Mega Review: All releases (super parts accessory reviewed separately)
Packaging & Extras: Standard releases (4.5/5), Gift-set releases (5/5)
There have been three types, standard releases, super/strike gift-sets, and GBP gift-sets. Waves 1 and 2 as well as the SDCC Hikaru VF-1S of Toynami’s 1/100 line came with a flip-top collector’s box, decently attractive art unique to the toy within (though it was clearly just a Photoshop recolor job with the appropriate head). Wave 5 ditched the fliptop box and went for a more streamlined presentation. Waves 1,2, and 5 and the SDCC Hikaru VF-1S come with the following:
1) Display stand: 1 x base, 1x arm, 1x arm extension, 1x socket for adapter, 3x adapters (one for each mode)
2) 3x display stand adapters (one for each mode… it’s just a peg for guardian mode)
3) 1x socket for the display stand adapter (this became 3x starting in 2017 with the exclusives and Wave 7)
4) 4 sets of TV-style missiles
5) 4 sets of DYRL-style missiles
6) Gun with removable center section
7) Attachment piece to connect gun (with center piece removed) to fighter
8) Canopy (replaces heat-shield in fighter/GERWALK modes)
9) Two pairs of fixed posed hands (including pistol grip)
10) 3x Landing gear
One of the major frustrations with the display stand was the need to pull the socket off the adapter and plug it on other adapters as the connection was quite secure and the socket was rather flimsy. It was an excellent improvement in 2017 when Toynami began pre-installing sockets on all the adapters.
Wave 4 and the SDCC09 exclusive Strike Stealth VF-1S added another tray to the back of the box and a window to see this new tray. Wave 7 and the VF-1D releases retained this layout but dropped the window on the back of the box. As well as everything in the ‘standard’ veritech releases, you got the additional items:
13) Super Parts
(2x exterior leg armors, 2x rear leg armors, 2x arm armors, 2x boosters, 2x missile booms for boosters)
14) 2x pylons for backpack attachment of boosters
15) 1x strike cannon (as seen in the movie Macross: Do You Remember Love?)
16) 6x Reflex missiles
17) 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. The VF-1D releases also had two-sided tape keeping the clamshell shut which made opening the clamshell difficult and seemed cheap.
Wave 6 and the SDCC15 exclusive Stealth VF-1J + GBP has a big window on the front showing the VF-1 in battroid mode and the GBP parts (no collector’s lid). The accessories listed in 1-12 are hidden inside the box behind the tray. Wave 6 doesn’t include the super parts but adds:
13) 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).
Charm & Collectability: (2.5/5)
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). You won’t get metal here, it’s not perfect transformation, and it’s not particularly well built. Some toys will clearly be better sellers than others (Hikaru/Rick and Roy always sell fast… the others languish). One thing that has always been interesting to me is that Toynami chose to market the first 4 waves of these toys as MACROSS toys rather than ROBOTECH toys. 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 used the Robotech banner and names. You would think that Toynami would just issue the standard toys and sell the option sets separately but instead they largely keep reissuing the same core valks and making people repurchase the valks to get things like super parts and GBP armor. The price also keeps creeping higher though any improvements have been minor. Here are the releases:
- Hikaru Ichijo custom VF-1S, July 2006, $19.99, SDCC exclusive limited to 1000 pieces
- Roy Focker DYRL custom VF-1S, $19.99, July 2006
- Hikaru Ichijo DYRL custom VF-1A, July 2006
- Max Jenius custom VF-1A, July 2006
- Hikaru Ichijo custom VF-1J, December 2006, $19.99
- Max Jenius custom VF-1J, December 2006, $19.99
- Miria Jenius custom VF-1J, December 2006, $19.99
- DYRL generic super/strike parts (for any Wave 1 toy or the SDCC2006 Hikaru), June 2008, $9.99
- Hikaru Ichijo custom super strike parts, June 2008, $9.99
- Max Jenius custom super strike parts, June 2008, $9.99
- Miria Jenius custom super strike parts, June 2008, $9.99
- Roy Focker DYRL custom VF-1S with super/strike parts, March 2009, $39.99
- Hikaru Ichijo DYRL custom VF-1S (weathered) with super/strike parts, March 2009, $39.99
- Mass production (AKA Cannon Fodder) VF-1A with super/strike parts, March 2009, $39.99
- Stealth VF-1S with Super/Strike Parts, $55, July 2009, SDCC exclusive limited to 1000 pieces
- Roy Fokker custom VF-1S, April 2015, $29.99
- Rick Hunter custom VF-1J, April 2015, $29.99
- Max Sterling custom VF-1A, April 2015, $29.99
- Miriya Sterling VF-1J, April 2015, $29.99
- Special Ops VF-1J, March 2017, Lootcrate exclusive
- Roy Fokker “Farewell Big Brother” episode custom VF-1S, July 2017, $45.00, SDCC 2017 exclusive limited to 500 pieces
- Stealth custom VF-1J with GBP, July 2015, $99.99, SDCC 2015 exclusive limited to 1000 pieces
- Roy Fokker custom VF-1S with GBP, November 2015, $69.99 each
- Rick Hunter custom VF-1J with GBP, November 2015, $69.99 each
- Max Sterling custom VF-1J with GBP, November 2015, $69.99 each
- Rick Hunter custom VF-1S with GBP (classic packaging), July 2019, $8999
- VF-1D Trainer with matching Trainer custom super parts, July 2016, $60, SDCC 2016 exclusive limited to 500 pieces
- VF-1D Trainer with super parts, November 2016, $54.99
- Rick Hunter “Battlecry” episode custom VF-1J with super parts, March 2017, $55.00, Wondercon exclusive limited to 500 pieces
- Hikaru Ichijo custom VF-1J with super parts, April 2017, $54.99
- Max Jenius custom VF-1J with super parts, April 2017, $54.99
- Miria Jenius custom VF-1J with super parts, April 2017, $54.99
- Rick Hunter custom VF-1S with super parts (classic packaging), March 2019, $75 Wondercon exclusive
- Roy Fokker custom VF-1S, June 2018, $34.99
- Rick Hunter custom VF-1J, June 2018, $34.99
- Ben Dixon custom VF-1A , July 2018, $34.99
- Angel Birds VF-1A, July 2018, $44.99, SDCC 2018 exclusive limited to 750 pieces
- Max Sterling custom VF-1A, September 2018 (?)
- Miriya Sterling VF-1J, September 2018 (?)
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (7/10)
For their scale these toys aren’t half 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. You won’t find the pilot or cockpit detail here of Bandai’s Hi-Metal line but you also won’t find the outrageously shifted proportions of Kaiyodo’s Yamaguchi line either. The Wave 1 releases raised a lot of eyebrows by having the Jolly Roger on the heat-shield be puffy. I’ll let the comparison pictures do the rest of the talking so you can draw your own conclusions. Sure, there are some parts of these toys that you’d rather see be separate clear plastic bits than paint applications but at least they are painted on these budget offerings.
The paint applications on some of the toys, particularly the stealth exclusives are quite good… 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..
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.
There have been three releases with weathering. The first release is a Super/Strike Hikaru VF-1S (from DYRL). The second two 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 will get none of the deluxe features you may have come to expect from Yamato or Bandai offerings. This toy does not have an opening canopy, it does not have a pilot figure, and there is no cockpit detail. The intake covers can not be removed. Landing gears are not integrated, they are separate items that need to be plugged into the toy once you open trap doors. Swapping the landing gears in and out is a piece of cake and they hold firmly in place once attached. The wheels are part of the molded plastic the rest of the landing gear is made of, they do not spin and they are not made of rubber. 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). The missiles (standard or DYRL-type, not reaction) also attach firmly and hold onto the wings well. The included display stand is incredibly basic but effective… provided you don’t have a Wave 1 toy (see durability warnings). 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.
Wave 3 was super parts, Waves 4, 7, and the VF-1D releases 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 toys failed almost entirely to accomplish this and I haven’t been able to convince myself to buy a wave 4 toy since (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.
Grenade Box Protection (AKA “Heavy Armor”)
Wave 6 and the SDCC15 Stealth VF-1J 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 they managed to make it WORSE. The adapter piece for the GBP features a long and shallow peg to hold the big booster pylon on. This large shallow peg doesn’t do a great job so it’s pretty easy to have your booster fall off. Speaking of things falling off, I also had my arm armors fall off pretty easily thus inhibiting a bit of the fun factor. In both cases, you might be able to tighten things up on your own with a little bit of glue. Adding the GBP torso armor requires removing the heat shield from battroid (battloid). The shoulder, hip, and leg armors all go on pretty well and I didn’t have a problem with any of them falling off on my one sample. The big plus though is that, 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 at this scale and price point I didn’t mine the sacrifice. Another plus, these toys have such large shoulders to begin with that a separate shoulder sleeve doesn’t need to be installed before installing the shoulder missiles.
Durability & Build: (3.5/10) Wave 1 and SDCC Hikaru VF-1S
When these toys were first released it was clear they weren’t the best made toys but I didn’t expect them to be as frustrating as they eventually became. The toys were constructed, for the most part, by fitting pegs into tight rings (ie there’s a peg at the end of the bicep and a ring in the shoulder). It was obvious that pulling the peg would result in pulling the arm off but what wasn’t clear was just how easily the rings would snap. Years later it’s clear, these toys were not meant to last. Fortunately, the rings are supported on either side, so when they’re broken they don’t lose their ability to hold the peg in place entirely, they just reduce the amount of friction they exert which makes removing the various bodies parts far too easy. Wave 1 and the SDCC Hikaru VF-1S receive worse scores than the rest of the toys because they also 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. Another common issue is that the slot in the legs was molded too far back from where the pegs from the arms naturally rest in fighter mode. This meant that users had to try to pull the arms back which typically meant the arms would just come off entirely leading to a very sloppy and unsatisfactory transformation. 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 a prett awful way to accomplish things and if the knee joints were also loose the whole back of fighter mode might fall off.
Durability & Build: All later releases (5/10)
While Wave 4 and the SDCC Stealth are so new it’s tough to indict them as being as prone to collapse as the earlier releases, I think it’s a safe bet. Since Wave 2 all toys have come together more tightly but if the rings fail within the joints you’ll find this toy a lot less fun. With the display stands now functional and overall fit & finish improved the toy is much more user-friendly. One new concern did arise though, 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. Wave 3, the super/strike parts had a critical failure in that the bracket for the reaction missiles cracked and broke during or immediately following installation more often than not, see my separate review of the super parts for more about that. On my Loot Crate exclusive “special ops” VF-1J, the slots on the legs have been moved forward so there is no longer the issue with the arms being pulled out during transformation.
This is pretty much the big bright spot for Toynami. 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. You won’t get double-jointed elbows, articulated hands, head lasers that pivot out, waists, pelvic thrusts, double-jointed knees, or dynamic feet but the range of motion at the hip and shoulder will help overcome many of those weaknesses. The toys are well-balanced so the display stands aren’t a must but those 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.
Wave 1 & SDCC06 Hikaru VF-1S: (31.5/50), Wave 2: (33/50), Wave 4/6 & SDCC09/15 (33.5/50)
Wave 1 consists of: VF-1A DYRL Hikaru, VF-1A DYRL Max, and VF-1S DYRL Roy. I would avoid Wave 1. It used to be that you had to buy Wave 1 if you wanted to get a VF-1S Focker/Fokker but then Toynami made Wave 4 which includes a Super/Strike VF-1S Focker. Sure, the Wave 4 toys are more expensive but you get super parts, a stand that doesn’t break, and better overall fit and finish. Wave 2 featured many modest improvements over Wave 1 and since the VF-1J toys don’t have the Jolly Roger you don’t have to worry about that goofy Puffy-Paint emblem drawing your eye. Fit and finish were slightly improved, in particular the guns seemed to hold together much better (the handle on Wave 1 and the SDCC Hikaru VF-1S tends to fall out readily). The biggest improvement seen in Wave 2 was the reinforced cup for the display stand. Wave 4 was more expensive but each toy comes with super parts. My SDCC Stealth09 was my sturdiest Toynami VF-1. Would I say it’s worth $40? Well, I might have had it not been for Bandai’s Original Hi-Metal releases which, though lacking super parts, weren’t much more expensive and were a much higher quality product (assuming both were bought at MSRP). When Toynami first made a ‘stealth’ version lots of collectors were quick to claim that Toynami had ripped off Yamato but I think this is unfair to both companies. Neither company sold plain black valkyries, all of Toynami’s “stealth” or “special ops” versions have quite a lot of very subtle painted trim. There’s no way the SDCC toy should have been $99 as that price wasn’t even competitive with the MSRP of a Hi-Metal R VF-1J with GBP, the $65 price that Toynami charged for regular releases made much more sense but still seemed high. I would also add that non-canon exclusives seem like a waste to me. Toynami could have given us Hayao’s DYRL VF-1A, Ben’s TV VF-1A, the Cavaliers scheme (the nearly black ones shown floating in the damaged hangar), Rick’s trainer VF-1J (light brown), or the Alaska Base VF-1. Particularly the Loot Crate exclusive stealth… that would have made so much sense to be Hayao’s VF-1A or Ben’s TV VF-1A.
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.