Observations & Critique: Less deluxe than the VF-1
Standard for all Tamashii Web Exclusive (TWE) items, these toys were mailed in brown shipper boxes with a sleeker retail box within. The package is impressively svelte at about 25 x 38 x 5 cm which mirrors the height and width measurements of the VF-1 toy boxes at a much slimmer depth which should make storing them less of a chore. Inside the box you’ll find:
1) Strike parts consisting of
R/L calf armors
R/L exterior leg armors
R/L forearm armors
Cradle/backpack support for boosters
Strike cannon attached to booster
Missile tower attached to booster
2) An additional missile tower to swap out with the strike cannon to have super parts
3) 3x pairs of alternate Jolly Roger emblems for pairing with Roy, Max, or even Kakizaki.
4) Fighter mode adapter consisting of left/right sides and front/back locking pieces to hold the adapter together.
5) Fold-out instructions
Curiously, there are no emblems for Hikaru’s VF-1A so, if one gets made, expect the emblems to come with the toy. It’s crazy that these parts don’t come with reaction missiles and that they must instead be purchased separately via a different accessory bundle.
These items were only available through the Tamashii Website for 8,800円 (that’s Yen inclusive of tax) and began shipping in mid-December 2019. In an unusual twist for a TWE, demand was so overwhelming that the preorder sold out rapidly. Bandai quickly announced a second round of preorders for a later April delivery date. It would seem many customers are planning ahead for eventual releases of the rest of the Skull Squadron and want to have strike/super parts at the ready.
To match the DX toy, the strike parts are heavily coated in paint applications. Bandai seems to take a lot of artistic license when it comes to their application of the markings but I think, correct or not, they look phenomenal. I’m also a big fan of the darker hue they gave their movie style armor. Unfortunately, the beauty is only skin deep. Obscured by the darker color and glitzy paint applications is the fact the DX parts have fewer panel lines than Yamato’s previous offerings and lack the simulated hinges on the micro missile ports. Unlike Yamato’s super/strike parts on either their 1/48 or 1/60 version 2 toys, there’s no ability to remove the armor on the missile tower to expose the micro missiles in their stowed position. Likewise, the DX leg armor lacks the internal detail on the leg armors you would find on the Yamato products. Similarly, while the cover on the booster is removable, it seems like this is done primarily to facilitate swapping the Jolly Roger emblem. The booster detail on the DX extends only to the area around the thruster nozzles and excludes the cavity behind the emblem since no portion of this is visible when the armor is on. Like the Yamato 1/60 Version 2, Bandai relied on a cradle/brace for the backpack to support the missile booms. Since this copies the Yamato approach and has only a minor visual impact, it will be something many people have already come to accept. The strike parts have huge barrels in comparison to Yamato’s efforts and I think they look great. Unlike the Yamato arm armors which had big screws on the interior side, Bandai’s armors conceal all screws.
YES, these will fit ALL DX VF-1 toys. The most important criteria for an accessory like this is that it doesn’t hinder your enjoyment of the underlying toy. It can’t reduce the toy’s articulation or pop off constantly leaving you frustrated. By these standards, these parts succeed. The parts attach to the toy with a buttery smoothness and stay where they’re intended. Most parts attach in the same manner as Yamato’s 1/60 V2 but with slightly reshaped pegs. The leg armors add a couple additional pegs to achieve a bit more resilience to handling. While your DX VF-1 is brand new with very stiff joints, you might knock off the arm armors while trying to twist an arm but that was the only thing I ever inadvertently knocked askew.
I initially put these parts on a battroid mode toy and loved them. When I transformed the toy to fighter mode the honeymoon quickly ended. The underlying VF-1 toy relies on a set of large vertical pegs that go from the backplate into the leg to keep the heavy leg parallel in fighter mode. This connection is reinforced by a side peg that attaches into the toy’s backpack. When the backpack is folded over for super part installation, the secondary connection of the leg to the body is lost and the leg slides down its vertical peg and becomes disconnected. Similarly, the arms attach via the same type of vertical peg and will also slide down their peg and suffer a similar fate. The good news is that if you push the leg armor up as high as you can on the peg (I was being too gentle initially) the leg will stay in position but Bandai should either add lips to these pegs or place a notch in them to lock the limbs in position. As mentioned previously, I’m not fond of the backpack cradle Bandai and Yamato employed. To me, it seems like Bandai avoided the tougher but better system of building an integrated lock into the backpack (like Yamato did with their 1/48 toys). The lack of pop off armor on the missile towers and legs are a curious simplification of a deluxe product. My conspiracy theory is that Bandai is still tinkering with the notion of a super deluxe toy so they’re holding back some bells and whistles on the DX line.
If those leg pegs are giving you a hard time, you can use the display stand to keep everything right where it should be. The new fighter mode adapter grabs the toy securely at the knees and nose and holds it in place so you don’t have to worry about the legs sliding down while whooshing it around your bedroom. For GERWALK or battroid mode, you can continue to use the same stand/adapters that you would use without strike/super parts.
The benefit of a simple add-on is that it’s unlikely to break or cause damage to the underlying toy. Though I’m not a fan of the backpack cradle, I’ve seen far too many broken backpack hinges on Yamato products and know there’s a reason these companies look to add strength to the area. I really struggled with getting the leg armors seated properly and had to put a LOT of pressure on the back where the peg connects to get the armors high enough to stay attached securely in fighter mode. With all that effort, I’m also worried that some day the leg won’t fit on the peg as tightly which would make a super fighter mode toy really frustrating to handle.
The DX VF-1 toy is easily superior to both the Yamato 1/60 V2 and 1/48 toys but the super/strike parts can’t make the same boast. Gone are the cool pop off armor pieces. On the 1/48 toy those parts sometimes slid off too easily but they were pretty solid on the 1/60 V2 so it’s hard to argue anything has been gained through their elimination (except maybe a lower price point). While the parts all fit on the toy securely, I have concerns about the toy being able to hold those heavy legs up in fighter mode via a simple slip-fit vertical peg. I know it’s not really canon, but I would have appreciated the strike cannon having the ability to twist a little in either direction. In one of the more iconic shots, Hikaru faces down Boldoza and aims everything he has at him… but the body of his battroid is twisted yet the strike cannon is aimed straight forward. A little artistic license in the film? Probably, but it would be nice if the toy could pull it off. If Bandai tweaks the VF-1 mold to include lips or notches on their vertical pegs to better secure the appendages, I would think a lot more highly of this accessory. Until then, it’s pretty and there’s nothing here that would make me tell you to steer clear.