Back in August I got word that Alter Mecha would be releasing a pair of models from the OAV Yukikaze, which Bandai released in the US a few years back for their 20th anniversary. As a recent fan of the series, naturally an order was placed for one of the two models from the series on offer. And after a lot of faffing around with sold-out orders, our friends at United Publications managed to scrounge one of the remaining models for me to purchase. How I rejoiced...
Alter’s Mecha models (Al-mecha) is a lesser known off-shoot from an entity better known for making excellent sculpted figurines of our favourite anime heroines, and more than one or two of their models are in my cabinet (I personally have their Selvaria and Black Hanekawa models and both are quite exquisite). This time, Alter have taken it upon themselves to model the two leading aircraft from Yukikaze, with both the FFR-41 Mave “Yukikaze” and the FRX-99 Rafe being modelled in the same style. They have been marketed and released as a matching pair, which suits their partnership from the anime and the book. On this occasion, as I am a bit weird and as I like peculiar looking aircraft, I bagged myself the FRX-99 instead of the Mave - a decision I do not regret one bit.
Starting from the outside, the FRX-99 arrives in a rather large box with a transparent magnetic screen allowing for a sneak peak of the assembled aircraft within. On the back, unfortunately in Japanese, is her vital statistics. I imagine this to be an erotic bit of literature as it goes into the details of her various positions and poses. Landing form, phwoar.
Inside the box it becomes evident that Alter intend for us to change her clothes regularly, as the FRX-99’s armaments and customisations are highly varied. The box comes with all of the various armaments she is equipped with in the series including the mid and long range missiles, railguns and fuel tanks. She comes with all of the various control surfaces fitting both her in-flight and her landing forms as well as landing gear and a beautiful raised platform which will support her in a multitude of flying poses. The components are all swappable, and similarly to the Revoltech and the Bandai YF-25 models, there is almost limitless combinations which can be constructed. I have personally gone for a post-launch loadout with her long range AA missiles, railguns, and her landing gear deployed.
The model is PVC and is painted with an obsessive eye for detail from the orange AI control pod down to the seams between the armour plating and the FAF logos on the wing and ailerons. All of the missiles and additional fittings such as the landing gear and the jet intakes are also detailed in paint, making the model possibly one of the more detailed 1:100 aircraft models I have yet witnessed. As of writing, and having spent over an hour poring over the modelling and the painting of the model, I have yet to notice any flaws on the paintwork of this particular model. As you can see from the pictures, although they don’t do the model justice to be honest, it’s flawless and very true to the anime upon which it is wholly based.
The customisation of the model was one of the highlights available, and Alter have provided a full manual with pictorial assembly instructions as well as PVC constructed tools to allow components to be easily prised from their securing notches and slots. For some of the more difficult to remove components, such as the rear sets of landing gear, slots have been provided on top of the fuselage to allow the landing gear to be pushed out from above using a provided PVC rod. This is a quite unique solution which works extremely well, reducing the potential for manhandling and breakage which can befall these fragile PVC models. (Such a fate fell upon my Bandai YF25 Alto Special, which has gone through several bouts of emergency surgery involving epoxy resin and PVC solvent...) This is a refreshing change to those like myself who are quite ham-fisted; it feels like someone has actually designed the model to be customised freely. I can only hope that more models look to utilise similar methods in the future. Although I did still manage to break something, thankfully it was only one of the anti-aircraft missile racks, which I wasn’t going to fit onto the model.
After being raised with Airfix and having been bitten by poor quality Macross models in the past, I was sceptical towards what this pre-painted and pre-assembled model of one of my favourite fantasy aircraft would be like. Thankfully I can report that Alter Mecha devote the same level of attention to detail to their aircraft as they do to their anime beauties. All of the details from the anime are included and I can happily report that further inspection from different angles only improves the experience. I am honestly lost for words for how impressed I am with the quality of the model and my only regret, other than being broke this month, is that I did not buy the FFR-41 Mave as well. I can only imagine how these two aircraft would look side by side. Thank you Alter!