Review: Roy, Gold, Red, and Rick!
Packaging & Extras: (4/5)
If you buy your toy directly from Hong Kong it will likely come in a thin white shipper box with monochromatic art of the toy within (it’s definitely not CAD since there are several differences between the art and the toy). Unfortunately, it’s not very sturdy as far as shipper boxes go and mine had a huge dent that traveled through to the retail box within. The regular release retail box has some custom artwork on the front and a window on the back of the box that shows off the goods. The exclusive “dark” versions of the toy have a slightly simpler retail box; there are no clear windows and no fancy artwork. Instead the interior boxes on these releases re-uses the shipper box art from the first release. Unfortunately, KitzConcept didn’t catch they hadn’t updated all the text when they sent the image for the Dark Red box to the printer so the Dark Red box says “Dark Gold” in a couple places. The retail box is a little bloated for the size of the product (30.2x25x12 cm) and KC would be wise to package the toy in fighter mode to simplify things. Pulling out the contents you’ll find a first tray that includes the toy as well as:
1) Gun (with light gimmick, vinyl strap, and expanding stock)
2) 4x TV style missiles
3) Heat shield
4) 2x Intake fan covers
5) 3x pairs of fixed posed hands (Fists, saluting/loose grip, gun grip/open palm)
6) 2x side cavity fillers
7) 1x neck cavity filler
In a second tray you’ll find:
8) A display stand consisting of a base and arm
9) 5x batteries LR626
Behind everything you’ll find a bag that also contains:
Everything is covered in plastic wrap to protect it during shipping and those thin strips are taped to the tray. The battloid mode toy has pieces of plastic shoved into every cavity. After you remove all the packing materials you’ll need to peg the hips in and install the heatshield. I greatly prefer instructions that are books compared to the never-ending piece of paper technique employed here so I’ve provided a scan I think is more user friendly. I found it a little odd that the instructions were mute to the display stand. There’s also a removable pilot figure that comes stowed in the cockpit.
KitzConcept made a lot of improvements before moving on to the VF-1J Rick toy, even the packaging is upgraded. The retail box is a little more svelte at 30.2×26.3×9.8 cm) and the contents, largely unchanged from previous releases, are now laid out horizontally. Unlike version 1.0 toys, the heat shield now comes pre-installed and the neck cavity filler is integrated so it’s not provided as a separate part. There was such a large overhaul done to the toy that the cavity fillers and intake fan covers are not interchangeable. As there have been so many changes, I’ve included a scan of the instructions here:
Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
For those of you opposed to anything labeled “ROBOTECH”, it’s worth noting that this is cross-branded as an SDF Macross figure, but obviously Harmony Gold is involved. This is a smaller scale, affordable, perfect transformation VF-1 toy with a fair amount of metal and lots of detail. You won’t be blown away by the heft of the toy but it doesn’t feel insubstantial either. The first VF-1S releases of this toy are 21.5cm long in fighter mode, 18.7 cm tall in battloid and 162 grams making it smaller and lighter than a Yamato 1/60 V2 (24cm long, 21cm tall, 190 grams) but much heftier than the old Bandai 1/72 scale Hi-Complete Model (110 grams). The dimensions changed for later releases which stand 19.7 cm tall in battloid, 22.3 cm long in fighter (at 172 grams), a nice size but 2 cm too large for true 1/72 scale. The market is saturated with Arcadia still producing great 1/60 scale toys, Bandai producing the ultra-premium 1/48 scale DX toy, and Bandai also producing the more affordable Hi-Metal R line which is completing the Macross universe with bad guys and destroids. While 1/72 is a great scale for Macross, where the VF-1 is the smallest popular vehicle, in the Robotech universe the VF-1 is one of the larger popular vehicles. A 1/72 scale Alpha or Hover Tank would be so small it’d be like playing with a 4″ action figure so don’t expect to see this become a generation spanning toy line at a common scale. KC has already teased a mass production VF-1A, VF-1J Max, and VF-1J Miria as well as a GBP accessory so, if this line does well, it might fill out nicely. See the info graphic above for detail on existing releases.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
Before I gush about how pretty battloid is, let’s start off with some critical notes. The backpack sits up VERY high and doesn’t tuck tightly enough against the toy’s back. The vents at the bottom edge of the chest are rather large. The spotlights in-set from each shoulder are simply painted yellow instead of being translucent plastic. The integrated hands, while impressive in their functionality, look a little off. Moving on to the positives, the included fixed-posed hands look tremendous. The paint work is superb. This toy is what Arcadia considers a “premium finish” and then some with panel lining and seemingly more paint applications. There are plenty of nearly microscopic but legible “No Step” signs, “DANGER”, and even the white “VF” right above the foot which is done wonderfully subtly.
Guardian mode has some design issues and it’s also the first place you’ll see that the head hangs a little low when not in battloid. If you’re comfortable with the old Takatoku/Bandia chunky toys, then this shouldn’t be an issue for you. Like battloid mode, the backpack also doesn’t tuck in as tight as you would want it to and there’s no antenna; optional part or otherwise. Various design issues also hinder the overall look of guardian but we’ll address that later.
If you didn’t already think this toy had crazy amounts of painted detail, you will when you remove the nosecone to install the batteries and find more painted detail underneath. Clear plastic inserts were used on the leading door for the rear landing gear and the lights nearest the body on the wings and look great. The landing gear aren’t very pretty nor is the pinkish hue of the missiles. While fighter mode overall is attractive, there is a slight angle upward on the legs and a bit too much downward angle on the backpack. You can bend the knees a bit to lessen the effect of thrust pointing up but this makes the backpack point down harder (and be careful as you massage this angles as the legs are pegged into the backpack).
The display stand for the first release Fokker is an awful neon green contraption with a UN spacy kite molded into the base. Mercifully, subsequent releases come with a clear display stand.
Despite being an almost entirely black toy, the Dark Gold and Red versions have just as much painted on detail as the regular release toy. Though the dark panel lining is largely absent, as it wouldn’t be seen, there is some light silver panel lining on the back of the toy. The Dark versions also include missiles that are color-matched to the toy and have a clear display stand eliminating two big visual negatives from the regular release toy.
While many of the improvements introduced with Rick’s VF-1J more heavily impact design attributes, there are some improvements that are purely aesthetic. Battloid mode benefits from a smaller lip around the feet and metallic paint on the lights on either side of the head. The hips and thighs have grown larger, making the toy a centimeter taller, without any additional girth in the torso. If you thought the version 1.0 toys looked stocky, this may be a welcome change. If you thought the version 1.0 toys looked great, you may now feel the toy looks a little lanky. Most dynamic poses will make the leg length less obvious and you can see in my comparison above, the proportions don’t stay far from previous VF-1 toys. All modes also benefit from a shrinking of the black trapezoids on the chest.
As you move to Guardian mode you’ll appreciate that the missiles have less of a pink hue than the 1.0 Fokker toy. Guardian mode also benefits from a better ability of the vertical stabilizers to lay across each other but there’s still room for improvement as they aren’t totally flat. As you whoosh the guardian mode toy around your room you may also notice that the thruster detail in the feet no longer separates when the foot is entirely open. Version 1.5 toys also achieve a better sweep of the legs due to the enhanced thighs allowing the toy to get into more aggressive poses. The newly hinged shoulder joints also allow the shoulders to duck naturally below the wings.
While the larger thighs/hips are helpful in battloid and guardian, they look bulky in fighter mode. The landing gear are still very basic and unattractive. The increased leg size adds to the overall length in fighter mode without adding any visual issues. If you feel like the legs still cant too much upward, the new feet have some play so you can bring them down a little to flatten things out. Though not as tightly recessed as it is on Bandai DX or Arcadia toys, the head now tucks tighter to the bottom of the nosecone. While the large intakes are clunky in this mode, it’s still an overall attractive presentation.
Design: (7.5/10) + 1 for V1.5 toys
Version 1.0 toys try to bring together everything you like about the Yamato 1/60 Version 2 toy (now sold by Arcadia) and the Bandai Hi-Metal R, Version 1.5 toys add some elements from Bandai’s DX line. You’ll get the features you like from the Yamato design including:
1) Opening canopy with removable pilot figure
2) Removable covers that expose intake fan detail and additional cavity filler parts for battloid mode
3) Integrated landing gear (all gear retain three door bays and the front gear also includes an articulated tow bar)
4) Perfect transformation (including the heatshield)
5) Hard points for weapons ordinance on the wings
6) Ability to stow the gun in fighter mode (and on the arm in other modes)
The implementation of the side cavity fillers is an improvement over the Yamato as the parts peg securely into place.
KC did add some features of their own:
7) Light-up gun
8) Light-up cockpit
Version 1.0 toys had several issues that KC addressed later in the line:
1) The cockpit light button was in an awkward location under a sheath on the nosecone making it difficult to access. Version 1.5 toys created a door under the nose that swung open and made changing batteries and engaging the light switch much easier.
2) Version 1.0 toys have a shoulder/wing conflict in Guardian mode. You can squeeze the shoulder just under the wing but it inhibits articulation and feels awkward. This was best resolved by leaving the wings behind the shoulder. Version 1.5 toys add a hinge to the shoulder which allows it to pivot beneath the wing line so that the arm can still function naturally even when the wings are in a wider flight position.
3) Version 1.0 toys don’t do a good job tucking the head in for Guardian or fighter modes (particularly when viewed from a side profile). Though not quite as streamlined as the Bandai DX toys, Version 1.5 adjusts the geometry for the head to recess much better.
4) Though Version 1.0 toys have an extension gimmick at the knees, there isn’t enough forward bend leaving guardian mode too vertical. Version 1.5 toys feel less awkward throughout the leg and have additional range of movement allowing the toy to sweep forward more aggressively.
5) Version 1.0 toys do a poor job of locking the intakes in position in fighter/guardian modes. Version 1.5 toys redesigned the tabbing of the intakes to make them more secure. While the locking of the intakes isn’t as crisp as some other toys, the version 1.5 toys are a huge improvement in guardian mode.
6) On Version 1.0 toys, the backpack doesn’t tuck tight to the back of the toy, the stabilizers can’t lay flat against each other. Though not entirely resolved, this is reduced on version 1.5 toys.
As you can see, version 1.5 addressed many of the problems encountered on version 1.0 toys and is a huge overall improvement. There were still some issues that could be addressed on later releases:
1) The gun is not ‘perfect transformation’, it has a grip that must be removed to be stowed in fighter mode. The strap must be removed as well but its an entirely optional part so that’s fine by me. On V1.5 toys, the front of the gun was made a hair smaller but it has no discernible impact. The switch for the light is inaccessible in fighter mode.
2) While seemingly greatly reduced on V1.5 toys, the vertical stabilizers have an annoying habit of getting skewed when folded.
3) The biggest remaining issue is the length of the landing gear. While the gun can be stowed in fighter mode, the toy will then sit on the gun as much as it will sit on the landing gear. Fortunately, it still lies flat and isn’t so tall the landing gear won’t touch the ground.
4) The included display stand is intended for fighter mode only and is awkward (tip: install the gun into the stand first, then install the gun and stand to the toy). The front tab doesn’t seem to be the right shape to plug securely in and applying any pressure slides the nosecone forward. The shape of the part that slides behind the head was altered very slightly for V1.5 toys but it’s still funky. The stand allows you to adjust the horizontal angle of the toy. You can use the display stand as a prop in Guardian and Battloid modes but it doesn’t really connect to the toy.
Version 1.5 toys have the same backpack, forearms, and calves as version 1.0 toys so the super parts remain interchangeable. See separate review for more on the super parts.
Durability & Build: (5/10) +2 for V1.5 toys
1) General build quality issues: Out of the box, some joints were incredibly tight. This can be dangerous as the joints connect via thin pieces of plastic that could be broken when torqued. Be very careful freeing the joints and try to put them all through their range of movement a few times before you start handling more casually. Some joints have also been loose. My V1.0 Fokker toy has a hand that seems to lack any friction in the joints. The peg that connects the nosecone to the chest in guardian/fighter also didn’t have sufficient resistance on my 1.0 Fokker but is very secure on my 1.5 Hunter. There are also potential glue issues, my V1.0 Fokker lost the clear insert on one wing (probably pressed too firmly against the shoulder in Guardian mode and popped off).
2) Paint scratches: I did find some minor paint scuffs and this will be more frequent as the toy is handled enjoyed. There’s a particularly vexing paint scratch right on the tip of my toy’s nose which you would think would be bare plastic so it seems the whole toy has a thin coat of paint to get the metal bits to match with the plastic bits. Of particular concern is the paint on the vertical stabilizers that rub against the nub on the toy’s back in battloid and guardian modes.
3) V1.5 toys resolved the nosecone battery compartment issues by eliminating the screw, including 2 batteries for the compartment, and stating 2 batteries in the instructions. On V1.0 toys, the instructions say to put three batteries in the nose for the cockpit light up gimmick but only two fit (it works with just two). I heard that KC switched to only wanting two batteries in that compartment at the last minute but didn’t have time to update the instructions or box contents… but they kept making the mistake through the runs of black gold/red toys. On my Dark Gold version I can’t open any of the battery bays because the screws were stripped.
4) Not universal, but my V1.0 Fokker and V1.5 Hunter toys have canopies that open too easily and allow the pilot to fall out. This is more pronounced on my 1.0 Fokker toy where the canopy tooth doesn’t line up properly and leaves it always fractionally ajar. My black gold/red toys do better here.
5) Resolved on V1.5 toys where the missiles peg straight into the hard point, V1.0 hard points are easily sheered off when removing the missiles. The missiles lock on so securely that removing them, or even installing them, can sometimes cause the hard point to be sheered off. On my Dark Gold release, all four sheered off. The hard points are easily glued back on but it seems popping them off and gluing them back on will be an endless cycle.
6) The included rubber gun strap pegs in a little too securely. After putting it on and taking it off a few times during my photo shoot of the Dark Red VF-1S, the front of the strap broke off.
Articulation: Version 1 toys (8/10)
Starting at the top, the head is on a ball joint. The shoulders allow full rotation but, as mentioned previously, they can’t get out of the way of the wings in Guardian mode. There’s the familiar twist at the bicep and a double-jointed elbow that offers a truly impressive range of movement. The hands peg in so they can rotate and the integrated hands are nicely articulated and do a great job holding the gun. You won’t get a waist and there’s no gimmick to get a wider stance but the hips do attach on firm ball joints which allow the leg to rock and/or pivot in/out as well as rotating forward and back (assuming your wings don’t get in the way). The guardian joint is present and offers a standard range of movement. The knees, when extended, allow you to go 90 degrees back but, as mentioned previously, they do a poor job bending forward for guardian mode. The ankles do a great job extending and allowing the toe to move up or down but you won’t get much rocking left/right or twisting like you would on something like Bandai’s 1/48 DX toy or a toe that simulates that ability like the Hi-Metal figures.
Articulation: Version 1.5 toys (9.5/10)
Nearly every joint was upgraded when moving from version 1.0 to 1.5 with the exception of the head. The head doesn’t have much of an angle to look downward but offers plenty of mobility in all other directions. The shoulders now have a second hinge that allows it to move away from the body for greater range of movement. Where the arm attaches to the shoulder has been upgraded to a rotating pivot (from a traditional ball joint) and the shoulder housing has been reduced to allow unprecedented arm mobility. This combination of improvements allow you to lift the arm straight up without first rotating the top of the shoulder to point to the ground. While a waist joint has been added, there’s no ability to disconnect the swing bar like there is on Bandai’s DX toy so it functions more like the Yamato 1/48 VF-1, which is to say you only get a couple degrees of rotation. The hips and thighs borrow improvements Bandai incorporated to the DX line of toys. An outward slant joint is now housed in the base of the intake. It doesn’t offer quite the range of movement as the DX toy manages it does allow a very impressive wide stance. Below the thigh, a pivot has been added making the knee a two pivot system which allows nearly 180 of bend. A ball joint has also been added in the feet allowing for better left/right angling of the foot. While the foot and thigh articulation isn’t as strong as the Bandai DX VF-1, the shoulders and knees are now the best of any transformable VF-1 toy.
Total Score: (37.5/50) + 4.5 for V1.5 toys
The three version 1.0 releases had some rough edges but KC really went back to the drawing board before producing their 4th toy in the line. Rick’s VF-1J is such an improvement I seriously debated creating a new article and calling them “Version 2”. When I reviewed the V1.0 Fokker I wrote: “If KC can get the vertical stabilizers to lay flatter, the intake to peg-in securely, the missiles to be removable without damaging the hard points, and get one more click of forward sweep from the knee then they’ll be in really good shape for future releases.” and they’ve done all of those things! I love to see a company react so robustly to feedback. The only really glaring issue that remains is the need to increase the length of the landing gear to get that gun off the ground. This toy can’t compete with Arcadia or Bandai in the fit and finish category but it’s doing an admirable job in all respects and should be a consideration if it’s a better fit for your budget.
Original Post date: February 3, 2019
February 10, 2019 – Added 4K review and a few additional pictures.
August 25, 2019 – Added Dark Gold VF-1S content
October 6, 2019 – Added Dark Red VF-1S content
October 27, 2020 – Added VF-1J Rick content