Review: HG Falls Asleep at Wheel, Fans Start Getting Good Toys
Packaging & Extras: (4.5/5)
The only thing keeping this toy back from a perfect score here is the super thin, more paper than cardboard, packaging. Otherwise, you have a nice color sleeve that goes over a box that opens like a book revealing windows that show off the goods inside. It’s a surprisingly high-end feel to an unlicensed product, there’s even Velcro in play to keep the box sealed (though magnets are always preferable). A little bit of Engrish also helps give the toy an unlicensed feel, especially the very clear “chocking hazard’ warning. Inside the box you get the following (beyond the SDF-1 itself)
:2x “DF-1” battroid-mode Valkyries
2x optional legs for DF-1 bent at the knee
2x display stand adapters for the large display stand (one for “ship” mode, one for “buster” mode)
1x large display stand (base and arm) with city detail2x small display stands bases for DF-1 toys
4x metal rods to be used with the small stands (Long, pretty long, kinda short, short)
One of the ARMD toys also comes detached with thrusters removed so it can be easily attached to the SDF-1. The ARMDs feature the same tiny hole that is used to peg the DF-1 toys into the metal rods on their display stands so you could have an armless SDF-1 on the main stand with the ARMDs on the little stands. In all likelihood you’ll be storing your ARMD thrusters in the box and attaching both to the SDF-1.
Collectability & Charm: (4/5)
Way too soon to tell on this guy yet but it seems to have sold well as numerous stores sold out and the remaining ones that have it in stock have started selling it at a premium. It was initially released in the last days of October 2014 for what seemed to be an MSRP around $100. Collectability may be hurt by the super deformed nature of the product, some moral high-grounders that may turn their nose up at this unlicensed product, and others may be turned off by the not quite perfect transformation. While a bit on the smaller size at 22..5CM tall in attack mode, the toy has a lot of girth to it.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8.5/10)
This score is really tough to pin down given the super deformed nature of the toy but overall I am very impressed. From the translucent plastic of the bridge to the frequent bits of molded on detail, this toy does a fantastic job. I remember opening my Yamato 1/3000 SDF-1 toy and thinking “It looks really accurate… but it looks really boring.” Unlike the Yamato, this toy pops. The only obvious negative were some gaps in buster mode. Cruiser mode wasn’t as attractive to me. The giant head is more like a giant sore thumb in this mode. Obviously the finer details aren’t present here in favor of a more cartoonish appearance. Some might also take offense to the bizarre interpretation of Hikaru’s VF-1S from the DYRL movie. MasterMade seems to have combined Hikaru’s VF-1S head with the VF-1J head giving him the 1J’s visor and the 1S lasers. The lasers are integral to the head so don’t assume you can fix this when you get it without some serious surgery. For some reason, I find the odd mish-mash head sort of charming, as if it’s the toy’s way of admitting some ‘knock-off’ heritage. Real line art enthusiasts may notice that MasterMade got the “01” and “02” labeling wrong on the ARMDs but I’m guessing that will be easily forgiven by most.
At this scale and with this deformed of proportions, some compromises were inevitable. The compromises are minor though and overall the toy is impressive. The ARMDs are detachable and have a plug that fits into the rear to make them standalone vessels. On a larger more perfect toy, it would be nice if there was a trap door on the rear of the craft that simple was pressed up as the toy was attached to the arm. Similarly, in order to bring the gun booms forward into “buster” mode the radar and sensor arrays on the side of the bridge must be removed. They unplug easily and fit nicely back into place but a larger more perfect toy might have gone for something like a spring-loaded recessing ability. Transformation to cruiser mode is where most the compromises become most evident and, for some, most painful. There are a few parts that have to be removed during transformation, namely the head and the shoulder rail guns. They all plug right back in later so at least you don’t have to hunt down the box to find a different part. Once in cruiser mode the toy doesn’t feel as sturdy as I would like, some locking mechanisms would have been helpful. Of course, a larger more perfect toy would probably cost a lot more so these all seem like very reasonable compromises for a small super deformed toy.
Durability & Build: (7.5/10)
Maybe my expectations were pretty low going into this but if you told me this product was a late generation Yamato offering I would have believed you. The build is nearly flawless and feels rock solid though one of my ARMDs does have a bit of white plastic where it looks like it was cut from the sprue. I didn’t see any paint overspray. I do have some concerns about how tight the joints are as some of them have just a hint of play that if it gets looser might lead to a much less fun product. I also have some concerns with my DF-1 toys, particularly the balls on the shoulders that the arms attach to. On my Focker VF-1S the ball seems a bit big so the arm doesn’t rotate and it seems like trying to rotate it might break the ball off. Ultimately, that ball joint issue could be an issue with any number of the joints and while the toys are made of ABS plastic caution is advised when dealing with any stiff joints on the little valks.
Let’s start with the DF-1 toys which are made of the following parts:1 x head (connects to torso via ball joint)2 x shoulders (connects to torso via ball joint)2 x arms (connects to shoulders via peg – rotation only)1 x torso2 x legs (connects to torso via ball joint)You also get the on optional left leg for each valk with a bend at the knee. This should give you a good idea of the kind of articulation you can choose but definitely check out my HD video review. Overall, in comparison to gashapon toys these DF-1s are excellent. Compared to more complete toys they leave a bit to be desired. The SDF-1 is very well articulated as far as SDF-1 toys go. The head has a tiny amount of left/right twist ability. You can increase the range of movement by lifting up on the head (it is connected via a peg) but the sides of the head will still run into the gun booms behind it very quickly. Obviously the gun booms extend away and fold forward for “buster” mode. The rail guns on the shoulders are articulated but there are no other articulated turrets. The shoulders can spin in a full 360 range and the toy can extend its arm and lift it above shoulder height and there’s even an articulated guard within the shoulder very similar to what the Yamato toy has. The ARMDs attach via a ball joint which is good for allowing them to spin but it doesn’t allow much in the way of an elbow so you’ll be relying on the shoulder articulation to pull off some of the more iconic SDF-1 looks. The ARMDs also have articulated thrusters on either side of the craft. The hips allow an impressive amount of backward sway which is great for simulating flight, they also allow a little range of movement forward, the ability to obtain a fairly aggressive A-stance, and the ability to rotate the legs so the heels can touch (but you can’t rotate the legs the other way to make it appear pigeon-toed). There’s also a knee joint which offers the tiniest amount of articulation. The bottom of the feet extend away from the legs creating platforms that can rock left or right like ankles which is very much appreciated since this toy does allow such a nice A-stance. Overall, for an SDF-1 toy, the articulation is fantastic, probably far in excess of what the SDF-1 is supposed to have, but still quite a bit less than something like a Valkyrie toy.
Total Score: (39/50)
I’m not ashamed to admit that I find a lot of charm in SD toys. I also may have gone into this review with much lower expectations which may be inflating the score because of how pleasantly surprised I was. Super Deformed toys don’t have universal appeal though so if it’s not your thing, that’s okay, you have alternatives. Obviously the Yamato 1/3000 toy is the Holy Grail of SDF-1 collecting. Another option to consider is the Wave WHAM 1/5000 toy which isn’t a ton of fun but makes a decent display piece if you just want a backdrop item and is very similar in size to this MasterMade product. MasterMade has hinted at future SD Macross offerings and I look forward to them as this first offering sets the bar high. I wish I was a bigger fan of cruiser mode but overall, this is an easy toy to recommend to enthusiasts of super deformed Macross products.