This FAQ is put together to hopefully answer some of the more common questions about the SF3D/MaK world. SF3D was originally published on a regular basis as a model photo story in Hobby Japan magazine from 1982 to 1985. Model Graphics has been publishing new MaK photo stories since 1999. Anyone unable to read Japanese has a lot of questions about the series.
Q - What is the difference between SF3D and Maschinen Krieger ZbV3000?
A - The name only really. In 1985 Hobby Japan canceled the SF3D stories. They claimed ownership of the series and it was tied up in the Japanese courts for years. The matter was settled in Kow's favor; they were his designs but the SF3D name "belonged" to Hobby Japan. The series was re-booted in 1998 as Maschinen Krieger ZbV3000. You can find out more information about the SF3D origins at Roboterkampf. See this tread for further explanation of the Maschinen Krieger name.
Q - Is SF3D/MaK about Nazis in Space?
A - No! No! and NO! The SF3D/MaK has nothing to do with a continuation of the events of WWII, but it is easy to see where one might think so. When SF3D started, Kow and friends were/are big fans of WWI and WWII German aircraft and models. Many of the SF3D designs carry similar markings since they used decals and donor parts from those model aircraft. The Strahl Democratic Republic - SDR are a Germanic language group put in charge by the Galactic Federation (no details) to put down an uprising by Earth re-colonizing farmers wanting self governance. The farmers hire mercenaries to fight for them and things escalate from there. It may look like Axis vs. Allies, but it isn't.
Q - Then what is the SF3D story?
A - The MaK Timeline Article should give you a good introduction to the series.
Q - Is there a __________ published in English?
A - No. The only official English language materials were the suit development stories on the back of the Nitto boxes. Some of these were reprinted in the form of a small booklet which is very hard to find. Unfortunately, the Wave kits only have Japanese text. Hasegawa has reintroduced the English language development story on the back of the box with the Falke.
Q - Is there an offical ____________ with more background story.
A - Movie - No. Anime - No. Novel - No. Nothing is collected in one place and several authors have contributed to the story. One poor guy tried to translate the stories into English, but found too many inconsistencies, inaccuracies, overlap, gaps, and simple errors to make for a presentable "story". Background info has been limited to the model photographic stories in Hobby Japan and Model Graphix magazines and the few books released to date. All of these are Japanese language only. The BD Manual gathered Kow's Play Online illustrated stories into a hardback Graphic Novel format. Japanese only. The MaK Profile "Mooks" look like they will continue these illustrated panel type stories. Japanese only. But don't give up hope, there could be something in English... eventually.
Q - I saw a resin _________ on EBay. Is it a recast?
A - Probably. If it ships from or is cast in HK or China then 99% yes. Italy has it's own MaK recaster to be aware of. If the price looks too good to be true, then its a recast. If the seller says he has no box or can't recall where they purchased it from, it's a recast. Beware, some sellers on EBay are taking photos of a legitimate kit but selling you a copy. They are even copying the box style and cover art if there is any. So even if it "looks" legit and the price "looks" about right, the country of origin should be your first red flag.
Q - I saw someone selling a ___________ for $____. Is this good/bad?
A - As of this writing, the majority of SF3D/MaK models are out of production, Nitto, Model Kasten, early Wave releases, so you can expect to pay collector prices. How much you spend is entirely up to you. Prices fluctuate and some stuff could eventually be released. It depends on how bad and when you want it. Be patient and search around.
Q - Where/how does the __________ fit/work in/on the ____________?
A - Where do the arms go? How are the suits powered? How can the Falke possibly fly? Kow never gave it as much thought as you have. He's an artist not an engineer. It looks cool and it sorta looks like it works then that's as detailed as it is ever going to get. There is some fan consensus on a few of these things but nothing official.
Q - I'm serious, where do the arms go?
A - It depends on your references. In the SAFS Vs Nutrocker short, the SAFS loses an arm from a direct hit by the Nutrocker.The pilot doesn't make a specific comment like "Argh my arm's been blown off!" so one would guess that the pilot's arms are in the bulbous front nose of the SAFS. The video is also notable in that it shows the pilot giving voice commands to the suit. That was the mid 1980s. In an early 00s Model Graphix, there was a cut away illustration of a Fliege with the pilot's arms in the suit arms but with a one joint difference i.e. the pilot's hands were the suit's elbow controlling joy sticks. The MaK Encyclopedia Vol 1 has a jacket illustration showing an SAFS pilot putting his arms in the suit arms, contrary what one would assume from the earlier video. The 1/16 scale SAFS Snake Eye PVC pre-finished figures had pilot figures with no arms that matched the inner padding of the suit "arm pits". The most recent and best detailed explanation comes courtesy of a fully detailed 1/6 scale collector's toy of the SAFS, the suit arms are clearly designed to accept the pilot's arms. So like the fluid back story, details like where the arms go have evolved. It's best not to get so mired down in those kinds of details and just enjoy it for what it is and settle on your personal preference.
Q - I want to add/modify/slap-on/paint a ______________ to/instead of/on a __________. What do you guys think?
A - Do it and you don't need someone's permission. MaK can be customized just like any other sci fi genre. And just like every other sci fi genre, it has an established look. Star Wars, Star Trek, Ice Pirates, all have a look. Same with MaK. If you want to add a BFG, Hellfire missiles, choban armor and jump jets to a Gustav and paint it with pink tiger stripes. Go for it and post your efforts, but don't expect to call it MaK anymore. Fan designs and modifications are referred to as "Like MaK".
Q - Are there tanks or tracked vehicles in the MaK world?
A - A few. They tend to be small like the YP-15, underpowered - DollHouse, troop carriers - Green Bufalo, or massive - Undine. MaK is populated with armored suits, hover vehicles, anti gravity drones, two legged robots and four legged walking tanks. Who needs tracked vehicles with a line up like that? Remember, MaK is not as rounded out as a typical series. There are support vehicles too, but these are only shown in unit organizations and look pretty much like 20th century support equipment. Kow designed and built what looked cool to him.
Q - Are there any national markings for the "sides"?
A - No. None have ever appeared for the series. The "look" of the suits (mechanical style, colors, paint scheme, marking style) help clarify the sides and are far more creative than slapping on national markings.
Q - I haven't seen many uniforms for pilots and ground mechanics. What do these look like?
A - Surprising normal in every way. There were a few illustrations in the Hobby Japan SF3D special issue and they look just like typical WWII and modern jet pilot battle dress. The original Nitto figures also offer clues to uniform styles. These include one piece mechanic's grubby suit, astronaut in puffy gear, tropical climate short sleeve shirt and shorts, Luftwaffen style pilot gear and a boy in a long sleeve potato sack dress. The newer resin female figures have more current looking fatigues.
Q - I saw a ____________ from another series that looks almost like a _________. Are these guys ripping Kow off?
A - Sometimes designers artistically "borrow" from others designers. They tweak the design just enough for it to be new but it clearly has origins from something else. The give away is that it never looks as good as the original. Kow may have kludged his models from bits and pieces, but he has a good eye for proportions and aesthetics, something the knock-offs don't have. Other times it can be a completely original design but something about it evokes one of Kow's creations. Kow is known for his retro/futuristic grungy mechanical designs and he's been doing it for a long time, but it doesn't mean he "owns" the look. Also know, Kow was influenced by StarWars, so there is a long history of designers influencing designers. And remember, Kow didn't design everything in the MaK universe, numerous designers and modelers have been involved over the years.
Q - Why are most of the kits in 1/20?
A - The original AFS was built around a Micronaut action figure which is close to 1/18 scale. The elbow joints of the Nitto kit are almost a direct copy and the pilot's head is a close match for the Micronaut head. This figure helped to establish the overall size and the rest of the suits followed. Kow couldn't just use more Micronauts to round out his original series, so he had to use something else. The closest available figures at the time were the Tamiya 1/20 Racing series mechanics and pit crew. These firmed the scale at 1/20.
Q - Why can't I find any accessories in 1/20 scale?
A - 1/20 scale is a common scale for Indy car models. You'll find seat belts and wipers and a few miscellaneous items, but nothing "military". There are several 1/18 military action figure accessories but these look very toy like with out some work. 1/24 and 1/25 are common scales for automotive models and there are quite a few useful items for a garage diorama or for detailing a suit, but again very few "military" items. You can also look for "G-Scale" - 1/22.4 to 1/20 model rail road accessories - pioneering tools, barrels, crates, hobos, etc. Unfortunately the quality is never that great on G-Scale accessory items and they require some work. Look at it this way, MaK will be a great opportunity to expand your scratch building skills.
Q - What is MaK Archeology? Or why should I pay so much for a resin kit?
A - Kow built the original models from numerous donor kits from a multitude of genres and manufactures. Tanks, planes, cars, trains, toys, house hold items, nothing was spared. If no injection molded kit exists and a resin garage kit is impossible to find and you want to build an accurate version, you will need to do some research to dig through what ever available photos or information there is. You will need a lot of patience, deep pockets, plenty of spare time, a good search engine an extensive knowledge of plastic models and a history of manufacturers, or know someone who does. If you think $300 dollars for a resin kit is too much, just try buying all the necessary donor kits. You should know, you will be competing against "studio scale" modelers of Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica for some of the same donor kits.
Q-What is the Japanese Wonder Festival?
A- It is a one day event usually held twice a year in Japan. It has no relation to the Wonderfest in Kentucky. Garage kit manufactures/individuals buy table space and are granted a one day licenses to sell merchandise - kits, toys, t-shirts, key rings, etc. at an event hosted by Kaiyado.The event draws huge crowds with a line that extends beyond the horizon. The dedicated/desperate camp out in line like its Ozzfest. When the bell sounds and the doors open all hell breaks loose with a polite mad dash to vendor tables. The event is very anime figure heavy, mostly newer series but classics are well represented too, so MaK items are a very small portion of the event. Most popular items sell out with in the first hour. If you are not going you need to know someone who is if you want any chance of obtaining items from WF which does not guarantee success. Otherwise, check the Japanese Yahoo Auction site two days later. This is a useful WF Visual Report
Hopefully this should address the most basic questions and offer a good introduction to MaK. This Fa.Q. will be updated as needed and time permits.