Observations & Critique: A unique addition to your collection
These busts come in a two-tone shipper boxes with no money wasted on fancy retail packaging. Inside the box is a Styrofoam rectangle split in two with shape-matched cavities that ensure the bust can’t move around during shipping. A plastic baggy and tissue paper help further protect the paint. The head lasers are not installed, having their own slots in the Styrofoam and plastic bags. A single folded piece of paper gives you all the instructions you’ll need: how to attach the head lasers (they’re magnets so there’s essentially no effort), how to open the battery compartment (again, magnetic), and how to operate the lights. The final item you’ll find is a single sticker you can apply to the base identifying the vehicle make. There are no batteries included so you’ll need to supply your own. I don’t mind the batteries but why didn’t they apply the sticker on the base?
These busts retailed for $229 each with releases as depicted in the image above. It may seem like some releases are missing going by the numbering but those were 1/6 scale cockpit/sound systems. While they didn’t sell out immediately, all eventually sold out and are now difficult to find. It’s possible that Kid’s Logic didn’t produce the full number they stated, like Toynami used to do with their Masterpiece toys. I did not find a serial number for my bust on the box or item. At 23.5 cm tall, these busts are decently large without requiring special accommodations or over-crowding your display case.
These are modern ‘reinterpretations’ of the original design and look to be an attempt at a ‘live-action movie’ style presentation. If you allow yourself to not overthink some of the decisions, these look great. If you like your aesthetics to be functional… this bust may give you an aneurism. Logic issues abound. The toy has big struts on the neck but the struts, as employed, severely limit head articulation and certainly don’t seem like a solution that would harness the amazing powers of “Robotechnology” and the materials that came along with it. The airbrake is an even bigger head scratcher. First, it doesn’t sit flush. Second, this thing has an airbrake because it transforms into a plane so aerodynamics should be important, but there are two big bulbs sticking out of it. Third, there are vernier thruster details at the top of the airbrake which is the LAST place those thrusters would ever be… it’s almost as if someone didn’t know what an airbrake does and thought the verniers were giant screws that held it down. Sticking to the airbrake, the VF-1D bust has one like all the other busts do, making it an easy head swap, but in the show, the 1D doesn’t have an airbrake (you can brush this off as being part of the ‘reinterpretation’ process if you like).
The mechanical detail behind the visor may also be a turnoff for some, and I think the visor could have been a touch more opaque, particularly given the brightness of the LEDS (more on that later). You won’t find a big button to turn on/off the lights but I’ll elaborate on that more later.
Like the mechanical detail, the weathering is a nice touch that adheres more to the ‘rule of cool’ than it does logic. It looks good and that was enough for me but I would understand if people would expect to see a certain type of wear related to these types of mechanical components or shapes. The biggest fault with the paint are the various warning labels. It appears that the text on the bust is either water slide decals that were then sealed or something similar. Under bright lights, the text is surrounded by a clear, shiny, square and is slightly upraised from the rest of the bust. This might sound awful but it’s only noticeable upon very close inspection under very bright lights.
Max’s 1A head seems more inspired by the DYRL VF-1A head than the one in the TV show that features this paint scheme.
The 1J heads in all their varieties seem to be the most popular. I find the 1J head to be more consistently rendered than the 1S, both in the show and in manufacturer’s toys over the years, so that may have left some potential customers feeling more comfortable with the 1J rendition than the 1S.
From a design perspective, the busts use magnets very well. The head lasers (as applicable) connect via magnet. When the lasers are at a more horizontal position they may overcome surface friction and not hold their position, particularly if the bust is bumped. I never had a problem with a laser falling off the bust. The battery compartment has a magnetic lid that is easily removed and secure when replaced. There is an on/off switch within the battery compartment. If you move the switch to on the lights do NOT come on which baffled me for a moment before I consulted the instructions. To activate the lights you need to both switch them on AND press the rectangle below the bust’s chin. It’s an awesome touch that allows you to quickly move from enjoying the light show to conserving the battery.
Speaking of the lights, the original press releases for these busts touted the use of “’Optical Fiber Diffraction technology’ (OFDT), it is benefiting to the art of the lighting so that the LED lights would neither overly brighten nor be too scattered, the quality of light is very realistic and similar to those described in the original animation.” Let’s ignore the comment about “original animation” since these busts have very little to do with “original animation” and even less so when specifically considering the lights (I don’t know that the visor EVER lights up in the anime, the VF-1 has giant spotlights inside its shoulders) and instead ask “do they look good?” The answer there is “YES” though I would have loved to have a dimmer. Thankfully, the lights don’t look like laser pointers.
From a durability standpoint, the bust is made of several parts that are glued together. I had one part pop off during shipping that I easily glued back on. I did reach out to Kid’s Logic for feedback on the best glue to use but I never heard back so I instead went with Super Glue I had lying around and that worked fine. After watching my New Generation Toynami Bookends fall apart after being rubbed by a USB cable, I am very cautious in how I handle anything “polystone” or resin and recommend you be as well.
Articulation on these busts is extremely limited. Yeah, the struts look like they would facilitate a decent range of movement, and the struts do attach via ball joints and have extending pistons, but the truth is that they severely restrict the mobility of the head. You can look left/right about 15 degrees, and down a little bit, but you can’t look up because the pistons catch the skirt around the bottom of the head almost immediately. The head lasers can be positioned however you like.
While I do like these busts, I like them in the sort of way that I like a good action movie. Good action movies are fun to look at but often don’t make the most sense. The weak articulation would be a bigger fault on a toy but busts often don’t have any articulation at all. I don’t think many people could justify the price but it’s easy to imagine that all of these busts would make an amazing display piece lined up together atop a bookcase.