F-14 Laser Fighter
Review by VF5SS
I'd like to thank fellow reviewer Nekrodave for cluing me into another Tai Fong masterpiece. This is from a hard fought eBay auction (in where nobody else bid) and came straight to my door still in its original packaging.
Ladies and gentlemen, behold!
Eighteen bucks well spent.
So this is F-14 Laser Fighter which according to the box is a DIE CAST TRANSFORMING JET-FIGHTER PISTOL! I like some of those words, but maybe not all of them at once.
Much like Robotic Aeroplane, the box for F-14 Laser Fighter (Battery Operated) is worthy of a closer look. The backside is adorned with a full-sized photograph of the toy all stickered up and set against that classic 80's grid pattern. There's also a small picture of the F-14 in its pistol mode. You may also note the big "D" sticker laid atop the faded price tag that indicates this item was discounted at least once in its shelf life.
In the lower right corner we have the mighty Tai Fong logo that sorta looks like a dude wearing a bandanna. Tai Fong: because your kids won't know the difference.
The side has a small illustration of the toy in both modes and another shot of that powerful logo.
RECOMMENDED FOR FIVE YEARS AND OVER
Now that's a motto to live by.
The bottom of the box is brimming text all written in somewhat dodgy English.
Here are some fun facts about the F-14 Tomcat! I think someone at Tai Fong was a bit of an airplane enthusiast.
The description of the pistol mode is full of exaggeration and outright lies and the phrase, "When touch the trigger, the horn will sound loudly to give enemies a fright" comes across as some kind of naff double entendre.
I really like this diagram that points out all the gizmos and doodads on the pistol mode. Especially the hastily drawn in illustration of "bullets."
The instructions for transforming your F-14 from jet to pistol are printed on top. I took some closeups so the text can speak for itself.
One 9 volt battery borrowed from a smoke detector.
I ran into some issues with this step.
Now you're ready for Top Gun.
The F-14 Laser Fighter is a rather large toy that's about 11 inches long from the tip of its "laser spearhead" to the tail. It's mostly made out of dull gray plastic with a few bits of super shiny diecast metal.
The jet mode is alright for a kid's toy but the build quality makes it kind of a bear to handle. When you move the tail fins they tend to pop out of their hinges. And you gotta love the huge "sighting device" brazenly sticking out from the rear.
You can rest the jet mode atop a full set of diecast landing gear.
Despite having some strange growths, the landing gear looks awfully familiar. I like the Ver. Ka style name tag markings. You have to remember the 1980's were the height of fighter jet coolness so the mere name of the F-14 Tomcat could get kids to turn their heads and whine to their parents for a toy.
You can retract all of the wheels but there is no locking mechanism to keep them in place. Still it lets your laser hot rodded F-14 fly around like it should.
The F-14's characteristic variable geometry wings are fully functional on this toy. You even get some sorta authentic roundels on the wings.
Under the left wing is all of the copyright information. Once again Tai Fong toys was going for the full patent on this baby.
I like this cartoon tomcat on the tail fins. It reminds me of the kind of thing you'd see printed in an official Grumman maintenance guide.
As shown on the box, the Laser Fighter is powered by a single 9 volt battery which is hooked up to a "horn" that looks like it was stolen out of a fire safety device. The switch on the back controls which of the three laser noises the toy will make when the trigger is pulled.
Here's the full loadout of accessories that come with F-14 Laser Fighter. You get two missiles (or "bullets") which do not actually fire, a gun handle that doesn't work as advertised, and a battery cover.
You also get a set of messily cut stickers for tricking out your ride. I'm trying to preserve the value of this piece so please refer to the box photos for fully stickered pics.
The battery cover on this thing is kind of hilariously gaudy with its shiny exterior and elaborate ray gun protrusion topped off by another landing wheel.
With the battery cover in place, the big ol' 9 volt is safe and secure. However there is one major problem...
Now the toy is completely out of whack! That middle wheel is just a tad too long to be level with the others.
While we're on the subject, let's take a closer look at the landing gear and try to suss out this feeling of deja vu. Awful laser gun bits notwithstanding, the front gear is pretty well made. In fact it's quite clearly just a modified version of the nose wheel from a 1/55th scale Takatoku VF-1!
They even sorta copied the characteristic nosecone sensors.
The rear wheels move in and out of this strange housing that doesn't match the rest of the toy.
And that's because the engineers at Tai Fong took just a section of a Takatoku VF-1's legs and installed them backwards! This is madness.
I'm beginning to wonder between this toy and the Robotic Aeroplane I previously reviewed, could I gather enough Tai Fong toys and make some kind of mutant VF-1 Valkyrie using all the borrowed parts? I don't think mankind could handle such a Frankenstein's monster.
Alright, I have put it off long enough. Let's try to transform this thing according to the instructions on the box. I can swing up the wings just fine but neither of the wingtips want to fold in enough.
As a result I can't actually get the gun handle to fit over the wings. At least not without breaking the wingtips off.
So here's the majestic pistol mode. It doesn't do much to hide the fact all you're really looking at is the bottom of the jet mode. I imagine the gun handle would help a bit but I can't work miracles when Tai Fong manages to screw up their own toy.
The clear gun sight with the 80's grid pattern is kinda neat though. Nothing says sci-fi space firearms like a barely usable sighting device.
From the front it kind of looks like a failed design from a Space Battleship Yamato ripoff.
Even without the handle I was able to hold the toy with little discomfort. Well, at least my hands weren't hurting. What this thing did to my ears is another thing altogether.
Lightly squeezing the trigger will cause the "laser spearhead" to light up and for the horn to blare out one of three absolutely insufferable noises. This thing seriously hurts my ears like a broken smoke alarm would. It doesn't matter which of the three awful simulacrums of laser noise you select because they all sound like an amateur wirehead's attempt at turning a car alarm into a synthesizer. If the government got a hold of this thing they'd want to use it as a torture device.
If you watch this video review all the way through I am not responsible for any ear trauma. You have been warned.
In the end I found the F-14 Laser Fighter to be another mildly interesting toy that once again tied into ubiquitous nature of Macross toys in the 1980's. Given the rather piecemeal way both Robotic Aeroplane and this toy employ VF-1 parts in their construction, I have to wonder if Tai Fong got their hands on some excess tooling from the liquidation of Takatoku's assests or simply reverse engineered bits by dissecting a few figures. There were so many Takatoku VF-1 Valkyrie toys out there that anyone looking to grab a few just to take apart would be able to do so quite cheaply. And as for the electronic features of the toy... I am never going to put a battery in this thing again.
And that's a promise.
|Posted 12 September, 2013 - 15:24 by VF5SS|