Mega Review: Includes stand alone and ghost bundle releases
Packaging & Extras: (4/5) standalone releases
Each Yamato VF-0 toy comes in the same style box that the 1/48 VF-1 toys came in. You should expect the box to be a little too large and not particularly attractive. Earlier releases come in a box with a flip-top lid, the later VF-0A toy with upgraded shoulders came in a less fancy box that dropped this option. Each stand alone VF-0 toy comes with the following:
1) 4x Missile trees (three missiles per tree, individually detachable from tree)
2) Gun (featuring an extending stock and collapsing handle)
3) Pilot figure (gummy and well detailed)
4) Leg armors
5) 2x Yamato display stand connector pieces (for use with Yamato Launch Arm stand)
6) Stickers and instructions.
The figure included with what I call the “unknown soldier” release of the VF-0A is discernable from the Shin included with the Ghost Bundle set by the color of their helmet visors, Shin has a red visor.
Packaging & Extras: (5/5) ghost bundles
The ghost bundles came in a box the size of a Yamato 1/48 VF-1 with Super Parts bundle (a bit larger than the stand alone release box). These bundles retained the flip top lid and came with everything in the standard release plus the following items:
7) Ghost toy
8) 2x Ghost connector pieces
9) Replacement head for Ghost (to create autonomous variant)
10) 4x Gun pods (two attach to hard points, other two attach to humps on top of VF-0 toy)
11) 2x Replacement humps with connecting points
12) 2x Fuel pods (attach to wing hard points)
Charm & Collectability: (2/5) standalone releases
Macross Zero was not the most popular Macross series so it would have taken a truly great toy to make the toy collecting world crave this product… and Yamato failed to deliver. This toy had a tax inclusive MSRP of 17,640 Yen at release which was steeper than the 1/48 VF-1’s MSRP of 15,540 so expectations were high and demand was limited. Many people did the math and said “I like the VF-0 less than the VF-1 so I’m not going to pay MORE for a VF-0.” They might have changed their mind had reviews of the VF-0 touted the new design elements instead of lamenting the lack of structural rigidity and a number of other build quality issues. The second release in the line was a toy that looks very similar to a Shin Kudo release but is not a Shin Kudo release. Rumor had it that Kawamori decided that Kudo should not have had a unique hero scheme, and that there shouldn’t be any brown cannon fodder VF-0 vehicles, and instead Shin and the cannon fodder pilots would have all flown the paint scheme featured in Yamato’s second release (which I call the “Unknown Sodlier” release). To spit directly in their customers eyes, the next release in the line was an actual Shin Kudo paint scheme (ghost bundle). So Yamato had misled customers into purchasing a non-canon paint scheme under the guise it was as close as they’d get to a Shin Kudo paint scheme and then followed it up with the proper paint scheme. For those who can get beyond all the issues and still want a VF-0 toy, Yamato compounded their problems by not creating new boxes for later re-releases until their most recent effort which finally put an Unknown Soldier toy in a new box… but what sense does it make to re-release that toy when far more people would have jumped at a standalone Shin Kudo offering?
Charm & Collectability: (3/5) ghost bundles
With the standalone releases becoming shelf warmers as more and more disgruntled owners sought ways to find replacement parts for their broken toys, Yamato released ghost bundles. The Shin Kudo ghost bundle got the ball rolling and many people took the plunge expecting Yamato would have, by this point, fixed all the flaws of the original releases… sadly that was not the case. The rumor goes that Yamato, half way through the Shin gift-set production run, finally figured out there was a problem with the way the toys’ shoulders were being installed. The latter part of the production run allegedly got shoulders that were assembled differently and should be less prone to breaking but there’s no way to tell them apart from any other release. The Focker ghost bundle that followed was the first release officially declared safe. There was a standalone Focker reissue that followed some time later but it was packaged in the same box as the first edition so buying one is very tricky.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
You can’t fault Yamato’s effort in this category which set a new benchmark at the time of release. Yamato really went wild with the tampo-printed details (a bit less so on the Unknown Soldier release since they couldn’t put any pilot-specific details on that toy). Care was taken to reduce seam lines and conceal construction methods, you won’t notice any obvious pegs in the head like you would on a 1/48 VF-1J toy. It really is the little details that will take you by surprise. When you open up the front landing gear doors you’ll see conduit/hydraulic detail molded into the plastic. The cockpit features a thin piece of clear plastic which emulates the heads-up-display. The insides of the feet have a gold hue and turbine detail. There are only a few liberties related to sculpt/proportion which stand out when one compares these toys to the line art.
Design: (7/10) first edition VF-0S Focker
There are a number of minor tweaks on this toy that show some evolution over the 1/48 VF-1. The first new feature you’ll likely experience are the rear landing gears which now angle outward after being removed from their bays. Those landing gears then hold their position well with free spinning wheels so you won’t have to worry about the landing gear collapsing every time you move the toy on its shelf (which was more of a problem back in the 1/60 V1 VF-1 days. The design of the feet allows the afterburner ring to stay in one piece as the feet open unlike the 1/48 VF-1 which had this part split in two. Next, the pilot’s seat actually reclines so that you can have the pilot in the proper position in battroid. This gimmick is entirely gratuitous since the pilot isn’t visible at all in battroid so I think I’m more bummed about the extra money this gimmick probably cost me than excited about its functionality. The hook for the landing gear carrier, a piece not on a valkyrie toy since Bandai’s Hi-Complete Models in the late 80s, stows nicely on the backpack and can be brought down to capture your imaginary hangar cables. The transformation of the VF-0 is slightly more complicated than the transformation of the VF-1 and Yamato did a very good job concealing the necessary mechanisms. The upper legs conceal a bit more extension mechanism for the forward angling of GERWALK mode which lets the VF-0 really get into some aggressive GERWALK stances. So with all this good, why didn’t this toy score higher? First, the feet lacked a lock in the extended position. Once the toy was in battroid mode the feet would open and then they might start retracting into the leg when the toy was stood up. Generally, this wasn’t as bad a problem as it sounded, but it was something people had come to expect and its exclusion proved bothersome. Second, the elbows of the toy lacked the necessary friction to keep them in one position. When trying to pose battroid an arm might swing around at the elbow joint ruining your pose. Third, the pitot tube on the front of the fighter mode toy needs to come off during transformation which might make it easily lost (you pull it off, transform the toy, then put it back on facing the other direction). Finally, the most glaring problem, the toy lacked the necessary structural rigidity for everything to work as designed. This issue became known as the “broken back syndrome”. The intakes from the legs would not stay locked in because the sagging of the body would deprive the area of the tautness necessary for the pegs to fight tightly into their slots. This made GERWALK and fighter modes a lot less fun. One last hiccup, the included Launch Arm display adaptor for fighter mode inexplicably had the screws that held that piece together pointing forward rather than being hidden to the back of the plane.
Design: (8/10) subsequent standalone and ghost bundles
Yamato made two big improvements after receiving input from owners of the first edition VF-0S toy. First, when the feet extend from the leg they now lock into place. Second, a rubber ring was added to the elbow so it wouldn’t swing around so freely.
Durability & Build: (3/10) first edition VF-0S, (4/10) for all releases until VF-0S ghost bundle
The very first edition of the toy probably deserves a slightly lower score since the factory workers were in such a rush to package the toy they hurled it into the plastic tray, often snapping off the spikes on the tailfins. Yamato had a conversation with the factory about this and it’s very rare to get a later re-release that has damaged tailfin spikes before it has been handled. The first VF-0S release also had more occasions where the wrong magnets were installed in the legs which repelled the included leg armors rather them against the leg. The backpack also has a long thin door which can be broken through normally handling but was far more frequently broken by the uninitiated who felt that door should swing upward in battroid and cover the backpack nozzles (like the VF-1). This doesn’t happen so don’t try it. The real deal breaker for this toy though was its incredibly fragile shoulders. Rumor has it that the shoulder design was actually sound but the manufacture mechanism essentially breaks the shoulders to get them installed. The arms with their shoulders would be assembled separately from the rest of the toy and then added at the last minute by simply being pushed onto the ball joint. This method would put stress cracks on the plastic which would then become full cracks over time. The first thing you should do when purchasing any VF-0 toy is remove the shoulder covers and examine the assembly to see if there are cracks already present. Generally there seems to be a nearly 50% chance the arms will eventually fall off your VF-0 toy (if it’s one of the earlier releases).
Durability & Build: (6.5/10) VF-0S ghost bundle and VF-0A reissue in new packaging
Even when Yamato finally got the disintegrating shoulders resolved the VF-0 toy still lacks the polish you’d hope for in a high end collectible. Rigidity problems persist, things rattle that shouldn’t, and overall the toy feels a little dissatisfying.
When I got my first edition toy I was very skeptical how the lack of locking feet, a reputation for loose fit, and what looks like a very thick waistline very close to the hips might combine to make this a poor toy for shelf exhibitionists. Fortunately, none of those problems seem to hamper poseability at all. In fact, the looseness of fit makes the GERWALK a bit more fun… I found it easier to pose than the 1/48 VF-1 in that mode. There’s no twisting point at the waist on this toy which is a bit of a bummer but really it’s barely noticeable due to the excellent range of motion in the hips. The elbows also don’t have a double-joint mechanism so they do have a limited range of motion. The non-locking feet can also be used for a benefit as well on the first editions but it doesn’t hamper later editions appreciably. The only real bummer I found were the big chest pieces that come up above the shoulder line… they make it difficult to have the toy stand off-center since those chest pieces will obscure the toy’s face. Obviously this is an issue to take up with Kawamori (the mech’s designer) more so than Yamato.
Total Score: (33/50) first edition VF-0S standalone, (35/50) standalone VF-0A, (37.5/50) repackaged standalone VF-0A and any subsequent reissues
I wouldn’t buy another first edition VF-0S toy at any price. It equates to a gamble where you’ve got all your money riding on the hopes that the shoulder won’t snap off and ruin your toy forever. It’s not a good enough toy to be worth the risk so skip it. You can tell by how high it scored even with its atrocious build items so there’s definitely potential there but potential isn’t worth much when you’re buying a finished product. The Unknown Soldier release did make some modest improvements to rigidity and added the foot extension lock fans clamored for but they didn’t resolve the shoulder issues so that’s another easy pass. Steer clear of any toy that’s not specifically listed as safe in my comparison of the boxes at the beginning of this article.
Total Score: (37.5/50) VF-0A Shin ghost bundle, (40/50) VF-0S Focker ghost bundle
The only toy in these reviews that I still own is my VF-0S Focker bundle and it’s the only VF-0 toy I would buy now if I didn’t already own one. Sure, the Shin ghost bundle scores higher than the stand alone toys but that’s mostly because it comes with better extras and is sought after because it’s a hero valk. Fortunately there’s also better odds your Shin bundle will have better rigidity and shoulders not doomed to fail but it’s still a gamble and not one I recommend you play. With the Focker bundle you’re still getting a toy that feels like it could be made better but at least it won’t have its arms fall apart on you. These days, if you’re not a huge Macross Zero fan, there are probably better ways to spend your money even if you’re hunting down the best Yamato VF-0 release.
Note: This review has been updated. The following posts made previously have been condensed into one mega review:
VF-0S First Edition posted January 21, 2007
VF-0A standalone posted October 31, 2007
VF-0A Shin ghost bundle posted January 17, 2008
VF-0S Focker ghost bundle posted November 10, 2008
As part of this most recent update, picture resolution has been increased, new pictures, line art comparisons, and a video review have also been added.