Mega Review: All releases (super parts accessory reviewed separately)
Packaging & Extras: Standard releases (4.5/5), Gift-set releases (5/5)
Debuting in 2006 with releases continuing through 2020, there have been numerous permutations of this toy. The first and second ‘wave’ (see release schedule and images above) consisted of a standalone Valkyrie (no super parts or armor) in a box with a large window showing off the battroid mode toy in a large window. This box didn’t feel overly large 18.5 x 27.3 x 6.4 cm with a flap on top that adds another 5cm to the height. Half of the window was covered by a flap that could be opened to reveal the plethora of accessories which included:
1) Display stand: 1 x base, 1x arm, 1x arm extension, 1x socket for adapter, 3x adapters (one for each mode)
2) 4 sets of TV-style missiles
3) 4 sets of DYRL-style missiles
5) Attachment piece to connect gun (with center piece removed) to fighter
6) Canopy (replaces heat-shield in fighter/GERWALK modes)
7) 3 fixed posed hands (L: loose grip, L: all finger reach, R: gun gripping)
8) 3x Landing gear
Unfortunately, the socket for the display stand adapter (item 3 above) was faulty in wave 1. It was made of a very thin, rubbery material, unable to support the stress of being attached to the display stand and holding the toy. This quickly rendered the display stand useless. The adapter included in wave 2 and all subsequent releases was sturdier.
Wave 4 added another tray and window to the back of the box without changing the dimensions of the box (Wave 3 was super part accessories and are reviewed separately). This is the last wave that featured the flip-top window on the box and the last time each release was assigned a number. Added to the original accessories were:
11) Super Parts (2x exterior leg armors, 2x rear leg armors, 2x arm armors, 2x boosters, 2x missile booms for boosters)
12) 2x pylons for backpack attachment of boosters
13) 1x strike cannon (as seen in the movie Macross: Do You Remember Love?)
14) 6x Reflex missiles
15) 2x attachment pieces for reflex missiles (so 2 missiles could fit 1 hard point on the wing)
The head scratcher here is definitely the pylons for attaching to the backpack… I’ll discuss that more in the design section.
Wave 5 was the first wave sold under the Robotech banner with the first four releases, debuting in April 2015, sporting the Robotech 30th anniversary logo in sleeker packaging (18.5 x 15.3 x 7 cm) without a flip top lid or tab to be placed on retail pegs. This was the point when Toynami ditched numbering each release and the “wave” nomenclature but I’m continuing to use it as a helpful means of grouping releases. Contents for these releases were the same as waves 1 and 2 with the improved socket from wave 2 and with the Robotech 30th anniversary banner also painted on the display stand base
For standalone releases after 2015, the special 30th anniversary banner was dropped on the packaging and the display stand base and the interior tray was adjusted so that the toy could contain 3 sockets for the display stand already connected to the three adapters. The additional sockets for the adapters eliminate the need to swap out the socket between modes and makes the display stand more user friendly. The sticker sheet was also expanded for these releases.
Wave 6 retained the ROBOTECH branding (excluding the throw-back packaging exclusive) and was the largest box yet at (18.5 x 33 x 7cm). There is a big window on the front showing the VF-1 in battloid mode and the GBP parts. The SDCC19 exclusive was an homage to Takatoku’s classic 1/55 VF-1S + GBP gift-set complete with old-school style art and even textured cardboard (unfortunately, they weren’t able to do Styrofoam trays). The standard accessories are hidden inside the box behind the tray. Wave 6 gives you everything you expected in a standalone VF-1 release as well as:
11) Grenade Box Protection (GBP aka “Heavy Armor”): 2x backpack boosters (splits into 2x boosters and 2x connectors), 2x shoulder missile bays, 1x chest/abdomen armor, 2x hip armor, 2x arm armor (splits into 2x inner arm and 2x outer arm), 2x leg armor (splits in to 2x interior leg, 2x front leg, 2x exterior leg, and 2x rear leg).
Other than the stealth variant which has only one, all GBP gift-sets include three sockets for the three display stand adapters. Two extra adapters were thrown in the baggy with the instructions/stickers.
By the time the homage packaging GBP release, Toynami had updated the accessory tray allowing the additional sockets to be attached to the display stand connectors. The homage packaging of the toy also includes:
12) Standing pilot figure
13) Sitting pilot figure
Wave 7 was another super bundle set like Wave 4 but without the strike cannon. The packaging is simpler but larger (no flip top lid, 18.5 x 30.6 x 7 cm) and Robotech branded. Rather than hiding the super parts behind the toy, they are instead displayed prominently to the right of the VF-1 with a large window, as was done with the GBP parts in the previous wave. The VF-1D releases also had two-sided tape keeping the clamshell shut which made opening the shell difficult and seemed cheap. These toys, and presumably all releases going forward included, include the additional sockets that are preinstalled to their adapters.
Wave 7 includes another homage box featuring the VF-1S under the Macross brand. That toy is packaged in fighter mode, as it was for Takatoku’s classic 1/55 Super VF-1S gift-set. This toy also includes the pilot figures included in other homage boxes:
16) Standing pilot figure
17) Sitting pilot figure
The stickers were updated to have the Macross branding but no other changes were made. Unfortunately, the reaction missiles should have red tips in this release but were given yellow tips instead.
Wave 8 is a continuation of Wave 5 but now includes:
11) Standing pilot figure
12) Sitting pilot figure
As with the later wave 5 releases, these toys also include three sockets for each display stand adapter. So far this wave consists only of Robotech branded box in the same dimensions as Wave 5 (now with additional windows to show off the pilots) but there are plans to expand it to Macross homage boxes as well.
Charm & Collectability: (2/5)
These toys were never really meant to be hot collector’s items. They’re bargain priced Macross/Robotech toys; a niche that has largely been ignored since Takatoku closed up shop (though Banpresto made a valiant effort). There is no metal, no perfect transformation, nor noteworthy or unique gimmicks and this toy is not built well. It was interesting Toynami chose to market the first 4 waves of these toys as MACROSS toys rather than ROBOTECH. It seems to indicate that Toynami felt Macross was a more profitable name (although it could just be related to the fact Macross has more paint variants to milk). For Robotech’s 30th anniversary, Toynami switched to the Robotech banner and names. It seemed like Toynami was going to do separate accessory sets but since wave 3 they have gravitated toward bundling accessories with reissues. See the above infographic for a complete list of releases. Curiously, the initial MSRP of $19.99 has more than doubled with little change to the toy or its accessories.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (6.5/10)
For their scale and original price point, these toys aren’t bad representations of the VF-1. There are compromises in every mode without Toynami taking huge liberties like some other small scale VF-1 manufacturers (Kaiyodo or Banpresto). On the plus side, fighter mode incorporates the hinged chest that Yamato pioneered on their version 1 1/60 VF-1 toys that has become standard of all VF-1 toys since. This hinge allows the chest to lay perfectly flat instead of having the stepped look of the Toynami MPC or Takatoku 1/55. From the side, the toy also does a good job of cramming the fairly thick arms in with no element drooping below the legs. Negatives include the exposed swing bars on the nose of the plane, the long feet, and a backpack that doesn’t lay perfectly flat with exposed hinges at the base of the vertical stabilizers. The poor build quality and mold also work together creating thick seams and gaps.
In 2018, Toynami began providing a pilot, a nice improvement for fighter mode. They also included a standing pilot figure which looks decent but this doesn’t strike me as the kind of toy meant for dioramas.
GERWALK/Guardian mode benefits from a great range of movement in the feet and a twist point at the knee. A benefit of the intakes not pegging into the chest in fighter and GERWALK is that the intake can also be moved to angle the top of the legs. While this combination looks good, the swing bar is still present.
Battroid mode started rocky with the curious decision to put raised Jolly Rogers on the heat shields of the Wave 1 Skull Squadron (all subsequent releases moved to a flat paint application of the Jolly Roger). The head of the VF-1S was also the worst interpretation of that design since Yamato’s disastrous squished 1S head on their 1/60 version 1 toys. Any details present are painted, not clear plastic inserts, but the paint is usually done well enough.
Wave 4 included the first stealth and weathering releases in the line. The first weathering release was a Super/Strike Hikaru VF-1S (from DYRL) with a light weathering effect which was likely a means of side-stepping complaints that the toy was a reissue of the limited edition (1000 pieces) SDCC toy. While the VF-1 toy in this release was weathered, the included strike parts were not. The strike parts of this release, and all of the Wave 4 toys, are darker than they were in Wave 3. Wave 4 also switched to a more matte finish for the guns, likely to help with fit problems since the guns on waves 1 and 2 fell off the grip and collapsed too easily. The mass production (AKA “cannon fodder”) scheme has some issues with molded brown plastic not matching perfectly with brown paint applications.
The non-canon stealth schemes are done well… though they frequently have plaint application issues. There have been three separate stealth variants (including the “Special Ops”), one VF-1S and two VF-1J toys, all having their own unique schemes. While you could argue the paint schemes are too subtle on all the stealth variants, I found the SDCC15 Stealth VF-1J to have a deep purple trim that was only visible under the best lighting circumstances but was easily my favorite of the three.
I was surprised to see little red tips on the missiles within the bays on the GBP armor, it’s a nice touch and might go a little ways to explaining why the price on these toys is escalating from the original $19.99 level. The GBP is boxy and thick but in line with the expectations looking at the VF-1 would give you. The stealth scheme and different takes on the trim color for the versions is a fun touch to make each release more desirable. I would have loved a white GBP with red trim for Miriya (it could have worked for Rick and the Angelbirds versions also). The homage release gets more blue, less gray color for its GBP parts.
The VF-1D toy came in two flavors, one with standard super parts and another with matching super parts. Eagle-eyed readers will note that Toynami simply applied a VF-1D head, scheme, and canopy to the standard VF-1 frame. In the line art, the VF-1D has a different shaped canopy, chest, and latch behind the head. The new canopy is clearer than the one-seat canopy which draws attention to the missing dark paint application in the cockpit area that was on previous releases. As this is not a premium toy, I’m not going to begrudge them their decision to not invest in an updated mold for the chest, back, and latch but it does serve as the perfect example of why those who can afford the Hi-Metal R line should choose that option. The VF-1D releases introduced “UN SPACY” printing on the gun that then became standard. The exclusive super parts are a fun idea but I wasn’t a fan of the color choices Toynami made. I didn’t like the body colored missiles (I would have liked them to remain white and they should have red missile tips) or micro missile launchers (they should have left these gray). The exclusive super parts are also molded plastic which doesn’t agree perfectly with the painted orange on the VF-1D. The exclusive parts have paint matched backpack attachments pieces while the regular release has super part colored backpack attachment parts that look awful.
Wave 7 includes reissues of the VF-1J Max, Miriya, and Rick’s VF-1J as well as the homage version of Skull-one, all with their super parts. The gray/blue color of the parts has changed again, being darker and grayer than they were in Waves 3 or 4 and my favorite effort yet. Skull-one gets true gray super parts which also look good (though the gray green of the Wave 3 super parts may have better matched the Takatoku color that this release resembles). Curiously, the wave 7 toys lack the dark paint in the cockpit area that was on Wave 6 and earlier toys and look much worse for it when in fighter/guardian modes. As noted above, the homage Skull-one toy should have red tips on the missiles (as seen in the TV show) instead of yellow tips (as seen in Macross: Do You Remember Love?).
The second two weathering releases, the “Battlecry” Rick Hunter VF-1J (oddly with super parts) and “Farewell Big Brother” Fokker VF-1S took “weathering” and cranked it up to 11 to simulate a VF-1 that had been destroyed (or nearly destroyed) in combat.
These are budget toys and designed accordingly. You get none of the deluxe features you may have come to expect from Yamato or Bandai offerings:
Opening cockpit? No, until 2018 the cockpit was a blank flat space. A peg in cockpit with pilot was added in 2018.
Integrated heat shield? No, the canopy plastic is swapped out with a heat shield piece.
Integrated hands? No, they’re plug in parts
Integrated landing gear? No, a door is rotated in the leg to reveal a peg hole that a separate, plastic part (no rubber tire or wheel that spins) is plugged into.
Swapping the landing gears in and out is a piece of cake and they hold firmly in place once attached. If you didn’t mind seeing a couple fingers sneaking out from behind the back pack in fighter mode, and you planned on using the toy’s display stand, then the only part you would absolutely need to swap for transformation would be the heat-shield. The transformation is a hybrid between the old Takatoku design and Yamato’s more recent efforts (leg swing bar, chest transformation mechanism, respectively).
So it is a basic toy but you do get some features that aren’t common at this scale:
1) Ability to attach missiles to hard points on the wings
2) Ability to stow the gun in fighter mode
3) Clearance for the toy to have the gun attached in fighter mode and be on the landing gear without the gun causing a problem
The missiles (standard or DYRL-type, not reaction) also attach firmly and hold onto the wings well. Attachment of the gun is funky. The grip is removed from the gun, a separate gun attachment piece is attached to the bottom of the plane, then the gun attaches to that piece.
Fighter/GERWALK modes lacks pegs to connect the hips/intakes to the plane and fighter mode suffers from being unable to peg down the backpack to either the arms or legs. The toy is largely pegged together so it can be easily disassembled if you need to make a quick repair or want to do some customization. A build quality issue often puts the slot in the legs too far back for the pegs in the arms causing the toy to come apart in fighter mode (discussed more in the build section). After people complained about the Wave 1 toys falling apart in fighter mode, Toynami increased the length of the peg that connected the thigh to the knee and gave it a crown. The arms still fall off an annoying amount but the legs on wave 2 and later releases are much less likely to pop off during normal handling.
If you have a Wave 1 toy, you probably can’t use the included display stand (see durability section). For later releases, the included display stand is basic but effective in fighter and battroid modes. The display stand adapters aren’t as firm as they are on more premium toys, and the battroid adapter doesn’t fit perfectly, but they’re generally up to the effort of elevating the light toy. Unfortunately, the display stand works very poorly in GERWALK/guardian mode. The stand connects to the point via the furthest rear point so all of the weight of the toy is ahead of the attachment to the stand which causes the toy to fall forward. If you have a loose hip swing bar, this display is unusable. If you have a stiff swing bar, you can only display the toy with the nose pointing downward… which negates the hard-stopping poses many people enjoy for GERWALK mode.
Wave 3 was super parts, Waves 4, and 7 were packaged with super parts. The super parts attach to the backpack in a manner that is simply bizarre. The user needs to remove panels from either side of the backpack, very thin panels that are sometimes lodged incredibly tightly into place, then plug in an adapter piece, and then plug in the backpack booster. So someone said “We can just put a hole in the back pack and make a peg on the booster” and then someone else said “Nah, let’s add some removable panels and an adapter piece.” They also chose to convert one hard point to two hard points for reaction missile attachment via a plastic ring that needs to surround the existing hard point rather than by pegging directly into the hard point and then splitting off. The Wave 3 parts failed, almost entirely, to accomplish this with most adapters cracking in two (more in the durability section). On the plus side, the super parts do a good job staying on the toy and the big rear booster nozzle is articulated.
Wave 6 toys come with GBP armor. Toynami hasn’t changed the mold at all so the same ridiculous backpack booster attachment system rears its ugly head… and on the convention exclusive stealth and homage releases, it’s actually worse! For these two releases, there are two separate parts that form the backpack booster: the long booster (made so that it can be attached left or right) and a backpack connector (specific left or right). The long, shallow peg on the connector piece does a poor job keeping the booster connected, allowing it to fall off with the slightest bump. For the regular releases, Toynami solved this issue by having the factory glue the adapter to the booster making them one part. Even so, the GBP remains an effort in patience so you may want to grab some glue or tape to improve the experience. Adding the GBP torso armor requires removing the heat shield from battroid (battloid) but it locks on firmly. The shoulder and hip armors are slide on parts that can be knocked off during handling.
With the exception of the twin missile ports on the back of either leg, the remaining missile bays all open revealing missiles inside. The chest bay doesn’t do anything like slide forward to give you a better glimpse of the missiles but that’s not expected at this scale and price point. Another plus: these toys have such large shoulders to begin with that there’s no need for a separate shoulder sleeve below the shoulder missile bays like we see on many other GBP releases.
Durability & Build: (3.5/10)
These toys are not intended to last. They are constructed, for the most part, by fitting pegs into thin, tight, delicate rings (ie there’s a peg at the end of the bicep and a ring in the shoulder). Any normal handling of the toy will result in various rings and attachment points cracking. The toy quickly becomes loose and sloppy to handle.
As with any low-end toy, paint issues can be an issue. My Ben Dixon toy has a particularly egregious paint application.
The first four releases (Wave 1, including the SDCC Hikaru VF-1S) came with display stands sockets that were prone to failure. The provided rubber cap, essential to the display stand, was not strong enough to support the weight of the toy and was doomed to crack rendering it useless. Subsequent releases featured a reinforced rubber cup. The SDCC2006 Hikaru VF-1S frequently suffers from a foggy canopy. Some users complained the heads were on so stiff that when they tried to turn them they broke the toy’s neck. If the head isn’t turning, exercise a lot of patience and try rocking them on their ball joints first. The first two waves also had issues with gun being loose in its connection to the grip and telescoping feature. Wave 4 introduced a matte finish gun which fits better.
As mentioned in the design section, Wave 1 toys often separate into two parts when being handled in fighter mode. Toynami identified two issues that caused this. The first issue they addressed before Wave 2, increasing the length of the peg within the leg.
The second issue causing fighter mode to fall apart wasn’t addressed until 2017 when Toynami moved the slot in the leg that receives the pegs from the arm toward a little closer to the shoulders. The earlier position forced owners to pull the arms back causing the arms to come slide out of the shoulder sockets. Fighter mode still worked because you can remove the arms entirely from the shoulders, peg them together, then peg them to the legs… but it was an awful way to accomplish things and, more awful if the knee joints were also loose (or if you had Wave 1 toys with shorter knee pegs).
This is the big bright spot for this line of toys. It’s not as dynamic as Kaiyodo’s VF-1 toys (transformable or battroid only), Bandai’s DX or Hi-Metal lines, or Yamato’s 1/60V2 or GnuDou, but it’s similar in articulation to Yamato’s 1/48 line (without the limited waist twist and adding a ball-jointed head) which is pretty good, especially at this scale and price. The ball-jointed head twists and cocks in all direcitons with individually articulated head lasers as appropriate. The shoulders are ball joints on hinges. The hinges allow the shoulder to pivot toward or away from the chest. The arm attaches to the ball joint on the shoulder allowing the arm to spin 360 around and angle in or out. A pivot point at the base of the shoulder allows the arm to angle out about 80 degrees from the body. There’s a swivel at the elbow but elbow articulation is pretty basic at about 80 degrees. The hand can spin at the wrist. There is no waist but the hips are ball joints that allow a good wide stance and the ability to angle the thigh in/out. Forward motion of the leg is quickly handicapped by the wings (unless you open them) but would otherwise allow a full spin until the leg hit the chest or back. The joint below the hip allows the leg to move forward 90 degrees while the wings are closed so you don’t need to rely on opening the wings. There is a twist just above the knee and the knee allows 90 degrees of range. The feet have a central pivot point that allows the toe or heel to travel/up down and proves useful for GERWALK/Guardian but can’t angle inward for dynamic battroid/battloid poses. The toys are well-balanced so the display stands aren’t a must, but the stands do add a bit to the fun factor. Toynami did make their “Masterpiece” line look that much worse by releasing a budget toy that’s more fun to handle.
Total Score: (30-30.5/50) bundles score on the higher range
When judged on the same scale as premium toys like Bandai’s DX or Arcadia 1/60 V2 toys, it’s easy to understand why this bargain toy doesn’t do well. If you have the funds, I absolutely recommend upgrading to Bandai’s Hi-Metal R line or something even more expensive. Unfortunately, the Hi-Metal R line sells out quickly so instead of costing about twice as much as a Toynami toy, it may be three times as much or more. Also consider KitzConcept’s 1/72 KC Collectible line of VF-1 toys. There first releases have been a little rough around the edges but KitzConcept appears to be making significant upgrades for future releases and the price point, while much more than these Toynamis, may still prove affordable enough for some. For people who just want an entry-level toy to kick the nostalgia tires, these are a perfectly viable option. Be weary, they may prove enough to whet your appetite and not much more. I’ve known more than one collector who grabbed a few of these, then a few months later talked themselves into buying something more premium, and eventually sold off their Toynami toys for pennies on the dollar to chase more expensive, much better prizes. There’s no benefit to tracking down older releases, try to stick to the newest ones whenever possible. Though improvements have been incredibly minor, the newer toys will be less likely to already have broken joints in the package. These may also be the perfect guinea pigs for trying out custom paint schemes.
Original Post Date September, 2006
Updated July 20, 2010, included content on the SDCC09 Stealth VF-1S, added line art comparisons, added an SD video review.
Updated July 21, 2015, increased the resolution on most photos to HD, added photos, added content for the SDCC15 VF-1J Stealth GBP toy, added HD video review of the Stealth VF-1J.
Updated December 28, 2016, added Rick GBP pictures and updated releases.
Updated August 13, 2017, fixed the white balance issues from the July 21, 2015 update, added Special Ops VF-1J content.
Updated March 31, 2019, added 4K transformation guide and release/MSRP for all toys to date.
Updated May 3, 2020, added content relating to all releases since August 2017.
Updated June 21, 2020, added 4K comparison to Banpresto Perfect Transformation VF-1.