Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1 Toys

Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 3A

Review(updated):  The Hi-Metal continues with the VF-1, both Super and Regular releases

Movie Hi-Metal VF-1J 1Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1 2Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1 3

Packaging & Extras: VF-1J Releases (4/5)
Bandai’s Hi-Metal VF-1 regular release packaging for the Hikaru VF-1J retains the excellent look and quality of Basara’s VF-19Kai release.  You get high quality artwork adorning the box and a flip top magnetic lid to show off the fighter inside. The low-mark for packaging is definitely the Tamashii exclusive VF-1J Max which comes in a two-tone blue/white box that eschews the character art or the flip-top lid. Bandai didn’t skimp on accessories with the only notable omission being a display stand.  Included with your toy is:
1) 5x DYRL-style fixed pose hands (same as above)
2) Gun
3) 3x Landing gears (2 rear, 1 front)
4) 3x Display stand adapters (for each mode)
5) Optional intakes for fighter/GERWALK modes
6) 2 wings with hard points to attach the missiles to (same size as wings that are installed)
7′) Instructions (behind the cardboard tray)
8) 4x clusters of 3 TV-style missiles
9)  5x TV-style fixed pose hands (L gripping barrel, L open palm, L fist, R fist, R attached to gun grip)
10) Extra head lasers made of more rigid plastic (on sprues)

Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A Kakizaki 1 Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A Hikaru 1 Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A Max 1Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A Max 2Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A Hikaru 2Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A Kakizaki 2Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 9Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 6Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 8

Packaging & Extras: VF-1A Releases (4/5)
The Tamashii exclusive VF-1A toys bring back the production quality you would expect from a standard release using a full color palette but they also lack the character art or the flip-top lid. You actually get less with the VF-1A releases as they dropped the TV style hands and there’s no replacement head laser (not that there ought to be). Instead of TV-style missiles, these toys obviously come with DYRL-style missiles. This means you get the first 8 items listed above but you also get an extra set of rear landing gear in a small cardboard tray. Bandai accidentally included TV-style landing gear with a red stripe and corrected the error by throwing in the correct DYRL-style black stripe rear landing gear with note in the box below the plastic insert that houses the toy. These extra landing gear include a leaflet that I assume outlines the error but I can’t read the kanji. As an incentive to purchase the Kakizaki version, there’s a sleeve that houses all 4 of the DYRL releases (including the Focker VF-1S Super/Strike gift-set). So, for those that prefer the list presentation, you get:
8′) 2x DYRL rear landing gear in addition to the 2x TV rear landing gear (and a leaflet)
9) 4 x DYRL-style boxes of missiles
10) Kakizaki’s DYRL VF-1A also came with a box to store all of the Tamashii exclusive DYRL VF-1A toys.

Movie Hi-Metal VF-1S 1Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1S Focker 1

Packaging & Extras: VF-1S Super/Strike Release (4.5/5)
In roughly the same size box with the same great collector’s lid and unique art work, the super/strike Focker release added some great stuff. As this was also a DYRL release, you didn’t get the TV-style hands and the included missiles are DYRL-style boxes. Here’s what else you get:
8) 4x DYRL-style boxes of missiles
9) 3x sets of reaction missiles
10) extra head lasers, these are angled out instead of the horizontal ones installed
11) Strike Parts (super/strike parts were also sold separately as Tamashii website exclusives)
12) Extra fast pack part so you can have either a super valk or a strike valk
So what’s missing?  The display stand but that’s about it.

Hi-Metal VF-1S 6Hi-Metal VF-1S 2

Charm & Collectability: (3.5/5)
Production runs on these original releases tended to be small with several of them being Tamashii website exclusives but none of them did particularly well with most being available below MSRP right up until the release of Bandai’s Hi-Metal R (HMR) line (which is a reboot of this line). Now that the HMR line will likely revisit all “original” Hi-Metal (I’ll call them “OHM” henceforth) releases so the value of the originals should be capped. The OHM toys do have some metal (but it’s pretty much just the feet), they are nearly perfect transformation, and they are a lot of fun so the right elements are all there.  Release dates and MSRPs were as follows:
VF-1J Hikaru Custom, June 2010, 5,500 Yen
VF-1S Focker Custom, November 2010, 6,500 Yen
VF-1J Max Custom, September 2010, 5,775 Yen
VF-1A Max Custom, April 2011, 5,775 Yen
VF-1A Hikaru Custom, April 2011, 5,775 Yen
VF-1A Kakizaki Custom, April 2011, 5,775 Yen
Accesory: Super/strike parts, July 2011, 2,100 Yen.

Hi-Metal Comparison 3Hi-Metal Comparison 1Hi-Metal Comparison 2Hi-Metal Comparison 2Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 11Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 10

Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8.5/10)
This toy looks amazingly good for its scale.  Is it the best representation of the VF-1 ever?  No.  When viewing fighter mode from close up you can see some gaps and seams where the parts can’t quite all tuck into each other perfectly.  In the side-angle fighter mode comparison you can see that the Hi-Metal is a fantastic representation, perhaps nailing the rear half of the plane better than any previous toy, but it simply can’t compete with the cleanliness of the Yamato V2 (now Arcadia) lines (which I suppose is to be expected considering this toy Hi-Metal is about 40% smaller).  From the birds-eye picture you can see that the Hi-Metal is a little tubby in its thickness but this is to the benefit of GERWALK and battroid modes where the arms and legs have a more appropriate thickness (the backpack looks too thick but that’s a function of how wide everything else is).  The amount of pre-painted detail is strong and the toy is definitely pleasing on the eye.  As you can see, Bandai did an excellent job getting the proportions of the strike parts correct.

Hi-Metal VF-1S 5Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 5Hi Metal 8Hi-Metal Max 1J 3B

The TV pilots are very small while the DYRL pilots are larger, some say this is because of how the pilots are depicted differently in the respective source material. The Roy release comes with super/strike parts that include a removable panel that exposes engine detail which could have used an oil wash or some extra paint applications but is enough to work in this scale. The landing gears and air intake all look good but the turbines could have used a splash of paint to liven them up a bit.  The metal feet include some nice detail of the thrust vents.

HMR Hikaru VF-1S 15AHi-metal comparison 4Hi-Metal VF-1S 8HMR Hikaru VF-1S 8BHMR Hikaru VF-1S 2ABandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 14Hi-metal comparison 5

The pictures above show comparisons of the Hi-metal to various other toys including the Yamato V2 (now Arcadia). Bandai must have gotten some negative feedback from others because they subsequently moved the jolly roger lower on the heat shield for the final three VF-1A DYRL releases and the subsequent Hi-Metal R (HMR) line. The HMR toys also replaced the bright white of the base paint with a light gray, added larger biceps, and larger heads for the VF-1S and VF-1A toys. HMR toys also have more accessories and a removable nosecone so the HMR GBP armor accessory can be installed.

Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1 4Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 15

Design: (7/10)
The most common question here is bound to be “Do I really have to swap parts to transform this toy?”  The answer is a definitive ‘yes’ but it’s only ONE part.  You definitely DO have to switch the canopy with the heat-shield as the heat-shield has a slot for the chest to connect to.  Failure to swap this part will result in a pretty terrible looking battroid mode.  Otherwise the toy does feature integrated hands that flip out which have detail for all fingers and thumb, and, while obviously on the small side, function perfectly well.

Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 12

The mechanisms employed in transformation are fantastic and I really wish I could score the toy higher.  The transformation is an absolute breeze that improves upon previous efforts.  The arms at the shoulder slide forward and back making transformation into GERWALK from fighter possible without even bothering to disconnect the intakes at the hips.  Going to battroid involves a new swing bar that latches firmly into place and allows a huge range of motion without being visible or requiring the crotch trap door that Yamato (now Arcadia) employs.  All modes lock together tightly and remain secure in their mode whilst being handled as Bandai has used all the right pegs and slots.  I can’t give this toy a higher score because working in such a small scale and a specific price range requires compromises.  The landing gears are not integral.  Owning some 1/100 Takatoku toys I don’t mind Bandai having made this decision… tiny integrated landing gear often come at the expense of the look of the toy with its landing gears deployed.  The way the landing gears attach is simple and effective.  The tires are painted plastic and do not spin.  If you have any sort of display stand you can avoid using the landing gears all together.  The intake shields can be easily swapped with turbine detail in a way that’s easier than Yamato’s method of needing to squeeze in a finger nail or toothpick but at the cost of needing another part to swap in (obviously, if using parts irritates you, the intakes are optional parts).  Another short-coming is that the cockpit canopy does not open, it can only be removed.  One more design attribute clearly influenced by the diminutive size is the toy’s gun.  Rather than making a gun with an expanding stock and collapsing grip Bandai went with the more standard (in this scale) approach of making the grip removable.  I wouldn’t call it a short-coming but I find it bizarre that Bandai decided to supply an extra set of wings for all those people who find the hard-points distracting.  Who is that person who hates the hard points so much Bandai felt that was necessary?  The supplied missiles fit firmly into place and do not fall off. No, the missiles can not be individually removed from their clusters.

Hi Metal 13

The Strike parts are much more sensible than the Toynami 1/100 strike parts.  They fit securely and held on during transformation with only slight caution paid to avoid knocking them off.  During some more aggressive posing I was able to knock the leg armors off but this shouldn’t be a problem for normal usage.  As mentioned in the sculpt section, the top missile booms feature removable armors that show off the inner detail.  I found this touch to be completely gratuitous in this scale and there were a few pics I had to take a second time because the cover had come a tad unseated from normal handling.  The armor included with a strike toy will fit on the standard releases.  There’s a gimmick to the backpack that allows it to be pressed down a bit which locks it into place so you shouldn’t have issues with the backpack falling over from the weight of the super parts.

Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1 8

Durability & Build: (7/10)
My first Hi-Metal toy (Hikaru’s 1J) came missing a part but fortunately for everyone else, I’ve only seen this happen to one other person. There have been grumblings of over-glue and looseness of fit in numerous spots. My toys all began their lives exceptionally stiff but definitely loosened over time. On some releases I had issues with the arm sliders being stiff but the ball joints in the shoulders being loose. This would lead to arms detaching during transformation but they easily pop back on. Here’s a list of the most common connections to get loose:
1) Shoulder ball joints
2) Front toe ball joint
3) Wings without hard points (particularly in battroid)
4) Pistol grip fixed posed hands
A little dot of glue, a piece of paper or tape would help stiffen most areas of looseness. The swing bar is made of metal so there shouldn’t be any worry about that part breaking.  The only other obvious metal pieces I see are the feet but that’s not for durability purposes.

Articulation: (9/10)
I think the video review sums things up rather nicely.  In battroid mode this toy seemed more fun to me than some of the battroid mode toys that could not transform.  The only issue keeping this toy from scoring higher are the range of movement of some of the joints (ankles, knees). The super and strike armor have no negative effects on the articulation of the toy.

Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 4Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 2Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 7ABandai Hi-Metal VF-1A 13

Total Score: Standard Releases: (39/50), Super Releases: (39.5/50)
Some with a keen eye may see that this toy isn’t a true 1/100 scale.  Measuring in at 16cm long in fighter mode that puts the toy at roughly 1/88 scale (or 1.8cm too large for 1/100 scale).  Your initial reaction might be to wonder why Bandai didn’t just shrink their toy down a bit more but I’m sure Bandai felt it was better to go a bit big and make the toy even more fun.  It’s amazing what they pulled off in this small a package.  While great for the size and price it is definitely not a replacement for the Yamato (now Arcadia) V2 line of 1/60 VF-1 toys. As space continues to become more and more an issue for me I really appreciate when such a good thing comes in such a small package.  Don’t have a Bandai stand to use?  The pictures with the battroids above shows that you can steal the Toynami 1/100 stand for this Hi-metal, you can also use the Yamaguchi stand (more for GERWALK/Fighter).  These toys are a lot of fun at a great size and price point. At the time of their release there were lots of premium toys in bargain bins (Yamato V2 toys at half price) so lots of consumers made the smarter choice and went with the discounted premium toys. More recently, with Yamato out of business and Arcadia not using the mold frequently, Bandai has seen the opportunity to release a slightly upgraded version of the toys as the “Hi-Metal R” line. If you’re in the market, those are probably the ones you should hunt down though the upgrades are minimal.

Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1 Ad

Original Post: February 1, 2011
Updated January 6, 2016: Included pictures of Max VF-1J Max, updated content for HMR releases, updated release information.
Updated March 1, 2016: Added HD transformation guide
Updated March 16, 2016: Added HD video review
Updated March 5, 2017: Added DYRL VF-1A content including HD video review

35 Replies to “Bandai Hi-Metal VF-1 Toys”

  1. You wrote:

    “The intake shields can be easily swapped with turbine detail in a way that’s easier than Yamato’s method of needing to squeeze in a finger nail or toothpick”

    Well, not on mine, one of the closed intakes was glued in place and could not be removed, even after 5 minutus of levering away with a nail file. Very annoying!

    Also, I really dislike the way the rear of the missiles are painted red. Looks horrible in my opinion.

    Otherwise, I agree with most of the rest of your review, except for the negative comments on the Yamato V2s neck which has never bothered me.

  2. Thanks for the detailed review. I agree that Bandai Hi-Metal has the best representation of battroid mode so far in contrast with other brands. I like this version of battroid mode as it can strike some cool poses that Yamato can’t. However, I still don’t like the concept of transformation with using exchangeable parts.

  3. It looks to be fantastic take on the VF-1 even at for this size. Maybe a comparison post with Yamato’s version would be nice, I’d be curious to see how the battroid scuplt of this VF compares to Yamato’s version which I love even if I agree it sits too high.
    (and btw the total score states 42/10)

  4. It is a terrible shame that Max’s VF-1J is going to be an exclusive. If they mass-release all the main variants and some super/strike parts these could seriously give Yamato’s V2s a run for their money. I am truly impressed with the sculpt on this toy, especially for the size. Just look at how well integrated the head is in fighter mode. Larger toys have done a far inferior job.

  5. I just opened mine yesterday and I must say I am extremely happy with its condition though the wings are not as tight as it should be. It’s no different than handling my Henkei bots except that this has diecast and the ball jointed parts are so tight they make farting noises haha.

  6. Thanks Frogze on that catch, I’ve corrected the score. There will definitely be comparisons on this site of the Hi-Metal to the Yamato V2 in battroid mode at some point. Unfortunately I no longer own a V2 Hikaru toy so it will probably be a VF-1S to a VF-1J comparison.

  7. This looks like a great toy, but I can’t seem to find one for sale anywhere, OverDirve is sold out and ebay and google searches reveal nothing but people talking about how great it is. I couldn’t even find this toy on Bandai’s website.

  8. Good news Johnny, the VF-1S with Strike Parts has been announced for this upcoming November. Hikaru may be sold out at a bunch of places (I’m sure it’d be re-released at some point) so maybe that’s a sign to wait for Roy.

  9. Great toy for those who do not want to spend money on a yamato V2. I think it’s a very good option to start a collection exept for the VF-1J who will be difficult to obtain. How expensive is this toy actually?

  10. I did end up finding some VF-1Js for sale at HobbyLinkJapan. I’m not sure if they are a good seller but the price is only slightly more than Overdrive. But Overdrive is sold out, so wait and hope or pay $8 more…

  11. Pictures of the VF-1s are out. Unfortunately the backpack looks very floppy with the strike parts on. I was really hoping to pick one up, but now I’m a little worried.

  12. How long does the plastic on 1/55 last? Especially if you dont’ take it out of the box. When does it change to yellow color? Right away?

  13. oops.. i mean feet. loose feet. 1 feet on my vf1s is terribly loose, worse on valk mode. single minute drop of super glue fixes it.

  14. One foot is a little loose, it kind of rattles in fighter mode but it never popped off or bothered me in handling. As you said, if that is a common problem it is a ball joint and should be easy to adjust.

  15. it’s a fine little valk for what it is, but it’s got FAR too many compromises
    for my taste. furthermore, it’s perhaps slightly less than 3/4 of the
    YAMATO v.II VF-1’s price, and it’s missing many of it’s features,
    including it’s perfect transformation!! to me, that’s HIGHWAY ROBBERY,
    and i KNOW that BANDAI is capable of far better than that. unfortunately
    with BANDAI, if it isn’t a GUNDAM property that they’re working with,
    then they almost always give the subject half-assed lip-service at best.

    COME ON, people, MS GUNDAM does NOT make up the entire Eff’in UNIVERSE, Y’know…

  16. Yamato’s Super 1/60V2 VF-1S Focker has an MSRP of 13,440 YEN, the Bandai Hi-Metal I believe has an MSRP of 6,500 Yen, a little less than half the Yamato. Generally you can find Yamato toys on discount but the Hi-Metal is a newer toy so if you’re comparing sale prices it’s not quite an apples to apples comparison. I would love to see Bandai try their hand at a larger scale VF-1 that isn’t just a reissue of the Takatoku design but with the Hi-Metal being as good as it is I don’t think that’s likely.

  17. I really like this toy. My big problems are the backpack section in battroid mode and the lack of stickers/decals, but that’s a minor quibble. Overall, a fantastic and sturdy toy. However, the exclusive nature of the toy make it way too expensive for what you get. Considering how expensive the exclusive ones are, I think money is better spent in the new v2 1/60s.

  18. I like the fact that everything is to scale with my Master Grade Gundam models. Though I hear that they are not exactly 1/100 I’m happy for close enough.

  19. Thanks for the review ; it helped me decide to pick this one up afterall, since these are a bit scarce & pricey these days. I fully agree with your review about the lower headplacement compared to the Yamato 1/60 V2’s. Of course, this hi metal is a little small, but it displays well alongside my deluxe Transformers collection. The sculpt & articulation are just superb.

    Quality-wise, my VF1J is OK. The right hip balljoint wasn’t a little loose, but that was easy to fix with a little bit of glue.

    So despite being rare and pricey, I still recommend this hi metal VF1J.

  20. Just got my VF-1J today. You mention a trick to locking the backpack down. I have tried to do so and have had no luck. I assume you push it down to make the bottom tab shift position to a horizonal line instead of a diagional line, but I’m afraid that if I try to force it anymore then I’ll break it. Could you post a pic of what you are referring to?

  21. Fantastic review, thanks! I’ve recently gotten back into Robotech and I shopped around a lot for a nice VF-1 toy. I settled on the Bandai 1/100 Roy Focker with the strike parts, mainly due to your review. I’m super excited to get it. It’s the perfect size to sit on my desk and distract me from work. Can’t wait for it to arrive.

    Thanks again!

  22. I picked up a Yamato 1/60 V2 after getting a Hi-Metal, and it seems that Bandai took a lot of cues from Yamato’s design — at least, that would be my guess since the only other transformable VF-1 that Bandai has released was the chunky, and that is nothing like the Hi-Metal design-wise. Specifically, the swing bar for the legs, the knee-cap armor and twist point, the manner in which the arms pull out and swing around the legs in Gerwalk without requiring the legs to be unseated all seem to echo Yamato’s design.

  23. I just got the Max version finally. I have to say i’m not really impressed. Not too sure why. Considering the small size they were some pretty ingenious ideas especially with the swing bar. The possablity is pretty good too. I don’t know, maybe the yammie 1/60 has spoiled me. I got this one cheaper than msrp at $40. I doubt i’d pay msrp for it though. I think if these were a tad cheaper they would’ve done better.

  24. > Who is that person who hates the hard points so much Bandai felt that was necessary?

    Me! o/

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