Like all of their Macross series kits, Hasegawa engineered the kit to be done up in pretty straightforward subassemblies. I decided to do them up as much as possible before the painting process.
As usual, we begin with the cockpit. It’s quite sparse but should be OK with the pilot figure in it.
Next up, the (really) big fuselage. The engineering for this kit is abit odd. The top is fine. But the bottom is designed like a shell, with all the details in stage 1 (see below) being covered CFTs (stage 2) and integrated weapon pods (stage 3).
After the fuselage is done, I notice a huge gap at the back of it which is odd. I think what becomes the bottom plate here is the shield when the VF-22S is in Battroid mode.
I decided not to follow the instructions where you have to assemble the front section separately. I figure the fit would be better if I cemented the upper portion of the front section to the fuselage first, then fit the bottom portion. If there are any gaps or misalignment, at least it would appear at the bottom of the kit, easier to ignore. 😛
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.
The F/A-18 Hornet has been in service with the US Navy and US Marines for more than 2 decades. Through the years, its capabilities have been refined and upgraded to meet with new mission requirements.
Most of these upgrades are software-related and internal changes. However, once in awhile, modifications involve external changes. One of these is the integration of AIFF antennae. These involve adding 5 blades (commonly called ‘bird slicers’) on the nose, between the canopy and the gun. Late Block Hornets were all duly modified.
The 1/48 Hasegawa F/A-18 Hornet is touted as the best Hornet kit in the market and has been since it has been released. However, out of the box, it renders an early production Hornet. One would have to scratchbuild the AFF antenna. MAW Decals has come along however, to offer a resin version.
Now instead of simply molding 5 small blade antennas on a pour stub, MAW Decals has decided to offer the whole Hornet nose! So you basically swap out the kit nose and plonk in this new one.
A late Block Hornet doesn’t just involve the IFF antennae on the nose though. So MAW Decals includes the following along with the nose:
A small instruction sheet is also included with the locations of the various items. There is also a small decal sheet with what looks to be like wire mesh patterns to put all over the kit. Not being too familiar with Hornets, I’m not too sure what these actually are. But with the attention to detail MAW Decals has done, I’m pretty sure these are accurate!
The resin parts are a white color and the panel lines on the nose itself are very fine. I would have liked for the panel lines to be deeper but it’s a personal preference and an easy matter to remedy anyway. The resin stub itself is at the end of the nose you attach to the kit fuselage so it’s convenient. No fear of losing any details.
One of the UHF antennae and IFF antennae on the nose came bent. This will require some fixing with hot water. MAW Decals packed all the parts in a small ziplock bag and doesn’t secure the pieces in any way so I guess some bent parts is inevitable.
All in all though, this all-in-one package is a welcome addition to my collection. Sure the changes this set does aren’t hard to DIY, but it’s quite convenient. Plus, I’m always glad to support cottage industry items.