VFB-9I Beta Fighter Lunk Masterpiece Vol. 3
Review by Atom
Robotech was a multi-generational animated saga that documented the “Robotech Wars” and originally aired in 1985. Robotech used three different and un-related Japanese animated series re-edited and re-purposed for American audiences at the time. The Beta Fighter shown here is from the final arc, The New Generation, also known as Mospeada in Japan.
“The Veritech Beta Fighter was developed as a heavily armed and armored booster system for the Alpha fighter to extend its range in space, as well providing the ability to reach orbit from the surface. The fighter can operate from the Horizon dropship when joined with an Alpha fighter. Besides operating as a large fuel tank for the space Alpha-Beta combination, it allows for high thrust capabilities for an Alpha Battloid for high maneuverability in close combat, in addition to augmenting the Alpha's missile load, and carrying a formidable weapons capability when operating independently.
Without the attached Alpha fighter, the Beta fighter relies on its excessive thrust to overcome its non-aerodynamic shape in an atmosphere. Its true power comes in Battloid mode, where an impressive amount of firepower is available for heavy assault.”
Robotech and Mospeada fans have been wanting a Beta fighter for a very, very long time. Matchbox imported many of the original Japanese toys from the various shows (as well as producing original pieces) under the Robotech banner and the Gakeen-made Alpha fighters were released stateside. Disappointingly no Beta ever showed up on shelves in 1985/1986. I found out years later as an Adult collector Gakeen designed a BETA fighter and even produced a handful of test pieces but they went belly-up before they could produce it.
Flash forward to now and Toynami has made our fan-boy dreams come true with a 1/55 scale Beta to attach their previously released 1/55 scale Alpha fighters. The Blue and Red have already been reviewed by Dan and Josh and now I finally get my hands on one.
The Beta fighter or the VFB-91 (in nerdspeak) is the third release in the Beta Masterpiece Collection. Which means it comes in Toynami's book-style packaging. This allows you to take the piece out and keep the Mint-In-Box look when you store it. Just like the toy the box is huge!
The first thing you notice when you get it out of the box is the sheer size and weight of the piece. It's enormous. In Battloid mode it stands over 12 inches tall and weighs over 2 pounds.
All the arm and leg joints are ratcheted and so "click" when moved. Us toy-nerds do love us some "clickity-click."
Since the red and green Beta fighters never transformed into Battloid mode in the show, Toynami had to design original heads for these releases and they opted to design them to match their Alpha counterpart. The shape of the Alpha's 'eye" is retained but there is no head fin.
Paint detail is fantastic with no under or over-spray anywhere and the chest compartments open to reveal banks of missiles. It doesn't do much else but with a piece like this, it's more about the sheer size and presence on the shelf than gimmicks.
Guardian Mode is probably my least favorite on the Beta fighter. See the Beta fighter was not part of the original design and was thought up as an afterthought and kind of mashed together late in the design stages. And so, while it looks good in Fighter and Battloid mode, Guardian just seems a bit of an afterthought.
But with that said it holds this form just fine on the shelf. However, if you pick it up and try to fly it around the room (Don't roll your eyes- we know you do it...) the weight of the lower legs makes the legs droop down as these are die-cast metal where the rest is plastic.
It is not a big deal as I really won't be displaying it in this mode. Plus it's more of a nitpick than a genuine complaint.
Fighter mode is where it looks best in my opinion. I don't know why but I really like the flying brick aesthetic of the fighter. Everything locks in and sits where it is supposed too. No loose, dangling or floppy parts here.
My one complaint about Toynami's release is the landing gear. Instead of the landing ear folding into the fighter when not used you have to remove them. Yep, the landing gear just plugs into the fighter when you need it. It's not a big deal but I am finding that having to keep track of parts keeps me from wanting to pick it up and fiddle with it more.
It's not a huge deal but if Toynami were taking a pole I would have voted for gear that folds into the fighter instead of part swapping.
Toynami also includes a removable pilot figure but like many tiny pilot figures the paint and sculpt detail doesn't really hold up to close inspection. It's all a bit “soft' and sloppy. From a distance, it's not a problem.
So as huge and impressive the stand-alone Beta fighter is, we as fans of Robotech are more interested in how well it docks to the Alpha fighter. Well, I'm happy to report, it's all good.
While again this involves part swapping, it doesn't bother me as much as swapping out the landing gear. There is a white arm that cups the fighter and then slides into the beta fighter. Once in you can attach the combined form to the provided stand.
It sounds like it wouldn't work it does. The fighter sits nice and tight but I wouldn't recommend doing barrel rolls with it.
You can do the same with the Alpha fighter in Battloid mode. Toynami includes a second arm to attach it int his mode. The arm cups the bottom of the crotch and leaves a hole for the nosecone to fit in. Once again you can attach this combined form to the provided stand
Again, it hold the Alpha part in well but I wouldn't recommend doing a barrel roll with it.
Despite a couple of nitpicks, it is a really nice piece and a fan boy's dream made real. While many know the Alpha fighters were plagued with QC issues the Beta makes it all worthwhile. The fit and finish is fantastic and the materials all feel top-notch. Toynami has done a really nice job delivering a solid, long-desired collectible.
Get one while you still can because when these are gone they are GONE. If you where ever a Robotech or Mospeada fan you will kick yourself for missing out.
|Posted 21 October, 2009 - 17:18 by Atom|