Review(updated): Now includes metallic limited editions and reissues
Packaging & Extras (2/5)
The boxes these toys are delivered in are pretty standard featuring fairly sturdy construction with a window to see the goods inside and some decoration that never gets too gaudy. On the original releases, the inner Styrofoam tray is very sturdy and on my samples the Kai comes with a thin transparent piece of plastic to protect the box’s window while the Blazer comes with two additional styrofoam inserts to pin the toy back in the box and protect the box’s window that way. The toy comes with a gun (on sprue), some sparse decals (more abundant for the Blazer), and an instruction manual. Yes, the gun actually is on a sprue and requires 2 seconds of construction (simple clip together) but I think sprues in general denote a lack of class. The limited edition toys come in plain brown boxes (appear the smudges on my box above please) and don’t include stickers but do include a little card saying what number LE toy you purchased. Years later when Bandai reissued the fire valk they included an already assembled gun. Overall, this toy leaves a lot to be desired in the accessories department. The reissue is packaged in fighter mode which necessitates a bigger box but has better overall presentation… but still no extras worth noting. With the prevalence of bootlegging regarding this particular toy it’s important to examine the box closely. Look for Bandai’s name (the Bootleg shows a picture of the character from Mac7 who piloted the vehicle instead of the Bandai emblem in the lower right-hand corner), look for the BigWest sticker, compare the box you’re looking at to the picture provided above.
Charm & Collectibility (1/5) Reissue, (1.5/5) Original Kai, (2/5) Blazer, (2.5/5) Limited Edition Blazer
The charm of this toy has some major factors working against it. First, very few toy collectors seem to be huge fans of Macross7 and Mac7 toys do not benefit from cross-over appeal with Robotech fans. Second, the toy is very light and nearly metal free. Third, this toy is bootlegged with great regularity and in a quality not far removed from the official releases and the official release of the Kai has been reissued. Fourth, this toy is honestly not very good. Just about the only things this toy has going for it are its size and the fact it features perfect transformation. Still, with better representations out there in the form of Bandai’s recent 1/100 Hi-Metal Yamato’s 1/60 Yamato VF-19Kai, 19S and 19F there’s not many people clamoring to purchase one of these. There is very little chance that these toys will ever find a niche in the collector’s market. The original Kai scores a little higher than the reissue purely because it’s a little harder to come by. Since the 19S was never reissued it scores a bit higher than that. The limited edition metallic toys ought to be the most collectable simply because they’re the hardest to come across and they are unique.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint (5.5/10)
The proportions here are definitely a bit whacky. The head seems small, the legs seem large, and the sculpt over all just leaves a lot to be desired. The toy is cast almost entirely in colored plastic so paint isn’t a problem. The Reissue of the Kai (there has never been a reissue of the Blazer) does feature some of the markings originally included as decals painted on. The landing gears look absolutely horrible when in use and there are a few areas where the seams for transformation are just too obvious (around the cockpit region for example). Still, there’s no mistaking which valk this toy is supposed to be so it certainly accomplishes the job on some levels. I am not a fan of GERWALK mode on any VF/YF-19 product, I think the design of the mode itself is a complete after-thought, this toy seems to prove my point.
The transformation of the toy is quite simple yet sturdy. Yes, a few tricks could have allowed the overall look of the toy to have been improved but for what this toy is meant to be the design is practical and efficient. It does include built-in landing gears (ugly and not really functional) although the front landing gear can only be described as a “landing gear” in very liberal terms. The fists ought to have collapsed into the arms. Handling this toy will make you really appreciate the extra thought that went into Bandai’s Hi-Metal offering and Yamato’s 1/60 VF-19 toys. Yamato’s 1/60 toy features huge improvements like integrated shoulder speakers on the fire valkyrie, swappable face plates, properly integrated landing gears, mountable gun in fighter mode, and countless articulation and detail improvements.
Durability & Build (8.5/10)
No, this toy does not FEEL like it deserves a 8.5/10 but I’ve handled it pretty extensively, even improperly, and it has taken the abuse with strides. Having no significant paint means that paint flaking off isn’t a problem. The plastic used for construction is sturdy and the toy is simple enough in design where little pieces that may have proved fragile are unnecessary. That said, a few parts of the toy do seem a little too easily removeable (although it doesn’t break anything to remove them). In battroid mode the crotch piece can easily be disconnected and the head guns (especially on the Blazer valk) can also become unseated. As noted in the metallic picture collage above, the front landing gear on these toys is a little heavy for the hinge it sits on and it can sometimes sag down which is usually only a problem in GERWALK mode.
The knees bend, the feet open and close, the legs don’t rotate at the hips but they do bend just below them (allowing for better GERWALK posing). There’s fairly good arm/should mobility followed by the ability to turn the head and angle it ever-so-slightly up or down. Basically, this toy is only a slight improvement over the mobilitiy seen in Takatoku’s original VF-1 product. More leg, hip, and feet mobility really could have meant a lot to this toy but was likely shunned by Bandai in an effort to make a toy that was more resistant to a child’s play. If you want to have fun making Basara really look like he’s rocking out in his mech then you should definitely go for a 1/60 Yamato offering or pick up Bandai’s 1/100 Hi-Metal.
Total Score (29/50) Reissue, (29.5/50) Original Kai, (30/50) Blazer, (30.5/50) Limited Edition
In the dark eras of Macross collecting this toy may have been fun to own to fill a gap. If you saw Macross7 when you were young and really enjoyed it then these toys might have a sentimental value for you. I saw Macross7 as an adult and hated it and think the VF-19Kai looks like something that got edited out of the newest rendition of Transformers (in Battroid mode at least). Just the same, I do try to judge toys regardless of what spawned them and if you’re looking for a Macross-related toy to let your children bang around with then this, or a bootleg, would probably be right up your alley. If you’re looking for something that will look good on a shelf then you should probably check more recent renditions (or a different Macross fighter entirely).
First Update, April 27, 2010: This review has been updated, all new pictures and a video review were added as well as references to the new Bandai Hi-Metal toy and Yamato’s work on their own Fire Valkyrie
Second Update, June 30, 2012: Metallic limited edition pictures and content were added.
Original Post Date: September 25, 2006