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.
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.
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
VF-1 Singapore Comic Con Bare Metal Test Shot, $129.99, December 2019, limited to 12 pieces
VF-1J Max & Miria gift-set, $219.99, December 2019, limited to 800 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.
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 fine details are indeed more fine 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).
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.