build it, both to have and to get a better understanding of the fighter and the mechanical design philosophy of the franchise. So I ordered and received a ‘VF-1S Valkyrie Super Figher’ kit a few days ago, the VF-1S with FAST Pack being my favorite mechanical design from the original AD 2009-2010 time period. Over the last three days I’ve built and painted the Valkyrie, as well as building and painting a set of same-scale ground crew and a stand/background made to look like the hangar deck of the Macross.
Day Zero: Getting inspiration
While I waited for the model kit to arrive from the store on Amazon that I bought it at I went through all the screenshots I took while retroblogging Macross and DYRL to get an idea of what I wanted to do with the model. One of the things that I loved about Macross was its attention it paid to the background features of (space)naval aviation. This included the use of elevators, specialized AWACS craft, and there were plenty of scenes on the hangar deck and bases on Earth where Valkyries were being serviced and repaired. So right after I ordered the kit I also ordered a Hasegawa 1/72 scale USAF ground crew and equipment set with the intention of setting up a hangar deck or flightline scene. As far as a Google search would tell me, there was no US Navy equipment/crew set, but the USAF one would do nicely.
The series featured several scenes where Valkyries were undergoing repairs and arming, as did DYRL even given the time constraints of a movie.
Day One: Valkyrie assembly and painting, part 1
Models as they arrived.
After listening to Animetal’s cover of the series OP several times to get in the mood (thanks to Sakura at Calamitous Intent for making me aware of this 1 minute 38 seconds of awesome), I opened the boxes and got out my painting supplies. First day I set out to do all my large area painting with spray paint for the black and white areas and my airbrush for the blue ones. However, the airbrush at first had the wrong sized hose for the propellant can. And after buying an adapter I still had tons of problems getting it to work, even though it’s nicer and has more features than the old airbrush I bought in Akiba (and I couldn’t find a can or adapter that would fit the Japanese brush here in my corner of the US.) So the blue was on hold for the day, but the rest went off without a hitch. I then started the small, hand painted stuff, which I’m a lot more used to having painted a fair amount of wargaming miniatures. The cockpit of the VF-1S was a lot of fun, there were plenty of details to paint. I even tried painting Misa on the central MFD as she would look when communicating with the pilot, though this was more of a suggestion of Misa because I’m not some insane micro-portrait painter (my camera unfortunately couldn’t get a clear image of the small cockpit details though.) Put together everything but the FAST Pack sections that day and painted the ground crew.
This image was used for inspiration for the cockpit details, though with more Misa (center MFD panel) and no Minmay.
Day Two: I have to paint what?!
Second day I still couldn’t get the airbrush to work right, so I went on to details and decals on what I had already put base colors on. And it was at this point that I realized the model kits back in the 1980′s were only for the dedicated. As I got to the engines and thrusters, I realized that some of the instructions were not making sense. And I noticed on the sprue that there were gerwalk-mode parts AND heads for different Valkyrie models (VF-1A and VF-1J) as well as others that didn’t belong. The model kit was from 1985, and I guess they wanted to cut costs by making a kit that could build any Valkyrie type, with or without FAST Pack, with series or movie decals, in fighter or gerwalk mode. And then I got to the decals. In all of the instructions there were only two places marked for decals. Guess you just have to look at the picture to figure out where the rest go. Then I got to the decals themselves: there were no decals for big, important things like the stripes on the wings! I HAD TO HAND-PAINT LONG, STRAIGHT LINES. WITH A BRUSH. I’ll admit to being a bit spoiled by the few models I have done before, more modern Gundam and real life aircraft models with every decal or sticker you need and then some, but what the hell was this? So I taped off straight lines on the wings, did my best to hope that they were of even width on each side and where they should be, beseeched sacred Misa to guide my hand, and painted them on with a broad paintbrush. I was relieved to see that they turned out alright, but wow was that nervewracking. The whole model could have looked terrible if they didn’t turn out right. The model builder of the 1980′s must have been, as men who live outside a polis, “either a beast or a god.”
Painting the wing stripes using scotch tape to mask off the edges.
End results of day two. Fire extinguisher and ground crew didn’t require blue paint so I did them by hand. Went with Millia-green hair for the female ground crew member, since post-war the UN forces surely included some miclonized Zentradi.
Day Three: FAST Pack, ground equipment, and staging.
Having given up on the airbrush until I can ask a more experienced friend of mine for help, I went out and bought blue spraypaint for the FAST Pack and conformal fuel/coolant tanks. Since the maintenance equipment in the series was also blue, I used the same color as a base for those as well. For whatever reason the blue paint took forever to dry, much longer than the white, black, and gray ones. After it dried I finished assembling, detailing, and applying decals to it: the VF-1S was done! Moving on to the ground equipment, for the time being I just assembled the M32C-10 Air Conditioner and M32-A-60A Generator Set, though I’ll move on to the others later. Assembling them was a bit shaky though, the way they’re designed to fit together is not very precise. With the models ready, they needed a home. So I went over to Construction Junction, a building materials recycling place that sells used and surplus materials to look for a tile to form the base and a piece of wood to serve as the background. Along the way I also picked out a couple interesting looking pieces of metal and wire to try and make the scene look more like the inside of the Macross. Found a perfectly colored and textured tile (the texture looked like what I’ve seen in pictures of carrier flight decks and sounded like it had a similar finish to the epoxy surface described by the DoD here) and a piece of unfinished wood of the appropriate size. Total cost: $1.45. Spraypainted the background panel, used two pieces of metal to both better secure it to the tile and to look like more ‘ship interior’, and then painted on a line and an ’03′ berth number on the tile. When all this was done, it was just a matter of positioning the models and taking pictures. Needless to say I was really excited to have my first Macross model, and pretty happy about how it turned out. There’s still some gaps on the FAST Pack boosters and nosecone of the VF-1S, but otherwise I’m quite happy with it. Next project: something from Frontier, perhaps Mikhail or Luca’s VF-25.
The tile and wood background with assorted metal and wire bits. Two more metal wires would be added later.
The finished setup. Went with yellow for most of the crew as per the series and orange-brown for the operator’s clothing (for variety), as per DYRL.
VF-1A being serviced, image for comparison.
Left side of the scene, one crewman at the generator, the miclonized Zentradi checking the front landing gear.
Groundcrew member attaching hose from the air conditioning unit. I really like the hoses that came with the groundcrew kit.
Operator directing the pilot (Hikaru).
Wings extended, and I have on crewmember working on the U-shaped bend in the metal strip that I painted and put decals on to make it look like something functional.
Staged rear view of the VF-1S.
The scene’s home, right next to my mecha and sci-fi manga on one of my bookshelves. Had to put it in a central place in my apartment, hehe.
The Valkyrie now has a prime location in my nerdiest of bookshelves. Full resolution of all images is here.