12.10.17

Evolution Toys 1/60 VF-2SS Valkyrie II Toys

Posted in 1/60, Evolution Toys, Macross II, VF-4, VB-6, VF-2SS, & Others at 5:30 pm by micronian

Review: Beginning with Sylvie’s version, other releases will be added later

Packaging & Extras: (2.5/5)
The toy comes packaged in a relatively attractive box but you won’t get something like a flip-top lid and the cardboard is flimsy. Inside the box you get the toy, its rear stabilizers detached, and the following:
1) Pilot figure
2) Medium Rail Gun (with extension, flip out hand protector, and flip out grip)
3) Instructions
4) Stickers
5) 2x small screw covers for vertical stabilizer (and another sticker)
Everything is packaged in a thin plastic tray.

The gift-set toys, Nexx and Faery Squad (FS) customs, come packaged with significantly more extras in similar boxes with a bit more depth. These boxes suffer from overly large plastic clamshells that don’t offer enough support so the box has a lot of give when you handle it.. Inside you’ll find a coupe additional trays. In one tray you will find:
5) Display stand (base, 2x large arms, 2x short arms)
6) Antenna for the super parts
A second tray also includes:
7) the 2x small covers included in a separate bag with Sylvie are pre-installed
8) SAP Armor (2x leg armors, 2x arm armors, 1 x backpack)
9) 2x Squires
10*) A gun (per Macross Mecha Manual this is the Warren RG-022 Large Rail Gun (*for Nexx only)
In a very odd choice, Evolution Toys included a spot for the gun they included with Nexx in the trays of both toys. The more logical choice would have been to throw it in the bag with the instructions or tape it to a tray. There’s plenty of oddness here, there’s yet another tray which includes:
11) A second set of arm armors
In a truly bewildering omission, the instruction package lacks the instructions for the VF-2SS and instead only includes the instructions for the SAP parts.

Charm & Collectability: (2/5)
For a moment in time the Evolution Toys VF-2SS was the world’s only hope for a VF-2SS toy… then Bandai announced their Hi-Metal VF-2SS and a lot of collector’s breathed a sigh of relief. Evolution Toys will remain the only 1/60 scale VF-2SS toy for the foreseeable future ensuring it a niche in some collections. There is a lot going for this toy in this department. It’s a common scale, a heroic valk, has perfect transformation, and even has some metal content (the metal is relegated to the swing bars and the interior working of the hinges, primarily the knee). Unfortunately, it’s also a member of the least popular Macross family and most people view it as a far inferior product to numerous other toys money could be spent on. Three variants were released with an anticipated fourth, with a green stripe, being demonstrated at a few shows but never released. While the Faery Squad and Nexx Gilbert releases do have several improvements over the original Sylvie release, they are still problematic and don’t seem to garner any more desire from collectors.
Sylvie Gena Custom – February 2016, MSRP 24,800YEN
Nexx Gilbert Custom – July 2016, MSRP 30,800YEN
Faery Leader Custom – July 2016, MSRP 30,800YEN

Sculpt, Detail, & paint: (6/10)
There is a lot of perfectly smooth stretches of plastic here that make the toy look pretty dull. On the plus side, the paint work on the pilot is in line with more mature manufacturers. The Nexx Gilbert pilot figure has a sculpt that’s a little bit thicker at the waist rather than a simple repaint of the ladies. The landing gear are far worse than today’s standards but better than many toys from the 90s like the old Bandai DX toys that came out with Macross 7. This toy’s gravest visual sin has to be all the exposed hinges and pegs in any mode. In battroid, the tabs on top of the chest flares are the most grievous eyesores but there’s lots of competition. The real shame of those tabs on top of the chest flares is that battroid mode is EASILY this toy’s best mode and it does a pretty good job otherwise of emulating the line art. It is incredibly rare for me, in today’s fighter mode fixated world, to do a line art comparison and think “the head and hands are a little too big” which, in my book, isn’t much of a sin as I like brawny look battroids. Other than the exposed tabs, battroid’s only other obvious weakness is how low the backpack sits but Yamato did this with their V2 valk and it never seemed to generate much ire. In GERWALK mode the intakes are entirely in the wrong position. The bottom of fighter mode is a train wreck of battroid mode parts that are simply tucked out of the way rather than being integrated into a fighter mode (similar to many cheap Transformer planes). Things are better from the top and side but there are still multiple issues. Why don’t the feet close all the way and why is there a gap between the leg and the foot? Is that a design grouse or a sculpt issue? The dorsal thrusters sit high, the intakes are too close, the nose looks too long, the shape of the neck of the craft is wrong (slopes down with a hump instead of straight), and the whole thing is too thick from top to bottom. Ultimately, this toy does enough to look appropriate and immediately recognizable in each mode without looking really “good” in any. There is a painted on instrument cluster in the cockpit though that is a nice touch. One thing that proved impossible to photograph due to the sheer brightness of the whites (don’t worry, I’m going to order new backgrounds) is that the Nexx and FS versions have a matte finish to their plastic while Sylvie’s is a bit glossy.

Design: (5/10)
It would be a fair criticism of this review to say many of my complaints here could also be ‘build’ issues more appropriately applied to that section but I’d say the faults lie in both realms. Let’s start with the good:
1) Opening canopy and separate pilot figure
2) Integrated landing gear (metal with plastic wheels)
3) Perfect transformation
4) Gun with extension gimmicks
On the negative side (in no particular order):
1) The front landing gear on the Sylvie toy doesn’t lock in the ‘out’ position and the wheels don’t spin very freely which means if you handle the toy once you put it down in fighter mode the landing gear will quickly go askew.
2) It may be more of a ‘build’ issue but almost all of the peg/slot combinations fail due to slots that are too large for the corresponding pegs. Even if they functioned as intended, the locking pegs don’t seem very well thought out, particularly in fighter mode.
3) While you would think that pegs that flip out only when you need them are a positive, the implementation here is such that it’s frustrating. The peg slides out and then flips back out of position so you’re constantly futzing with getting a peg back out and then praying it stays in position. This problem is most prevalent in fighter mode.
4) It’s perfect transformation but GERWALK mode is a bit of a reinterpretation of what GERWALK is supposed to be. Rather than leaving the legs in the fighter mode position, as indicated by the line art, the toy moves the legs inside to simplify the shoulder swing mechanism.
5) Numerous parts (the wings, the parts the vertical stabilizers sit on, the vertical stabilizers) lack any sort of detent or other mechanism to keep them in the proper position for any given mode. The wings have the ability to angle upward in GERWALK and they have soft detents but the one on the left wing pauses at different points than the one on the right wing.
6) The mold for the hand wasn’t made with the mold for the gun grip in mind. As such, you can slot the gun in the toy’s hand and get it to stay there (for the most part) but if you close the toy’s hand it pushes the gun off the peg. It’s not a huge problem, it just means that on close inspection the toy will be holding the gun with a very loose grip.
On its surface it might seem like this toy does enough to score better but it’s ultimately not a fun experience, at times its aggravating, so despite a few good thoughts it flops pretty hard. You can’t whoosh the toy around in fighter mode, you need to hold it in a very specific way to keep it from flopping apart. On a ‘kinda’ negative note, Evolution toys tried to engineer a way to install the gun in fighter mode. The gun has a peg that should slot in between the arms… but on the Sylvie toy this peg doesn’t agree to the size of the slot. In this instance, the slot is too large and, since the gun would be upside down, it falls out. There is literally no friction at all, that’s how bad they missed.

Tip of the hat to Evolution Toys who was able to quickly obtain feedback on their Sylvie toy and make some improvements to their Nexx and FS toys which were released only four months later. Here are the improvements you can expect to find on the later releases:
1) Front landing gear locks into position
2) All pegs fit in their slots a tiny bit better. The guns (either the Faery Squad medium or Nexx Gilbert large) even peg in underneath fighter mode.
3) The swing bars the legs are on now have a fighter mode position that pushes back a little which connects the intakes more securely to their pegs.
4) There are now hooks under the shoulders to help lock them in the proper position in fighter
5) There are now pegs on the shoulder pivot that help lock the hips into position in fighter
6) There are now slots on the dorsal boosters to help lock the vertical stabilizers into position in fighter mode.
There are also new problems:
1) The vertical stabilizer has some new clear disk added to it and now the stabilzer falls off the ball joint too easily
2) The ball joint at the head of the vertical stabilizer is meant to be removable for SAP installation but one of mine comes out too easily

Durability & Build: (4.5/10)
You know it’s a bad sign when the first time you handle a toy a limb falls off. Fortunately, when the arm fell off my Sylvie variant as I was pulling it out it was a simple case of not enough glue on a part at the factory and was very easily remedied. My control panel also popped off my Nexx toy, probably when removing the pilot figure. I was fortunate to find it and it’s also probably just a dot of glue to fix but it’s also another thing for you to be careful with when positioning the pilot. I’ll say this, prior to my handling my toy, I had heard a lot about how bad the plastic quality is, some people have compared it to the plastic in snap-fit models. It may not prove durable but I found the overall thickness of it to invoke a sentimental feeling, like I was handling a cheap Transformer from the early 90s. There is a rubbery PVC plastic used in a couple places that doesn’t perfectly match the bright white of the ABS (I’m assuming it’s ABS) used elsewhere but they’re such small parts that it’s mostly a non-issue (like the caps on the vertical stabilizers). Speaking of those caps, they require constant supervision so you’re better off just leaving them in their baggy (or removing them and leaving them in the tray if you purchased a Nexx or FS version). The Nexx and FS versions also create new issues with their handling of the vertical stabilizer mounts. New plastic rings were added, presumably to address some durability issues, but ultimately I found the vertical stabilizers much more problematic on these toys. The first time I handled my Nexx toy one of the stabilizers popped off at the ball joint and then the whole stabilizer itself fell off the back of the now separated ball joint. It was a disaster and something I continue to have to actively avoid as I handle the toy. While there haven’t been a rash of critical failures yet, some of that is probably related to a lack of handling. There are two areas that look very dubious to me. First, I really don’t like the look of the foot extension and ankle mechanism. This can be a high stress area, particularly with the way the ankle rocks back/forward a click, and it appears as though it all relies on one thin piece of plastic to handle the stresses of one very stiff ratcheting joint. Second, the hips/intakes connect via an inverted “L” shaped peg in fighter mode with an unsupported prong. The shoulder is then mashed on this prong in the transformation to GERWALK and Evolution Toys added nubs within the shoulder slot on the Nexx and FS versions to make sure the shoulder wouldn’t drop so easily off the peg but the result is way too much pressure being put on that prong. I can already see my prong be bent out of its proper position.


Articulation: (6/10)
Things start bad here and never get better. There’s an extension in GERWALK mode that allows for a twist at the knee… but the shape of the plastic around the knee prevents the twist from functioning. There’s no native support for a for a wide stance in GERWALK but there’s enough flexibility where you actually can find some decent looking poses. In battroid mode, the head is not a ball joint and, while it can twist left and right, it lacks the ability to look up, down, or cock to either side. Those big blocky shoulders also have the ability to pivot upward to look more like the line art. Underneath those shoulder covers you’ll find a ratcheted joint that lets you pull the arm away from the body. The arms feature a very interesting bicep joint that drastically improves arm articulation and are the articulation highlight of the entire toy. The wrist has a pivot and twist. The hips are a ball joint that lets you angle the hips outward and get a nice wide stance. Moving the hip often means unhinging the swing bars from each other but the result isn’t very problematic. Unfortunately, the line art for battroid mode shows a huge plate that extends down from the hip, behind the knee, and down to the calf and Evolution Toys has perfectly emulated this. That means that knee articulation is awful. A more savvy toy builder would likely have made it so this plate could pivot up and out of the way for dynamic posing purposes. Another weakness of the original design is how high up the feet begin in the legs. Again, ET has done a good job emulating the line art at the expense of the fun of the toy. The ankles are so high in the leg that any twist or camber is impossible. Of course, one of the most stupid aspects of the VF-2SS design are the giant plates that come up off the chest and completely obscure the vision of the toys head from any off center angle and ET didn’t just emulate this, they embellished it, which will definitely add difficulty in finding that perfect battroid pose.

Total Score: (26/50)
It’s been a long time since I gave a “premium” toy this bad of a score but I’m not thrilled about doing it. This toy is the movie that has gotten countless terrible reviews but you still watch anyway, either trapped on a long flight or because curiosity gets the better of you, and afterward you think “Yeah, that wasn’t good, but it wasn’t THAT awful.” It’s worth keeping in mind that Evolution Toys is a young company, perhaps eager to play ball in a league it isn’t ready for, and while it’s easy to bash this effort they also deserve some applause for taking a stab at it. This toy feels a lot like a toy that would have been revered if it had been released in the days of Macross II but just can’t hold muster against today’s offerings. I’ll say this though, it was a little sad to see ET put metal in the knee and swing bar while the ThreeZero Scopedog toy I reviewed recently, which cost twice as much, didn’t have metal in any joints. I’ll also add this, my first video reviews were AWFUL and it was clear I had no idea what I was doing and very little experience even watching other people’s reviews but I kept trying and now most of my reviews are a little better than that (but I didn’t charge people hundreds of dollars to see me fail). Maybe after a decade of continually trying and getting a little better, Evolution Toys will be able to make a “renewal” VF-2SS that I can recommend to the masses. Until then, only Macross II diehards and completists need to consider this rookie effort.

Original post: December 3, 2017
Updated: December 10, 2017, added HD Video Review

3 Comments »

  1. Chirico Cuvie said,

    December 3, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    I too own all three and boy these are frustrating. At every turn you come across a point where they could have done something differently to make it work. Instead it’s an odd folding peg rather than a fixed one or several weak points of attachment instead of fewer solid ones.

  2. Chirico Cuvie said,

    December 3, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Keep in mind too that like Arcadia sprang from the ashes of Yamato, Evolution Toy did from CM’s, and you know how CM’s handled transforming toys. They’ve done better in the past, but there always were the same moments where you question why they did this instead of that.

  3. Valhary said,

    December 4, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Despite being a toy with a lot of lacks, Im very happy with have it in my collection because let’s not forget this is the first toy of this valk

    The most of the vfs have previous realeases that improve with the time and even Bandai having the advantage of reverse engineering and not made a better work

    The hi-metal have a lot of bad points and poor quality and people dont criticism like do with evolution

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