VF-1 Valkyrie . VF-1. A classic from my childhood. A source of inspiration on par with Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and V. .
The VF-1 from the Macross/Robotech universe. The story surrounding the VF-1 is long so I'll offer a briefer summation. VF stands for Veritech (Variable Engineering and Robotic Integration TECHnology) Fighter or Variable Fighter (depending on which story you follow) and is fully transformable. It has 3 distinct forms: Aero Fighter, Gerwalk (or Guardian Mode), and Battroid (or Battloid).
The VF-1 Valkyrie, for me, captured my imagination as a child. When I saw that some other builders had managed to create fully transformable VF-1's I knew I had to give it a try. I wanted to make it fully transformable (though, there was a part of me that considered just building it in it's three forms and "claiming" that it could transform), I wanted it to be robust enough to be handled, and I wanted it to be highly poseable. There are some aspects of this build with which I am very satisfied and other parts where execution of design and the reality of the chosen medium (lego) where disappointed and prohibitive. I'll try to stay focused on the things that went well and point out a few flaws.
The Aero Fighter Mode draws heavily from the F-14 Tomcat and its sweeping wings. In this build I ran in to constant problems with wing shape and size. In the WIP the wings were more rounded and lacked the aggresiveness of straighter lines. Also I added a pin-stripe to add some visual appeal. In general I am very pleased with the Aero Fighter mode. I liked the choice of colors, I'm partial to tan and dark grey, even though its a departure from the canon of Robotech/Macross.
This was probably the easiest part of the build to get the "feel" right. Most of the complications, in fact ALL the complications came from the grand battle of "transforming". The one area in which I wish I could have figured out a better look would have been in the air intakes. I had also boldly told my brother that "it should be easy ( I actually said 'easy') to add working landing gear." *wow* Talk about setting yourself up for a fall.
GERWALK (or Guardian) Mode
GERWALK ( Ground Effective Reinforcement of Winged Armament with Locomotive Knee-joint) Mode apparently was a mistake from the toy line. The story goes that when Takatoku Toys sent some prototype VF-1's to Shoji Kawamori for approval of the toy line. It had only 2 forms in mind. However, the legs accidently folded down into a "chicken walker" deployment; Shoji liked it; the rest is history. GERWALK became justified as a VTOL option for the VF-1 in urban/jungle type warfare where the room needed to land or take off was limited.
I ran into constant problems with this mode. The main fuselage refused to stay rigid and instead would sag along the plate hinges. Also, the tail wings are supposed to fold up and fold in. Which meant more hinges and a double fold on one of the tail wings. All of this added more weight on the very back of the fuselage adding to the "drooping issue".
I have to say I'm very pleased with the "gun". I think it captured the essential qualities of the source material. I was disappointed that I was unable to figure out a way for it be "collapsible". Also, I was unable to mount under the VF-1 when in Aero Fighter mode.
When looking at a lot of the other Lego MOCs of transformable VF-1's I noticed a tendency to actually have the legs be removed and repositioned closer to the cockpit when transforming from Aero Fighter to Battroid. In the TV show the legs actually "slide" backwards and forwards along the fuselage. This allows for a more jet fighter look and a more humanoid look respectively. Lego's don't "slide" very well and thus some builders opted for the removable leg solution (This does provide for a more accurate Battroid mode). I chose to split-the-difference and placed the air intake just behind the cockpit instead of farther under the fuselage.
I wanted my Battroid Mode to be highly poseable. When working with Mecha in general there are a few key areas for maximum flexiblity that really help with dynamic posing. If a mecha can have a high range of mobility (both side-to-side and front-to-back) In it's ankles then the adds a nice element. The VF-1 has no such movement available. The ankle is a rigidly fixed, and with no "toes" available all the flexibility comes in the knees and hips. That's why the "knees" are minimally built up. For awhile I had the knees much closer to the source material. But the result of such stiffness in both the ankles and knees led the Battroid to look uncomfortably, um... rigid.
The shoulders/arms/hands were definitely an area of much consternation. The shoulders had to have an unreal amount of movement and play built in so that they could "swing" out from under the fuselage but be built rather minimally. Often, when looking at humanoid mecha the "twisting" of the arm is achieved in the elbow however, the elbow actually doesnt twist (it only bends). And I needed wrists that flex and turn and fingers that grip. I would have loved something more robust but needed to keep all of that minimal,light, and very flexible.
The wings folding streamlined behind the body with the tail wings folded up is a classic element from the source material. I thought that the overall Battroid Mode captured the dimensions nicely from the source material.
Just to demonstrate how much flexibility/posebility was available for this version.
The "head" is probably where I "squirm" the most. With the space available between the "hips" and in front of the "shoulders" there just wasn't much room left. The source material head is a thing of beauty. A classic cyclops head with one, two, or four antenna (which are actually cannons. The number of cannons was reflective of the pilots ranking). I had to build a rather simplistic head with maybe only a fleeting "nod" to the original.
I suppose I should have given this pilot some name. But... I didn't. Although this build was inspired from the Macross/Robotech Universe it is not from that universe. In the end this model is transformable and poseable there are so many moving parts that it doesn't allow for a high level of child friendly playability. It simply has too many moving parts and thus too fragile. I'm glad I built it. It was a fun challenge and really pushed me to keep working on the "problems". I may consider another version and utilize a more traditional build method with "click" style hinges for the fuselage. Maybe, even a more complex hip movement system to allow the legs to "slide" forward/backward. And..... maybe not.
Pilot Money Shot