Observations & Critique: Make your 171 toys look angry (includes EX and Nightmare Plus parts)
These Tamashii exclusive armored parts come in the standard brown shipping box with two tone interior box (blue for both Alto and the Nightmare Plus parts). Inside the box you get the following:
1) Armored Parts
2) Replacement wings with hard points
3) 2x Missile clusters for wing
4) 2x Individual larger missile for wing
5) 2x gun pod for wing
7) 2x Reaction missiles*
8) 2x MDE Missiles*
* indicates Nightmare Plus release only
To accommodate the additional missiles, the Nightmare Plus set comes with two plastic trays. When the VF-171 toy first came out its most glaring flaw was the removable wings. It was a pathetic money grab on Bandai’s part to make their toy worse by making wings that pop off so that they could sell wings with hard points separately. If the hard points were big and ugly you could argue that Bandai did this so the original release would look better… but the hard points are nearly invisible. Bandai just HAD to include the vehicle-colored wings with the add-on packs so they would be specific to one of the releases. Shame on you Bandai.
Bandai announced the Tamashii exclusive armored parts for Alto’s EX toy in June 2012 (see promotional pictures and announcement above) and shipped them on December 25th, 2012 for 5,040 Yen. Reception was pretty warm for the parts and their secondary market quickly climbed. That said, the 171 and its accessories still aren’t as popular as the renewal VF-25 toys so it’s far easier to get a brand new 171 or armored parts for the 171 than it is to get a new V2 VF-25 or renewal armored or super parts. The armored parts for the Nightmare Plus toy were announced in April 2013 and released in September 2013 for 5,775 Yen.
Bandai’s hot streak for getting extremely close to the line art continues with this offering. The toy looks good in every mode. There’s nice attention to detail in the varying shades of blue/black used and some molded on detail that’s easy to miss given the drab colors. Flip the parts over and there’s detail on the side that you’ll only see when installing the parts. It’s a gratuitous but entirely expected given the standards for deluxe toys these days. There’s no internal mechanical detail to expose here and the detail work on the landing gear is as minute as the landing gear itself. So, it looks good but don’t expect any additional gimmick detail.
Starting with the negative, the device on the left arm is supposed to house four reaction missiles. It would have been a nice touch if the doors on the device opened up revealing some big missiles. Even the chest, which looks like it should house two missile compartments, does nothing. Originally I stated I couldn’t find any definitive evidence that those chest compartments really were missile bays, I’ve since been told they’re definitely supposed to be so it’s sad to see Bandai take the easy way out. Since there aren’t any opening missile bays or anything of excitement the only thing left to judge this accessory on is how well the parts stay on the toy. With only one exception the answer to that is ‘very well.’ The one weakness comes in the form of the hip armors. While they do clip well enough into place in battroid mode they will pop off far too easily during moderate handling. It didn’t help that the hips are apparently my go to spot for picking the toy up. In GERWALK mode things were even worse as the hips now moved up against the GERWALK joint in such a way as to increase the probability the hip armors would pop off. How well the wing armaments attached to the wings was a pleasant surprise. Even during rather rough handling in battroid mode the wing weapons stayed securely in place. On my 171EX toy the new wings stayed in place better than my original wings although I’ve seen other people complain of the opposite being true so you should know that you’re trusting your luck. I liked that the missiles could stay on the wing in battroid mode although this is not true of the MDE and Reaction missiles included with the Nightmare Plus toy which are too long (they would bump into each other with the wing closed and run into the vehicle’s legs). The MDE bomb/missile also has spikes that come off it far enough where the spikes will likely be on the ground with the landing gears deployed. Fortunately, while they might touch the ground, they are not tall enough to prop the toy up. The landing gears housed inside the lower leg armor (near the ankles) are tiny but feature well concealed doors and the wheel has a twist mechanism that works adequately to reduce its profile.
There’s only one durability issue I’ve determined from handling these toys that you should be cautious with. For my Nightmare Plus toy, when removing the factory installed wings one of the small pegs the wing uses to pivot had the head shear off of it leaving it useless. This is more an issue with the underlying toy than the armored parts themselves. Many 171 owners have broken these pegs from the action of opening and closing their wings so they are something you should be very cautious with. On my 171EX toy these pegs pop out when under pressure which would theoretically stop them from ever being broken (but make them very prone to being lost). As I mentioned before, the new wings you get may stay on the toy better or worse so expect the worst and hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Also be careful as you handle the toy or add/remove parts as the paint on Bandai’s toys is delicate and can be scraped off easily by an errant movement that gets a sharp edge close to a painted detail.
If you own a 171 toy, and you like the look of the toy with armor on, then you should grab this accessory as soon as you can. It looks super imposing and I LOVE the 171 in battroid mode decked out with this armor. It just looks like it’s waiting to pin point barrier punch a bug in its teeth. Don’t expect this accessory to do anything more than look cool though; you won’t get pivoting boosters or hidden missile bays like we’ve seen on other recent Bandai DX accessories. Until Bandai releases an extras set for the YF-30 toy, the wing armaments included here also fit the hard points on that toy which may drive up demand slightly.
Original Post: March 19, 2013
Updated September 16, 2014, included information pertaining to the Nightmare Plus armored parts.