04.21.15

Bandai Hi-Metal VF-19 Toys

Posted in 1/100, Bandai, Macross 7, VF/YF-19 Valkyrie at 12:18 pm by micronian

 

Review(updated): Includes both VF-19Kai and VF-19S Blazer Valkyries

 

Packaging & Extras: (2.5/5) VF-19K, (4.5/5) VF-19S
The packaging is top notch with vibrant art and a magnetic flip-top collector’s lid that allows you to see the toy in fighter mode within. Things are decidedly less premium once you pull the plastic inner tray from the box. With the VF-19Kai you get:
1) 1x speaker shooter (gun)
2) 1x pair of fixed pose hands (open palm), 1x trigger hand
3) 1x adapter for the Bandai Display base
4) 1x alternate face for battroid mode
5) 3x head parts (not perfect transformation)
6) 3x optional leg cavity fillers.
7) Instructions
The display stand adapter is essentially useless without a Bandai Action Base so you may want to buy one of those if you buy this toy. Everyone immediately groused about the lack of fists and landing gears which probably explains why the VF-19S includes a lot more good stuff. You get the following with the Blazer:
1) 1x gun
2) 2x pair of fixed pose hands (open palm and fist), 1x trigger hand
3) 3x adapter for Bandai display stand
4) 1x Bandai display stand (base and arm)
5) 1x head parts (not perfect transformation)
6) 3x optional leg cavity fillers
7) Instructions
8) 3x landing gear (for use with including display stand)
9) 2x Optional open leg missile bay parts
The big disparity in scores here is driven by the VF-19S’ inclusion of a display stand and landing gears, the lack of which renders the VF-19K’s fighter mode nearly useless unless you’re actually holding it. Bandai did address VF-19K’s lack of accessories by selling a Tamashii exclusive accessory kit and even a Tamashii exclusive Soundbooster which I have reviewed separately. Sadly, while the accessory kit for the 19Kai includes a gun attachment piece for fighter mode, that piece was not included with the 19S toy even though it works perfectly with the 19S’ gun.

Charm & Collectability: (2/5)
Outside of Japan neither of these valkyries are very popular, “It’s a clown valk in McDonald’s colors.” Yep, some people downright hate the ‘fire valkyrie’ and its color scheme. While this is a Hi-Metal toy finding the metal may require the use of a tiny metal detector because it’s anything but obvious and the toy certainly doesn’t have the heft of a toy featuring any quantity of metal. Sure, it’s in there, in a couple tiny bits, but it seems the “Hi-Metal” name is really Bandai’s attempt to cash in on some sentimentality while conjuring images of the old perfect transformation toys… something desperately needed after the VF100 debacle (a line of VF-25 parts-formers that was terrible). Overall my outlook for these toys remains weak. I purchased my VF-19Kai shortly after release already at a discount and I bought my VF-19S in 2015, never opened, for well below retail. The releases and MSRP were as follows:
VF-19Kai (Basara Custom), January 2010, 7000 Yen
VF-19S (Docker custom), July 2010, 7000 Yen.

Bandai HiMetal VF-19K 12

Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (7.5/10)
At the time these toys were released they were, with a huge cushion, the best representation of the VF-19 that had been made. The old Bandai 1/65 is HIDEOUS in comparison… and I’ve included a comparison so you can see for your self. However, Kawamori’s art of the Kai is so stylized that it will always be impossible for any toy to truly NAIL the 19. About a year later Yamato released their 1/60 representation, and the larger scale allowed them to come closer, but as you can tell from the line art comparison the battroid is just too squat to be born from that fighter. Impossibilities aside, Bandai did a fair amount of tampo-printing, there is no sticker sheet, and the Kai is made of a slightly metallic plastic which captures the glam-rocker ambiance pretty nicely (the blue of the Blazer is bland and too pale in comparison). There’s a little Basara pilot figure at the guitar-shaped controls in the cockpit (although he’s tiny and a little hard to make out at this scale). Docker is in the cockpit of the Blazer Valk but there’s nothing special about his minuscule pilot figure. There are nice little touches here too like vernier thrusters in the shoulders and the rear of Gerwalk/Battroid modes but there are also sloppy transitions and gaps, particular in the aft section of fighter mode.

Bandai HiMetal VF-19K 5

Design: (6.5/10)
Originally I was way too nice on this toy and the release of Yamato’s stellar effort has made this clear to me.  Compared to prior VF-19 toys, and Bandai’s atrocious VF100 line, the Hi-Metal VF-19 toys are easy to handle, hold their modes well, and do just enough to be enjoyable as toys.  Unfortunately, they do have a pretty long list of shortcomings:
1)  Imperfect transformation.   Bandai defenders might point out that even Yamato’s 1/60 VF-19 toys have a bit of partsformation but you’re going to find yourself digging for more pieces with the Hi-Metal line. You might be a bit bummed that you have to pop off and stow tiny black pieces of plastic (seems like those will be easy to lose) to pop hands on but you can take some solace in the fact that there’s no way any integrated hands would have looked or functioned as well as the supplied fixed-pose hands. The fact you’re going to have to install the head antennae when transforming from fighter mode would have had you hunting in your toy’s box for parts anyway. I found the additional parts for the backs of the legs almost completely unnecessary. While you’re going to need the head antennae and the hands you definitely do not NEED these leg parts unless you’re planning on having the toy in some sort of walking away pose on your shelf. The leg parts do snap in very well and they are bright red so they won’t be nearly as apt to get lost as the hand covers. The VF-19S only NEEDS the separate hands and comes with an optional back of head that has the guns splayed outward.
2) There are no integrated landing gear, no landing gear at all for the VF-19Kai, and the landing gear for the VF-19S need to attach to the display stand, not the valk.
3) No removable intake covers (though Yamato didn’t make this happen either)
4) No opening cockpit
5) Gun doesn’t stow in fighter (for reals)
6) The toy doesn’t lock together as well as you would want it to (particularly the shoulder and wing pieces in fighter mode)
7) No neat gimmicks. The Yamato toy has a few, although the 19S does have the swap-in missile effect on the legs, no connecting points for super parts or sound boosters (the sound booster required a separate attachment piece), and certain parts don’t seem to latch in/down as well as they should (like the shoulders in fighter mode and the face in battroid).


Durability & Build: (7.5/10)
Early reports seem to indicate that this toy is fairly resilient with satisfactory build quality. I haven’t seen numerous complaints about easily removed paint apps or any parts that have exhibited early signs of stress/weakness. There have been a few build quality issues ranging from over-gluing to loose fit. Fortunately the build quality complaints have been fairly limited and the general consensus seems to be that this is a quality product that can be handled frequently and will still display well. It’s certainly no old school chunky though and it is small with removable parts so it’s nothing you’d want a child running around with.  The quality of the plastic on Yamato’s VF-19 toys is notably higher. The antennae/lasers on the VF-19S look fragile and my VF-19S has a leg that doesn’t peg together as tightly as it should which allows it to spin around too freely during handling.

Bandai HiMetal VF-19K 7

Articulation: (7.5/10)
This toy does very well while having a few key short-comings. Starting with the good: the hips flair out for very wide A-Stances, the legs twist and bend just as you’d want, the feet are fairly adaptable, and the arms have a huge range of motion at the shoulders. Unfortunately the head is not on a ball joint so you are limited to left/right glares and the elbows do not have the additional hinge which would allow the toy to touch its shoulders. Obviously with no landing gears you’re going to want to get the display stand from Bandai (or another company) if you’re a fan of fighter mode.

Bandai HiMetal VF-19K 14Bandai HiMetal VF-19K 11

Total Score: (34/50) VF-19K, (36/50) VF-19S
The subsequent release of Yamato’s 1/60 VF-19Kai and VF-19S in May and November of 2011, respectively, diminished some of the Hi-Metal’s collectability and may have exposed a fundamental issue with Macross collecting. The Hi-Metal toys were roughly 33% of the MSRP of the Yamato toys but practically everyone wanted to compare them against each other (no surprise, the Yamato is vastly superior). This begs the question as to whether there is a market for ‘affordable’ Macross toys or, since the niche is dominated by adults with disposable income, should manufacturers aim their efforts at the (super) high end (as Arcadia has done).  Bandai has plans to visit this scale again with a line they’re calling “Hi-Metal R” but I would guess it too will meet an early demise as it seems collectors want it to have the features of a larger scale toy. This means that shoppers will be let down by whatever compromises Bandai makes to accommodate the scale and instead opt to spend multiples of the MSRP on larger toys (because they can). The other option here is that Bandai poisoned the well with their terrible VF100 toys and then underwhelmed with the Hi-Metal VF-19 by making several dubious design decisions. Maybe enough time has now elapsed that, assuming they don’t botch the toy or the accessories again, the stage is set for the new line. If Hi-Metal R doesn’t become vaporware we may find out in the next 12 months.

April 21, 2015: Review was updated to include an HD video review
April 14, 2015: Review was updated to include pictures and more data about the VF-19S Hi-Metal toy, added an HD Transformation guide.
January 17, 2012: this review was updated to reflect the release of the later Tamashii accessory kits, Blazer Valkyrie, and Yamato 1/60 toys.  Score has been reduced a bit since the Yamato toy raised the bar.
Original Post Date: March 30, 2010.

8 Comments »

  1. Zeronith said,

    March 31, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Ohh. i didnt know the flap was magnetic. But either way, i wont be getting it. Too.. Undetailed.

    Needs a demonstration of all major range of movements of joints. Elbows, knees, waist, thighs/legs/pelvis/whatever, shoulder and foot. mainly. and anything else that’s worth mentioning. like toe joint.

    while i’m a macross 7 fan, i’m not so interested in this valk. I shall see yamato’s release. Hope it’s better. and yea, wings under armpits a major turn off.

  2. Michael Adhi said,

    July 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Nice review. I’m holding to purchase this one for the constant rumors from my importer friends that Bandai is going to bundle the tamashii web exclusive sound booster/shoulder speakers/hands/pedestal/kitchen sink sometimes this year for the masses.

    But I’ll patiently awaits, I already pre-ordered 2 Hi-Metal VF-19 Blazer Valks… Hoping that Bandai going to make at least one Varauta (sp?) variable fighter. Well, if they don’t, at least I can still display the Blazers with Bandai DX VB-6 which unofficially is a 1/100 scale.

  3. Skeptical said,

    July 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Seriously? Toynami can include landing gear and a stand that works for all three modes for a $20 toy but for around 80 bucks Bandai can’t? How are you supposed to display this in fighter mode? At face value this looks like a pretty neat toy and an excellent representation of the VF-19 but I just don’t see how the price is justified.

  4. micronian said,

    July 10, 2010 at 7:47 am

    You really shouldn’t try to compare the Toynami VF-1 toy to Bandai’s VF-19Kai from a price point. Is it worth 4 times the price? Well, that’s up to each person but there’s no question in my mind at all that anyone who held both in their hands would expect the VF-19Kai to cost quite a bit more.

  5. Skeptical said,

    July 11, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Like I said, at face value it looks pretty cool. The quality of the materials and construction certainly blows Toynami’s VF-1 away. But why couldn’t an $80 toy come with a completed stand when a $20 toy can? Granted Toynami has a thing for packaging and extras, but Bandai admits that this thing should have a stand, they just didn’t follow through. Why not? How much more could it possibly cost to include a base for the stand?

    I still have high hopes for this line. I just hope Bandai gets over this web exclusive phase. It was bad enough when they did this with their Soul of Chogokin line. Now they’re doing it with Hi-Metal too.

  6. micronian said,

    July 12, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Bandai (as most companies do) looked at the market for sales and did some math (and it can be argued whether or not they were right) and calculated a maximum price point that they felt people were willing to pay for a high-quality collectable style toy. The Japanese toy market is in pretty bad shape in the face of the Great Recession with many Japanese toy manufacturers you may know and love currently facing very bleak prospects so I’m sure they erred on the side of being conservative. They came up with their Yen price-point and said “Okay, if that’s the max we can sell this toy for, then how much stuff can we include with it to make XX% of profit if we sell Y units.” So, in the end, to hit their target sale price and their target percentage of profit they elected to include very little. Now, if the toy sold way better than they anticipated (and it looks like it might have) their math was probably wrong and they could have afforded to include more extras. If they had been wrong the other way though and included the stand and the sales were weak that could have meant the instant death of the Hi-Metal line. What it really comes down to is that while the economy is at a crawl you can expect to see manufacturers playing it very safe. Yamato has gone into full mold-milking mode with new products being astronomically priced models rather than toys. Bandai is making sure they know exactly how many units to produce and guaranteeing themselves MSRP by using web exclusives. These are just things toy companies do to make sure they don’t over-extend themselves and produce a money-loser during times where a few bad projects can destroy the company’s bottom line. It’s just not a great time to be a consumer as manufacturers are playing it very safe.

    Another thing to consider: A lot of people already own Bandai display stands and/or are planning on displaying this toy in battroid or GERWALK modes. For those people they would rather the stands and potential other extras to be stuff that is sold separately since it’s all stuff they don’t want and wouldn’t want to pay for.

  7. Skeptical said,

    July 13, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Perhaps you’re right. I guess I’m just used to Bandai’s Soul of Chogokin line, which usually includes every accessory you could possibly imagine, often at price points quite similar to this item. But times are indeed rough, and this isn’t the first item for which accessories were sold seperately. Rather this seems to be a trend, just one I don’t particularly like. The VF-1J has landing gear though, so maybe Bandai listened to some of the complaints about this item (I’m not the only one).

    By the way I looked into the Tamashii exclusive parts set. It turns out that the set includes closed fists, a completed stand (yes), landing gear, shoulder blocks, and a part for the gunpod. It does NOT come with the sound booster. There’s going to be a second Tamashii exclusive that includes just the sound boosters.

  8. micronian said,

    July 13, 2010 at 1:01 am

    It’s true, when things get tough for the companies producing the goods that often makes things worse for the consumers. Once any company has to start cutting corners or pulling out tricks to make sure they make the most money then its the end consumer who eats it. With the VF-19K I think Bandai was much more concerned about the chance it would be a flop than they were with the Hi-Metal VF-1 series and they’ve obviously gotten some grief from their Japanese customers for not including simple basics like fists. I have ordered both Tamashii extra sets and will review both when they’re released. I really think making the sound booster it’s own item makes a ton of sense as I know a lot of people have no interest in that but would love to get the stand/fists. I’m sure those people will be happy to know they’re not buying something they have no interest in.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.