Mega Review: Everything but the accessories!
Packaging & Extras: Standard Releases (includes all non-super/strike releases) (4.5/5)
Yamato packaged their first ultra premium toy in fighter mode, fully splayed, which required a fairly large box. The large box has a collector’s style flip top lid and an inner cardboard tray with the instructions and stickers smuggled in behind. The original releases (Hikaru VF-1A, Max VF-1A, Focker VF-1S) were simple black boxes with text indicating the toy inside. You can generally tell the first releases from later ones by Velcro on the corner of the box that holds the collector’s lid down (although there are some exceptions, the super gift-sets and the first LowVis toy also had Velcro). The latest releases, the Macross Chronicles VF-1A toys come in finished corrugated cardboard boxes without a flip-top collector’s lid. All toys came with some thin plastic protector pieces usually around the nose of the plane (if you’re buying a toy second hand it’s a safe bet the protective insert pieces will be missing but it never seemed to me that they accomplished much).
The box contains the following:
1) 4 sets of TV style missiles (Low Vis, Woodland, Stealth, and 25th have custom color missiles)
2) 4 sets of DYRL style missiles (Low Vis, Woodland, Stealth, and 25th have custom color missiles)
3) Pilot (LowVis, Woodland, and Stealth come with non-canon pilot)
4) Gun (Low Vis, Woodland, Stealth, and 25th have custom color guns)
5) Gun strap (and attachment rings)
With the exception of the Macross Chronicles Max TV-1A release, if the box indicates the toy is a TV release it also comes with:
8) 2 sets of TV-style fixed pose hands
Packaging & Extras: Super Releases and Stealth Gift-set (5/5)
All super releases come in a slightly larger box and are TV style release. Super releases come with the additional goodies:
9) Super parts (only the Stealth Gift-set includes a strike cannon)
10) Micro missiles on sprues
11) Reaction Missiles
The Strike Stealth gift-set comes in the largest of all 1/48 boxes and was packaged as two separate products housed in one big box. You get an individually packaged 1/48 Stealth toy and individually packaged 1/48 Stealth Strike Accessories (both in plain white boxes).
Charm & Collectability: (2.5/5), +.5 for later release, + 1 for super releases and weathering
The least desirable 1/48 toys are the version 1.0 toys as indicated on the attached list of releases. Yamato didn’t get the recipe quite right the first time. While some people might find some charm from these toys having been the first of Yamato’s efforts; I suspect more people will pass on them and elect to buy the improved later efforts. The non-canon paint schemes (Low Vis, WoodLand, Stealth, and 25th anniversary) did not initially sell well and were never reissued. The original LowVis was marked “Limited Version” and seems to be the most loved of the non-canon efforts. This toy was based on a custom from a Japanese trade show and could be considered Yamato’s first effort at a ‘weathering version’. The Strike Stealth Gift-set was one of the last regular release 1/48 toys released and sold rather quickly. The standalone stealth strike parts were also fairly popular which helps elevate the popularity of the Stealth VF-1J + Strike Parts gift-set. When Yamato made an event exclusive VF-1S Focker Weathering Edition for the 2008 Winter Wonderfest it was more of a hit than they probably imagined with some people fetching over $600 for one. Later Yamato reissued the toy as a website exclusive. Numbers are still obviously limited but it’s no longer nearly impossible to come by. Event exclusive versions of that toy come with a dark blue slip over the box with a matte finish, later website exclusives have a glossy slip.When the Macross Chronicles Special Editon TV Max 1A was released many consumers had already moved on to the 1/60 V2 toys but shops still ordered a fair amount of stock and had a hard time selling them. As a result, few shops ordered excess TV Hayao 1As when they were announced making them more collectable despite the less popular character. The last ‘weathering version’ to hit the shelves was a Hikaru 1J but demand had moved on to the 1/60 V2 toys so it didn’t make a big splash. An honorable mention for collectability should go to the Figure-Oh! Meteor Buster VF-1A that was awarded through an essay contest. It’s truly a famous custom though rather than a true release and came in a box signed by Shoji Kawamori. The second rarest valk out there is the Weathering Version Hikaru VF-1S with separate Weathering Version DYRL Strike Parts. These toys were raffle items, limited to 250, as part of the Macross Chronicles promotion when people were putting in their orders for the TV Max 1A. The problem with all these exclusives is how little people know about them and how seemingly easy they would be to fake. The Hikaru VF-1S with Strike Parts came in the standard boxes but with little stickers indicating this was an exclusive. In wouldn’t take the most industrious individual to find a few pics, apply the appropriate decals, give a quick weathering job, and make a replica sticker to turn their standard toy into a now ultra limited edition version. The same is probably more true of the Credit Card VF-1J. I believe the way it worked was that anyone who spent above $X was entitled to receive a gift from their credit card company with several choices available, including three Yamato 1/48 Limited VF-1J toys. The toys appeared to be all black VF-1Js with the heat shield from the LowVis toy and several stickers already applied.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8.5/10) +.5 for weathering
At the time of its release, the 1/48 so easily trampled its predecessors in all respects that it quickly dominated the market. The toy isn’t without fault, in fighter mode the arms hang a bit low. In battroid mode the arms look a little thin, the integrated hands look tiny, the chest looks a little large, and the nosecone hangs a little low. The pre-painted detail, for its day, was only average for a toy of this size and looks absolutely sparse in comparison to Bandai’s 2002 1/55 reissues or any of Bandai’s more recent releases. Yamato did capture the fact that the TV version super parts have a different look from the movie version parts (which were sold separately). You can see in the picture above that the TV parts are a little lighter hue and that the arm armor is a different mold entirely. Yamato didn’t paint the intake or air brake areas on the Stealth version which prevented details from popping out in the sea of black plastic. When it came time to make a 25th anniversary scheme, Yamato struggled,.originally planning a very colorful YF-19 and VF-1S toy but sentiment from fans who saw the prototypes at trade shows negative enough to scrap those plans. Pictures of the original schemes are presented above, pictures were taken by MacrossWorld member Save. As a result, Yamato went back to the drawing board and came up with black valks with gold trim. Sentiment for the black scheme was also lukewarm.Some people aren’t fans of the weathering editions and the type of weathering that Yamato had applied but I felt inclined to bump the score up a bit here. The weathering editions also feature some pre-applied stickers which helps them really pop on a shelf.
There are lots of areas where this toy should be lauded as it’s the first “second generation” VF-1 toy Macross fans really got (the Toynami MPC and original 1/60 VF-1 were rather sad efforts). The transformation sequence, while not radically different from predecessors, was overhauled to allow things like a twisting waist, integrated heat-shield, and hidden swing for the legs in the migration from fighter to battroid. The list of positive design elements is huge including a functioning canopy for the detailed cockpit and removable pilot (low vis version pictured above, TV version pictured in sculpt section), an integrated antenna for GERWALK mode, twist points at the knees with separate knee-cap armor, anime accurate three-door landing gears with articulated tow bar up front, even an air brake and wing flaps. Early adopters had to overcome a slight learning curve with the updated style of transformation but many soon found it nearly as intuitive as previous incarnations of the VF-1. There were two common complaints that extend to all 1/48 toys, not just the first editions. Those complaints stem from the heat-shield occasionally popping off mid transformation (it’s on a track and if one side is pulled out further than the other it can pop out and easily be put right back in) and the plugs which conceal the holes for the hips can be very difficult to pull back out when transforming the toy back to fighter mode. Problems that were later solved by the second edition release included finicky wing-flaps that seemed to pop off in a stiff breeze and a nosecone that almost never stayed on the toy through the duration of a transformation. If anyone ever makes a 1/35 scale transformable VF-1 I hope we see intake covers that are integrated into the hip rather than being removable plugs. Another plus of these toys is that they were designed from the very beginning to be compatible with Super Parts and the attachment points were very smoothly incorporated. The middle pictures below shows the neck plug/back pack support that comes included with the super bundle sets.
Durability & Build: Version 1.0: (6.5/10), Version 1.1 (7/10)
The first releases featured some fit issues such as the easily dislodged nosecone and wing-flaps mentioned above. In addition the canopy was occasionally floppy and would not stay up on its own and the front gear’s tow bar would often dangle listlessly and potentially fall off creating some issue in tracking it down. While chipped paint is still an issue of concern on second edition toys, the first edition toys had teeth on the front landing gear covers that made opening the doors more difficult and increased the likelihood of harming the paint. Also unique to the first edition Focker was a build issue that caused the VF-1S head to have a bump on its right side. Common to both first and second edition toys is the potential to chip the paint off the swing arm from frequent transformations. There are rubber O-rings in the hips that may also begin working their way out of the hip with only moderate handling, a situation alleviated by removing the leg and re-seating the ring. Both the first and second edition also generated complaints from people having hips that were too loose, a situation generally caused by the plastic block that housed the ball joint forming cracks. Other issues include fast pack hooks (part of the backpack trap door) falling off too easily and not supporting the weight of Fast Packs on the Valk and the BP8 hinge below the backpack snapping when pressure is applied to the backpack. You can avoid breaking the BP8 hinge by making sure the little triangle fin on the back of the vehicle is fully recessed when using the trap door hook to lock the backpack in place when using GBP or Super/Strike parts. The BP8 can also snap if you try to push the backpack upward (if you find it drooping) so don’t be a hero, just use the flop out hook on the top of the backpack to keep it in place. The reaction weapons do a very poor job staying on the wings or even staying connected on the missile trees… the fit is way too sloppy. The forward missile bays on the fast packs can also suffer from a weak attachment and fall off during only moderate handling. The gun attachment point on the arm armors of the super parts also fails to solidly grip the gun which can cause the gun to plop out in fighter mode. Some issues with the super parts aside, after the very first few releases the wing flaps became harder to dislodge, the nose cone stayed in place, and the VF-1S lost the odd mole on its face. Yamato also included more packing film on later releases to make sure that the toy didn’t lose paint rubbing against the inner plastic tray. The Macross Chronicles VF-1A TV Max toy also makes good use of colored plastic as to help avoid paint scratches at the hips.
This toy was an improvement over its predecessors in all respects, including articulation. It could move, twist, and pivot in just about all the ways you would hope. My first edition toys had a tendency to have points in the range of movement that conflicted with the joint (meaning I’d want an elbow at a 25 degree angle but it would only stay in a 28 or 22 degree position). The biggest complaint was the poor range of movement in the toy’s elbows that only allowed about a 90 degree bend. The knees were similar. Yamato’s 1/60 V2 toys really stepped up the elbow articulation making it the more fun toy in battroid. Like all other Valkryie toys of the time, the 1/48 doesn’t have the greatest feet. They allow a nice angle forward and back but they remain firmly housed in the leg so there’s no left/right angle to balance dynamic poses and make them look more natural. While the head can look up and twist around, later toys improved upon this by putting the head on a ball joint. As mentioned previously, this toy was designed with super parts in mind so the super parts do not limit the fun you’ll have posing this toy.
Total Score: (38.5/50) – (41.5/50)
Even the very first releases of the 1/48 toys are still good toys. Generally people should look for the later releases as they have better build quality and some minor durability tweaks. If you’re going to buy just one 1/48 toy, I highly recommend getting one of the super bundles. The Weathering Edition toys are very attractive and hard to come by so those are also popular among the diehard collectors. Would I recommend the 1/48 toys over the 1/60 V2 toys? No. The V2 toys don’t have the same gimmicks (no air brake, wing flaps, or removable nosecone) but their build quality is a step above the 1/48s and they handle much better. If you have the time and space though, the 1/48 is a really cool toy and it’s something I think every Macross collector should experience.
Original Post Date: June 12, 2006
Updated: October 16, 2006, cleaned up pictures
Updated: May 30, 2009, added SD video review and content to reflect V2 releases
Updated: October 27, 2010 to add Max TV-1A
Updated: August 28, 2016, added list of releases, increased resolution of most photos to HD, added HD transformation guide, added HD video review, updated format to make it easier to read.