VF-1S Super/Strike Valkyrie (Do You Remember Love?)
Review by Atom
Personally, I was first introduced to the world of Japanese toy collecting thru the American syndicated show, Robotech. Having grown up in Hawaii with a heavy Asian population I very quickly learned about Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada and that there were toys from the line better than most of the Matchbox line that was out. It was the 1/55 Takatoku/Bandai releases of the Valkyries that got me into the Japanese toy collecting culture before there was such a thing known in the States. It's all been downhill ever since...
So let's start at the top. What is a Valkyrie (aka variable Fighter?) From Wikipedia:
“A Variable Fighter is one of a series of fictional transforming aerospace fighters primarily designed by Studio Nue's Shoji Kawamori and Kazutake Miyatake for the animated series The Super Dimension Fortress Macross and later related projects.”
“Their most notable feature is the ability to transform—usually into a humanoid giant robot called Battroid and an in-between mode called GERWALK (Ground Effective Reinforcement of Winged Armament with Locomotive Knee-joint), in which the nose and wings have a pair of "chicken walker" legs extending underneath enabling VTOL, and two arms reaching forward from the sides. Another prevalent (but not universal) design point is the use of a detachable gun pod instead of an internally mounted gun. This allows it to be used as a hand-held weapon in GERWALK and battroid modes. They usually also have one or more trainable head-mounted lasers in battroid mode, stowed internally or used as fixed armament in fighter and GERWALK modes.”
“In the original series, the reason behind the development of the variable fighters' Battroid mode was the discovery of the existence of the Zentradi race, giant humanoid aliens genetically engineered for military conquest. Although at the time the humans hadn't met any actual Zentradi, the discovery of the SDF-1 Macross and its accommodations for humanoid giants justified the development of a weapon that could enable mankind to fight the aliens on their own environment (Battroid mode), on the ground (Gerwalk mode), and the air (Fighter mode). Thus, research into Overtechnology culminated in the development of the variable fighters for the U.N. Spacy.”
This is obviously not the first toy of the well-loved mecha from Japan and what follows is not by any means a complete history of its different incarnations as a toy. Consider it more of a greatest hits.
1/55 Takatoku/Bandai aka "The Chunky Monkey"
The first licensor was Takatoku, who produced the original 1/55 Valkyrie toys, which revolutionized the industry with their “Perfect Transformation” system. Later, Bandai would get the molds and begin to produce new toys of the series. Most “old school” collectors consider this to be the pinnacle of toy engineering from the 80's and lovingly referring to it as “The Chunky Monkey”. While it was a bit chunky and did not have an “anime accurate” look too it, it was a very well made and rugged toy with lots of die-cast content and for many years it represented the best Valkyrie on the market.
1/60 Yamato Version 1.0
Then around 2001 Yamato of Japan got the license to Macross Plus and Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and quickly came out with transformable 1/72 scale Macross Plus mecha and then the (first generation) 1/60 scale Valkries began to appear and many fans where happy. Many, but not all, as this release was not a “perfect transformation” but featured part swapping to keep an anime accurate look in all three modes and the die cast legs tended to ding and scratch very easily.
1/48 Yamato "Perfect Transformation" Version
So fast forward a few more years later and Yamato decides to reboot the Valkyrie line in the 1/48th scale, this time promising a “perfect transformation.” most considered it an engineering marvel and I myself gave it a good review. It's larger size and complex engineering made for a very unwieldy transformation that just wasn't much fun. Not a problem for those collectors that just want their stuff to look pretty on the shelf but disappointing those that wanted a “toy” that was solid feeling and fun to transform.
So enters the NEW 1/60 scale or 1/60 2.0 as collectors have taken to calling the line. Yamato decided with the release of the Macross Zero and then again the newer Macross Plus fighters to settle on the 1/60 scale across the board for all of their Macross product.
The box is smaller than the newer 1/60 Macross releases from Macross Zero and Macross Plus measuring at 13x11x7 inches all around with very nice 4 color art and photos are all over the box. They continue the tradition of the window box with flap/cover and the toy being displayed in fighter mode with the strike/super armored parts in a vacuum-formed tray behind the fighter.
Inside the box is a manual for the transformation of the toy and a separate manual for placing the strike/super armor pieces on the Valkyrie. Both are printed in Japanese but the photos are very clear and steps are easily understood if you pay close attention to them (more on this a bit further into the review.)
Also packed in the box is a sticker sheet for both the fighter and a separate one for the strike/super armor parts. I won't be using the stickers for this piece as it has every “memorial” detail (Macross kite logo, skull squadron logo, U. N. Spacy markings, Etc.) already tampo printed on.
The full breakdown on accessories is:
- set of “anime” hands
- 4 missile clusters (black)
- 4 missile clusters (white)
- 4 heavy missile clusters
- Super/Strike armor pieces
- 3 stand attachments
- 1 pilot
Taking it out of its package for the first time is a very, very pleasant experience. The first thing you will notice is the fighter alone feels very light and the second thing you notice is nothing is loose, nothing dangles or flops around and everything is tight and secure. You can do barrel rolls and zoom around with it and it all stays put. First impression ... feels like a toy. A real, honest to goodness toy.
The tampo printed detail is super clean and neat, seriously the paint application is flawless. No sign of over/under spray anywhere and printed/painted detail is generous. Every major and memorable marking you would remember from the Movie or TV series is already printed on the piece right down to details on the cockpit instruments.
Color just pops on this VF-1S. The yellow is rich and bright, the black is pitch as night and the white is the right shade- not to bright, not to dull. Just right. The cockpit window has a coating applied to it to give it reflective look that many did not like when pictures first showed up on-line of it but I think looks very nice actually as it creates a prism effect like real glass would. It is nice that Yamato has gotten their manufacturing process to the point that stickers are not necessary to get all the detail of the show/movie.
The fit and finish are just plain awesome on this release. Word on the street is, Yamato has someone new in the position of Quality Control and with this release it appears he is having a real impact on their design and manufacturing process. Like my initial impressions, continual handling and transformation do not appear to loosen anything. Everything is tight; wings, missiles, landing gear hatches all sit where they're supposed too.
Fighter mode measures 9 1/2 inches long from tip to tail and looks great no matter what angle you look at it from with all of it's proportions looking fantastic. Nothing is too big and nothing is too small.
Gerwalk mode is very good as well. As a matter of fact I think this is the best Valkyrie to do the mode any real justice. The proportions again are perfect and with the stand you can really get some wicked poses with this thing.
And in it's most famous alternate mode, Battroid mode - it looks absolutely fantastic. If I were to nitpick I'd say the gap on the sides is a bit unsightly but it is just that, a nitpick. The overall look and feel is great and the proportions are excellent. Not to mention how solid it feels when you handle it in this mode. I keep bringing it up but it is indeed a very solid “toy”.
The strike/super armored parts have the same level of tampo printed details as the fighter but leaves the circle for the squad logo off so you can put the appropriate one on yourself; probably to make manufacturing easier by using one manufacturing run on the armor for different releases of fighters. The movie color schemes use different colored skull logo backgrounds to match the Valkyries color scheme (Red, Blue, Black, Etc.) while the TV show color schemes use the Macross kite logo.
Transforming the fighter is no less impressive. While it is true that Yamato has basically taken all that they have learned about engineering over the past 6 plus years and tweaked to perfection everything along the way. While it has some complex engineering to it, it is fun to transform and I am happy to say it's seen a lot of “off-the-shelf-action.”
Directions are in Japanese but the photos are very clear as to what is going on. If you have any familiarity with previous releases of the Valkyrie fighter much is intuitive and the same as previous releases. Something to note however, be sure to slide the chest panel bracket toward the front of the fuselage BEFORE you get it into Battroid mode, otherwise you may end up with a broken Heatshield. Luckily Ken was able to get me a replacement one thru the Yamato Hong Kong offices. Yamato went above and beyond to get me this piece and it is very much appreciated.
Final verdict is ... Love it! Love it! Love it! Seriously, you want one of these. Yamato has finally knocked it out of the park (so to speak) this time around and not only made an excellent reproduction of a revered Japanese mecha but have succeeded in making a fantastic toy. In my opinion this may very well be Toy Of The Year. Not a fan of this paint scheme just hang a bit, I am sure Yamato will pump out one of every color at some point just grab the style you like best but know it's very good and worth your hard earned money.
Seriously, you WANT one of these. I think Yamato has a real winner with this new line. Video is included of course.
|Posted 4 September, 2008 - 21:58 by Atom|