This time around we have something a little bit different for the tabletop. It’s not very often that I get myself a model kit. I usually don’t have the time or patience to build them, and then once I have the assembly completed I often don’t continue on to do the stickers/decals or even (*gasp!*) the painting. However, that being said, I’ve always been interested in the model kits that are based on the various Valkyrie fighter jets from the Macross universe (or Robotech if you are more familiar with that title).
While the ACKS Variable Fighter Girl VF-31J Siegfried (phew!) may not be a “proper” Valkyrie kit, it’s certainly not a bad place to start. The Variable Fighter Girl (VFG) model kits follow in a long line of mecha musume style figures which include Busou Shinki, Armor Girls Project, and the Frame Arms Girl figures. The VFGs have more in common with the Frame Arms Girl figures than the AGPs as the Frame Arms Girls are model kits that need assembly, and the AGPs are complete figures with removable armour/weapons.
This particular Valkyrie features in the anime series “Macross Delta“, and it’s a bit of a surprise that they would go with a generic anime style girl and not use one of the Walküre girls from the show. One of Macross’ core themes is the power of music/song, and Macross Delta continues the trend by introducing us to an idol group made up of 5 members, rather than the usual one or two singers. It’s a bit of a wasted opportunity in my opinion, I would have really enjoyed seeing the Walküre girls get the mecha musume treatment. This is my first time dealing with an ACKS (Aoshima Character Kit Selection) kit, so let’s see how we go, shall we?
As expected from most model kits these days, all the parts are molded in different colours and then arranged on numbered sprues, which means that once it’s assembled the end result is a pretty decent model, even before painting. The text in the instructions is written in Japanese, but the pictures/diagrams are pretty comprehensive, so anyone with any sort of model building experience can jump right in and start building. Model building newbies on the other hand, might not understand straight away some of the steps that the instructions are trying to convey. It’s also worth noting that the whole kit can be built without any glue whatsoever and it still holds together quite well.
Flash forward, and here we have our finished products. The VF-31J Siegfried in its fighter mode is very sleek and seems to share a lot of its looks with its predecessor – the VF-19. Even before any paint is applied, there is plenty of detail on display and the panel lines are very refined and clear. In a way it looks very plain and it’s clear to see that for the best results, it’s going to need the full treatment (painting, panel lining, decals, sealing). I haven’t applied any stickers or decals on mine just yet as I might wait until it’s painted before I even attempt to apply decals.
Note: Unfortunately, with my kit there seems to have been some sort of mold/printing error which has left my fighter with a rather large hole in the fuselage. It’s quite a let-down and it’s even worse since it’s in such a noticeable location. Hopefully this is an isolated incident, and not a testament to ACKS’ quality control.
The girl figure (“Ms. Siegfried”?) shares the same colour pallete as the fighter and she actually turned out to be a bit taller than I was expecting. Her overall design is very reminiscent of the Busou Shinki line with the way that she combines with the Valkyrie to form a sort of “power suit”, although without the modular/customisable aspects. Due to the softer plastics in the joint areas, she’s able to hold her poses surprisingly well. She feels very light in hand but that would be due to the fact that a lot of her sections are hollow and she’s made from a different grade of plastic that you would normally find in figures of her size.
There’s not a lot of accessories here. The Valkyrie doesn’t come with a lot of weapons and there are no weapons or items for Ms. Siegfried to hold on to. As a result, she only has a few interchangeable faces (and a blank so you can create your own) and a few spare hands – left and right open, “gripping”, and flat. There are extra sets of eye decals included in the kit, but no lip/mouth decals which is a bit odd, but also understandable since the spare face is fairly plain as it is.
Even though Ms. Siegfried can move quite well, there’s no stand included for her or the fighter to allow for dynamic poses or to display the fighter “in flight” so to speak. From a display point of view, it would have been good to have her set up with the fighter displayed close by in a flying position. I’ve found that there are mounting holes for display stands to plug into, and that Figma stands work quite well. However, it is disappointing that there is no landing gear included for the fighter to be displayed in a landed position.
One can’t help but draw comparisons between the VFG model and the “Vic Viper Sisters” from the Busou Shinki line. Each figure can be displayed separately, or in a combined mode with their fighters. Although, while the Vic Vipers can be transformed into a stand-alone robot mode, the Valkyrie can only form a sort of “power suit” for Ms. Siegfried whilst in Battroid/robot mode. There is an option for her to ride around on the Valkyrie in its “Gerwalk” mode which is nice. The Vic Viper girls miss out on a Gerwalk mode due to how their fighters transform into their respective robot modes.
Ms. Siegfried by herself moves pretty well and has a decent range of movement. However, when combined with the VF-31J the robot/mechanical limbs tend to be a bit restrictive. The soft plastic in the joints gives the limbs a smooth movement, and because the limbs are pretty light it’s easier for them to stay in position. In combined mode, the Valkyrie’s feet are pretty stable, but it would have been nice to have some sort of display stand for the more dynamic poses.
She does however have a port and an adapter for display stands to plug into, and the aforementioned Figma stand works a treat. You will need to be careful when moving her legs, as the hip pieces tend to get in the way and can easily pop off.
I must say that I have mixed feelings about this figure/kit. Yes, it’s Macross and the girl figure is definitely cute, but for me there are just too many negatives to instantly give this one the coveted “must have” status. I’m hoping that the mold error that my kit has is a purely isolated incident. How that got past quality control is beyond me.
I’m somewhat used to the occasional transforming figures that rely on “parts-forming”, but this is next level. It really makes switching between modes a chore and while the end result may look kind of cool, it seems to be more trouble than it’s worth. There are too many small parts that need interchanging and sections that need to be disassembled and reassembled for my liking. Although the whole kit can be put together without glue, after a few rounds of “transforming”, you’ll start to figure out which pieces/sections can or should be glued together to stop them from coming apart during the whole process (ordeal?). This is definitely a “display, not play” piece.
If you’re a big fan of Macross and mecha musume, then you might enjoy this kit a bit more than I have. I do love a bit of Macross (and I didn’t mind the Macross Delta anime series), but this kit is a bit of a sour note for me. It’s also worth noting that now there’s another kit in the series which is the VF-31A Kairos (possibly worth getting if you’re into cat-girls as well 😉 ). Just be wary of any mold imperfections if you do happen to get one. It’s not due for release until December 2018, so there’s still time to consider if it’s worth getting.
The ACKS Variable Fighter Girl VF-31J Siegfried can be found at the links below along with other similar model kits/figures.