Toynami 1/55 Masterpiece Collection VF-1 Toys

Mega Review: Includes all variants

Packaging & Extras (4.5/5)
Toynami does packaging well, very well.  A little too well if you ask me.  I don’t like knowing that I paid for a box.  I like it even less when I can see that I paid for an overly extravagant box.  This is purely a personal preference I suppose as clearly some people must display their toys within the boxes.  Volumes 1 & 2, were shipped in pure white shipping boxes that have absolutely no indication of what is inside. This oversight was corrected by upgrading to a box that included a portrait of the character within and a build number located (usually) on the top fold. By the time Toynami made it to their 4th MPC (Max) they had upgraded to what is now their standard shiny white box (no longer a matte finish) with the portrait on the side and the build number on top.  Extras are nice but with these newer toys they’re exactly what should be expected. You get:
1) A pilot figure.
2) Missiles are provided for the wings in three-group clusters
3) An antenna is provided for the backpack (optional Guardian mode attachment)
4) A ladder
5) A gun (with stock extension gimmick)
The pilot figure is a major pain to actually get seated properly but he’s painted to match the show and detailed nicely. The ladder goes beyond where most companies would stop and is a cute addition for those who plan on dressing the veritech up in a display. Overall, it’s a nice package with plenty of options. What was it missing that we’ve seen in more dluxe toys? A gunstrap would be nice. Fixed posed hands? Sometimes the toy gives you a decidedly less premium feel by coming with loose pieces of plastic that seem like leftover bits from the manufacturing process. I initially panicked thinking my toy was broken but the pieces of plastic I have found in two different trays didn’t belong to the toy and I have no idea why they were there (small little white circles… they almost look like they could be use to conceal screws).  Those who purchased directly from received a mock animation cell to go with their purchase (limited to 3,000 if I’m not mistaken).  The instructions and decals are taped to the back of the box so if you’re buying one in the secondary market you should ask if they have ever been removed as removing them can tear the box.

Charm & Collectability (2/5)
You may know some people that hate this toy and you might not understand why, so perhaps a little history lesson is in order. Some people will hate this toy because it’s a licensed Harmony Gold (HG) product and HG is often viewed as the villain that has kept the original Macross series and merchandise locked out of the US and other markets. Other people will hate this toy because they don’t like Toynami due to some drama involved in the company’s creation and the demise of another company, Toycom. Many people dislike Toynami because of how eager they are to create hype well before they have a solid product. The VF-1 MPC is an excellent example of this. At the 2001 San Diego Comic Convention (07/01) Toynami showed off a 1/65 scale “MPC” that they were planning on producing. At the time they had no idea how many they were going to make, if the scale was final, or what features the toy would include. In 11/01 Toynami finally revealed the finished product and started taking preorders in the following month. Those preorders were not delivered until nearly SEVEN months later AND after preorders had been taken, Toynami increased their production numbers from 10,000 each to 15,000 each effectively decreasing the value of the toy people had already purchased.  Part of Toynami’s problem in releasing the VF-1 line was how overwhelmingly popular a few variants were in comparison to the others (Rick and Roy would sell well but no one believed Max, Miria, or Ben had much staying power).  Ultimately Toynami’s fears were realized as Rick and Roy sold out but Ben and the others languished on shelves harming  Toynami’s relationship with retailers.  Toynami did revisit the MPC line with the release of the Battlecry game producing volume six, Jack Archer’s YF-1R based on a brief animation error that put VF-1J lasers on a VF-1A head.  Jack’s YF-1R was limited to only 5,000 pieces and is one of the more charming releases due to its odd inspiration.  All toys feature the production number printed below the chest.  These days demand for these toys has tailed off steadily as there have been numerous releases of better toys.

Sculpt, Detail, and Paint (5.5/10)
If you’re familiar with the Bandai High Complete Model released in the 1980s then the Toynami MPC should seem immediately familiar to you.  For the most part Toynami just took the HCM and increased its scale from 1/72 to 1/55.  Some minor tweaks were made.  The original HCMs had exagerrated head lasers that looked almost like bunny ears and a bit more squat in the mid-section (see numerous comparison pictures above).  The HCM was also only offered in three variants and Toynami doubled that effort.  The paint jobs here are all animation accurate and there are a fair amount of panel lines and details to please the eye.  While Toynami did borrow very heavily from the HCM (a shame they didn’t improve much upon the HCM more than 10 years later) Toynami did include more paint apps.  There are a few places where the toy shows some significant flaws.  First, following the HCM’s poor lead, the leg intakes look terrible in every mode except battloid.  In fact, that section, and the section directly above it, make the fighter mode look terribly cheap with gaps abounding. The landing gears are very nice but the doors concealing them could have been handled better in terms of matching the animation.  That said, this thing looks good in Guardian mode.  The hands are top notch and hold the gun well and look good on their own.  The battloid mode doesn’t look too bad compared to its contemporary releases but can’t compete with any of the more modern releases with its slightly shrunken head and manipulated proportions.  Fighter mode is a train wreck.  All in all, it was a fair representation for the time but even then it was obvious it wasn’t great.  On the plus side, there was some nice detail done to the trap door the head passes through and inside the feet thrusters.

Design (5/10)
How do you improve upon a 15+ year old design besides making it larger?  Toynami answered this question by adding a swivel joint to the leg, an antenna to the Guardian mode (removable), a light in the visor (gimmick), and diecast in the legs.  These are nice additions but they’re far short of what could have been done.  The diecast in the legs make the legs heavier and more prone to swinging down in fighter mode.  There are a couple of pegs added to help prevent this but their implementation is done horribly and seldom fixes the problem.  This problem is so bad that I would say the 1980s HCM toy/models are better in fighter mode than the MPCs!  As mentioned previously, the fighter mode of the vehicle is riddled with problem areas that keep it from achieving an aggressive fighter stance/look. This was Toynami’s first stab at a real quality product and I think their effort here really shows that.  The designers took the easy way out the entire route… but the hands are nice.  Just a couple short years later Yamato released their 1/48 scale toys which were perfectly transformable with integrated heatshields, integrated backpack antenna, wingflaps, airbrake, and had much improved proportions and articulation.

Durability & Build (6/10)
This is a little tough for me to judge because I’ve heard a world of complaints.  I’ve seen first hand some pretty minor items.  Usually the one item that jumps out at me first are the warped head lasers on all variants except Ben’s.  Beyond that I’ve seen some oily finger smudges and a few paint flaws.  The heads on the Ben Dixon’s just don’t look right to me.  Most of them look like the very front eye piece is a little skewed one direction or another.  Sometimes the missles don’t lock into the wings very well.  I’ve heard some complaints that the head light didn’t work for any number of reasons.  Honestly though, while the toy does feel a little cheap, and no where near as sturdy as the Takatoku or Bandai reissues, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to break apart in your hand.  The joints don’t quite seem to click like they should but all of mine are sturdy enough to hold poses.  Lots of improvements could have been made but, for the most part, these toys will hold up.  I should probably note here that the original Rick Hunter MPC contains less diecast (in the calf area) than the subsequent releases and supposedly has the worst track record of all the MPCs.  I have owned more Rick Hunters than any of the others though and I would say it is no more prone to flaw than the ones that followed it.  One thing to watch for, the backs of the legs are painted diecast and are supposed to attach to a metal area above in fighter mode.. this can easily cause chipping.

Articulation (5/10)
Fortunately for all of us fans VF-1 toys have made huge strides since the MPC was released and people were thrilled to see a twist at the knee.  These days we demand more, like swivels at the waist, double-jointed elbows, and ball jointed heads, hips, and even ankles. It’s worth noting that even the HCM toy from the 80s had better hips than the Toynami MPCs.  I would bash Toynami more for having only one improvement in articulation over the HCM (the rotation point at the knees) but Bandai was reissuing the Takatoku toys which featured no articulation contemporaneously.

Total Score (28/50)
This isn’t a particularly bad or great representation of the classic Robotech Veritech.  Had this toy initially been sold at a $59.99 price point I think it would have received a much warmer welcome to collectors near and far.  Really, there just isn’t quite enough there to warrant the $79.99 price tag it originally had especially when one considers the likelihood of receiving a bent head laser or paint smudge.  I know it has been a resounding failure but I would also like to commend Toynami for giving the Ben Dixon MPC a shot.  It would be nice to see other companies give that paint variation a shot, if not just as a Limited Edition.

Original Post Date: May 29, 2006
First update: January 13, 2007
Second update: September 11, 2008
Latest update: All new pics, higher resolution, line art comparisons, video review, and added YF-1R (originally posted January 17, 2007)  and HCM (from my HCM vs MPC post on July 14, 2006) content to condense three separate posts into 1.  Also revised the scoring to reflect the much better releases that have come out since September 2008.

6 Replies to “Toynami 1/55 Masterpiece Collection VF-1 Toys”

  1. Great review. I agree with everything you say here.
    I’ve been a fan of Robotech stuff for a couple of years now but I never had any of the toys. I bought the VF-1S Fokker MP thinking it would be as articulated as the Yamato stuff but…nope. Didn’t happen. As it stands this baby is just a little more articulated than G1 Jetfire and nowhere near as good as the Macross stuff that’s out now. All in all they’re really awesome to get if you’re paying $50-80 but I seriously wouldn’t recommend paying $100-$200 for these guys. I paid $140 for Fokker (this was with the shipping thankfully) and I felt a little sick after that knowing that I could have probably gotten a super-articulated Yamato VF for around the same price if I was willing to dig through all the sales on eBay to find someone willing to let one go for that kind of price.

    By the way, great site. I should bookmark you as I think your reviews on Robotech/Macross stuff are helpful and good.

  2. I was uneasy getting Yamato’s VF’s after hearing about breaks and damages to shoulders and so on. Iternational shipping to fet replacement parts or repairs scared me. So I bought an MPC Alpha first, and it broke. I sent it back for another, and it broke. I emailed a stern letter to Toynami and I spoke with a great rep. I told them that I wanted to get more Toynami items but I was’nt sure. The rep reassured me that if I had any problems with any items to email him directly and I would be taken care of no matter the item. With that reassurance, I have started to get the MPC’s instead and so far I have a red VF-1J, with a Rick Hunter Appendix pack, total $153.00 with shipping. My MPC new YF-1R, and VF-1A total $150 shipped. And soon I’ll have my new MPC VF-1S $150 shipped. I can’t complain about the MPC VF’s. Im very pleased. Thank you for your insightful review.

  3. How the hell can you give this p.o.s. a 7/10 for sculpt and design?! I give it a 3/10. This toy does not resemble the anime. The inaccuracies become even more obvious when this VF-1 is compared to Yamato’s 1/48 or 1/60 v2.

    Toynami’s “Masterpiece” has a head that hangs WAY low in fighter mode, HUGE intakes, skinny knees, short legs, unpainted, old-fashioned landing gear, front landing gear too far forward, cockpit canopy too low, exposed swing arms, poor fit and finish……in fact EVERY section of this toy is off-model!
    Also, the light up “eye” is retarded. It’s a camera array, not an eye. It doesn’t light up in the show, why the hell would it?!

    This toy looks ridiculous. Toynami took a 20 year old sculpt and added some awkwardly placed articulation; it can’t even spread it’s stance. It’s a joke.

  4. To be fair, most of this review existed when the only comparisons were to the V1 Yamato 1/60, the Bandai Chunky, and the Bandai HCM. I’ll update the review soon and give it a nice, fresh, harsher look.

  5. I’ve been a fan of Macross since the 80’s. I remember drawing or making sketches of the Batroid without nothing to go on but the tv series. In my opinion, the Yamato V1’s 1/48 are awesome and the best ones in the market today over all. Coming in 2nd for me are the Toynami V1 series 1/55 scale.

  6. hello. a major improvement on these toys, if one does not mind messing around with them, is to remove the metal blocks inside the legs altogether.
    free of that pointless dead-weight, the legs stay in place quite well in FIGHTER.

    also spacers between the hip bars and intakes help to give BATTLOID broader, better looking overall symmetry, IMHO.

    while i do greatly prefer my 1/72 HCM VF-1J, and this old TOYNAMI remains a shoddy, mediocre and obvious lazy plagiarism upon that classic vintage design, the TOYNAMI somehow manages to be an interesting entry in VF-1 toy history, at least to me personally…

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