Commonly known as the â€˜Viper’, it features innovations including a frameless, bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while under high g-forces, and reclined seat to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot. It is also the first fighter to be built to sustain 9-g turns.
The current 414th Composite Training Squadron (CTS) is a US Air Force unit based in Nevada. It is responsible for hosting Red Flag, Air Combat Command’s largest air training exercise. It is assigned to the 57th Wing’s Operation Group and currently flies F-16C Block 32s in the DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) role.
I actually finished this kit one day (December 3, 2008) short of the 3rd year anniversary of starting this project. It was supposed to be for a groupbuild I had with 3 friends of mine. But they have finished their kits way sooner than me heh. I’ve finally taken good pictures of my build so it’s finally up on the site.
Anyhow, I tried to replicate some of the features that Hasegawa left out in their what is now close to 20 year mold. These modifications include:
The build didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped though. In between starting and completion of the project, I had a kid, had 1 more coming, moved house twice and moved between countries once. And those aren’t even related to the build itself 🙂 .
Some inaccuracy and mistakes remain due to various reasons:
Lessons learned. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this build as I find Aggressor schemes to be very distinctive (though challenging) and will look good among the normal dreary greys of modern aircraft. Certainly won’t be my last colorful aircraft.
I entered this kit into the 7th Jakarta Miniature Model Expo and Competition organized by Peter & Partner. It was put under the 1/48 Aircraft (Advanced) category and didn’t win. But it served as a good lesson for future entries into the competition.
Choudenshi Bioman (Super Electronic Bioman) was one of the first Super Sentai series that I remember. When I was a kid, I’d buy the monthly Televi-kun, a magazine about children’s Japanese TV programs. Even though it was in Japanese, I’d obsess over the pictures. During that time, Choudensi Bioman was the featured Sentai series.
So what’s Bioman?
The sixth Super Sentai. Centuries ago, the android Peebo and the Bio Robot came to earth from the fallen Bio Star. The Bio Robot showered five people with Bio Particles, which would be passed on to later generations. In the present time, Doctorman and his Shin Teikoku (New Empire) Gear threaten the world. Peebo must find the descendants of the original five to form the Chodenshi (Super Electron) Bioman.
It ran from February 1984 to February 1985, totaling 52 episodes. Ranger Wiki has a very good profile on this series.
Typical of Super Sentai, you have 5 color-coded heroes in spandex fighting a new monster every week. At the end of the battle, the monster would grow into a giant and the heroes will summon their giant robot (in this case Bio Robo) and beat the heck out of it. Then repeat all over again the next week with a new monster.
On one of his business trips to Japan, my Dad got me some Bioman toys and an episode of Bioman on Betamax cassette (remember those things?). All I remember from the episode was that it was set at a rock quarry and the action was eye-popping to this pre-teen. Check out the opening sequence:
Bio Robo, the giant robot Bioman pilots, was one of the toys my Dad got for me, along with its base, the Bio Dragon. These were such cool toys:
I remember that sometimes I’d make my Bio Robo into an Autobot and it also beat the crap out of my Macross Valkyries. Good stuff. Bio Robo and Bio Dragon became one of my most treasured items. They also happen to be one of the few complete toys I had left by the time I left Singapore and went to college. My home ended up being rented out.
Unfortunately, the tenants broke into my store room and took some items before clearing out the house. Among these items were Bio Robo and Bio Dragon. Bastards.
However, I STILL have another copy of Bio Robo. This was a stand alone set my Mom got for me before my Dad did (which came in one box set). This copy is now standing proudly (with a ton of scratches) in my display case, in the old school toys section. 🙂
Part 1 of a series
The RGM-79L GM Light Armor was developed for hit-and-run raids and serves as a fast attack unit for the Federation Forces. It mounts the minimum amount of armor giving it better acceleration and maneuverability. Most notable about this variant is the lack of armor on the shoulders and ankles.
The GM Light Armor carries a beam gun that’s similar to the RX-78-2 Gundam. It is more powerful than the GM’s standard beam spray gun but holds less shots. Many former pilots turned mobile suit pilots favor the GM Light Armor due to its similarity with fighter aircraft.
The RGM-79L is part of the MSV line, which was an offshoot series of mobile suits designed by Kunio Okawara (the principal Mecha designer for Mobile Suit Gundam). MSVs are official mobile suit variants that help to expand the metaverse and to help sell more model kits. Curiously though, there never was any model kit for the RGM-79L in any scale. Until now.
I pre-ordered the kit so I paid slightly less than retail for it. When it arrived, it came in a plain black thick cardboard box. Nicely wrapped in bubble wrap were:
As mentioned above, the MG RX-78-2 Gundam ver. OYW kit is required as a base. The conversion changes the following from the kit:
It looks like this when completed:
I was very excited when Akohobby announced that they were developing this kit. After prototype pictures popped up, showing a conversion kit for the MG RX-78-2 Gundam ver. OYW (which IMO, is one of the best kits in the MG line), I decided I had to have one in my collection.
Molding for the resin parts are nice and flash free. The pour stubs are not located in any important areas and the parts themselves have nicely done panel lines to complement the existing OYW kit parts.
A very nice surprise is that the visor is molded with clear resin but the modeler has to figure out by themselves how to ‘glam’ that part up. Akohobby used their own ‘Aurora’ visor sticker for their sample kit. For whatever reason, Akohobby chose not to include a small sheet of visor sticker with this kit.
The metal parts are also very nicely casted and gives the whole kit a more polished look. Interestingly, the beam gun’s barrel is also a metal part and is superbly detailed.
The decals are nicely printed. Quality-wise, they are on par with Samuel Decal offerings. The markings come in various colors to suit various color schemes and there are 2 different unique unit markings provided.
While it’s certainly possible that Bandai will release their own version of the RGM-79L (with the RGM-79 v2.0 as a base), I have a feeling it will have a very old school look. Akohobby gave their RGM-79L a modern flavor without overly changing the basic look and design. The design is clearly not for everyone, but it will be a unique addition to anyone’s collection.
The RMS-154 Barzam is a mass production mobile suit based on the RX-178 Gundam Mk. II. It was introduced in UC 0088 but was not a successful design and was only produced in limited numbers.
The Refined Barzam is a variant of the RMS-154 which appears as a bridge between the Barzam and the Gundam Mk. II. It is armed with the weapons from the Gundam Mk. II, with the exception of the addition of a grenade launcher for the beam rifle. It also mounts the Gundam Mk. II’s backpack and shield.
I really don’t like the design of the original Barzam. However, along came Hajime Katoki who redesigned it and came up with the Refined Barzam, which is vastly improved. Unfortunately, it was a minor design that appeared in Gundam Sentinel (a Side Story) so the chance of it ever seeing plastic form from Bandai was slim. Then came Akohobby who announced that they were producing a plastic conversion of the MG Gundam Mk. II. Said conversion kit was to be the Refined Barzam. I pre-ordered as soon as I could!
When it arrived, it came in a plain brown cardboard box with no markings whatsoever. Inside we get:
* Included in pre-orders only
As mentioned above, the MG Gundam Mk.II kit is required as a base. The conversion changes the following from the kit:
It also comes with parts for the beam rifle’s grenade launcher.
Molding for the parts are nice and flash free. Like their previous products, the plastic is of a more brittle quality than what Bandai produces. However, they are still nice and come with details that will complement the other parts from the base kit.
Based on my experience with the Powered GM conversion, this particular set being a first run kit, the fit should be quite good.
The decals are nicely printed. Quality-wise, they are on par with Samuel Decal offerings. The markings are for units based on the Asteroid Pezun, where part of the Gundam Sentinel story is based on.
As a pre-order bonus, the kit comes with a small metal ring, which is supposed to go onto the tip of the grenade launcher. It looks like it can go onto the pelvis too though. It’s really small but is very nicely done. Makes me curious about Akohobby’s other metal offerings.
The Refined Barzam is a very esoteric design. It also happens to be very unique, a combination of Zeon and Federation design. The kit is also very nicely done and I’m glad I pre-ordered this.
The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18 Hornet is an all-weather carrier-capable multirole fighter jet, designed to attack both ground and aerial targets. Its primary missions are fighter escort, fleet air defense, suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), interdiction, close air support and reconnaissance. Its versatility and reliability have proven it to be a valuable carrier asset.
VFA-195 Dambusters is an F/A-18C Hornet squadron stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. It is 1 of 9 squadrons in Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5) that provides power projection for the United States. The squadron earned the nickname Dambusters on May 1, 1951 after its aircraft successfully destroyed the heavily defended Hwa Chon Dam in North Korea. It has seen service since World War II and has been involved with almost every major US military operation since.
The squadron currently flies off USS George Washington (CVN-73). ‘Chippy Ho’ is the squadron motto.
Hasegawa has recently started to pack 2 or more kits into one package, with the selling point being that the aircraft in the set are somehow related. This set includes 3 F/A-18Cs with 5 marking options (though with enough stencils for only 3 Hornets). The markings are all of the VFA-195 colorful CAG bird in its various special markings through the years.
The aircraft itself is the old Hasegawa mold, which by my reckoning is almost 20 years old. Hence, all the issues from that release applies to this one i.e. soft engraved panel lines, lack of cockpit detail, weapons that are under-detailed (only Sparrows and Sidewinders though) and fitting problems with the intakes. On the plus side, it comes with all the parts to backdate the C into an A variant, which is a nice touch.
The whole point of this preview though, is the huge decal sheet that comes with the set. It measures slightly more than an A4 sized paper. Saliva8zc As mentioned above, it has markings for 5 VF-195 Hornets although there’s only enough stenciling for 3 aircraft.
The decal sheet is printed by Cartograf which is generally regarded as one of the best decal printers in the business. Thankfully, unlike typical Hasegawa decals, this means 2 things:
Decal options depict ‘Chippy 400’s’ markings during the following periods:
The Chippy Ho markings are for the most part, very colorful and big. This should grab anyone’s attention in an ocean of greys that are the color schemes of modern Naval aircraft.
For anyone who’s a Hornet fan or into colorful CAG markings, this is a must get.