Observations & Critique: No, this does not transform
No, 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 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.
It appears that all releases in this line will be ‘limited” in some capacity. 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. There have been two releases so far:
VF-1S Focker “Farewell Big Brother”, July 2019, $130.00, limited to 300 pieces
VF-1S Focker, August 2019, $129.99, limited to 1,500 pieces
The painted-on detail is 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 piece for the HUD and detail work on the front and side consoles. The landing gear look good with nice 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 wonderful 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 films 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.
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. I’ve seen other say 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 it’s an appropriate time to have more attractive swap out parts than would be plausible with integrated parts. 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.
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) for similar or less. 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 toys are small enough where a hangar display would be possible and very impressive. It also looks like CW should be able to re-use the majority of this model for super parts variants.