Review: And now it’s time for something different
Packaging & Extras: (2.5/5)
Yamato’s web exclusive VF-4G comes in a box a little bit larger than Yamato’s standard for the time. The dimensions are 37x30x14CM as opposed to the V2 VF-1, VF-11, and VF-19 boxes which were all 32x28x10.5CM. The Arcadia box is essentially the same but adds a flip-top lid which is always nice to see for those ‘forever mint in box’ collectors. The included items are a little more sparse than usual; beyond the toy you’ll receive:
1) Pilot figure
2) 2x Stand Attachments
3) 2x Articulated hands
4) Instructions Yamato VF-4G Instruction Manual Web
5) Sticker Sheet
You’ll note there isn’t a gun or missiles for any (non-existent) hard points on the wings are under the belly. The box itself makes use of the “Lightning” name bestowed upon the VF-4 and looks flashy enough to have been a standard store release. The box includes an odd double upper tray design to keep the toy from bouncing around in transit. It’s hard to say this is particularly successful since the nosecone on my toy was extended and several of the fins were askew before I pulled the toy out of the box. Nothing was broken though so overall the trays are did a good enough job for me.
Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
This toy does have some fairly significant factors working against it in this category. First, it’s not a hero valkyrie in a couple senses of the word. This particular paint scheme is related to the VF-X video game, not the Do You Remember Love? extension Flashback 2012. Since it’s a video game paint scheme, it’s not related to a character most of us know and love. Second, Flashback 2012 is the only animation where we see the VF-4 in action (although Hikaru plays with a toy of the prototype in his apartment) and it’s only seen for a few moments and does nothing of import. In fact, it’s not even clear if it’s a transformable fighter (allegedly Kawamori always envisioned it did transform but he didn’t bother outlining how until long after the animation was complete). Initial word was that this toy was the video game paint scheme because the VF-4 does not transform in Flashback 2012. I suspect there’s more to it (like cost of DYRL license on an unproven toy). On the plus side, this was Yamato’s last new valk before shuttering its offices so that gives the Yamato version a unique place in history. Before Arcadia’s reissue this toy enjoyed a huge spike in demand as people clamored for a unique high end transformable toy that would never be released again… until it was. It’s too bad Arcadia did a straight reissue instead of a repaint or DYRL variant. As long as Arcadia stays in business, it’s a fair bet this toy won’t be returning to the off-the-charts demand it enjoyed for a short while. Bandai released a VF-4 based on the DYRL paint scheme in 2019 as part of their Hi-Metal R line which was essentially a miniaturized version of this toy. The Hi-Metal R toys all scale with each other at roughly 1/90 but the metal content of this toy combined with its more popular 1/60 scale should leave it on the ‘wants’ list for plenty of collectors. There have been two releases of this toy:
Yamato VF-4G VF-X Version, December 2012, 26,985* Yen (inclusive of tax), Yamato website exclusive
Arcadia VF-4G VF-X Version, February 2016, 27,000 Yen (inclusive of tax)
* Yamato took their time determining the price point for this toy. Originally they offered up a “pre-presale” where they offered early birds the ability to purchase the toy at a 5% discount but without a stated price. A short while later Yamato announced that MSRP would be 26,985 Yen (tax inclusive) making it the most expensive stand alone valkyrie at that point.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
This toy is dreamy in fighter mode. As you can see in the pics above, most liberties taken from the line art are very minor. Many of the panel lines on the toy are so faint that you can’t see them in the pictures here; an oil wash would really make this toy pop. The guns above the intakes could be bigger, the conformal missiles could be bubblier, and it looks like the canards should be able to lay flatter but all of that is nitpicking. In battroid mode there are some proportion issues with the legs looking a little long and the arms a little short. The cowl on the head isn’t pronounced quite enough so it look like a battroid with a receding hair line a little bit more than it should. Considering the anime magic of the shifting proportions from the fighter line art to the battroid, Yamato did a very impressive job. Unfortunately, the VF-X paint scheme is boring… like cannon fodder background plane boring. Fans of realistic or low vis schemes will eat it up. If you like you transforming jet toys to look like heroic super vehicles from an anime you’re out of luck.
It’s almost unthinkable when holding the super sleek fighter mode toy that it can transform at all. This toy does transform though, perfectly, and it’s actually fun to do. Unfortunately, there are some hiccups that reduce the fun along the way. The primary concern are the conformal missiles. Kudos to Yamato for making them removable but they’re a little too removable and Yamato is advising owners to remove the missiles before transformation because many having gone missing. If you put pressure on the wrong spot of the missile after exposing a side of the missile by moving its support during transformation you can pop it off with enough force that it can disappear on you. Fortunately Yamato gave us different attachment pegs for each type of missile so if you do accidentally pop a few off during transformation you will only be able to peg them back into their proper location. Another negative related to the missiles is that during transformation you need to remove some (only to reinstall them a step later) and you even need to move one to pull down the front landing gear. These are nitpicks again but I’ve seen people get upset over less. The other thing that might drive you crazy are that so many surfaces are adjustable (a plus) but lack a notch indicating their proper position for any mode. You’ll constantly find yourself fine tuning a fin or those open shoulder things because they don’t lock where you want them to be. Since these are surfaces you want to be symmetrical (canards, rear fins, shoulder flaps, leg fins) this will lead to more futzing. On the positive side you get perfect transformation, an opening cockpit with slide up hidden hinge, integrated landing gears with slide up hidden hinges, and removable intake covers that expose turbine detail (although you do have to pop the legs loose from their fighter position to gain access to those covers).
Some people may not like the small, not articulated hands (which can be swapped out with articulated hands but the articulated hands cannot be used in fighter mode) but since this toy doesn’t carry a weapon I didn’t find it too bothersome. Then again, if you have some spare weapons lying around the articulated optional hands do a great job of carrying them. Speaking of the hands, I would have liked it if the housing for the arms locked in its retracted position. Too many times when I was trying to pose this toy and was trying to adjust the hands I would apply pressure on the housing causing the forearm to retract back into it while smashing the hand a bit. It doesn’t hurt anything but it gets frustrating when you’re trying to fine tune a pose.
Durability & Build: (7.5/10)
With all those missiles falling off you’ll want to take good care not to lose any. I’m not exactly sure where to put this complaint but the pilot figure is a little too small for the cockpit. He can kind of bounce around a little bit in there and you might need to tend him when posing the toy after transformation. The biggest durability fault identified so far is unfortunately one that’s pretty obvious if you have it happen to you. The toy’s chin has a point to it that can get smashed during handling and transformation. Be careful with the head. As mentioned in the design section, you should also be careful with the conformal missiles. There seems to be a fairly common build issue as well with the left arm of the battroid mode being a little loose (I could feel mine was looser than the right but mine was still perfectly functional, others seem to be a little too loose to maintain some aggressive poses). As with all toys with this kind of construction there’s probably a very easy fix to remedy the looseness (either through tightening a screw or applying glue or nail polish to add friction to a ball). Arcadia’s release has had several complaints about the looseness of the ankles. Out of the box my Arcadia’s ankles were definitely looser than my Yamato’s but still functioned but it’s hard to say if they would keep functioning after several months of gradually loosening while in battroid mode in a display case. Those issues aside, the fit and finish of this valk are top notch and it really feels like it should be a much more expensive valk than Bandai’s (also good) DX renewal toys. There is metal in the usual spots for Yamato valks, the landing gears, several joints, as well as couple exterior flaps and some internal frame parts.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the fast-pack style booster toward the back of the fighter was articulated. It was also fun to pay with thrusters along the back in GERWALK and battroid mode. The ankle design is awesome with a great range of motion forward and back (see my video review). The leg design also offers an outstanding range of articulation. You will have a lot of fun with the lower half of this toy. The head pivots up and down and left and right with a good range but do take care of it as noted in the Durability section. Unfortunately, the arms offer pretty poor articulation, in part because they’re too short to ever get an adequate range away from the body. You can help yourself out by moving the shoulder covers out of your way but that does look a little sloppy and with all your best efforts you’ll feel you’ve really accomplished something if you can get the fist as far forward as the large chest uniboob. A future VF-4 toy (if we were ever so lucky) should consider having the areas above the shoulders be pivots that could rotate back to give the shoulders more clearance.
Total Score: (39/50)
It’s really hard to judge a toy when it’s the first of its kind and historically I go a little too easy on toys that have no competition. Having never dreamed I’d own a VF-4 toy I am thrilled to see it happen and I am very pleased with my purchase. That said, the retail price is high and I don’t know many people who are “diehard” VF-4 fans. Fans of the VF-4 will not regret their purchase. If you’re not a fan of the VF-4, there are other toys on this site that have scored higher that you should probably seek out first (Bandai renewal VF-25, Arcadia VF-1 are a couple that come to mind). The Bandai Hi-Metal R is also a more playable version of this toy at a much lower price point but it’s much smaller and makes some concessions not made by this toy (most notably, it lacks integrated landing gear and thigh covers). I found the Hi-Metal R toy to be a bit more fun to handle since the missiles stay on much better but it doesn’t have the premium allure that this toy has. Below is a gallery Yamato released before the toy’s debut.
A special thanks to MacrossWorld forum member ff95GJ who posted the pictures with the black background on the forums and gave me permission to include them here also. He’s got some great pics of the toy looking sexy from various angles.
Original Post: Jan 19, 2013
Updated: September 18, 2016 – Added content about the Arcadia release, comparison pictures, and a new HD Video review.
Updated: May 27, 2018 – Added scan of instruction manual, replaced HD fighter to battroid transformation guide with better 4K version
Updated: April 9, 2019 – Increased resolution of various pictures and updated content to reflect the release of Bandai’s Hi-Metal R