Founded originally as Yokoyama’s first entry in the Science Fiction in the magazine Hobby Japan, under the title of SF3D, in which he worked with other artists and creators to fashion a Word of practical, far future combat which merged the technical brilliance of mecha modeling with the gritty beauty of military vehicle diorama construction, with a kit-bashed series of models being built up by Yokoyama to enhance the stories, and provide a relevant hook for the readers of what was, after all a model magazine.
However, as is often the case, the scratch built power suits began to attract enough attention for Yokoyama to consider manufacturing them as kits, and when the Nitto company came up with workable designs, 21 models were intially made to support the run of the story in Hobby Japan.
Even the legal troubles of 1986, when Hobby Japan dropped the SF3D stories could cow the interest of the fans and, even before Yokoyama’s copyright was restored to him in the 1990s, both commercial and garage companies began releasing a small, but steady stream of models (in a variety of scales) across the years. From the suits themselves to battle tanks and aircraft, the soft, rounded practical stylings of the Yokoyama’s Universe (officially titled Maschinen Krieger – ‘Fighting Machines’ – when Nitto re-released the original kits after Hobby Japan dropped the line) have no equals in military modeling circles, even to this day as the Wave company keeps up the license.
In fact, in the hands of Wave the Ma.K. license has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with the company – under Yokoyama’s guidance – releasing not only variants of previously established mechanical designs, but also producing many new models.
The kit under review here, the ‘Sea Pig’ reconnaissance SAF, represents a good standard of Wave’s current casting and mastering efficiency. Long respected for their attention to detail and completeness in SF kit manufacture, let us see how this latest kit stands up to scrutiny…
As a variant model, Wave seems to have simply added a number of sprues to the standard SAF Mk1. This will allow the modeler a little latitude in how they build this up, especially with regard to pilots. There might not be much variation possible in the model itself (after all, these represent front-line mass produced units), but the touches that are included – materials and decals – lend enough individuality to the kit to satisfy most people, I feel.
In addition, as with all 3rd generation Wave Ma.K. releases, the quality of the molding and the quality of the polystyrene is remarkable: easy to cut, easy to file and presenting no issues in the example I built up.
One thing that Wave has made an issue of with their recent Ma.K. releases is the high number of poly-cap parts used to make the jointing easier and more flexible.
Certainly, they make posing much easier, and can take much more hammer than could styrene joints, but they can be a bit of a pain to paint. I used a Mr. Hobby poly primer to break the surface tension, but even then paint does not take too well to this sort of material.
The internal detail of the armour is, as always rather simple but still sufficient to allow for some detail work to be done. I personally would have liked to see some more, expecially with regard to display surfaces, but one can always go to one of the 1/20 detail kits or scratch up something.
Seams are a bit of an issue in this kit, to be sure. Some of them are understandable – in that it is clearly not always possible to have join lines match up with natural breaks in a model. However, others I just wonder about. For example, possibly owing to uneven cooling of what is very soft, and pliable polystyrene some of the seams could not be made to seat properly, no matter what. Filler sorted it out, but I would like to see if my experience is common to other kits, or whether I just lucked into a lemon.
However, seam issues aside there were no other material problems to be encountered with this kit. Indeed, the quality of the material itself needs comment. Those who are familiar with Bandai, Hasegawa and Tamiya injection models will understand how ‘brittle’ and unforgiving polystyrene can be sometimes. I have rarely encountered injection material which is so ‘soft’ and workable – almost as if it were polyurethane resin. It made cutting parts from the the sprue easy enough* but it also must be noted that the material is very sensitive to cement, and punishes injudicious use of liquid poly very harshly indeed. Be cautious.
(* A word must also be said about the way in which the sprues have been laid out. Not a single piece is directly jointed to the frame on a live surface. The makers have taken great care to ensure that you are always trimming to a dead, or hidden surface which limits the amount of time one is trimming/smoothing the surface of the kit proper. This may seem like a minor thing, but this sort of attention to detail is what makes Wave’s kits a real joy.)
All in all this kit, for me, represents a nice addition to the Ma.K. lineup, and though just a modification of the old Mk1 SAFS it acknowledges the desire of fans to have access to more specialized and/or themed mechanical kits.
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