Review: Includes Yamato and Arcadia VF-4G toys and Arcadia’s VF-4A
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 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
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.
The Arcadia VF-4G box and contents are essentially the same but Arcadia added a flip-top lid which is always nice to see for those ‘forever mint in box’ collectors. The interior tray was red on the Yamato release and blue on the Arcadia. Arcadia included a VF-1 gun as a special bonus for the first 20 orders through the Arcadia web shop; these would have been included in a baggy under the plastic tray.
Arcadia revisited the mold with their VF-4A in DYRL colors. The package dimensions are unchanged but the flip-top lid that was present on Arcadia’s 4G toy was abandoned. The box art again focuses on the Lightning theme which is a little peculiar since they used the FlashBack 2012 license. If I ran Arcadia, the front of the box is the VF-4 in fighter mode with the Megaroad in the background… not a battroid mode no one has ever seen in animation in front of a storm. Contents are unchanged with one exception, you now also get:
6) A Vf-1 gun pod
The lack of fixed posed hands continues to be a bummer.
Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
The original 4G paint scheme was taken from the VF-X video game; it’s not related to a character most of us know and love. Kawamori did not design the transformation or other modes of the VF-4, first appearing in Flashback 2012 (FB2012), until years after its debut, which some suggested was the reason Yamato initially sold the VF-X paint scheme. The more likely scenario is that Yamato already had the VF-X rights from their work on the Konig Monster or could acquire them more cheaply than the FB2012 scheme. Yamato’s 4G was their last new mold before shuttering their offices so that gives their release a unique place in history. Before Arcadia’s reissue, Yamato’s 4G 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.
Arcadia’s 4G reissue featured no improvements or other changes and crashed the secondary value markets of the Yamato toy. Arcadia’s later reissue of the toy everyone wanted all along, the 4A in FB2012 scheme, with improvements to the fit of the conformal missiles, should put a permanent ceiling on 4G values. Bandai’s smaller scale but otherwise very similar and more affordable Hi-Metal R will further restrain secondary market values of the 1/60 4G, and possible 4A toys.
The 4A FB2012, scheme appears for only a few seconds in a piece of animation most Macross fans will barely remember. There is a toy/model of the VF-4 precursor in Hikaru’s room in the final arc of the TV show. Bandai released a VF-4 based on the FB2012 scheme in 2019 as part of their Hi-Metal R line which was essentially a miniaturized version of this toy. The Hi-Metal R line of toys scale with each other at roughly 1/90 but include numerous accommodations for the smaller size and price point, like the lack of integrated landing gear. These Arcadia and Yamato toys, with their more premium features, price, and scale, will remain popular. See photo above for a list of releases.
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 more bulbous, and it looks like the canards should be able to lay flatter but all of that is nitpicking.
I’m not a big fan of the VF-4’s GERWALK mode but it is present on this toy and it seems to be a good representation. The underlying design involves a large forward section of the plane which coupled with legs that are essentially their full battroid length makes the ‘in between’ mode too long in two directions for my tastes. Your mileage may vary.
In battroid mode the hips are small while the lower legs are huge. The hips also attach where a human’s bellybutton would be. The cowl on the head isn’t pronounced quite enough so it looks like a battroid with a receding hairline. That said, given the restraints of Kawamori’s design, Yamato did a very impressive job. Some will find the VF-X paint scheme boring but fans of realistic or low vis schemes will eat it up.
The FB2012 paint scheme is a little more interesting visually but still under-stated in comparison to many other schemes from the show and its sequels. While the mold of the vehicle is unchanged, the 4A gets numerous new paint applications beyond the core scheme change. There’s a pilot name, warnings on the nose, squadron numbers, and even “BEAM-GUN” written above the gun at the front of the nacelles. The body of the vehicle is a much lighter gray and the trim is a metallic bronze rather than the flat gray of the 4G. The pilot is also a brand new mold with excellent paint applications.
This toy has the high end features you would expect of a premium collectible including:
1) Opening canopy with hidden hinge and removable pilot figure.
2) Integrated landing gear with hidden hinges
3) Swap-out intake fan detail
4) Perfect transformation that includes integrated cavity fillers
5) Removable conformal missiles
It’s almost unthinkable when holding the super sleek fighter mode toy that it can transform at all. Transformation would be fun if it weren’t for the removable conformal missiles on the 4G toys. Kudos to Yamato for making them removable but they’re too removable and Yamato advised owners to remove them before transformation to avoid them getting lost. Fortunately, Yamato gave the missiles different attachment pegs for each location so if you do accidentally pop a few off during transformation you will only be able to peg them back into their proper location. Though technically perfect transformation, you will most likely need to remove the missiles on the neck of fighter mode to open the front landing gear or complete transformation. Transformation also reveals the under-sized, not articulated hands that must be used for transformation to fighter mode. They swap out easily enough with the included articulated hands that are a bit larger but the Hi-Metal R toy did proportionally better. The other thing that might drive you crazy are the many adjustable surfaces that lack a notch indicating their proper position for any mode. You’ll find yourself fine tuning a fin, canard, 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, this will lead to more futzing. Similarly, I would have liked the housing for the arms to lock in the retracted position so it wouldn’t get askew so frequently when handling battroid and GERWALK modes.
While the integrated hands are small and lame, the articulated hands are the standard hands Yamato used on numerous vehicles which ensures compatibility with a wide range of guns. The 1/60 V2 VF-1 guns with a thinner grip (I believe this is all TV versions) can also be stowed in fighter mode on either 4G or 4A toys. The included fighter mode display stand adapter is not compatible with a stowed gun.
Durability & Build: (7.5/10)
4G toys suffer from loose conformal missiles but this was largely resolved on the 4A toy. The biggest durability fault identified so far has been damaged chins. The toy’s chin has a point to it that can get smashed during handling and transformation. 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). Similarly, the Arcadia 4G saw several complaints about loose ankles. 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). 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 VF-25 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 head has a decent range of motion up/down and can spin entirely around but is not a ball so it can’t be cocked. The shoulders would allow the arm to rotate entirely around if there wasn’t a housing above them that eliminated roughly 180 degrees of movement and the missiles poking off the rear of the elbows may limit things more. There’s a rotation point above the bicep and an elbow that allows 90 degrees of movement in the traditional sense and another 15 degrees of movement left/right. The hands attach at the wrist via ball joint allowing them to spin and pivot in any direction.. There’s no waist to speak of but the toy has amazing hips that compensate for this. The ball joint that terminates in the upper hip originates at a swivel allowing the hip to move forward and back. This swivel, when paired with the ball joint, allows the leg to swivel without a dedicated rotation joint that we often see in the knee of other VF toys. Since the ball joint at the top of the hip is connected near the top of a rounded edge, the range of motion in all directions is spectacular, The knee is a double-hinge design allowing a full 180 degrees of motion. There’s also a left/right pivot within the knee allowing for nearly 90 degrees of inward movement; this is a transformation mechanism you can use though it’s not the most natural motion. The ankle design is superb. There’s a ball joint above the foot, a left/right pivot at the ankle, and a heel concealed within that allows. You will have a lot of fun with the lower half of this toy. 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. The shoulders should also slide forward to the front of the housing to extend the reach of the arm.
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 (check out that review). 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
September 18, 2016 – Added content about the Arcadia release, comparison pictures, and a new HD Video review.
May 27, 2018 – Added scan of instruction manual, replaced HD fighter to battroid transformation guide with better 4K version
April 9, 2019 – Increased resolution of various pictures and updated content to reflect the release of Bandai’s Hi-Metal R
February 28, 2020 – Added Flashback 2012 VF-4A Regular Release content