By John Lester - images & text © 2004
Macross Zero is a 5 episode straight-to-DVD (OAV) series released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original series.
Image: Sprue 'A' (Upper fuselage & details)
Image: Sprue 'B' (Lower fuselage & details)
Image: Sprue 'C' (Legs & wings)
Image: Sprue 'D' (Legs & wings)
Image: Sprue 'K' (Intakes, pilot, other details - there are two identical sprues)
Image: Instructions are comprehensive and easy to follow.
Directed by Shoji Kawamori, this prequel is set one year before the events of the original series. The story focuses on U.N. Spacy pilot Shin Kudo, who gets shot down over a native island while fighting Anti-U.N. forces. Original series ace Roy Focker also appears, somewhat less the super-warrior he was in the original series. The VF-0, the series' "star" mecha, is considerably larger than the VF-1, and thanks to the plethora of panel lines and shape of the major sub-systems, appears convincingly cruder. (as befits an earlier generation machine).
The VF-0S is the third Hasegawa release from the series (the first two being decal variants of their MiG-29 and F-14 kits, aircraft that have cameos in the first episode). At the moment, Hasegawa are known to be making one more kit from the series, the Anti-UN forces' SV-51 variable fighter. The parts breakdown in the VF-0S kit hints that a VF-0D or VF-0B may be possible.
What You Get
The box is big - the same size as the YF-21, VF-1 Strike Valkyrie and Elintseeker boxes. It needs to be - there's an awful lot of plastic inside! Outside, it's adorned by a striking portarit of Roy Focker's machine, painted by aviation artist Hidetaka Tenjin. Inside are 7 sprues of white styrene, containing 124 parts, all in one cello bag; a separately-bagged sprue containing 6 parts (two of which appear not to be used); instructions and a huge decal sheet.
The plastic parts themselves are as good as you'll find in any kit - which is only to be expected, since Hasegawa is one of the top kit makers on the planet. Detail is sharp throughout, especially in the landing gear and speed brake bays (though not so much in the cockpit). Panel lines are very finely engraved, but not so fine they'll disappear under a coat of paint. There is no flash and only the barest mold seam lines to be found, at least in my kit. I have heard from others who have found sink marks here and there, but I have not yet seen any. Due to the shape of the pieces and the limitations of the molding process, however, there are very fine mold lines down the center of the kit's canopy and windscreen. This is unavoidable, it seems - most of Hasegawa's modern jets have the same 'feature' - but it can be fixed with careful polishing and a bath in Future.
There are not a lot of options. You can display the canopy and speedbrake open or closed, and the FAST packs on or off. With a little work, you can make it an in-flight model. Besides the gatling gun, there are no stores provided.
Instructions are standard Hasegawa: exploded assembly diagrams arranged in a logical series of assembly steps. Each has paint call-outs keyed to a paint chart at the start of the sheet. Colors are given in generic English names, plus Gunze 'Mr Color' and Tamiya paint stock numbers. Text is otherwise in Japanese, but that's not really a problem as the diagrams are pretty clear. The last two 'pages' of the fold-out sheet are devoted to and overall paint scheme and decal placement guide.
Decals are typical for a Hasegawa kit - in other words, a bit thick, but perfectly registered. Besides stencils, you get personal markings for Roy Focker's aircraft. These are all separate - so you can either apply them over the dark accent color decals, or you can paint those areas on the kit separately, then slip the markings in place. The white areas in many Hasegawa releases can tend more to an ivory, but these appear pretty stark.
Assembly and Finish
Dryfitting the major assemblies does not reveal many surprises. Fit appears to be good overall, and Hasegawa have engineered it so most of the places where you might find a nasty seam are either hidden, or non-existent (the backpack is molded as part of the upper fuselage, arms and legs are molded all in one long piece, etc). There are a few areas of concern, though. First, the area inside the intakes has sloppy fit, and it's a place that's hard to putty and sand. If you're building this with wheels down, you may want to cheat and scratch some FOD covers to hide it. Also, there's a panel line that's supposed to follow the leading edge of the intake that is molded as two off-angle lines that don't connect. Those will have to be filed and the correct line re-scribed. Next, the wings are molded like the YF-21's - upper piece with a plug that fits on the underside. The fit on this stunk on the YF-21 - it's small enough that there is a 1 mm gap around the perimeter of the plug, between it and the rest of the wing - and from what I've been told it's not much better on this kit.
Otherwise, I don't see any major possible pitfalls in the construction or painting stages - but that's what I thought about the YF-21....
Minor nits notwithstanding, I'm excited about this model. It's at the top of the build pile - right after I complete the stack of half-done models that make it impossible to find a flat surface on my workbench.
The number of parts, and especially the number of SMALL parts, make this a subject for someone with a few plastic kits under their belt. Patience and carefull assembly will reward the modeler with a contest-winner right out of the box, and there's plenty of room for the more experienced buiilder to super-detail, or try creative camouflage schemes.
Many thanks to my wallet for providing the review sample, and Ken 'Valkyrie' Brennan for his insight on building the beast. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!
This page copyright © 2004 Starship Modeler. First posted on 18 February 2004. Last updated on 24 Novembr 2004