Review: R for Rebuild, Reboot, Revival, RESPECT
Packaging & Extras: (4.5/5)
One reason to get excited for the HMR line is the promise of beautiful Tenjin art gracing each box. The Original Hi-Metal (OHM) regular releases toys came in a box with a collector’s flip-top lid allowing you to keep the toy forever MIB but you don’t get that treatment with the HMR toys. All toys come with the following:
2) 2x pair of wings (with hardpoints/without, none are attached to the toy in the box)
3) 4x 3 missile clusters for wings (not included in 1S toys)
4) Clear canopy for fighter/GERWALK modes
5) 2x pairs of fixed posed hands (Fists/R gun grip, L barrel hold)
6) 2x intakes with turbine detail
7) 3x landing gears (2 rear, 1 front)
8) 3x display stand adapters (Tamashii stage act displays, strike variants and mass production version come with a fighter adapter that only works with strike/super parts attached)
9) Replacement head lasers (1x for 1J, 2x for 1S)
There have been two releases of the VF-1J Hikaru custom, one with GBP (which is not technically a Hikaru custom since it is primarily inspired by the DYRL movie) and a standalone offering. The standalone offering comes with a fighter mode display stand adapter meant for a valk with super parts (which obviously isn’t right). The gun gripping right hands come with the grip of the gun molded in, unlike the super/strike VF-1S toys which came with a gun gripping hand that you inserted the grip of the gun into. The Hikaru toy, like the Mass production toy that preceded it, has the following extras:
11) Mini battroid-mode-only wings (1 piece that looks like two wings)
12) Chest cavity filler
13) 1x fixed posed L hand with open palm
14) 2x pairs of fixed posed hands and additional L hand with open palm in DYRL style
15) Bandai DX/Macross Delta advertisement
Like the Hikaru toy that followed it, the Mass Production toy comes with a fighter mode adapter meant for toys that have super parts. Though the mass production toy does not include the Macross Delta advertisement, it does include even more stuff than Hikaru like:
15) TV style pilot figure (DYRL style pilot comes in cockpit)
16) TV style head (DYRL style comes attached)
The GBP release adds the following in a second plastic tray:
11) GBP Armor (includes 2x fists and 2x pairs of feet covers (front and back)
12) 8x spent missile pieces
13) 2x pairs of fixed posed hands (Gun grip, wide open)
14) One fixed posed hand holding a gun grip (first tray)
15) Bigger gun handle for bigger fixed posed hands
16) Display stand adapter for GBP attached battroid (black, in first tray)
17) Giant blue toothpick (for dislodging the missiles in the GBP parts to replace them with the spent missile pieces)
I’m not at all a fan of the spent missile pieces. It would have been so much cooler of Bandai to include yellow tipped missiles instead. The Super/Strike releases house everything in one tray and include the following items instead of those GBP parts listed above:
11) Super/Strike parts (includes 2x ‘super’ missile booms and 1x ‘strike’ cannon)
12) 6x Reaction Missiles (2 sets of 2 and 2 sets of 1)
13) 2x pairs of fixed posed hands (R/L saluting, R/L finger on the trigger)
14) Second set of VF-1S head lasers (angled outward)
15) Third set of wings (1 piece, smaller for battroid only)
16) Custom Tamashii display stand (Focker only) packaged separately
That’s a ton of stuff so you might be wondering why I didn’t give it a perfect score. There are two reasons. First, these toys seem to come with stuff I’m not sure there’s much demand for (the two sets of wings, the spent missiles on the GBP) and not the basic Tamashii display stand that would benefit everyone. I’m sure someone out there appreciates the spent missile bits but for me they’re just tiny pieces of plastic to track down every time the plastic tray shakes. Second, these boxes, while very attractive, are very flimsy, and the black and white instruction manual that’s not a book but rather a huge folded piece of paper just screams ‘affordable option’ rather than ‘premium collectible.’ The strike release also gets one demerit for not including a fourth adapter for standard fighter mode (a mistake repeated from the OHM). The strike fighter adapter can be used to ghetto-rig a set-up if you’re desperate as shown in the pic above. Toys that include a little Tamashii display stand would score higher than the others.
Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
As noted in my review of the OHM toys, the name is a misnomer. The name is meant as a tie-in to the Takatoku era of toys though it’s largely a hollow grab at sentimentality given the metal content of these toys. The HMR line did add one metal joint though, the swing the arms are on which seems like it was only made metal in reaction to complaints about how little metal the original line had, not because it needed to be metal for durability purposes. Releases to date and planned include:
VF-1J Hikaru (DYRL)+ GBP, 9,800 Yen, September 2015
VF-1S Hikaru + Strike, 8,800 Yen, November 2015
Regult, 6,800 Yen, February 2016 (reviewed in a dedicated post)
VF-1S Focker + Strike, 9,504 Yen, April 2016 (Tamashii exclusive, with stand)
Glaug, 13,000 Yen, May 2016 (will be reviewed in a dedicated post)
Monster, 25,000 Yen, July 2016 (will be reviewed in a dedicated post)
VF-1A Standard Production, 6,800 Yen, September 2016
VF-1J Hikaru VF-1J, 6,800 Yen, October 2016
VF-1J Max Super VF-1J, 8,600 Yen, November 2016
VF-1J Miria Super VF-1J, 9288 Yen, March 2017 (Tamashii exclusive, with stand)
HMR Missile Effect Set Display Stand, 4,320 Yen, April 2017 (Tamashii exclusive)
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8.5/10)
While there are a few enhancements, these toys are largely the same as the OHM line. The biceps are bigger and there are a few nuances for the individual molds that I will discuss in specific sections. Bandai still tampo’s “UN Spacy” on the gun upside down in fighter mode (which is right-side-up in battroid) which is opposite of what Yamato did. From the side, fighter mode looks great. The only thing that’s slightly off is that the nose itself droops down a hair further than the line art indicates it should. Fighter mode definitely looks fat from above but all toys look fat in comparison to the line art so it may not bother you. My HMR toys do seem to tab together a little tighter than my OHM toys in fighter mode reducing gaps and seams that bothered me the first time around but this might be more a function of how tight they are straight out of the box rather than something we should expect long term.
VF-1J + GBP
The first release is a little confusing in that it’s not a TV version. The GBP+VF-1J is seen briefly in DYRL firing its missiles and the box art does a good job of capturing that. The pilot figure though doesn’t really fit it actually being Hikaru (and in DYRL, it’s not Hikaru). Strangely though, the most obvious difference between a DYRL GBP and a TV GBP are the yellow vs. red missile tips. This toy should have yellow tips, it has red tips, a very poor oversight. The GBP itself is very nice with decent painted on detail and translucent plastic bits in the shin. The VF-1J with GBP toy differs from the OHM line in that there’s no longer a thin stripe on the heatshield. The HMR toys also now have a removable nosecone tip (for attaching the GBP parts).
The VF-1S toy features a revised head sculpt which is much improved from the original. The new head is larger with a more defined crown and larger head lasers that now angle away from each other. The VF-1S also features a better Jolly Roger emblem that is a little lower down on the heatshield which makes for a more balanced torso appearance. The optional battroid small wings are way too small to my eye, not to mention a total pain in the rear to remove. You may want to swap head lasers with the provided straight ones in fighter mode. The strike parts are now a little darker shade of blue and have “UN SPACY” on the leg armor and don’t have a dot of red paint on top but everything else remains unchanged, including the paint and detail work revealed when the armor is removed from the main section of the rear booster. While the OHM releases were a bright white, the HMR DYRL toys are a light gray. There seems to be a little variation in the gray as the VF-1S Hikaru is slightly darker than the VF-1J DYRL.
The first two releases of the OHM, the VF-1J Hikaru and VF-1S Strike Focker have painted interior bays on the landing gears, after that Bandai stopped painting the parts and the HMR line continued leaving this area unpainted until the mass production release. The new shoulder gap covers look great and are simple to swap in. The heads both look great as well. Bandai went the extra mile and painted the metal parts a metallic bronze that puts the cannon fodder look over the top.
Hikaru Standalone VF-1J
This version has some large differences from the original “Hikaru-like” scheme of the release that comes with GBP armor. This toy is lighter in color, doesn’t have a gray head visor, and has angled stripes on the chest.
Base VF-1 Toy:
For those of you hoping for legitimate improvements over the original Hi-Metal line, you can squash those hopes now. The changes (beyond paint application differences) are tiny:
A) a new metal hinge at the shoulder
B) a removable nosecone
C) beginning with the VF-1A Mass Production release, a ball jointed head.
All of the following ‘compromises’ from the original Hi-Metal toy are still present:
1) Heatshield is not integrated, transformation requires replacing the cockpit canopy with a separate part
2) Cockpit canopy does not open. Pilot is not removable.
3) Landing gears are not integrated, they are separate parts that attach to cavities accessed by removing an outer case.
4) Landing gears are painted plastic, not metal with rolling rubber tires
5) Exposed intake turbine blades gimmick requires removing the intake covers and then inserting a new intake area piece with the additional detail
6) The gun has a removable grip rather than a collapsible one.
7) The wings are removable (so you can attach different wings) which can make them feel sloppy.
That may seem like a pretty spectacular list of failures to you and if it does, then you’re probably more in the market for a premium toy like a Yamato or Arcadia 1/60 V2 VF-1 toy. If you’re not completely thrown off by those shortcomings, there are some strengths:
1) Transformation is simple and all modes lock firmly together
2) Any parts that do need to be swapped snap securely into place
3) There’s an extension gimmick at the hips that improves articulation.
4) Optional parts fit on securely
It’s good to remember that you only NEED to swap out the heatshield for the canopy to transform the toy to battroid mode. If you use one of the cheap and easily obtained Tamashii Stage Act display stands then you won’t find the lack of integrated landing gears as bothersome.
Super Strike Parts:
Unchanged from the OHM Super/Strike parts, the HMR Super/Strike parts have a removable armor piece that exposes detail. It’s only the main panel on each rear booster. There are no panels on the leg or arm armors and nothing in the missile booms or strike cannon. To be honest, I think the one removable bay is gimmicky and I’d have rather saved some money but this toy tries very hard to straddle the line between cheap and premium so it’s no surprise the feature is there. I was a little let down by the connection of everything in fighter mode. Things stay together pretty well but it doesn’t give you that same super tight lock in place that you get with the standard fighter mode. I found myself constantly tweaking the legs to try to get a better fit. Some have complained that the leg armors don’t attach quite tightly enough causing the legs armors to unseat during handling. In battroid the backpack has a little downward click to it that helps keep the boosters perpendicular. If you’re having a problem keeping the backpack upright try applying downward pressure to the backpack and listen for a little click. I’m not responsible for anyone who applies too much pressure…
To install the armor parts you need to remove the toy’s nosecone throw it into your tray of miscellaneous parts. The armor itself can be broken down into essentially the same components from the YamatoV2/Arcadia GBP accessory which is pretty impressive given the smaller scale. The way everything comes together at the waist has been reworked in a way that feels a little less satisfying. The top of the hip armors peg into the back of the toy locking them in place. The end result is essentially the same as what you see with the larger products with forward/rear articulation of the hip being limited but the GERWALK joint directly beneath the hip serving as a suitable replacement. You can still achieve an A-stance with the hips which is a huge ‘must-have’ in my book. As mentioned above, there is a little trick to the backpack to help keep those rear boosters perpendicular but it doesn’t actually lock the backpack upright so if you’re using a stand and doing a falling away pose they may still droop down on you. Here are some other observations:
1) Lots of sliding hinges (hinge is concealed until you pull something forward)
2) All missile bays are present and open/close
3) Missiles are removable (unfortunately, putting in the ‘spent missile’ part can be a pain in the butt
I thought the spent missile gimmick was a waste of time and effort, I would have been totally fine with missiles that were permanently affixed. Sometimes I think Bandai forgets what scale they’re building with these toys and that people don’t really like having a lot of tiny plastic pieces to lose. The GBP accessory can be applied to any HMR VF-1 toy and the underlying VF-1J toy is 100% functional as a standalone product.
The heads swap out very easily, popping off a ball joint and plugging back in. Clearance for the head in fighter mode is extremely tight so Bandai had to add the ability for the DYRL visor to recess into the head. Pulling back on the laser once the head is revealed extends the visor back out. The shoulder cover plugs in easily and securely. The pilot figure is now removable. A very small peg in the seat slips into the pilots rear and, on my toy at least, manages to hold the pilot securely in place.
Durability & Build: (7.5/10)
The new metal shoulder joint broke on one of my Focker toys. Since I haven’t heard of anyone else having this problem I’m going to assume, for now, I’m a very unfortunate fellow and was the victim of a simple manufacturing flaw, like an air bubble in the metal. That said, I do recommend you try to loosen the shoulders up a bit before you start aggressively posing the toy. The shoulders out of the box are very stiff. In comparison to other 1/100 toys, these are built very well but they don’t compete with premium toys. There are definitely reports of QC letting some manufacture rejects get through but no reports yet of common breakage points. Out of the box all joints were super stiff. I’ve heard of people complaining about their OHM toys getting loose but I haven’t experienced that first-hand. Of course, at this price range you’d expect people to handle these more than their more expensive collectibles. The head lasers are vulnerable so be careful with them, especially if you don’t want to swap head lasers on the VF-1S toys. The head lasers that come installed on the toy splay outward and could get caught during the transformation from battroid mode and, in fighter mode, they could rest against the ground. I did find the head lasers on the standalone Hikaru VF-1J toy popped out of their sockets too easily when being rotated. They just peg in so nothing is broken but it does create a very real fear of losing a head laser if it goes unnoticed or bounces away.
Unchanged from the OHM toys, the HMRs remain a total blast to handle. Some joints could use a little greater range of movement, and the head could be on a ball joint but that’s really nitpicking. Definitely check out the video review and the pictures here for a full run-down.
Total Score: (41/50)
To be sure, these aren’t the same quality as the Yamato (now Arcadia) V2 VF-1 toys, but they’re much cheaper which can make them more fun because you’re not as worried about harming them (though those toys are very durable). The OHM line died a relatively quick death due to the fact it was competing against bargain bin Yamato VF-1 toys. Now that Yamato is no more and Arcadia is not releasing VF-1 toys with any regularity, this seems to be an opportune time for a second effort. Bandai looks to be taking advantage of it announcing numerous more releases including destroids and enemy mecha. Will it come to fruition? It’s certainly looking more promising than last time.
Original post date: January 7, 2016
Updated March 29, 2016, added HD VF-1 + GBP video review.
Updated July 24, 2016, added HD strike VF-1 review and Focker custom content.
Updated October 30, 2016, added Mass Production content.
Updated November 27, 2016, added Hikaru VF-1J content.