Review: Starting with Stick Bernard’s AFC-01H
Packaging & Extras: (5/5)
This toy’s box (30.5 x 20.5 x 10.2) will be familiar to anyone that owns a Riobot Ride Armor figure in both shape and feel. The thin cardboard has a nice matte finish and is adorned with top-notch art from Mercy Rabbit. Sure, the box itself isn’t as nice as Toynami’s Masterpiece books but the contents are amazing. You will receive your Legioss toy as well as:
1) Pilot figure
2) Ride armor (bike mode only) with stand
3) 2x weapon mounts for wings
5) Display stand adapter
6) Display stand (base, arm base, arm, adapter)
7) 2x Intake fan covers (pre-installed)
8) Additional missile rack (pre-installed between the arms)
My intake fan covers were rattling around loose with the intakes so I think they would be better packaged unattached. There are only two things I can think of as possible “wants”: fixed posed hands and under intake missiles. Imai included missiles with their models (and have since been included by Aoshima and Evolution Toy) that mount below the intakes/chest. The toy appears to have mounting spots for these missiles so maybe we’ll see them as a bonus item on a future repaint but it also seems like they might conflict with the transformation mechanism in diver mode so maybe not. A couple sets of fixed posed hands would have also been nice (gun gripping and barrel holding would have been great).
Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
Debuting with Stick’s AFC-01H in June 2020 for 25,000¥, this toy sold out during the pre-order window. As it’s the most heroic theme from the show, there’s a good likelihood that it will be re-issued. Sentinel quickly did a second production run of their Riobot VR-52F/T ride armor toys after those toys sold out during the preorder window. Sentinel has already teased a red variant so the core trio (blue/red/green) seems likely. The fighter mode display stand adapter looks like the connecting arm of a Tread so there’s reason to be optimistic that Sentinel may consider a toy version of that vehicle at some point also. At about 22 cm long in fighter mode, this toy is the first version produced to accurately capture the dimensions of the Legioss in fighter mode at its stated scale (1/48). Even the included articulated pilot figure is appropriately scaled at 3.8 cm tall. At 16.5 cm tall in soldier mode, the toy is a little short for the original measurement of 8.75 meters tall (more like 1/53 scale) and will stand a hair shorter than your CM’s or Toynami toys. Metal content is relegated to supporting joints, primarily the ankles, knees, and cockpit swing bar. The toy weighs 224 grams, which is half as much as the large old Gakken toy and substantially less than the similarly sized Toynami Masterpiece (400 grams) but more than the lackluster CM’s toy (164 grams).
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
Between the inconsistent appearance of the Legioss in the show and the idea that this Sentinel toy is a ‘modern interpretation’ of the original design, those who insist on line art accuracy may have issues with this toy. Even line art purists will have to admit that this is the best physical representation of the Legioss by a LARGE margin. The painted-on details are thorough without being distracting. The yellow panels in the nose, knees, and shoulders are clear plastic inserts. The only area where the painted on detail comes up a bit short is the cockpit. The molded detail is nice, and there’s a clear blue plastic accent for where the HUD would be projected, but some painted elements would have made it pop.
Speaking of a lack of paint apps that prevent something from popping, the pilot figure comes with only a painted visor. The figures garments and REF armor are left unpainted. You could argue that this is entirely in the spirit of the original Gakken 1/35 toy, but you could more easily argue that a fully painted figure would be even nicer. Otherwise, the figure looks amazing.
The overall proportions to fighter mode are amazing. People more familiar with previous toy attempts than the line art might feel fighter mode looks ‘off’ because this toy manages to (correctly) truncate the legs, making the Legioss look more like a triangle from above. All previous toys left the Legioss with more body extending past the arms. The inability for previous toys to collapse their legs properly has also caused those toys to be out of scale in fighter mode (read: too long for the stated scale and measurements). This has led some to argue that the official Legioss length of 10.25 meters was unobtainable (a real life VF-1 would be nearly 4 meters longer). So, if you’re one of the ones looking at this toy and thinking fighter mode looks “stubby”, it’s because it is supposed to, and it is rather astounding that Sentinel pulled it off.
Transformation to diver mode requires moving the side of the intakes to a position below them. The side flap does a good job tucking in via a couple hinges and pivots. Given the angle of the toy in diver mode, the repositioned intake wall is usually hidden or obscured. It’s hard not to think that this solution is over-engineered but it ultimately works very well. The sensor array flaps out, extends, has a hinged antenna, and the base plate has an edge that folds upward… all allowing it to be tiny and perfectly concealed in fighter mode and appropriately sized for diver/soldier modes. The pivot point in the antenna isn’t beautiful but an extra bump in a sensor array is an easily forgiven sin. I also felt the whole array leaned a little toward the shoulder but I could get it ‘close enough’ (it would have been better if the array attached via a ball joint instead of a hinge).
This toy is gorgeous in soldier mode. The ability for this toy to be so good in every mode, seemingly without compromise, is quite the achievement. The unique transformation keeps the nose from dangling too low in the back. The fact the head is sitting right on the canopy seems like it should cause some issues but it doesn’t. In real life, if the controls and monitors were glowing in the cockpit, it might look a little funny at night. The missiles in their bays are just tiny red dots with each bay having its own sized dot. At a larger scale I might expect more from the missile bays but, at this scale, I’m just happy they’re there.
You get all of the good things you’ve come to expect from a high end transformable Legioss:
1) Opening cockpit with removable pilot figure… and the pilot figure is even articulated! He can pilot the vehicle, look cool walking next to it, or ride the included bike-mode ride armor!
2) Integrated landing gear that provide sufficient ground clearance, have spinning wheels, rubber tires, lock in the extended position so you can roll the toy around without them collapsing, and have bay doors with concealed hinges.
3) Mountable gun in fighter mode. The gun can be mounted to the wing using the included rail. At a larger scale, I would like the magazine to collapse against the barrel but at 1/48 I can accept Sentinel requiring the magazine be removed. I also am not a huge fan of the very small hard point rails as they seem doomed to be lost some day.
4) Mountable missile pod. This is a carryover from the Imai model days and was never in the show. It can be mounted between the arms in fighter mode or behind either arm in soldier. It can also be mounted to the hard point rail and stowed under a wing but, since you only get one of them, it looks funky.
4) Perfect transformation. There are optional intake covers for soldier mode. Perfect transformation is certainly expected but perfect transformation that actually achieves the Legioss’ proper dimensions is truly a feat to be lauded. There are too many amazing aspects of what this toy does in such a tight form that you really have to watch the video reviews to appreciate it.
5) Integrated missile bays. They really aren’t more impressive than the bays that have appeared on other toys but the build quality here is better so the experience of using them is more pleasant.
The transformation pivots the cockpit so it is under the soldier mode head. It’s an ingenious solution and even has cool display functionality as it allows you to pivot the head forward and pose the articulated pilot getting in/out.
The included display stand is basic but functional. The base of the arm rotates and there are three knuckles for height/angle adjustment. The adapter plugs into a round peg giving you the ability to pivot the toy once connected. I don’t like that the front of the VTOL vent has to be removed to attach the toy to the stand, this feels like an easy part to lose. The attachment in fighter mode is good enough though the plug in attachment in diver/soldier mode is more secure.
Durability & Build: (6/10)
I’m going to point out numerous issues with this toy that appeared on the first release but I believe all of them COULD be easily rectified in follow-up releases (ball is in your court Sentinel, make it happen). Before I ramble about shortcomings, it should be made absolutely clear, this toy is a HUGE step-up from the Evolution Toy, CM’s, Toynami, or Aoshima offerings. Yes, there are some problems to be overcome, but these are small in comparison to the shortcomings of this toy’s predecessors. I haven’t heard anyone complain about toys broken in the box or parts looking warped. That said, there are numerous common, if not universal, tolerance issues:
1) The back of the left wing falls off very easily. It plugs right back in, and can be solved in numerous ways by the hobbyist, but Sentinel should tweak the mold to fix this.
2) The ankles are metal balls that go into metal sockets and are loose. This can cause your diver mode toy to be tougher to pose.
3) The shoulder rotation mechanisms are CRAZY tight, leading some to wonder if the arm was even capable of rotating at the shoulder. It is… but it can’t out of the box. If you’re brave enough (and don’t blame me if you break your toy) you can grab needle nose pliers (look for rubber ones to spare your paint) to grab the pivot point that connects the shoulder assembly to the body, then grab the arm nearest the pivoting point and force it to rotate. This process is made more precarious as the housing on the top of the shoulder connects to the assembly by a couple small tabs. I was very concerned about breaking those tabs and having the outer shoulder fall off the toy. Once you’ve made it rotate, it will move as intended and very stiffly. I suspect the goal was to create a shoulder that could withstand holding the gun in an outstretched arm but the result was a shoulder so stiff the arm can’t be outstretched. I would be shocked if this isn’t fixed on future releases.
4) The rider figure disassembles easily. This isn’t a big deal, it stays together when you’re not fiddling with it. As you move it from one position to another you might bump an arm off and have to put it on again but once its in the right position everything is fine.
5) There’s a sleeve within the hip joint that has a back and a forward position but frequently gets itself spun around so the wrong half is facing forward. There’s a peg on the sleeve that is likely meant to prevent this but the leg can be angled in so many ways that the peg is insufficient. The solution is to rotate the hip while changing the angle of the hip to get the piece spun around to the right direction. You likely do NOT need to remove any screws to do this and you certainly do NOT need to do anything with glue. When the sleeve is in the wrong position it can prevent the thigh from getting certain angles but its usually a non-issue.
6) The landing gear are initially hard to pull out and, even after using them several times, I still rely on pliers. Exercise EXTREME caution the first several times you use them as they also operate on unfamiliar angles. The rear landing gear come out from their housing diagonally. If you tried to pull them straight back you may break something. The wheel also rotates in one direction when you have it all the way out so make sure your twisting appropriately once the tire is fully exposed.
7) The intake fan covers for soldier mode pop out at the slightest touch. This is another tricky area because you don’t want them to lock onto the toy but they do need to stay on a bit better than this.
I honestly can’t imagine a more dynamic Legioss toy. The head is on a ball joint that can swivel in any direction, cock, look up and down. The shoulders are on a swing that allows the whole assembly to pivot forward/back that attaches to a pivot that allows the shoulder to rock forward/back. This attaches to a hinge that allows the arm to pivot upward and a rotation point that SHOULD allow the arm to spin all the way around at the shoulder. There is a twist point at the top of the bicep, an elbow, and a twist point below the elbow. Depending on the orient the elbow it can achieve 60 or just more than 90 degrees of movement. The hands attach via a ball joint allowing them to pivot in all directions and twist. The thumb can pivot while the trigger finger can move independent of the other three fingers (one solid piece) with all pivoting on the top knuckle. Though primarily for transformation purposes, both pecs rotate and you’ll need to employ this ‘cheat’ if you want to get the toy to be holding the gun across the chest. There is a waist that allows the toy to spin completely around and an ab crunch that allows the upper body to pivot forward (or you could use it to pose the toy with a triumph crotch thrust). The hips are a combination of a pivot, hinge, and sleeve that allow for the same pivoting out/in and twisting you would get from a ball joint. Just below the thigh is a one click “GERWALK” joint of sorts that allows the lower leg to move a bit forward or back that when used in concert with the knee allows the knee to go just more than 90 degrees. The ankle is very impressive being a ball joint connected to a hinge. This allows the ball joint to shift a little left/right within the leg housing to position the foot better. The foot then can do all of the things you would expect from a ball joint. The front toe and heel also have some articulation to them, though mostly for transformation purposes they may still come in handy. So, why not a perfect score? I would love for the hinge that positions the shoulder to allow the shoulder to travel all the way to the front of the chest. If the toy could pull this off it would allow for better upper body posing.
Total Score: (43/50)
Can I pair this Legioss with an existing Tread toy? No. Will Sentinel make a Tread toy? There are slots in the bottom of the feet that’d I’d wager are meant to tab into little pegs on a Tread to keep the Legioss level so it’s definitely a consideration. Sentinel has been positive on the prospect but the Legioss needs to sell really well to get the idea past the accountants. Fortunately, this toy is good… really good. Even with the nitpicks I’ve pointed out, it easily exceeds all previous Legioss toys. If Sentinel can do the very minor tweaks necessary to fix those tolerance issues, this thing will be a JOY to own. Sell all four of your old Toynami MPCs, Aoshima, CM’s, or Evolution Toys Legiosses and buy one Sentinel Legioss, you won’t regret it. Keep your old Gakken 1/35 scale toy though… it might not be as cool as this toy but it was a high point that took 35 years to best.