In this article I’ll talk about my experience with building the Valkyries. The kits used are 1/72 VF-1S Strike Valkyrie, the Valkyrie photoetch sheet and the weapon set. The photoetch sheet are used for detailing various part of the plane, and the weapon set contains 3 different kinds of weapons that can be installed underneath the hardpoints on the wings, as well as 2 pilots. It also has a decal sheet for the pilot and the weapons.
Photoetch & weapon sets
The photoetch set is about 1/2 price of the plane itself, which can be pretty expensive. Is it worth it? It’s really up to you; here’s the
instruction scan showing how the parts are used. I’m mainly sold on part 1 & 5 above, since I think the Valkyrie must have the correct grills along its afterburners, and the kit’s booster vernier bays are detail-less. 6 is a pleasant surprise since it hides the ugly exposed guts in the plane body if you aren’t gonna fold the wings. 9 are convenience pieces for the sanding-careless, but not really necessary; I thought 8 is pointless since you can’t really see all the details on it once the missle pod or beam cannon are installed, but I was wrong! If you look at my front page picture you can see the grids surrounding the bases of the micro missle pod and the beam cannon. 7 is another unncessary addition, it’s a bunch of plates for the air intake. Its main use seems to allow you to avoid masking the intake parts, since you can paint the etch pieces first then install them later. I come to appreciate 3, because it adds details to the otherwise barren area of the plane tail. Not shown here are the 4 “fins” along the sides of the nose. The thin etched version of these guys definitely looks better than the thick ones of the original kit. There are other bits and pieces that you can see in the instruction. I think if you own the Super or Strike Valkyries, this set provides better value since more than 50% (area) of the etch sheet are for the extra parts in these variants.
Compared with photoetch sets for real aircrafts, this is rather lacking actually. Despite my complaints though, I think this set definitely improves some aspects of this already amazing kit.
The weapon set contains 3 different kinds of weapons and 2 valkyrie pilots, you can find a review from Starship Modeler, but as you can tell I don’t agree with the reviewer’s comment on the etch set. The weapon set is highly recommend since a valkyrie without weapons is like a coop without chickens 🙂
My preference is to glue together the maximum subassemblies that can be handled without very painful masking, and without creating areas that I can’t reach nor paint. That’s because I don’t like the high risk of damanging painted parts during the gluing process. Anyway here we go. The parenthesis in front of each line refers to the step in the instruction sheet.
(1,2) Cockpit – I first glued the whole cockpit together. Be careful when you remove the “gate” off A3, because part of it is actually a peg that goes into the cockpit. I also recommend not gluing A3 into the cockpit at step 1, because the dashboard must align with the assembly A23/A25 (the nose). I also don’t find it necessary to paint the cockpit first, since almost the whole cockpit is of color 317. If you want the pilot, the photoetch parts MA8 and MA6 must go.
If you’re planning to install the pilot from the weapon set, try to adjust the seat so that the pilot can rest comfortably. In my first trial, my seat was tilted forward and the pilot almost bumped his head on the canopy, so some test fitting is required here. Needless to say, don’t install the canopy until the last step. Don’t use plastic cement or super glue to glue the canopy because they may “craze” the canopy can form a fog on it. Instead use white glue. The bond is strong enough. Canopy – To clean the mold line on the canopy, I first use the back of my knife to level it; if you’re not sure what you’re doing, use a 400grit sand paper instead. Then I sanded the area smooth starting with 400 grit, up to 600, and 1000 grit, finishing off with a light polish with #0000 steel wool. The final trick is to spray a coat of Future floor wax, it’ll fill all the tiny scratches and your canopy will be good as new. Dashboard – The cockpit is then attached inside A23/A25. At this point, attach the dashboard A3 and carefully align it to the nose halves. Also, the photoetch part MA18 is difficult (but not impossible) to install after you glue the halves, so it’s better to do it here.
(4,5) Wings – If you plan to install the weapons, glue the wing “pegs” in fixed pose in step 4; otherwise you’ll regret if when your wings snap… The wings are well designed so that you can install them after the whole plane is completed. I also drilled the holes and installed the wing weapon support base at this point to insure a strong bond (in my case the 4 UUM-7 missle pods). The weapon supports are also white, so it’s easy to paint it with the wings in one shot.
I didn’t bother to paint the air intake in step 4 before gluing the halves; it’s not unreachable after gluing the plane body.
At this point I glued the nose to the body because the contact seems too little between these two major areas, so I’d like to make sure I have a strong bond. I also glued U4 to the body.
(9) Tail assembly – Step 9 is a little difficult mainly because the parts don’t really snap well into each other; A20 can swing back and forth. I recommend gluing U10, A20 and A18 first, then A21 which can be inserted into the slit created by the previous assembly, then finally A19. A19 contains an insane photoetch subassembly, requires a lot of patience to superglue each of the tiny grill plates MA21 into the box created from folding MA13… good luck. To prevent those MA21’s from flying and disappearing, tape them to a masking tape first before cutting them off the photoetch sprue.
I don’t recommend using decals for U13, it’s tedious if not difficult to get the decals to align well. U13 is pretty trivial to paint.
(10) Arms – I recommend gluing the two arms together first before gluing them to the body, since installing them separately to the body while keeping them aligned is a chore. The missle armor block on the arms can be detached and attached after assembly, so they should obviously be left off. I also glued the arms to the body before painting, for the same reason I glued the nose to the body in step (5). Gluing these parts to the main body doesn’t cause major problems with painting. Also since I built the valkyrie in in-flight mode, I need a place to put a support rod. I think the missle blocks are the perfect place for it, so I filled one of them with Mori Mori and drilled a 1/8″ hole through it. I dislike in-flight displays with a straight vertical rod for support, it total kills the dynamics of the kit display, makes you feel like this plane is going vertically up! So I drilled the hole obliquely.
(12) Nose – K7 and K6 are replaced by photoetch parts if you have them. The photoetch parts however are very difficult to install because they’re so thin, try to stick the peg to the top of the hole you drilled.
I built my valkyrie with gears up. If you want to do that too you need to mess with the doors B6, B5 and A7. Trim the pegs so that they’re perpendicular to the doors and you have a little place in contact with the gear bay. Putting the 3 doors in is pretty difficult at this point if you already glued the nose of the aircraft, so use a lot of caution. The bay seems to be a little bit too small for all 3 of the doors, so you may need to sand down the doors. You can glue the 3 doors together first, then slap the whole thing into the bay later, provided you have the right dimensions.
R3 and R4 and other clear parts I delayed until the very end.
(13) Intake – If you have the photoetch set there’s no need to worry about masking U1 here, you can paint the etch parts and install them later into the intake.
(14,15) Legs – The feet are the only subassemblies that has to be painted before being installed in other subassemblies. I couldn’t find a way to add them after painitng the leg. You need to wrestle with the G parts to get them aligned inside the leg, but the parts are fitting each other well, the legs’ halves should naturally match up nicely.More gear doors that I shut. These guys are easier than the nose’s gear, since they have such odd shapes they just fall into place. However G12 and G7 do not really fold up perfectly into the bay, some bit protruding the the ankle is blocking it. You need to remove the offending bit. G3 and G2 also needs a lot of trimming, I basically removed all the raised material on the underside, so that the rectangular depression becomes a hollow, because otherwise these parts will not fit onto the legs. Don’t bother with W2’s right now because they can be added in (16) must easier.
(16) Propeller tanks – Needless to say paint everything before you glue the propeller tanks to the legs. Because there’re some gaps between the tanks and the legs, I use epoxy glue to attach them, superglue gel would also work. After you glued these guys, you can retro-fit the W2’s. You need to wriggle them a little, but it’s almost a snap fit. I just used a little superglue on W2’s root and it stays in place really well.
(19) Boosters – Cut the pegs on W9 and W10 so that they become small bumps. This allows you to add the vernier to the booster packs after everything is painted. This makes painting much easier, especially if you’re planning on installing photoetch parts for the boosters.
(20) Weapons – Don’t snap the micro missle pods and beam cannon onto the booster pack until the final assembly. They don’t really come off easily after they’ve gone in!
(21) Final Assembly – I recommend attaching the boosters to the tail first before gluing the tail to the main body. The fit between the booster and the tail requires some wriggling and it can uproot the tail from the body – the whole thing was hingled on 3 small contact areas! I’d also recommend gluing the thighs to the body before attaching the lower legs, it’s much easier to glue when the thighs are not so heavily weighted.
I attach the clear parts after all these. For the canopy I use the traditional white glue. The weaker bond allows me to snap it off should there be a need. The nose & wing lights, beam cannon sensors and gear door lights are all attached with epoxy glue, which is clear and gives a strong bond.
For this kit I’m trying to recreate the plane in the final minutes of the movie, and that means to me a slightly more weathered version of the box art. The danger of weathering is always going overboard, and for an aircraft this is particularly the case. With this in mind here are some in-progress pictures. The numbers in [ ] refers to Mr. Color paints.
I first painted the cockpit with  and then glued the cockpit with white glue (you can snap it off later) The canopy served as a mask for the cockpit. Then I primed the body with Mr. Surfacer 1000 to get a neutral grey base coat.
Then I painted base white in the middle of panels to get a preshaded effect on panel lines.
A few more coats of  which is a milky white. Then I masked and painted the intakes. The panel lines was a breeze, I used ivory black artist oil mixed with titanium white to get a more or less neutral grey, and did a wash. After overnight, I wiped the excess away. Most of the panel lines stayed, only a little touch up was needed. At this point I sprayed a coat of Future floor wax to seal the oil and provide a glossy surface for decaling. I also removed the canopy at this point and wipe it clean with Mr. thinner (which does not eat styrene).
The feet are painted with  first and then assembled with the legs. Yes the etched parts are on the wrong side 🙂 I’m not too happy about the raised gear door on the front, what I should’ve done is completely eliminate the support underneath and snap the door flush. But that’s ok…
Decals done. It took a long time to do all of them but the result was worth it. Afterwards I spray another couple layers of Future floor wax to level off the decal edges. Then a layer of flat coat for weathering.Having big and bright decals visually reduces the scale of a model. One way to counter this is to spray a thin layer of the base color over the decal so that it blends in and looks like a scale paint job rather than a sticker. If you refill the panel lines over these big logos, you can restore a lot of scale.
I chipped some decals using a dull knife to get a scratched paint effect. But I think it’s a bit overdone here, I later patched some of these chips up so that it doesn’t look as damaged.
In the middle of weathering. The grills behind the cockpit are usually white, but here I painted it dark grey base and hoped that drybrushing will bring out the grills.The pilot comes withsome decals for his should and helment – it’s really a waste of effort to try to fit them onto Hikaru. Painting the colors with a brush is much easier! Also I don’t understand why they tell you to paint the helment visor black – clear blue is a much better choice here.A wash and some drybrushing bring out the details in the cockpit
Have to have this shot of the instrument panels :)The only battle damage I did are some panel chips on the wings and the nose (the latter is shown here on top right), modeled after a frame grab I have of the movie. I did them with a dremel and gave it a grey wash.
One thing that’s missing from all the Valkyrie buildups I’ve seen on the web is clearly defined booster details. Tenjin-san who drew the box art did a wonderful job of that on paper. To highlight the panel lines on such a dark surface, you see Tenjin-san still uses black panel lines, but the edges of the panels are of lighter colors. You can recreate this with drybrushing on the surface, then do the panel afterwards. The edges of the panel lines will catch all the drybrushed paints and become lighter in color.
The depressed areas around the side verniers are gunmetal, I found it easier to just handbrush them instead of doing all the masking. Later I gave each some drybrushed aluminum.The photoetch plates didn’t turn out as good as I thought they would. After this photo I redid those zig-zag frames with drybrushed aluminum paints, and it’s better.
The VF-1S head is just too cool so I’ve gotta include it here just for the heck of it :)But it’s a real bummer not having the guns drilled out, in many front view photos of the plane this lack of detail problem stuck out like a sore thumb. Therefore I later broke all of them off, drilled the holes and reattach.
The tail assembly. The grills formed from photoetch bits looks really good after getting drybrushed, and adds details to the otherwise plain tail assembly. The tail fins are best painted, it’s a very easy masking task. Decals doesn’t work so great when you have to make them meet on both sides. I later gave this guy more smoke streaks so that it doesn’t look so dull.
I filled the inside of a missle block with Mori Mori and made a 1/8″ hole for the support rod. I wish I had a glass rod of that size, the Plastruct styrene rods I got was no where strong enough to support the plane. I ended up using a steel rod. To make this work, the support rod cannot interfere with the gun pod. The oblique angle of the rod proved very useful for posing the plane in many different cool “poses”.
Wings and the UUM-7 missle pods. Again drybrushing does wonder to the pods. I think stark white is a horrible choice for the missles; I smoked their surfaces to dull them down.
You can put the little verniers on a piece of tape and paint them all in one shot.
The main weathering for the aircraft are smoke streaks just like the ones you’ve seen on jets. Even though the Strike Valkyrie is flying in space, it’s inside Buldoza’s battleship and flew through explosions and smokes, so I think this still applies. Doing this is super easy, I dabbed a little thinned ivory black oil on a paper towel, then wipe it pretty dry, then swipe the paper towel across the surface. The picture doesn’t do the streaks justice, they’re a tiny bit more prominent and finer. But this is the best I can do with my DC right now.I also don’t like the white-backed decal for the UN symbol, it doesn’t quite make sense that the paint of the symbol causes all the details to disappear. Therefore I just applied the UN symbol, and worked some titanium white into the panel lines to lighten them up. I think it looks a bit more natural as a painted symbol rather than “someone slapped a big sticker on top” 🙂
The beam cannon is somehow a little lacking in detail compared with other parts of the plane, so I carved out the exhaust depressions in the rear of the gun and backed them with steel meshes. These steel meshes are very hard to work with! Impossible to cut and sand by hand… but it was worth the trouble. I started this when the cannon was already assembled and painted, if I have to do it all over again, I’d cut the depressions but also thin the inside of these pieces. After cutting out the depressions, the openings are much deeper than before, making the meshes hard to see.
Finished Valkyrie!That’s most of the stuff I did to the Valk. It sounds simple here but somehow it just goes on and on and took days and weeks… I hope this article provided you with some useful information for your Valkyrie, good luck!