Review: Harmony Gold’s newest licensee!
Packaging & Extras: (4/5)
I don’t know if this is a universal truth but my VF-1S Roy Fokker toy didn’t come in a brown shipper box while my VF-1J Rick Hunter and subsequent toys did. The true box within features a prominent window letting you see the toy as well as some decent super deformed art. The toy comes backed with a lot of good stuff:
1) Alternate smaller head for fighter/guardian modes (no light-up feature in this head)
2) Heat shield for battroid mode
3) 4x missiles
4) 4x fixed posed hands (L&R open, L fist, R gun grasp)
6) 2x side covers
7) Display stand (base and arm for fighter mode only)
9) 4x batters (2x LR44 for head, 2x LR626 for gun, these are installed beginning on the second release)
The heat shield doesn’t come installed on the toy because this isn’t a toy where you swap out the canopy for the heat shield, instead the heat shield clips into place on top of the canopy. By not clipping it in it makes it much less likely to break in shipping. While this is a ton of good stuff, it would have been nice if the display stand had an arm for battroid mode and super or ‘heavy armor’ parts would have been very welcome.
Charm & Collectability: (3/5)
These toys were originally released by “Fansmaketoys” in China as unlicensed third party products in late 2015. This means you can find first release variants of Roy and Hikaru (Rick Hunter) in Macross boxes. After a pause KC was in the game as an officially licensed company selling these products in Robotech boxes. The toys are pretty close to perfect transformation and they feature gratuitous amounts of diecast metal so they hit most the right points for collectors but they are super deformed which limits demand. In many circles, the Harmony Gold license is considered a liability as fans of Macross will often go out of their way to make sure they’re not supporting Harmony Gold in any way. Below is a list of the officially licensed releases:
Roy Fokker VF-1S, $79.99, September 2016
Rick Hunter VF-1J, $79.99, October 2016
Max Sterling Super VF-1J, $89.99, February 2017
Miria Sterling Super VF-1J, $89.99, March 2017
Rick Hunter Super VF-1S, $89.99, April 2017
Mass Production VF-1A, $79.99, May 2017
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (7.5/10)
Judging a “super deformed” toy is a subjective activity. I am not a fan of the VF-1S heads. There are lots of very thick panel lines on this toy… it almost looks like someone drew them all in with a #2 pencil. For some people, those panel lines will be very cute and charming… for other people, they will be ugly. There are a lot of paint apps and most are well done. A lot of this toy is metal which also explains the thickness of the panel lines… these days most of us are spoiled by seemingly laser etched panel lines in high end plastic toys. There are very cute, little, painted pilot figures in the cockpits. The cockpits themselves have very few details but they are painted differently from the rest of the nose and look decent enough for this size. One big negative for me was the clear strip at the front of the canopy. It looks like this area should be part of the frame of the canopy (and painted black) but, possibly to avoid paint rub, the frame is only painted on top of the canopy and misses the front lip. Fighter mode also has some gaps to it and a backpack that doesn’t lie flat enough but I’ll elaborate on that in the design section.
This toy has some gimmicks I wouldn’t expect in this type of toy. Here’s a breakdown of the pros:
1) Light up gimmick in head and gun
2) Hardpoints on wings
3) Gun attaches in fighter mode
4) Canopy opens
The LEDs are very bright and while it’s not really canon that VF-1 heads light up, the effect is kind of cool. The VF-1S head features a switch while the VF-1J has a button that can lock down when recessed and feels a little more elegant. I didn’t notice any light bleed from inappropriate sections of the head. The gun works sort of like a pen where you click the end of the gun to turn it on and do it again to turn it off. I was impressed the hardpoints work as well as they do. They’re simply slots in the wings and the missiles have a long horizontal peg at the top that sinks and holds the position fairly securely. KC obviously took some notes from modern, not super deformed, VF-1 toys. You can’t stow the inner missiles and close the wings all the way but the you can leave the outer missiles on in battloid mode. The wings are so small, if you don’t mind the gap you can leave both sets of missiles on. Of course, there are almost always compromises:
1) No landing gear (No integrated landing gear, no plug in landing gear, nothing)
2) Need to use smaller head for transformation
3) Battloid only parts: removable side covers and top gap cover
4) Gap between heat shield and chest (this is much more evident when you don’t use the side-filler pieces).
5) The shoulders are encumbered by the body
6) The shoulders don’t lock securely enough in their top-most position
7) Fixed “gun grip” hand is awkward
8) Canopy does not stay open
9) Fighter mode
I don’t really consider the need to change heads that big of a deal. You can obviously leave the smaller head on all the time and view the larger head as an unnecessary bonus item. While I thought the smaller VF-1S head looked awful in battloid, the VF-1J pulled off the look much better. The toy does have some tolerance issues which surface in peculiar ways. If you choose not to use the side filler pieces (that clip in under the armpits) it makes the chest area looser which in turn causes some slack on the heat shield which produces a small gap. A tooth on the top of the heat shield should lock into the chest to prevent this from happening. There’s also a battloid-mode only separate flat piece that sits below the head and cleans up the appearance. It helps a lot visually but will bother perfect transformation purists. It would have been nice if the side covers also served to lock the shoulder swing mechanism into position. As it is, when you go to manipulate the shoulders they bump into the body a LOT and when you try to overcome this you may dislodge the shoulder and have it slide downward (as it would need to for transformation). The shoulders have a similar problem in guardian mode where they can dislodge the legs when manipulated if pushed all the way forward or can float freely if you want to back them off the legs a little bit. The articulated hands are very pleasant but I was let down by the fixed gun gripping hand. The fingers are molded together too much so I couldn’t make the trigger finger reach the trigger mechanism. It might be possible but I don’t want to risk breaking the gun trying to do it. Though the canopy opening is a cool little plus… it won’t stay open and the pilot seems to be glued in. Finally, fighter mode is a bit of a mess. First, the shoulders don’t swing around to tuck tight against the head. Instead there’s a large gap there and the arms extend out way too far behind the center, even past the feet! There’s also a large gap between the bottom of the backpack and the arms beneath. The backpack should have just been fatter and had a small peg that would have attached to one of (or both) the arms. This would have locked the arms and backpack into position and kept the backpack from floating upward. Instead, the backpack has a tendency to look like a ramp off the back of the plane, exactly the kind of issue you frequently see on Toynami’s 1/100 toys so it’s sad that KC wasn’t aware this would be an issue (and to be fair, it’s much less of an issue here than on the Toynami 1/100s). If you want to install the gun in fighter mode, you pinch the butt of the gun between the forearms and just kind of mash the shoulders apart… it’s not very elegant but it is very effective… that gun stays put.
Durability & Build: (6.5/10)
This toy has a ton of metal and enjoys a lot of heft. With that much metal you would assume there will be paint rub issues though I haven’t run into any yet. Fun fact, on the Fokker toy the swing bars for the leg are unpainted metal, it looks like it’s painted the same color as the veritech starting with Rick’s release. The gun that came with my Rick Hunter toy didn’t light up. I haven’t tested yet if it’s a bum gun or a bum battery. As alluded to above, there are definitely geometry issues in the torso/chest of battloid. The chest plate looks like it should settle lower on the body, letting the top be flat with the area behind it, but it doesn’t really lock into that position and when pushed into that position the gap at the heat shield worsens. It seems to naturally sit a few millimeters above flat and the heat shield sits better at that position so it’s more of an oddity than an aggravation. Unfortunately, that feeling is common frequently in handling the toy. It doesn’t come together tightly and it seldom inspires confidence. When you have to check several times that you have a toy transformed correctly because it feels ‘off’ you know it won’t get a great score here. The gun fits incredibly securely into the articulated hand via a tiny peg. It looks like you’d run some risk if you frequently popped that gun in and out.
Given these proportions, some concessions to articulation were inevitable. Don’t expect to have the toy holding the gun’s grip with the right hand and barrel with the left.. there are tiny arms and a huge chest preventing that from happening. You won’t find double-jointed elbows or knees here, the shoulders are tough to maneuver properly and the feet aren’t going to let you pivot them in any exciting ways. Guardian mode is very limited. In battloid, the ball-jointed heads don’t allow for the best “looking-up” pose but otherwise are great. The articulated hands do everything you could want them to do without looking terribly under-sized. I imagine many owners will never bother using the fixed-posed hands at all. Check out the video review for a full run down of the joints and range of movement.
Total score: (32.5/50)
These aren’t great toys, but they are adorable. For some people, that adorable factor will be enough to warrant a collection of these. Overall, I would have been happier with a scaled up Bandai Jokemachine that incorporated many of the good things we see in this KitzConcept toy like the ability to stow the gun and tuck the hands in fighter and hard points on the wings. Throw in the optional bigger head for battloid, ball-jointed hips, Hi-complete style feet, a swivel at the knee, and chibi pilot figures on an upscaled jokemachine and you’d have a much better toy than this KC offering. That said, Bandai tested the SD market with their SD Infinity VF-25F Alto custom and never bothered making a second variant so I think it’s safe to say they won’t be giving us a ‘renewal’ jokemachine. Thus, if you’re in the market for a super deformed VF-1 and cuteness is your top priority, then this KC toy should scratch your itch.
Original post May 14, 2017
Updated May 21, 2017, added HD Video Review