Robot Fighter Aircraft
Review by VF5SS
In the annals of toy collecting there is one common expression that binds many of us together and is the phrase, "I had that!" When I heard mecha artist and fellow robot design nitpicker, Nidaram, describe a set of aircraft robot combiners I totally said, "I have that!"
And so here is another look at a strange set of off-brand transforming robot toys that aren't bootlegging any specific figure, but are clearly borrowing from popular brands. Due to how they have been re-released numerous times under different names it's hard to get any solid information on them.
It's a small but hardy fleet.
I actually own this set twice thanks to a shady hole-in-the-wall store at a local mall. My original set was purchased in the mid 90's at a Toys 'R' Us and has a noticeably higher build quality than the newer set that was bought in 2012. Our own JoshB even picked up a set of the newer ones and also remembers having the original release.
The most recent set is sold under the painfully generic name of ROBOT FIGHTER AIRCRAFT as part redundantly titled QUICK CHANGE CHANGEABLE ROBOTS line. I recall the ones I got in the 90's had a similar "half box" package where the toys are secured on a giant plastic bubble within.
I do not recall the name of the company that released these back in the 90's but the 2012 set is from some fly-by-night outfit called Polyfect.
The box cautions buyers that the color of the toys may vary from these pictures. I find that quite amusing as these pictures are of the 1990's version and not the stripped down modern release.
I am going to start off by taking a closer look at the older set's individual components and huh... what's a Russian gunship doing here, Colonel? So the upper body of one of the robots is made out of a Mil-24 Hind helicopter. The center engine block is made out of diecast metal and all the rotors spin and the landing wheels can move.
I appreciate how even though the Hind's stub wings have been thickened in order to serve as a robot's arms, they still have little underwing stores like missiles and rocket pods molded into them.
I had to do a little repair job on the tail boom connection because the metal pin holding it in fell out years ago. So here I just pulled a MacGyver and used a paperclip.
I like the eye-catching combination of black and red on a white surface. It's different than a Hind's typical camouflage pattern and makes it look like a show machine.
The next component is a chunky F-16 Fighting Falcon that forms the lower body of a robot.
Much like the Hind, the F-16 feigns authenticity with some underwing stores like missiles and fuel tanks.
All of the wheels move. That big white block under the nosecone is a chunk of diecast metal.
The overall look kind of reminds me of Aerialbot Sky Dive.
The second set of combiner parts is headed up by an A-10 Thunderbolt. I think it's a great looking little airplane and the urban combat coloring suits the design.
Again there are some underwing stores to give it the proper look.
All of the landing wheels spin or at least they would if the front wheel hadn't gone missing years ago. I'd like to take one from the newer release but we'll get into why that's not possible. The diecast metal of this jet is located in the gray main body and the bronze colored rear area of the plane. The latter become shoulders in robot torso mode.
From certain angles this bargain bin fighter manages to really look the part
The final component is what I can best describe as an overweight and super deformed version of the F-117 Nighthawk. This jet is kind of cute in its unabashedly chunky styling. I think the designer decided to go with making this jet a little more fanciful by giving it a pair of blasters on the top side of the plane.
It's like a stealthy whale!
Much like the F-16, this F-117 is pretty blatant about being a pair of jet pants. Here the legs and feet are diecast metal.
In the end the F-117 is a perfectly serviceable pair of flying pantaloons.
For the following comparison pictures the original 1990's version will be on the left with the 2012 version on the right. There is no diecast metal in the 2012 release
At a glance, both versions appear nearly identical with only the camouflage style wing stickers denoting the 2012 release. With the newer toy a lot of parts have been simplified. An example of this is how all the landing wheels are now molded into their struts and do not move. The new one does not have a metal pin holding the tail boom on either and instead the boom just snaps into the hinge. Colors are largely the same with only the yellow plastic being less orange and more green. Also the plastic itself feels slightly cheaper.
Again the newer F-16 has nonworking wheels and new camouflage style wing stickers. Also the robot feet are hollow underneath. Note the changes in the number of screws on the red groin piece that reflect the simplified construction.
The newer A-10 has fewer separate parts in the engines/forearms and the diecast metal shoulder parts are replaced with hollow plastic.
The F-117 suffers the same fate as the other components with all the diecast replaced with plastic. Like with the F-16, the feet are now hollow. Oddly enough the copyright information that was once molded onto a wing is replaced with a paper sticker.
These guys go together pretty easily if rather inelegantly. They are far from the heady days of innovative Japanese cheap toys but still have a lot of charm. Bits of airplane are clutter their simple robot forms and can impede what little articulation they possess.
Both sets come with the same accessories. You get two color matched guns and some mysterious thingie. The original guns have a working trigger but no spring or projectile in which to launch. The yellow gun bears a strong resemblance to a VF-1's gun pod. Also the original thingie is molded in yellow plastic with painted details while the newer one is made from whatever scraps of blue plastic they had leftover.
The Hind/F-16 combiner is my personal favorite of the two types even though it is the more messy looking robot. I especially like the way the Hind's stub wings form the shoulders while keeping the embedded weapons pointing to the front. The weird gorilla arms give it a lot of character too. This guy even has some extra articulation in the legs thanks to a pair of thigh swivels.
The newer toys certainly feels cheaper but not to the detriment of the combination. Due to how it is simplified, the new one lacks thigh swivels. The heads on both are not meant to turn and only appear to be looking slightly to one side due to a poor assembly job.
Still, both toys make for a good looking team of low cost action robots.
The A-10/F-117 combiner is the more balanced looking of the two types. It's a good looking burly robot with a pleasing urban combat paint scheme. With fewer parts sticking out the back it's also a lot cleaner.
The design of the upper body is also uncannily close to that of W Jeccar which is another odd off-brand robot toy from Japan.
The A-10/F-117 also quite clearly has a Gundam's head minus the characteristic V-fin.
With fewer colors and no diecast, the newer toy loses some of the presence given off by its predecessor. The head especially suffers from mushy details and the eyes being painted like one big visor. Oddly enough though, the newer one stands up a lot straighter.
These guys are both bricks from the waist down but do feature a little quirk in where part of the forearms can swing out like a shield.
You can even swap parts between the combiners to form some really ugly robots. This is actually easier to do on the all plastic versions because you're not forcing diecast pegs into diecast holes like on the older pair.
So about that thingie... I have no idea what it's for. It kind of fits on the Hind part's hand like a shield but has no actual peg to fit in the hand. You just wedge this nondescript bracket over the fist.
Then again it might be used as a chest plate when you combine the A-10 with the F-16. On the original it sorta fits in that gap in the chest. Sadly on the new one it's slightly misshapen and is pretty much useless. I feel like I knew at one time where that thingie goes but even the box on the new toy refuses to acknowledge its existence.
So here we have some more weird off-brand robot toys. It seems like the all plastic re-release is quite plentiful at the moment and are showing up at many different retailers. While the original set is more appealing, the newer set is a passable substitute. Sadly the quality control on the newer sets are all over the place so please don't spend too much on them.
|Posted 16 March, 2013 - 13:13 by VF5SS