Observations & Critique: 31J, 31F, & 31C Versions
This accessory bundle was a Tamashii website exclusive so it comes in a brown Tamashii shipper box. Inside the brown shipper box you’ll find a surprisingly lackluster two-tone box. There are some nice graphics of the toys but it’s quite a step down from the regular release VF-31 DX toys which feature thick cardboard and additional lids for presentation. Once the box is opened you’ll find a plastic tray that has the following:
1) Super parts: 2x wing boosters, 2x leg armors (3 parts each), 2x hip armors, 2x upper leg armors, 2x forearm armors, 1x cod piece, 1x chest armor
2) Fighter mode display stand adapter
This constitutes the bare minimum Bandai could give us for a super parts package so if you were hoping for something a little more flashy like standing pilot figures, a different weapon bay, missiles, or reaction weapons you’re out of luck.
While Messer’s 31F parts don’t contain anything different the packaging did receive an upgrade. They managed to squeeze all that good stuff in a box that was half as large. It’s an impressive feat and makes the packaging aspect a little more satisfying. On the flip side, the instructions were downgraded. Gone are the glossy, color instructions that came with Hayate; instead you’ll get the same info on a matte black and white page.
With the Mirage release the packaging was kept just as tight as it had been for Messer but more good stuff was added. In addition to everything that came with Hayate’s and Messer’s super parts, you also get:
4) 2x pairs of reaction missiles
5) 2x hard point connectors for use without super parts
6) 2x hard point connectors for use with super parts
The hard point connectors are stored in a small plastic baggy behind the super parts tray that has the big wing boosters in it.
For what you get, these seemed a little expensive, but given the secondary market pricing of previous Tamashii exclusive bundles, it makes sense to get them upon release if you’re at all interested in them. That said, the super parts weren’t very memorable in the show so I can’t see this accessory becoming the same sensation that the Ozma’s Renewals Armored Parts became. Releases:
VF-31J Immelmann custom, May 2017, 7,344円
VF-31F Ihlefeld custom, October 2017, 7,344円
VF-31C Jenius custom, May 2018, 8,424円
Once again Bandai has done very well painting all the details you could want on the toys. The colors are well-matched and the bronze of the nozzles really pops. The mold includes lots of detail and lives up to the beautiful toy it pairs with. Unfortunately, I don’t have much in the way of line art so I can’t post any comparisons yet. While VF-1 fast packs/super parts now seem to universally include armor you can remove to reveal internal detail, there’s nothing like that here. The missiles in their bay are just red dots painted on a gray background which is good enough.
From a design standpoint there are really three critical functions any armor accessory must accomplish. First, the armor must attach securely to the toy. Second, the armor must have the appropriate gimmicks, generally missile bays that open to expose missiles. Third, the armor must not inhibit the fun factor of the underlying toy (generally by reducing articulation). Attaching these parts is not difficult and the end result is very sturdy and survives moderate handling without constant attention or parts popping off. The area around the leg in fighter mode does appear a little gappy with everything attached which is unfortunate since the naked toy looks so tight. Note that the leg should go down one gerwalk ‘click’ in fighter mode… the instructions tell you to do this but in the picture where they show you how to use the display stand adapter they have the legs perfectly straight. There are missile bays aft of the cockpit (or next to the head in battroid) that open. They don’t have a concealed hinge mechanism like we saw on the renewal VF-25 toys but they don’t really need it. Were there any other micro missile compartments on these super parts? I don’t remember them… but I barely remember the super parts being in the show at all. None of the goodness here comes at the expense of eliminating articulation of the underlying toy. Transforming the toy will require removing parts at different points. From fighter to GERWALK you’ll probably need to pop off the forearm armors. From GERWALK to battroid you’ll need to remove the chest armor so that the head can pop through its door. In the show, the forearm armors rotate when reaction missiles are attached so that the missiles point forward but we don’t get reaction missiles in this package nor do the forearm armors have a pivot gimmick; two weaknesses I find a little sad given the price point. There’s nothing unique between the VF-31F, VF-31J, VF-31C, and VF-31S that would prevent the parts from being interchangeable.
There have been a couple reports of people receiving super parts that had insufficient glue during the manufacturer process. Obviously that could be quickly remedied with a dot of glue. There have also been some complaints about parts on one leg not securing as tightly as the other leg. For my part, all of my super parts lock on very securely but the connections can be a bit intricate so it’s not hard to imagine how a tiny manufacturing irregularity could potentially cause big headaches. In battroid mode the toy has a lot of weight dangling from the rear so it’s easy to imagine this may cause joint problems on the VF-31 toy over time.
As mentioned in the design section, these parts manage to attach securely and without reducing the excellent articulation of the VF-31 toy. The big boosters have articulated nozzles (back pair, sides, and front bottom). The rear leg armor also has an articulated nozzle on a pivot which helps it stay out of the anklet’s range of movement (though I had to be very careful with this as the pivot didn’t keep the booster out of the way… see my video review). The hip armor has a sliding mechanism and the missile bays have an extension and pivot to accommodate the different modes.
Overall, this is a fine accessory to a fine toy. It definitely gives the VF-31 a totally different look so it may not appeal to everyone. It’s also not very iconic in the show so we’ll have to see if the Delta movie makes better use of the parts. If the look appeals to your eye then there’s no reason here why you shouldn’t grab a set for this or future VF-31 releases.
Original Post: June 25, 2017
Updated November 19, 2017, added Messer content.
Updated June 24, 2018, added Mirage parts, 4K video review of all variants, and 4K pictures