VF-1S Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo use)
Review by Optimal III
Disclaimer: I'm a huge Robotech fan. Macross, ehhh...not so much. I'm aware of where the source material for Robotech came from. And I do love the first Macross movie, Do You Remember Love?. But everything they've done since DYRL? No. Makes it hard for me to get into the newer mecha designs. Sort of explains my interest in the classics from this franchise, and why my terminology will be more Robotech & less Macross.
The VF-1 (Valkyrie or Veritech Fighter) may be the greatest mech design of all time. Shoji Kawamori really knocked it out of the park. If he didn't pioneer the convertible mech in the real robot genre, he made it popular. And he crafted something kids & collectors alike have been more than happy to buy over and over again. For 39 years and counting. Part of the formula is a compelling backstory that makes you want toys. The other half is different colors & heads.
I love Bandai too, but like Kawamori, I don't like everything they make. Cool as "DX Chogokin" sounds for a toy line, I had one of the Aquarion figures that left a bad taste in my mouth. And reviews of their DX Chogokin Macross toys have been mixed.
Leave it to the VF-1 finally getting the spotlight to pull me back in. I missed the boat on the Yamato/Arcadia figures when they were new, and like my robots big where practical. The VF-1's design has also been around long enough that I was confident they wouldn't mess this up.
The box is clean and covered in photo art, with detail shots showing off the contents. The third VF-1 released so far, and the first one I managed to get, is the VF-1S Hikaru type, as seen in the final battle and ending scenes of Macross: Do You Remember Love?.
There's a nice sized instruction manual, with a couple of pages speaking to this particular mech and its pilot, Hikaru Ichijo (Rick Hunter in Robotech).
The toy comes packaged in fighter mode, so I started there. You feel the weight, the heft in hand immediately. And you feel how smooth the surfaces are. But you see how exquisite the detailing is. The panel lines are perfect, and the printed/painted/tampoed details really pop. Love that I don't have to apply any stickers.
All the functionality you'd expect is there. The landing gear deploys & retracts. The wheels roll. The wings & tail fins/rear stabilizers adjust. The wings actually have adjustable break flaps. And the canopy raises, revealing a detailed cockpit for the size.
The undercarriage looks a little crooked here, but everything lines up right easily when you make adjustments.
There are hard-points beneath the wings for missiles, but they're sold separately. Would be nice if they were included, but they aren't necessary, and I'm fine with Bandai finding good ways to keep the price down.
The gunpod tabs in between with the grip. No parts need removing. Just pull one arm down, attach, and done.
The included Hikaru figurine fits right into the cockpit, but you can pull out the front console to make room if needed and put it back in. He's firm but a little rubbery, so he gives as needed.
You don't get any missiles, but you do get a display stand that works for all three modes. Has a different setup for each. Fighter mode's is the easiest to use. You just line up and set down, with or without the gunpod. It doesn't attach to the grip, but rather fits in the groove. And dwarfs CW Sky Lynx & UW Strafe.
Transforming into guardian (or gerwalk) mode is similar to all the other toys that have come before. The legs are firmly tabbed in two spots, behind the wings and tail fins.
They have nice, stiff ratchets above the knees and below the hips. You can adjust them to your preference. Same goes for the thrusters/feet. They can extend down or collapse up into their cavities, and the halves fold in & out independently. They're the obvious metal content, but it's spread through the legs. Every part feels solid, so there's always good balance. Never a sense of top-heaviness.
At this point, you've got the clearance to monkey with the head lasers too if you want.
Once you've got the arms positioned & hands flipped out, you're done. The shoulders are on stiff sliders, so there's no floppiness.
The only external piece you need is the antenna. Two are included, so you get one do-over if you manage to lose one. I thought I did, but it just bounced into a different part of the storage tray when I was taking everything out.
Getting vertical provides new perspective too on all the markings. This thing is magnificent at every angle.
I forgot that you can now add the strap to the gunpod. It just pegs in at two different spots. It's not hard to remove, but won't fall out either. It's just right.
There's a different spot and a different connector for mounting on the stand in guardian mode. Now it does clip in, sort of around the head at four points. Tight enough that you won't knock it off accidentally. Ever.
I'm torn on which mode displays best with the stand, but that's a good problem to have.
After taking everything out, I started looking at the manual. And had to do multiple takes when I saw this. You don't have to detach the legs to get to battleoid (or battroid) mode, but it's safe to do so, possibly easier.
The plastic clamp encases the bottom of this metal bar. You have to rotate the rod so that the white rollers, just inside the hips, are orientated correctly. It's a stiff process, so what works depends on you. At least with the upper body away, it's easier to see.
Regardless, once you've got it right, the bar will be flush with the bottom of the nose cone, and pegs in very securely. Below, a panel opens, providing a storage cavity for the rod, making the legs look like it's all one big piece. Done correctly, there is no floppage. Kind of ironic because people used to complain about the swing bars on the classic toys, wanting a perfect transformation. Not sure if this counts, but it works perfectly for me.
The heat shield comes down, you add the intake covers on the hips, and voila! Beautiful at around 12 inches with the head lasers up.
I don't think there's such a thing as a bad looking VF-1S, but the red & black deco catches my eye more than any other version.
Digging the details visible inside the visor. Never really noticed before how much of a neck the VF-1S has either. Fitting since its head is more like a helmet or face mask compared to the other VF-1 types.
With a swivel at the bottom and joint above the neck, you have very natural movement. And the lasers are a free-for-all. They tilt independently, and the base plates tilt inward, outward, & rotate.
No bad looks any way you go.
Another piece that locks the body up is this one, plugging into the chest beneath the head.
I won't say Bandai did better covering up the gaps than Arcadia/Yamato, but well done. Panel flaps unfold to cover up the space between the shoulders & chest.
And like Arcadia/Yamato, there are fillers for stuffing the sides of the body. But these fill more space and rest securely. So, you have to plug them in before compressing the back and chest.
Altogether, it's pretty for your eyes & fun for your hands. I do not find myself longing for any articulation. The shoulders flap a bit. But the meat's in the swivels (shoulders, biceps) and deep elbows.
Running & robot animal cruelty are no stretch of the imagination.
I do have one complaint, with the default hands. They are articulated, which sounds nice. But they're...soft. They lose the grip on the gunpod anytime you try to adjust it. Holding the hand when doing so helps. And there are three sets of fixed pose hands, two fists, two pointing/holding, and two open palm. So you have options.
The stand clips around the nose cone for battleoid mode. Good now, sweet once I've got the strike armor.
I ran my mouth plenty. Because this is one of those toys that's practically perfect and completely satisfying. Can't say enough good things about it. I never had any of the 1/48th Yamato/Arcadia, so I can't compare this to those, or say this is part of your definitive VF-1 collection. But this is for me. I've already got two more, and am working on the rest out there.
Especially if you can get one for the $200 MSRP. If not, you're looking at more like $300+. I've bit that bullet, and it's been worth it every time. But to each their own.
|Posted 22 February, 2021 - 14:41 by Optimal III|