Review: Before they were re-crafted into cannon fodder
Packaging & Extras: (3/5)
Like Yamato’s VF-19 efforts, this toy comes packaged in an appropriately-sized box, devoid of the collector’s style flip-top box, with minimal extras. Packaged with the VF-17 you’ll get the following:
1) Pilot figure (Similar to VF-19S figure)
2) 2x Hand covers for fighter/quasi-GERWALK modes
3) 2x display stand adapters
4) Gun with extending stock, flip out handle, inner detail, and the ability to be separated into halves
5) Instructions, huge sticker sheet, & leaflet announcing the December 2012 release of the VF-4.
A VF-17D with super parts toy was also released that comes in a larger box and includes super parts but is otherwise the same as the standard releases.
Charm & Collectability: (2/5)
Released in December 2011 for an initial MSRP of 24,800Yen, the VF-17S was one of the most expensive Yamato releases ever, eclipsing the VF-19 toys rather lofty mark of 22,000Yen. While big fans of the VF-17 appreciated Yamato’s efforts the overall response was tepid with the toy eventually going on sale. That said, sales were strong enough for Yamato to follow with a second variant, the VF-17D (24,800 Yen), and an accessory bundle including the unique VF-17 super parts (29,600 Yen) released in December 2012. A release of Miria’s VF-17S also seemed very likely provided the 17D before Yamato’s apparent untimely demise. Generally, there aren’t a lot of Macross fans who love the 17’s look and while the vehicle was used prominently in Macross7 it was always playing second fiddle to the 19.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8/10)
The problem with the VF-17 as it is represented in Macross7 is that it engaged in quite a bit of proportion shifting when transforming between modes. Yamato was going to need to pull out all the stops if they wanted to overcome all that anime magic… and they deserve kudos for doing as well as they did. Unfortunately, fighter mode looks a bit fat and battroid mode still looks a bit thin but the compromise assures that each mode looks decent. Fighter mode also suffers from an odd downward pointed nose and a side profile that looks uneven or a tiny bit sloppy. The number of parts that have to fit just right and be perfectly aligned in fighter mode made the toy less attractive and less fun for me. The toy further suffers from a lack of pre-painted detail which I think is inexcusable at this price point. Yamato stated they left off the painted detail because they thought a stealth fighter looked good without any high visibility markings so they instead opted to provide purchasers with their biggest sticker sheet yet (it’s huge, like 8x11inch). Battroid mode also looks pretty funky from the side due to how far the back half of the vehicle rests from the chest.
This toy comes with the bells and whistles you would expect from a high end collectible:
1) The cockpit opens to accommodate the included pilot figure.
2) Landing gears are integrated, tires are rubber and spin, front landing gear has an articulated tow bar.
3) The transformation mechanisms of the toy are extremely well hidden in all modes
4) Toy achieves perfect transformation
5) Gun can be stowed in all modes.
Now, there are caveats to the last two positives. First, the toy has optional hand covers for fighter and quasi-GERWALK modes that would need to be removed and stored for battroid mode. I’m not dinging the score here since the parts are cosmetic and completely optional but those parts would have had to have been integrated for the toy to get a perfect design score. Second, in the show the side of the leg opens up and pushes the gun out into the VF-17’s hand in battroid mode. The gun has its own transformation to make this possible. Yamato wasn’t able to pull this off so they instead made it so the gun splits in two with each half being stored in each of the battroid mode’s calves. It’s a pretty funky solution and the halves don’t even tuck nicely into the calves. Instead the ends of the gun-halves poke out the back of the legs (although in fighter mode this is completely concealed which keeps the solution at least passable). If they were going to go that route I would have much preferred the toy come with two guns; one gun could have been comically under-sized but achieved what we saw in the show. Another option would have been to include an extra calf with the toy for battroid mode only that didn’t need the sliding mechanism of the foot or the landing gear. One design plus that doesn’t really do anything for you if you don’t own the super parts sold separately (or in the bundle) is that the toy does include attachment points for these parts.
Durability & Build: (8/10)
It’s never a good sign when the first models sent out to reviewers break and that’s exactly what happened with the VF-17. The metal hinges in the arms can be broken so handle them as directed by the instructions and you should be fine. The instructions also give you a one page warning about your own durability issues that this toy might expose. Throughout transformation your hands will come into contact with very sharp pieces of plastic. This can lead to you painfully poking yourself but it can also lead to you blunting a sharp edge and damaging the toy. The two triangles located under the shoulders in fighter mode are brutal pains in the rear that will both stab you and get in the way constantly. Too much pressure and those triangles will shoot off so keep an eye on them and make sure you have them positioned properly when going through the modes. The fronts of the guns stowed within the arms (and pulled forward for GERWALK) are also painted matte gray so be cautious not to scrape the paint. I had a screw cover on the back of my 17S toy pop off on me, it’s under no stress at any point so it must have been a poor glue job. All of those issues aside, the toy feels remarkably solid and built of what appears to be extremely high quality plastic. The cases of catastrophic hip bar and shoulder part failures have been few so you should expect average durability and above average build quality. One word of warning, the toy is often incredibly stiff during the first transformation. I HATED the first transformation I did with both my 17S and 17D. Subsequent transformations have gone much better as parts that were initially nearly impossible to move now move with enough force for me to feel comfortable in their tightness but not exasperated by the difficulty.
Just about the only faults I could find with this toy are the lack of a swivel at the waist and the fact the head isn’t on a ball joint. Neither of this faults will hamper your fun playing with the battroid mode toy more than a fraction as articulation is otherwise phenomenal. The video review briefly shows the articulation points but the photos here and elsewhere on the web will do a better job of really bringing home just how much fun battroid can be. You can easily pose this toy on one foot for extreme action shots or use the included display stand adapters to go truly nuts.
Total Score: (38/50)
There’s no doubt that this is a quality piece but it just doesn’t rock my world like it’s price tag led me to believe it would. Fans of Macross7 and the VF-17 have a new must-have toy but for the rest of the world just looking for a great toy to spend their money on there are better toys that are much less expensive.
Note: This review has been updated on March 6th, 2013 to include pictures and content related to the VF-17D toy.
Original post date: August 16, 2012.