Observations & Critique: Just for Arad… for now
Like other Tamashii Web Exclusives (TWE), these parts come in a brown shipper box that conceals a more traditional retail box inside. In the past, the TWE ‘retail-style’ boxes have often been very simple, monochromatic affairs, but this box gets nearly the full retail treatment and pairs very well with the box for the VF-31 toy. The box is even bigger than the one used for the VF-31 toy, having the same width and length (17×13.5cm) but being a bit more than 15cm in depth where the toy comes in at a bit less than 12cm in that direction. Inside the box there are no fancy covers or Styrofoam like the toy has, here you get two plastic trays brimming with parts. Those parts can be summarized as:
Display stand consisting of:
The same base that comes with the VF-31’s display stand
A thicker arm
2x support attachments that fit into the arm
1x brace for the front of the arm in fighter mode
3x support arms
3x support claws (with fingers and connectors requiring assembly)
3x display stand adapters
2x support brace for mission pack (one for battroid, one for GERWALK)
2x wheel supports (for fighter mode landing gear)
Behind the trays, you’ll find instructions
For the most part, I was pretty happy with the contents though the all the extras to help support the weight of the toy are a definite warning flag and the inclusion of some imperfect transformation braces and wheel supports are another warning flag.
An unladen VF-31 toy weighs a healthy 422 grams. When you put these parts on your toy, it weighs a staggering 858 grams! The parts way more than the underlying toy. The consumer-base for this accessory may be slightly limited in that the armor was never shown in the Macross Delta television show and only made its appearance in the Macross Delta: Passionate Walkure movie. Other variants were also shown in that movie so it’s possible there will be more releases. So far we’ve had only one release:
Armored Parts for VF-31S Arad, August 2019, 17,280円
I don’t have access to a lot of Macross Delta art, nor have I even seen Passionate Walkure (it will happen… someday) so I’m not the most qualified to nitpick the toy. I did expect the parts to be off white instead of gray and they feel too chunky to me given how slender the 31 is. There’s plenty of paint apps and the armor looks well detailed but I did think black accents were missing in the barrels of the chest guns and the bells of the thruster nozzles. The missiles in their bays, be they large or small, all look convincing enough. The big pods that have the medium size missiles that pop out could have benefited from a splash of dark paint inside the bay. The toy has a LOT of hinges and, other than the micro missile bays on front and back of the big side pods, all hinges are recessed to minimize their visual impact.
The most critical elements for me, in relation to accessory bundles, is that they stay on the toy securely and they don’t reduce the enjoyment of the underlying toy. As you might expect from the overwhelming nature of this accessory, it does negatively impact enjoyment of the VF-31 to some degree. The combined toy is huge, clunky, and the display stand is a welcome crutch. The toy cannot be transformed without removing some portions of the armor. The one weakness of battroid mode is the half-baked clip meant to hold the heavy overhead guns in position (the mission pack). This little brace is insufficient; a minor bump is enough to create issues. When in GERWALK mode, if the intake pops off its slot, it is difficult to peg it back in, and, given how little room there is between the arms and the hips, it seems like this will be a frequent issue. The toy has a unique brace for the mission pack in GERWALK mode but it is again vexing.
Taking the toy off the stand in GERWALK mode is trickier than battroid as the toy will try to do the splits. You’ll need lots of friction on the feet to comfortably hold a pose and, even then, the weight on the wing hinges seems like a durability nightmare. Both GERWALK and battroid mode suffer from elbow hinges that don’t have adequate strength to support the arm weaponry.
Using the display stand with its clear supports to prop up your arms is recommended. Things hold together relatively well in fighter mode but the big guns attached to the arms don’t lock in a forward position so they’re easily jostled during handling.
There are integrated landing here but they look awful and awkward. Two locks/spacers are provided to keep the knees flapped out properly. I was not a fan of the installation method of the shoulder armor parts. You must remove the canards from the toy, disassemble the shoulder armor, pinch in the canard, and place it back on the toy. It seems like a much better solution would have been to remove the canards, then install an armored part that has a permanently attached canard to eliminate a part that can pop apart during handling. There are nice ratchets in the large exterior missile pods to ensure they stay angled as you desire. The big guns on top feature a nice extending and opening feature. There are large articulated thruster bells on both wing parts. The thigh armors slide up and down to accommodate posing and transforming the toy. The leg armors have articulated foot and heel pieces. Excluding the VF-31A Kairos, these parts will fit on any VF-31 toy but do note that the shoulder-armors are paint-matched to Arad’s VF-31. These armored bits are covered with missile bays and all bays are functional with an opening door.
I don’t trust the long-term durability of the VF-31 in battroid or GERWALK modes with the huge boosters weighing down the hinge that supports the wing. It seems like, over time, that hinge will fatigue and there will be problems like we saw on the VF-25 toys. I also don’t like sliding supports (that don’t work well) over the big logo on the back of the VF-31 toy…. Even less now that the VF-31S is such a hard toy to replace. It also seems like the armor that goes onto the canard may likely scratch the paint on the base of the canard during handling. It’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re really taxing your VF-31 toy when using this accessory. For example, when the parts are on in GERWALK mode, the gap behind the cockpit seems to grow much larger than usual (though this is generally concealed by the chest armor).
Bandai did a pretty decent job making this accessory but the underlying design doesn’t appeal to me and these parts weren’t so fun I was able to overcome that. I prefer the renewal DX VF-25 armor parts in fighter mode but the 31 does better in battroid (due largely to the ratcheting hip joints on the underlying toy). Since these parts cost the same as a VF-31 toy, I think most people would be better off getting a second VF-31 toy rather than these parts. The fit, finish, and paint are top notch so if you find the design attractive, it’s probably ‘good enough’ for you. Hopefully, if you are a big fan of these parts, you are now well informed enough about them to decide if this is something you need in your cabinet.