Review: Eta, Zeta, and Iota!
Packaging & Extras: (3.5/5)
Evolution Toys carried over the packaging from their VF-2SS line with the new Legioss line. This means you get a dark box with product image split with CAD made of thin cardboard and no flip-top lid. This box is even the exact same dimensions as the VF-2SS for those of you concerned with stacking things in storage. The cardboard on my Eta box has an odd wave in the middle so the trays inside aren’t doing a good job helping the very thin cardboard retain its form. Inside the box you’ll find the toy in a plastic clam shell. Oddly, the toy doesn’t sit very deep in the clamshell, almost resting on top of the bottom side instead of nestled within. Like the VF-2SS release, the toy will likely look mistransformed before you pull it out as you can see in my picture. Here’s what you get beyond the Legioss:
1) 4x pilot figures (one for cockpit, one standing, one standing with ride armor attached, and one riding the motorcycle)
2) Gun (with removable magazine)
3) Optional gun magazine for stowing above fighter mode
4) Missile pod (from the original Imai model kits as a filler for between the arms, never actually seen in the anime)
5) Missiles (for attaching underneath the intakes, also from the original Imai models)
6) Optional intakes (for soldier mode)
You’ll find those instructions and stickers below the tray. The instructions are of pretty poor quality, done in black and white on matte paper which can make it a little difficult to decipher what is being referred to, especially if you can’t read Japanese. The pilot figures are the obvious big plus here. Three fingers for each hand are included separately within the hand cavity. CM’s included a display stand, sword, screw hole covers with their Legioss toys but the display stand is the only thing I miss.
The Zeta and Iota toys retain the same packaging (right down to the odd wave in the middle of the box) but received an updated clam shell. No longer does the toy sit atop the black plastic tray, now it’s nestled within it. The issue this creates with the Zeta/Iota toys is that there’s a big fin on top of that head that could be delicate. ET solved this by having the head fin protected by a small layer of bubble wrap. With the bubble wrap and every possible peg disconnected, the first impression is not ideal. While the bulk of the contents within the box are the same that came bundled with the Eta, there are a couple notable differences in the instruction packet. You now also get:
9) 2x three fingers with a looser grip than the ones packaged in the forearms
10) Instructions on how to transform the shoulder array and the purpose of the new fingers
The Zeta pilot figure is a new sculpt that emulates Houquet rather than a red repaint of the Stick pilot, unfortunately the other figures (standing with armor, standing without armor, riding motorcycle) are just black repaints of Stick’s VR-52F.
The Iota release is the same as the Zeta release with exception of the accompanying figures. The 4x figures in this bundle are Ray. These figures look very similar to the Stick ride armors that come with the Eta toy except they have blue sleeves and the missile launcher details have been removed. It would have been nicer if they had included the big gun on Ray’s VR-52T but at least they didn’t simply change the color of Stick’s sleeves and call it a day.
The Dark Legioss comes in a box no different from its predecessors but the contents have changed slightly. Here’s what you get:
1) 5x pilot figures (two for cockpit, one standing, one standing with ride armor attached, and one riding the motorcycle)
2) Synchro cannon gun (with removable magazine)
3) Missile pod (from the original Imai model kits as a filler for between the arms, never actually seen in the anime)
4) Missiles (for attaching underneath the intakes, also from the original Imai models)
6) Instructions (same as original three releases)
7) Dark Legioss specific instructions
There’s no special magazine to put the synchro cannon on top of the missile rack, no extra fingers since this toy has claws, and no swap-out intakes since the Dark Legioss has cavernous intakes in all modes. The cool addition here are the pilot figures that look like Yellow with his VR-041H. The bonus Yellow as a pilot figure is even more cool if you own a Iota toy. The little figures do have new sculpts to capture the unique elements of the VR-041H including Yellow’s slightly different helmet.
Charm & Collectability: (3.5/5)
This toy benefits from the continuing dearth of high quality Legioss products. Unfortunately, it doesn’t manage to be so good that everyone is selling their old Legioss toys to buy this one. It does do many things right: it is perfect transformation, it is a very nice size, and there is some metal though it’s relegated to the joints (the hinge behind the head and the swing arms the shoulders attach to). Of course, it does many things wrong. While the size is very nice (21.2CM tall in Soldier to the head, larger to the top of the shoulders) it’s too large to fit in with most people’s 1/60 scale collections (it’s more like 1/40 scale and the pilot figure makes it obvious). It is clearly not designed to ever connect to a Tread/Beta which further reduces its charm. The MSRP also puts it just north of the original MSRP of CM’s Legioss/Tread gift-sets so it might seem like a lot to stomach for many people, especially those who felt the CM’s toys were wildly over-priced and saw them go on clearance for far less before disappearing from the wild. Releases include:
AFC-01H Eta, November 2017, 28,800¥
AFC-01A Zeta, July 2018, 28,800¥ (Miyazawa Distribution Limited)
AFC-01I Iota, November 2018, 28,800¥
Dark Legioss, January 2019, 29,800¥
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (7.5/10)
I would consider the included panel lines to be adequate and the paint applications to be sparse. When those two things are combined the Legioss toy looks surprisingly plain. The inclusion of some clear colored plastic bits do offer a little bit of pop but a little more tampo printing could have really gone a long way (I’m sure the stickers would help a great deal). From the front and side, fighter mode is not bad, certainly a vast improvement over the CM’s toy. On the Eta version, there is a questionable area around the cockpit where too much white is showing. From above or behind, the feet on fighter mode are poorly done. To be fair, the feet have been an issue for all manufacturers who have taken a shot at this design. The trick with the feet is that the heel needs a joint so that it can be tucked much higher up and the rest of the foot should be smaller and recess to some degree… none of that happens here and if you want to see the thruster detail you have to position the feet somewhat awkwardly open. The shoulder missiles have little protruding red missile tips but the missiles in the legs and forearms are simply red dots and don’t look very convincing and the size isn’t uniform. Comparing the toy to the line art reveals that Evolution Toys has retained many of the problem areas from the CM’s Legioss. In fighter mode, the head sits too low, the nose and feet are too long, and the arms don’t tuck in tightly enough to the top. Viewing the toys from beneath, you can see that the Evolution Toys Legioss tucks together almost as tightly as the Toynami (the Toynami feels more solid, though it ironically crumbled apart when I touched it after years of sitting in its box). There’s plenty of Legioss line art that conflicts and lots of very different looks in the anime so anyone trying to make a toy will have to choose their preferred look or compromise between several. ET elected to use the notch seen in some fighter mode line art at the front of the shoulder. They should have then added some intake detail or a touch of dark paint to simulate an intake of some kind but they didn’t. In soldier mode the most glaring flaw, to my eye, is how high the area above the chest intakes climb. Ideally these areas would be nearly level with the plate the head sits on. The flop out shoulder array is nicely sized but the line art doesn’t include the plate the array sits on at all and the curved shape employed by ET exacerbates the issue.
The Zeta version has one notable improvement though it’s possible just the resolution of a manufacturing issue on my Eta version. On my Zeta (and later Iota) version, the cockpit has a HUD display that is not present on my Eta version. It’s a nice and unexpected touch. The Zeta version also gets a female pilot figure. It’s unfortunate the included ride armor figures are not Bartley types also.
The Iota version is essentially the same as the Zeta version except for the green paint and the head. The head is very nicely done though a red transparent lens would have been cool. Seeing as the Eta version of the head has no lenses at all though, maybe that “eye” isn’t an eye at all. The figures included are nice updates to the Stick Bernard figures to make them recognizable as Ray. The green has a more militaristic hue, the sleeves are blue, the knees are red, and the missiles from the gauntlets have been removed. Unfortunately, the big VR-52T gun was not added.
The Dark Legioss has numerous changes from a standard Legioss and Evolution Toy did make the effort to capture the majority of them. The paint scheme, head, lack of a shoulder array, and inclusion of claws instead of hands are the most obvious identifiers. Evolution Toy also captured other key elements like the deleted VTOL vent at the crotch, deleted lights on top of the hips, and uniquely shaped shoulders (to the detriment of fighter mode). Not captured was the changed center hump on the chest and the removal of various minor details like the triangles on the shins. The line art for the Dark Legioss shows it having a one-piece canopy with a frame in front. Evolution Toy compromised here giving the toy the same two piece canopy used on the other Legioss toys but painting on the Dark Legioss’ forward frame.
Evolution Toy had the benefit of reviewing what did and didn’t work on several previous Legioss toys before they made their attempt. While Toynami had the Imai model serving as the basis of its design, and certainly was also familiar with the Gakken toy, there wasn’t much else to go off of. CMs then had the Toynami to help steer them though they seemed to go the other way and intentionally messed that toy up to make it less like the Toynami. Now Evolution Toys has both the CM’s and Toynami toys to guide it, as well as the old Imai models and Gakken toys, so you would think a 4th generation toy ought to be pretty good right? In VF-1 speak, we had the Takatoku, then we had the HCM, then we had the Yamato V1, then we got the Yamato 1/48. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to learn all the lessons it should from the past and doesn’t introduce anything new so the final result doesn’t feel like a true leap to a new generation. On the positives, you get the premium features you would anticipate by now:
1) Opening canopy with removable pilot figure
2) Integrated landing gear (a nice touch is that the rear landing gear are pushed outward as the door is opened)
3) Opening missile bays (legs, shoulders, and forearms)
4) The ability to attach the gun to the wing
Additional features include:
5) The ability to attach a central missile pod (not permanently attached)
6) Hard points under the chest intakes for included missiles
7) The ability to stow the gun on top using the central missile pod
8) A ride armor in stowage mode tucked within the chest cavity for transformation
9) Pegs and tabs that fold out of the way to keep a cleaner look in each mode
That’s a pretty nice set of features for a Legioss toy. Of course, it’s not all good news here:
1) Evolution Toys continues its failure to grasp how pegs/tabs should work. The pegs that hold the arms to the legs in fighter mode are woefully undersized and inadequate to sustain handling. The peg that folds out of the back of the leg in fighter mode looks like a durability concern and is terribly over engineered for what it needs to accomplish. One side should have a peg, the other should have a slot rather than one side folding out a tab with a peg on top and the other side folding out a tab with a slot on top. The pegs that extend from the front winglets into the body of the craft should be pointed down but instead point straight so they accomplish very little (it’s the same mistake they made on the VF-2SS chest tabs that causes a gap to form when that toy is in fighter mode). The peg that holds the winglets together also seems a little too small for the slot but that may be to the benefit of its long-term durability.
2) In fighter mode, the toy bows in the middle due to the above mentioned tabs that connect the winglets to the body. Since those tabs don’t actually secure anything it’s also easy to jostle things out of position during handling. The bowing also makes the chest lower to the ground (though still well above the ground compared to previous Legioss efforts). On my Zeta and Iota versions, the pegs on the winglets do fit in more securely to the chest reducing the bowing.
3) The rear landing gear doors require opening the missile bays to get to the landing gear which is a little quirky but no big deal. What’s more negative is that the door, when open, comes down almost the exact same length as the landing gear. As a result, the toy nearly sits as much on the triangles of its doors as the landing gear. I’ve seen people open the landing gear doors more to avoid this problem but, when I tried, it felt like I was on the verge of breaking something. The line art shows the landing gear door is supposed to wrap around to the front of the leg, doing so would allow the door to swing completely out of the way.
4) I don’t like that a separate magazine is required to attach the gun to the missile pod. Aoshima pulled this feature off on their New Century Alloy version of the Toynami MPC without having a special magazine and that was at a much smaller scale.
5) On the Eta version, the wrong side of the missiles that mount under the chest was painted with the red dot. So, if you want to have them stay on securely, you have to have the unpainted white ends facing forward. This issue was resolved on the Zeta version, the correct end of the missiles was painted red and they attach securely. Strangely, the hard points are two slots located right next to screw holes. The missiles should have just plugged into the screw holes. It’s an odd error to make for a company that clearly tries very hard to remove pegs and slots.
6) Detachable fingers? Seriously? I thought everyone had learned not to do this by now, especially at this scale! Fortunately, mine did not pop off inadvertently often and the gun, once properly slotted in, did a good job of staying in the hand. It’s a huge improvement over the gun grip we saw on the VF-2SS toys but still a long way from an articulated hand that can simply hold the gun well. For the Zeta toys we received fingers that grip the gun more loosely, which makes it easier to put everything together, but the whole implementation of the hands remains wrong-headed.
There’s a couple design elements not present here that I’m not going to hold against the Evolution Toy Legioss but I am going to write-out here in case, many years from now, a company is considering taking a stab at a fifth generation Legioss toy in this scale and price point. My biggest let down when it came to the CM’s Legioss was that it was made concurrently with a Tread toy but that it didn’t incorporate any gimmicks or mechanisms so that the two separate toys could connect securely in fighter mode. It was as if two different teams made two different toys and weren’t allowed to communicate with each other… even the scales are different between the toys. So, even if Evolution Toys had only the faintest chance of ever making a Tread, it would have been awesome to see some forethought put into the possibility (like a flip out peg in the feet or some other connection slots.
Another thing I would love to see someone figure out, particularly at this scale, is the ability to get the knee caps to suck in flush against the upper leg in fighter mode OR some sort of an intake fan detail within the knee area. This may not be canon but we all understand aerodynamics enough to know that no fighter jet should have huge open boxes on either side of it. To their credit, ET did a good job making the knee joints slide for the transition between modes.
6) The Synchro Cannon included with the Dark Legioss is a let down. In order to mount the gun in fighter mode you need to remove the magazine and there is no way to recess the sensor on top of the gun to achieve a streamlined look. What’s embarrassing about this is that Toynami did it more than a decade ago and ET could have easily copied their approach.
Durability & Build: (5.5/10)
This toy already has a bad reputation and you’re likely to start with a very bad first impression. My Eta toy came with a pretty badly warped wing out of the box that I was able to coax into something a lot less obvious. My toys looked like disasters when I pulled them out of their trays for the first time. I had to transform them to soldier and then back to fighter before I got them to look decent in that mode. One problem that seems common immediately is the hard points coming off of the wings when the gun has been installed. The gun fits on very snug, which is a good thing, but the hard point is attached to the wing by being glued on to a painted surface. When you pull the gun off the hard point pulls the paint off and comes with the gun. So, if you’re going to put the gun under the wing, do so to the least possible extent so there’s less chance you’ll pull the hard point off. There have been complaints of limbs coming off though I don’t know if that’s just because of poor gluing at the factory or if something is actually breaking. There have also been reports of stress marks inside the legs that may hint to a foot falling off some day so be careful when manipulating the foot not to apply too much pressure thinking it has more articulation than it does.
The antenna on the Eta’s shoulder array is too long and actually gets bent while stowed. Fortunately, Evolution Toy did fix this before the release of the Zeta. In fact, they not only fixed it but they added a sliding forward gimmick to the shoulder array allowing it to swing out and move to a position more in the middle of the region between the shoulder and neck. Like the VF-2SS toy, I’ve heard others report that the plastic on this toy ‘feels cheap’ but I still think such complaints are overdone. The plastic is very thin but it seems durable enough on its own. The problems really generate from poor decisions like making pegs and other attachments way too small. The plastic on my Toynami MPC toys feels thicker and sturdier but it’s extremely prone to falling apart. Just the same, you should expect the toy to feel insubstantial in your hands without much heft.
In fighter mode, the gap between the shoulder and top of the chest area is a little too large. It’s just a little distracting on my Eta toy but on my Zeta toy the issue is compounded by not being symmetrical. I can lessen the issue by using the central shoulder pod that connects the two arms.
Unfortunately, build quality didn’t improve on this line of toys as it matured. My Iota toy introduces a host of manufacturing issues I hadn’t encountered on my Eta or Zeta toys. My toy suffers from a dark plastic swirl, a forearm seam that isn’t flush, forearm missile bay doors that don’t function properly, a loose foot in fighter mode, and a crooked or warped heel that makes it very difficult to close up the feet in fighter mode. My dark Legioss seems much better put together but has a large scuffed area near the hips.
This is easily the most articulated modern Legioss. The articulation is so nice it actually ramps up the fun factor to help overcome some of the faults. Unfortunately, as mentioned in the sculpt section, the chest intakes come up too high on either side of the head so you have to use an awkward looking neck to get more extreme articulation and, even then, you can only really turn the head in one direction because of the shoulder array on the other side. What makes this all kind of dumb is that the shoulder array is only attached to the at the very rear portion of the plate. At this scale, a more savvy design team would stop trying to make it so the plate flips out from the center with the array attached below it (the Gakken solution from the 80s) and instead would attach the array to its own swing arm and have it slide from the center and rotate over. Of course, this would also mean that the center panel on the back of the Legioss may have to pivot forward to open and have the ability to recess into the center cavity but I don’t think any of that would be overly complicated at this scale. When it came time to make a Dark Legioss, that would also mean that you could simply delete the array piece and the rest of the toy would be unaffected and actually look like the line art instead of having that big empty panel on the shoulder. Limited head mobility aside, soldier mode does very well. The shoulders rock forward and back rotate all the way around and there’s a joint right at the shoulder allowing you to bring the arm away from the body. There’s a rotation point before the elbow and then a double jointed elbow that allows better than 90 degrees but not markedly so; there’s room for improvement. The hands have a rotation point at the wrist, the thumb that can be positioned above or below the palm, the trigger finger and separate block of three other fingers pivot at the palm. For transformation the chest intakes rotate and the center chest piece comes forward and back. There’s a rotation point at the waist but you’ll need to disconnect the wings from the nosecone and pull the nosecone away from the back a bit to use it. The hips are truly impressive allowing full range of the leg forward and back and a very nice wide stance as well as the ability to angle the leg out or in (another transformation mechanism). The knee is double-jointed but, somewhat surprisingly, only offers 90 degrees of movement. In Diver mode, the knee cap also slides down, enabling a deeper backward action at the knee joint. I was pleasantly surprised by the rotation point just below the knee, I believe that’s a first for a Legioss toy. The toe and heel both have a good range of articulation and but the range of lateral movement is definitely insufficient. The biggest bummer here is that we’ve lost the very interesting elbow joint from the CM’s toy that created an elbow that pivoted forward and back (naturally) but also twisted around to allow a right-left pivot which worked particularly well for recreating some of the line art.
Total Score: (36/50)
I said the VF-2SS toy was clearly a rookie effort that should be avoided. I think this toy is definitely evidence of ET making progress. No doubt they benefited from the previous work done by CM’s. At this price and scale, it should be better and there should be much less concern about build quality issues. As a collector, what’s really depressing about this toy is how little it moves the needle for Legioss toys. It attempts to be a collection of “what worked” for previous Legioss toys without devising any cool new ways to overcome the problems of previous toys. For example, when Yamato made their V1 VF-1 toys, they introduced a chest hinge that made for a seamless looking fighter mode. That hinge system is now standard on all VF-1 toys. For the money, there are a lot of other toys I would recommend first BUT, if you had to have a Legioss toy, this is the best of a mediocre lot. I’ll say I’m still a bigger fan of the Toynami scale and shape but this toy adds just enough to have an edge over it. If you’re a fan diver mode, this toy is a hands-down winner. The articulation in the leg seems made to maximize diver mode fun.
One thing to say to Evolution Toy’s credit, they currently have a good track record of making tweaks after the first version of their toys come out. Yes, the VF-2SS Sylvie custom is an awful toy but they made numerous tweaks before releasing the Nexx and Faerie versions making them a tiny bit less awful. In the case of the Legioss toy, their Eta release had some issues that are resolved on the Zeta version. The under chest missiles had the wrong end painted as the front on the Eta version, the Zeta version has the proper end painted. The center missile bay gun attachment point was very loose on the Eta toy but is nice and tight on the Zeta toy. Unfortunately, on the Iota toy the attachment for the missile pod became too tight making it very difficult to use and likely to break. On my Eta toy, the ratcheted shoulders aren’t as secure as they are on the Zeta but I’m inclined to believe that’s just a manufacturing variance. The pegs on the winglets that attach to the chest were loose on my Eta toy, causing the front of the plane to disconnect frequently and to bow when sitting on its landing gear; these pegs are tighter on my later releases with only very minor bowing now evident. The Eta toy had a fin on the shoulder array that was too long for the housing and would bend, the Zeta toy introduced a moving shoulder array that gets into a better position without having a fin that bends. Finally, my Eta toy came with a standing figure wearing a ride armor that didn’t seem capable of standing on its own while my later releases come with that figure but it stands without issue. Some of these perceived improvements may just be variation in quality from one toy to the next but it seems quite clear to me that ET made steps in the right direction when the went from the Eta to the Zeta version though I didn’t note any subsequent improvements with the Iota. There’s still room for improvement; I would have loved to have seen them come up with a way of locking the head into position for fighter mode (which would also reduce bowing when sitting on the landing gear) and for them to create swap out hands instead of swap out fingers. If you’re ambivalent to which color Legioss to buy, the red one was my best but the Iota seems like it should be at the same level if you get one with better build quality.
Original Post: December 17, 2017
Updated August 19, 2018 – Added new 4K review and content relating to the Zeta release
Updated September 2, 2018 – replaced HD transformation guide with 4K transformation guide that includes new shoulder array
Updated January 20, 2019 – Added new 4K review of the Iota toy, updated content pertaining to this release
Updated March 3, 2019 – Added 4K Soldier to fighter mode transformation guide