Tuesday, August 8

In-Boxed: 1/20th scale Maschinen Krieger Moon Type MK44H Prototype "Limited Edition"

This boxing of Hasegawa's version of the 20th scale White Knight Prototype crossed our beady little eyes recently. We thought we would try to get some more different types of models on TMN more regularly and what better than a "Maschinen Krieger"(M.a.K) kit to show you? We will build this new kit, but first, we thought we would give you a little more background on this cult universe in modelling and show you what's in the box...
In-Boxed: Maschinen Krieger Moon Type MK44H Prototype Limited Edition
1/20th scale
Stock Number# HSGS4112
Skill Level 3
189 parts
Length: 5.4 in (138 mm)
Width: 4.4 in (113 mm)
Price: $41.13 AUD
Product Link @ Hobbylink Japan
The "Maschinen Krieger"(Ma.K) universe of characters and machines is a science fiction genre in print and model making that was created by Japanese artist and sculptor Kow Yokoyama in the 1980s, with the first appearance of the subjects appearing in the popular magazine Hobby Japan called SF3D. The series focuses on the aftermath of the earth (and the moon) after World War IV. So you all know it is supposed to happen (mark your calendars & perhaps take that Monday off work) in 2807 when up to 80% of the Earth’s population was killed in the nuclear holocaust. 
The destruction was so great that human life could no longer survive on the barren remains of the planet. There is a very cool history of this series in this link stating just what happened and when, and it details the war that followed between the Mercenary Army in machines piloted by Colonists and the Strahl National Defence Army Police & Foreign Legion machines.

Together with Hiroshi Ichimura as story editor and Kunitaka Imai as graphic designer Kow Yokoyama's series drew visual inspiration from their combined interest in World War I and World War II armour and aircraft, seventies Sci-Fi like Star Wars, Blade Runner and The Road Warrior's Post-Apocalyptic vision of the future and improvised technologies. Seeing the Sci-Fi models from companies like ILM that combined many different kits to create their own universe, these three made their own universe that concentrated on powered armour suits, and robotic bipedal walking tanks and aircraft with anti-gravity systems.
After a dispute with Hobby Japan over the copyright of the series, SF3D was dropped from its line-up from of articles and Nitto ceased production of various kits of the series. After several legal stoushes, Yokoyama was awarded the full copyright to the series in the 1990s. Yokoyama and Hobby Japan eventually reconciled and restarted their working relationship, ditching the old SF3D name in favour of Maschinen Krieger ZbV3000, otherwise known as Ma.K.
Although there are some toys and books also credited to the MAK universe, we are here to look at the models, Nitto was the first model company to secure the license to make the kits of these machines, they made twenty-one injection moulded kits from the series during its entire run in the magazine. Most of the Nitto model kits are in 1:20th scale, while others were made in 1:76th and 1:6th scale.
Production of the kits stopped with the end of the Hobby Japan features in 1986, but Nitto reissued many of the original kits under the Maschinen Krieger name, albeit with new decals and box art. Some of the original Nitto kits go for a pretty penny on several internet sale groups and sites.
After the success and cult following developed by these models, there were several other companies from Japan who followed into the MAK world. Various model companies make accessories to the MAK kits, companies Love love Garden, Brick Works, Modelkasten and of course  Rainbow-Egg as well as of course full kits. These are often resin, and often pretty amazing but daunting to a lot of modellers because of their complexity and high standard of artistry.
Hasegawa's venture into the franchise came with the release of the Pkf 85 Falke attack craft in March 2009. The company's Ma.K line has since expanded to at least ten kits either 1:35 or 1:20th scale, including a 1:35th Scale Nutcracker tank.These new kits have taken this niche hobby genre to a larger audience. Hasegawa's other kits caught my eye, the Pkf 85 "Falke" attack craft and the Lunar Camel being two of note.

Andy Moore's brilliant Hasegawa LUM Camel kit shows us what these models can be if tackled by a creative mind and a skilled modeller
Recently Hasegawa has taken some of the original S.F.3D kits and made new injection moulded versions of them, often with updated or alternate colours and markings, guns, weapons and other features in their designs. 

Since the success of this venture, and the much wider exposure in audience Hasegawa's distribution has given the line, the series has expanded to at least ten kits either 1:35th or 1:20th scale, and the Mk44 humanoid mecha suit from Robot Battle V, a side story to the franchise which is the feature of today's review.

After a recent trip to Shizuoka Model Show and seeing the wealth of amazing SF3D and MAK models on display - I too became a fan of this genre. That is why I have this kit for you to review - the MK44 White Knight Prototype.

The professional model makers of the promotional kits at Hasegawa have shown a little more of the look that we might be after in their kits. These are promotional photos showing this particular model.
These three kits of this type were on display at the recent Shizuoka Model show in Japan this year, and for my linking, two of the three on display here are some of the lesser inspiring camouflages you could use on these machines, but they give you an idea of how they can be posed and how they travel along being propelled by either walking or jetpacks.
The Kit.
This kit is a direct conversion of the 2014 release of the MK44 Ammoknight, also from Hasegawa. This kit's lineage goes back to the 2014 MK44 Ammoknight Smartgun Equipment Type, the Hammerknight MK44 Ausf.B with what looks a little like it is holding a Bazooka, to the Lunar variant called the MK44 H Black Knight. In the MAK universe, these MK44's were apparently designed to eliminate mechanical life forms that appeared on the moon. 
When you look at the box you see the very typical branding from Hasegawa that follows the popular MAK/ SF3D Lineage. An almost straight brown cardboard colour with bold black lettering on the sides and front in that same font.
The kit’s contents are in two main parts, the instruction booklet, marking card and decals, and then a large sealed bag which houses the sprues. The instructions are pretty typical Hasegawa. They are printed on thick light grey paper (this isn’t an underexposed shot folks they are this grey colour….
There are thirty-two steps in this kit’s making. For those who are not used to making MAK or Gundam/ Mecha kits, the joints are all articulated with poly cap sockets and ball joints. The proper following of instructions on each subsection needs to be followed, however, the different parts can still be assembled in almost any order because of the snap together fit nature of these kits.
Moving on from instructions we find a two-sided brown card in very much the mould of these kits’ branding look. There are four new marking choices provided in this Hasegawa kit. With the names of the pilots and where they have served and seen action in English. However, the action history to colour the scene is written on the rest of the card only in Japanese, so a mug like me who wants to get involved in the history is left without an understanding of it. I know that English speakers live a life of privilege compared to some other languages, but it might be good for Hasegawa to provide a page online where you can see the marking choices of these kits in your preferred language? Google will translate it for us, you know it makes sense...
I know I am complaining a little, however, I do like these cards a lot, and the colour markings all have some interest. I am still not sure how much of my own customization I should give a kit in this universe. I think I’ll make a little bit of my own choices and use these as a guide.
The colours and emblems, like the marking choices, these are very reminiscent of WWII German aircraft and tank markings. Part of the appeal I guess, and I can see where comparisons are drawn with a combination of the colour schemes and the markings, now – Nazi’s are not popular, but German WWII kits are popular – so it’s a smart move from Hasegawa to remove that vein of history from the genre while keeping the look of these Luftwaffe aircraft.

The decals to support these four markings are in a very similar style to the rest of the sheets in this series, with only slight alterations in them and different numbers and emblems. The smallest of warning signs on the stencils are almost legible and the colours and lines are drawn well and in register.
On to the plastic, in the box we find it all bunched together in one plastic bag. I wish model companies would not do this, as it created scarring of the plastic on the model’s surface details were tightly packed sprues collide. It has created some scratches as you can see on the pictures below in this case. The good thing about this kit is that the surface detail will be textured later in the build process – so they get out of jail – but please model companies - separate plastic bags for each sprue huh?
The plastic in the box is nicely moulded with no real problems of flash, the ejector points are small or faint, and are hidden inside the spaces that you will not see once the kit Is made.

Scratches like this on brand new kits are unnecessary and unwanted, and even easier to eradicate from the manufacturer's side...
Sprue PC-3: Poly-Caps
A word of warning to those not seeing or understanding the nature of putting these kits together – they are articulated robots, with moving joints that require a methodical step,-by-step process to complete. The internal structure of each of these parts is taken up with little plastic spigots that go into their sockets, often with a push fit. This does not make it any less of a model, but a little more like the Star Wars Bandai kits that probably more of you out there will know. A lot of joint action going on inside there.
With that – the Poly-caps are the root of each joint, as well as being a pretty non-descript part of this kit. We will know more about the performance of these joints when they are inside the built up kit.

Sprues S & T Clear Parts
Another rather non-descript part of this kit is the clear parts for the light and glazed areas of the White Knight on Sprue S. The other sprue, Sprue T housed the guard around where the mouth may say to be positioned on the face–plate visor. Not exactly sure if it is a sensor or not, but at a guess…
Vinyl pipe/ tube
This length of vinyl pipe is about 3 Millimetres wide and over 10 Centimetres long. This is used on the kit to represent what we would see as a hydraulic pressure line from one to the other. In this timeframe, I am sure that hydraulics are no longer being used, but the steam-punk like retro-futuristic nature (did I just write that?) of this series sees the need for this line.
Sprue U -Plastic corrugated tubing.
This flexible tubing also represents the hoses or tubes on the kit’s Mecha powered suit. It can represent tubing, or a curved wire. If it was to represent a curved wire line I would use a thick guitar or bass string. This looks a lot better if you are after this particular effect.
Sprue R: The Pilot Figure
This little tan sprue houses the shoulders-upwards of the pilot figure to sit in the cockpit. Unlike the Hammerknight Mk 44 kit, you only get a chest-upward pilot and not a full standing figure to go along with this kit. This torso and head parts have an option of displaying the pilot’s face open to the elements (but covering his eyes,) or with a full face mask over him. If you are not great at painting figures then this full mask is a good cheat to getting around having to paint the face of your pilot.
The main plastic sprues are in six sets of plastic, often these parts are non-descript to those not familiar with this genre of model making (like myself) so bear with me. 
Starting with Sprue A - This sprue houses some of the larger external elements of the kit. The larger clamshell front and back of the top part of the mechanized suit. Other parts including the inside of the “office” of the suit, the seat and framing around it are here. The rear and supporting elements of the suit are also here.
The seat that supports the pilot looks great in this scale, it could be taken from any large car in a similar scale, and it would be fine with or without a pilot figure inside the kit.
This little generator thing that sits on the outside of the powered suit – I don’t know what it does but the detail on it is sharp and it can be detailed up to look quite impressive.
Again a nondescript part on the back of the suit. This is another great weathering piece in the making, the kit is full of these.
The two large clamshell parts of the kit that open up either side of the pilot’s cab. I know on mine that I will make this surface detail textured with something like Mr Surfacer. Lincoln Wright made a great video on how to texture up your MAK kit and I will be following his lead. You need not worry about the scratches on some of the surface if you add this layer of texture (and interest if you ask me) to your model.
Sprue B
This sprue has some interesting parts on it - a lot of the larger external armour parts are here for the large legs, the back and the torso. Lumps and bumps you can add to the kit are here, and there is a flat plate with what looks like yet more bumps you can add to the fuselage after you cut them off.

The internals of this cabin for the pilot are great, although I could imagine adding some more wires to really crowd the space in here to make it look even more improvised and ad-hoc...
Sprue C
This sprue houses several smaller but important parts of the kit. Some of the joints including the arm sockets, some type of air hoses or pipes, the faceplate with a slit in the middle like a letterbox or Ned Kelly’s slit as well as the hip armour guards.
The mandible like hands are a feature of this kit. Nicely for me, this kit has two hands which I do like more than having a robot suit with one only hand. These simply fit together without glue like a lot of the kit, although again like a lot of this kit I will be using glue – old habits die hard I guess...

Sprue D
This sprue houses the large cylindrical (what looks like) a fuel tank from the external tank of a German Maus tank that sits around where the butt of the powered suit is, the cast arm and leg armour sections, as well as those big arse metal armoured pads that protect the shoulders. These guards will have a lot of texture applied to them also.
Sprue F ( X2)
These two small duplicated sprues have only a few parts to them each. Again these parts are nondescript until they go on the kit. The Parts F4 looks to me like they are from a Huey UH-1 rotor assembly.
Sprue M
This is a sprue specifically for the White Knight figures, the curved body armour is here again, with some of the cast plates around the face visor here as well as the main parts for the feet which again are almost looking like high heel stilettos compared to the Hammerknight and Black Knight MK44 kits.
This sprue is dominated by the main large gun that this robot suit is made to carry. It is very long, and made up of several parts which again snap into each other. It is called a “Smart Gun” and it is one of the main things that differentiate it from the standard “White Knight” kit.
Here it is on the feature sheet showing you the small, but small alterations to this after the regular (Vanilla?) White Knight kit.
So that is it for this kit. We have already started making this kit up, and we have found that the procedural element is pretty simple, making all of the parts while you put something on to watch or listening to it while you zone out is pretty therapeutical.

The fact that once this is together you can open up the cockpit to display the pilot is one plus, as is the ability to be able to paint this with a simple paintbrush or the most complicated of airbrushes – it is all accepted in this “Universe” this flexibility to do what you want to the model and make it how you want will resonate with a lot of modellers out there who are often Pidgeon holed into a genre or style of making a model.

Imagine moving from a cold war jet with all NMF polished surfaces that you have to use several shades of Alclad and masking on to something like this – where all you need is a few paint shades and a brush? Brush marks? No problemo – it is a very liberating prospect, 
and one we will be following up in the next few weeks in our build guide article.

As for the kit? Inexpensive, alternate and well made – the subject might not suit everyone – but take a look at what is out there – preferably at a model show where these really come alive – I am very enthusiastic about this kit's prospects and forthcoming construction.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Hobbylink Japan for sending this kit for us to show you and build - look forward to seeing it built up in the forthcoming weeks in a construction guide here on TMN.