Observations & Critique: No, this does not transform
I don’t review models that require any sort of effort, but I DO review completed models and that’s exactly what this is. Unfortunately, my normal scoring methodology doesn’t work on releases like this where articulation is meaningless and the design complexity minimal.
Calibre Wings didn’t skimp on the packaging. The Fokker box has a nice holographic effect and quality artwork. There’s a magnetic lid that you can flip open to reveal the model so you can enjoy the model without removing the “remove before flight” stickers that seal the box. Calibre Wings didn’t feel the need to bloat the packaging, the box is a trim 23.2 x 20.6 x 7.5cm. Pulling out the inner plastic tray you’ll find the model and:
1) a gun
2) seated pilot figure
3) Standing pilot figure with base so he can stand
4) 4x TV style missiles
5) 3x closed landing gear doors
6) 2x doors for the rear landing gear when in the open configuration
and behind the tray you’ll find a red, re-sealable baggy marked “remove before flight” that contains:
No need for stickers here, the model comes with all the markings painted on. Conspicuously absent: a display stand.
The “Farewell Big Brother” themed event exclusive ditches the holographic effect on the box for a black-and-white approach but is otherwise the same.
As you might expect from such a limited piece, the Singapore Comic Con exclusive VF-1 is packaged more like a garage kit. The box is plain white with a sticker on top and a hand-written number. Since only a dozen were made and grabbed by die-hard fans, the packaging is perfectly adequate. The contents of the box are familiar with the standard foil covered cardboard tray and plastic clam-shell that has everything that includes all the same good stuff that came with previous releases as well as a baggy that includes 1A, 1J, and 1S head parts rendered in clear plastic.
The fancy foil returned for the gift-set release of Max & Miriya’s VF-1J fighters. Other than a new box made to accommodate two models, replete with collector’s style flip-top lids on either side, the contents are the same as original releases. Each side of the box contains one fighter and tray for a total of two of everything. Added to the box was a new warning not to screw up the angle when inserting the missiles to their hard points.
The convention exclusive Stealth and later variants ditch the holographic effect on the box. You still get a nice rendering of the VF-1, now on a high sheen box with some foil print accents. Flipping the lid open, the left gives us a glimpse of what it’d be like to be in the cockpit complete with mild reflection off the canopy glass above while the right has a window showing off the goods within. Contents are otherwise identical to the original Fokker release (though these bear the Macross badge rather than Robotech). An added bonus: the details of a launch deck diorama have been printed to the interior tray so you can cut them out for a papercraft display.
Releases in this line are limited in varying amounts. The box calls it a “die-cast metal collector’s model” and there’s no doubt about the metal construction when you pull the relatively small model out of the box. At 208 grams, this model is 18 grams heavier than Arcadia’s 1/60 V2 toys and 48 grams heavier than KitzConcept’s similarly sized VF-1. The model is 19.4cm long which makes it nearly 1/72 scale and a bit smaller than the KitzConcept VF-1 which is a little long at 21.5cm. Calibre Wings previously released Macross-inspired F-14 Tomcat models were 26cm long. See the photo above for the details on all releases.
The painted details are great with lots of crisp lines and text. There are no issues with crooked Jolly Rogers like we’ve seen on some toys over the years. Inside the cockpit, you’ll find a nice transparent HUD panel and control details on the front and side consoles. The landing gear look good with strut detail in silver and white paint and black rubber tires. Since this model isn’t hindered by the need to transform, it is able to accomplish a superior fighter mode. Comparing it to the line art, either from the profile or above, reveals an amazing likeness. If you’re going to compare this to other renditions of the VF-1, the only nit might be that the nose isn’t pointy. Eliminating transformation also allowed Calibre Wings to set the intake fan and turbines for the jet engine much deeper into either end of the leg. Flipping the model over will reveal some very awkward proportions of the parts that are stowed in fighter mode. The arms are both pencil thin, the shoulders under-sized, and the head rather large. None of that really should matter, those parts remain under the model and never untuck. In some places it looks like there may be rivets which would be anachronistic to the super technologically advance variable fighter.
The “Farewell Big Brother” version (worst episode name ever) comes weathered with mock bullet holes. In most cases, several bullet holes were printed on one piece of clear film that was then applied to the toy. Unfortunately, the film has a glossy quality while the rest of the bird is matte. On the occasions where the bullet hole is not connected to others, the effect isn’t very jarring. Unfortunately, most the bullet holes are connected via film to other bullets and the additional film makes the difference in finish more obvious. From any appreciable distance the effect is subtle enough to be ignored (assuming the light isn’t catching the film perfectly) but, up close, it’s a weakness of this variant. The blood added to the pilot’s seat was an authentic and macabre touch.
After their VF-1S models, Calibre Wings wanted to tighten up the panel lines. After all, if the lines on the initial models were made 72 times larger (as per the scale) they’d be massive canals on the air-frame. So, for later releases, the details were made more precise. To confirm positive results, Calibre Wings had test shots made of the new mold. These test shots then served dual purpose as being Singapore Comic-Con 2019 exclusives. As you can see, the details are indeed finer on the test shot.
Max & Miria’s VF-1J gift-set represent the first painted versions of the improved mold. The crisper details continue to be an improvement, even under paint. The missiles lose the wash they had on the VF-1S models but gain a nice black stripe at the front. Unfortunately, the Miriya pilot figure is a simple repaint of the existing male pilots (both seated and standing).
The all black stealth VF-1S makes the painted text truly pop… I don’t know how appropriate all the text is but, to the casual fan, it seems sensible. Practically every panel has some sort of warning. The matte black looks great in person and the varying hues of gray make for a subtle and sleek scheme.
The lack of transformation mechanisms allow this model to shine where transformable toys fail. The gallery above compares the 1/72 scale KitzConcept (KC) perfect transformation toy with the Calibre Wings (CW) model. If all you care about is the most line art perfect VF-1 fighter mode, the lack of other modes allows the CW model to have a sleeker form that perfectly recreates the line art. The KC pilot figure may have better paint, but otherwise the shallow intakes, exhaust, and simulated text on numerous warnings give CW the easy win on the detail front. KC’s need for hip articulation creates large intakes and a shape that is competitive with other transformable toys but falls well short of the CW. While it’s nice the KC toy has integrated landing gear, they aren’t as attractive as the ones present on the CW model. The lighting effects in the KC gun and cockpit are nice but the gun is a little large and drags on the ground while having plenty of clearance on the lightless CW. For more analysis and comparisons between the CW and KC, check out the video below.
Calibre Wings gave us their own take on a non-canon low visibility paint scheme. I think the scheme makes a lot more sense than Yamato’s 1/60 V2 LowVis Focker. It retains the iconic scheme while toning everything down to be appropriately subtle. All the painted on details are still present.
As this is a static model, you should realize that transformation is not an option. You do get some nice frills though:
1) Opening canopy with removable pilot figure
2) Removable landing gear that can be swapped with door covers to convert to flying mode
3) Removable gun pod which can be stowed while the toy is on its landing gear
4) Missiles that attach to hardpoints on the wings
On the downside, the attachment of the missiles to the hardpoints is very poor. I could get them to stay on but if I inadvertently allow a hand to get near them, they will fall off. Others have said that a little sanding on the missile peg fixes that right up… but going overboard would cause bigger headaches. The missiles can be removed from their rail if you’d like to set up some sort of a diorama. Would integrated landing gear have been nice? Sure, but this is a model, not a toy, so imore attractive, swap out parts feel appropriate if their would integrated gear would not have looked so pretty. I would have preferred an outward angle to the rear landing gear to give them the wider track like we’re seeing on Bandai’s DX line of toys. The landing gear also don’t feature spinning wheels so you’ll need to pick up your model when re-situating it.
Exercise caution with the thin lasers extending from the head unit. You’ll also want to be careful with the doors on the landing gear bays. Since the model is mostly painted metal, scratching may be a concern in areas where parts are plugged in (like the landing gear or gun) or open/shut like the canopy.
While the bare metal release doesn’t have any issues with scratched paint, the lack of paint introduced a fit issue. All the parts are a little bit loose since the tolerances are intended for the products that followed the test shot. This is easily remedied in a number of ways from a touch of Elmer’s glue to transparent tape.
As someone who couldn’t possibly make a model that looks this nice, I appreciate these for what they are. As someone who would never buy a Transformer that didn’t transform, it’s not really in my wheelhouse. If you’ve always been frustrated with the compromises the toy manufacturers make to fighter mode, this is your chance to finally get a fighter mode that doesn’t have that problem. If you have other 1/72 models, this might look great as part of a larger collection. If you’re more a toy guy and enjoy the engineering of transformations and posing your bot mode toys, then you can get a KitzConcept 1/72 KC Collectible VF-1 or a Bandai Hi-Metal R VF-1 (more like 1/90 scale) at a similar or lower price. I’m hoping that, since the molds are done, Calibre Wing is able to make numerous small production runs of the various paint schemes from the show. These models are small enough where a hangar display would be a real possibility and could be very impressive. It also looks like CW should be able to re-use the majority of this model for super parts variants.
Original Post: September 2019
February 9, 2020 to included the SGCC Exclusive and VF-1J Max & Miria versions
August 2, 2020 includes Exclusive VF-1S Stealth
March 28, 2021 included VF-1J Vermillion