Banpresto 1/144 VF-1 Toys

Review (updated): Now includes super/strike and standard releases in one post

Packaging & Extras: standard (2.5/5), super/strike: (4/5)
Both standard and super releases come in the same sized boxes with decent box art and a ribbon on top allowing the box to be positioned on any sort of peg in a toy store.   The ability to facilitate any sort of peg is made more interesting by the fact these toys were intended to be prizes in UFO catcher/crane games.  Both packages have large windows on the front but the standard releases have a large area you can’t see into that seems like it should house a variety of cool extras but instead is just totally wasted space.  The standard releases come with the following:
1) 2x optional heads (allowing you to make your toy into a VF-1A, VF-1J, or VF-1S
2) 2x fixed posed hands (right handed-gun grip and left handed open palm to hold barrel of gun but with freakishly long fingers)
3) Gun with extending barrel
4) Instructions
The super/Strike versions of the toy come with all of those things plus:
5) Super or Strike parts
6) Heat shield for battroid mode
7) A gray panel to lock everything together in fighter mode when the super parts are used
8) A white panel to connect the backpack super parts to
9) Clip on landing gears

Charm & Collectability: (2/5)
Some folks generously call these toys 1/144 scale but the truth is they’re much closer to 1/100 scale, so if you’re a stickler or looking for a toy to fit a particular scale diorama, keep that in mind as you do your shopping.  These toys enjoyed a very brief heyday as the cheapest transformable (not deformed) VF-1 toy that was available. Banpresto made three waves available: 1) standard, 2) super, 3) strike). Though available through retail stores, this toy was also a UFO Catcher prize and has the level of qulaity that would reflect this. There’s no metal, the plastic is very cheap, so demand was never very feverish despite the low MSRP and great variety. While you were intended to sink a bunch of Yen into a crane game to get these toys,  they were widely available in stores for  1,300¥ during 2002’s 20th Anniversary of SDF Macross celebration. The later release of the Toynami 1/100 line with its initial MSRP of $19.99 (USD) completely crushed demand for these inferior offerings. If you’re looking for a small scale but cheap VF-1 toy, the Toynami 1/100 line is a far better choice. Available releases were:
Part 1: DYRL standard releases:
Roy VF-1S/A/J, August 2002, 1,300¥
Hikaru VF-1S/A/J, August 2002, 1,300¥
MaxVF-1A/S/J, August 2002, 1,300¥

Part 2: TV standard releases:
Hikaru VF-1J/A/S, August 2002, 1,300¥
Roy VF-1S/A/J, August 2002, 1,300¥
Max VF-1J/A/S, August 2002, 1,300¥
Miria VF-1J/A/S, August 2002, 1,300¥
Mass Production VF-1A/J/S, August 2002, 1,300¥

Super releases:
Roy VF-1S/A/J
Hikaru VF-1S/A/J
Mass Production VF-1A/J/S

Strike Releases:
Roy VF-1S/A/J
Hikaru VF-1S/A/J

Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (5.5/10)
As you might expect, with a reduction in scale comes concessions in the look of the product. For the most part these still do a good job looking like the valks you know and love… but there are definitely some departures. The way the canopy sinks into the cockpit immediately uglifies the fighter mode. The arms of the figure feature either a recess or a large protrusion (depending which side you’re looking at) meant to enable the figure to carry the gun in fighter mode at the expense of all other modes. Sadly, once the gun is in position in fighter mode it hangs down ridiculously low anyway. The way the fins attach to the rear backpack is also a travesty of both design and aesthetics… yuck. So, overall, it has some pretty big flaws but you can look beyond them to see the VF-1 you love. There is some detail but nothing substantial and the paint on my samples seems average at best.  The Super/Strike version of the toys add some unique failures to the mix.  The leg super parts include a bulky part that wraps around the front of the leg to create a sliding point for the rear landing gears.  The rear landing gears themselves are simply molded in gray, there are no paint accents or rubber wheels.  The backpack super parts attach via a large white plate that is pinched into place between the backpack and the top of the fighter.  The silver lining to the super parts are the pre-painted details such as red nozzles, painted black interior parts, UN Spacy kite, and UN Spacy logo on the leg armors.  Banpresto also did a better job nailing the VF-1S head sculpt than Toynami did on their 1/100 VF-1 line and Yamato did on their V1 1/60 toys.

Design: (5/10)
For the most part this toy just features the good ol’ fashioned Takatoku design that is actually enhanced through the inclusion of ball-joints at the hips. Unfortunately, it has some pretty major issues that keep it from being executed as nice as one would think when hearing it’s an upgraded Takatoku design. The manner in which the arms lock together ruins the sculpt and isn’t very effective.  A piece with this little mass needs to be brought together in a manner that solidifies its form and while some effort is present in the form of tabs that hold the intakes and back of the knees to the belly of the plane more effort would have helped.  The backpack needs something to lock it into place in fighter mode.  The super/strike versions add more design deficiencies to the list of faults.  The super/strike parts themselves really don’t work with these toys.  I had to use clear tape in a number of areas just to keep parts attached.  The most obvious failure is the include heat shield.  To install the heat shield you remove the canopy from the cockpit and insert a little rounded piece of plastic that has only one very small tab located toward its bottom.  This tab does nothing to keep the heat shield locked into place and you either have to rely on finding just the right position where gravity assists you or dig out the clear tape to keep that shield in place.  I had the same problem with the arm armors.  While I could snap them on and have them hold for a second or two, that was it unless I resorted to tape.  The leg and backpack armors have a little more success but that’s because Banpresto included several other parts that shouldn’t have been necessary to make sure everything stayed where it was supposed to.

Durability & Build: (3/10)
Approach this toy with more than a fair amount of patience… it is, at all times, only moments away from falling apart. I would rank this thing even lower in this category if it weren’t for the fact that the occasional part popping off is usually easily snapped back into place. The materials used feel really cheap and are easily broken so you should be aware a catastrophic meltdown may just be a tweak away. While the head lasers are supposed to move (they move fin on my Super Roy toy) I can’t get them to turn on any of my standard releases other than the VF-1A head. You might not have a chance to enjoy the gimmick of the optional included heads either.  Trying to install them is often impossible because they’re manufactured for neck joints smaller than the one on your toy.  On some samples the hands don’t really seem to stay in their sockets, on others it seems really difficult to get them in or pull them out. As you might expect on a toy this small, tolerances are a clear problem in any mode and do detract from the overall look of the product. Also don’t be surprised if some of the joints are so loose it ruins the toy’s articulation.

Articulation: (7.5/10)
Albeit an extremely frustrating effort, these toys are quite poseable. Whatever you do, don’t pull on anything or rotate anything carelessly or you’ll end up with a limb in your hand and collapsed rubble on your shelf. With some patience and a rebuild or two you can eventually pull off some pretty nifty moves. The only joint really lacking here is a rotation point at the knee… but seeing as fragile and sloppy this toy is without it it’s probably a good thing that that joint was omitted. In battroid mode this joint actually isn’t that sorely missed though as you can actually rotate the hip so far out that it points away from the body. Unfortunately, when the intakes are locked in place for GERWALK mode being able to rotate the hip doesn’t help anymore leaving GERWALK to look pretty stiff.  It has been pointed out to me that you can compensate for this by simply disconnecting the intakes, you can see the compromise in the pics below.  The shoulders of this product are also a bit problematic as they don’t offer enough resistance to have the valk actually lifting the gun above its head and limit the arm’s overall mobility.  The super/strike parts once taped into place won’t impede articulation.  Other than the already mentioned twist joint at the knee, this toy could have used the ability to cock the head, a waist swivel, double-jointed elbows, and increased range of movement at the hip.

Total Score: standard (25.5/50), Super/Strike (27/50)
At this point in time, there’s no reason to go hunting these down unless you’re a completist.  They look decent enough to be included in a display but as toys they’re failures.  The Toynami 1/100 line has faults all its own but even with those faults its easily superior to these toys especially when one considers they tend to sale in a very similar price range.

Note: This review has been updated.  New pictures were added, line art comparisons were added, HD video review was added, and content was updated to include reference to subsequent toy releases.   As part of my continuing effort to make the site easier to navigate I also combined the posts for the standard releases (Originally published August 14, 2006) and super/strike releases (Originally published June 13, 2006 and updated March 8, 2009)

3 Replies to “Banpresto 1/144 VF-1 Toys”

  1. These are brill, I have 4. 1xvf1s and 3xvf1a,s.Am looking out to get more but am having bother to find them.
    would be nice to see die cast version with perfect transformation in 1/144

  2. The head lasers do rotate properly on all heads shipped with my Rick-painted one, but they always feels like they’re about to crack from it, so I try to avoid it.

  3. The”true scale” comparison picture is great, I’d love to see more of these in future reviews. And who knew that the transforming Revoltech would be the toy that’s closest to being in 1/100 scale.

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