Bandai Hi-Metal R VF-0 Toys

Review: First up, Roy’s VF-0S

Packaging & Extras: (4.5/5)
Focker’s 0S toy comes in a no frills box adorned with beautiful art on the front and a window on the back that reveals the toy in battroid mode behind it. The clear plastic window on the back of my box was glued with too much slack so it’s wavy. The box is surprisingly long at 38 cm wide, 20 cm tall, and 5 cm deep. Bandai used all that space to provide you with a lot of accessories. In the same tray with the VF-0S you’ll also find:
1) Perfect transformation wings without hardpoints

2) Battroid-only wings (one piece that looks like two shortened wings)
3) 2x leg armor (L&R)
4) 4x missiles
5) 2x head lasers (L&R) for GERWALK/fighter modes
6) 2x pitot tubes (one is a ‘just in case’ you break/lose the first one)
7) A pitot tube plug for battroid only
8) Pilot figure
9) 2x open intake covers with fan detail (L&R)
10) 3x landing gear

11) 4 x pairs of fixed posed hands
12) Display stand (base in this tray, arm and extension is in second tray)
13) Display stand adapters (fighter in this tray, GERWALK and battroid in second tray)
14) The gun
There’s a second tiny tray behind the first larger tray. The second tray adds the additional display stand parts and adapters as well as:
15) Perfect transformation wings with hardpoints
16) A pick for helping open the landing gear doors

Behind it all, you’ll also get:
17) Instructions
I would have preferred two trays similar in size so the box could be closer in size to the VF-1 toys. I never thought I would say this but there’s almost too much here… it’s intimidating when you slide it all out and opening the trays is a golden opportunity for something to go flying. Many of these parts are initially off-putting as they remind you of the concessions made for deluxe features on a smaller (theoretically cheaper) toy. You need landing gear parts and open intakes while these would be integrated in a deluxe toy. You may never use some of the other parts; I don’t need wings without hard points or a battroid pitot plug. The battroid pitot tube may be the worst accessory I have encountered in all my years of reviewing… who would use that?

Charm & Collectability: (3.5/5)
This toy is mostly perfect transformation, has a bit of metal, and is a heroic scheme that was prominent in the anime so it should do well. At 15.4 cm tall in battroid, it’s about 1/91 scale which matches the rest of the Hi-Metal R line-up. It’s also 94 grams which is a decent weight as this size. Bandai has committed to the mold with two more releases already announced, one being a non-canon “what-if” Max scheme. It seems likely we’ll be getting a 0A Shin in the future. The chest humps are removable so the door is also open for a ghost set someday.
Roy VF-0S, October 2022, 14,000¥
Max VF-0S, April 2023, 14,000¥ Tamashii Event Exclusive
Shin VF-0D, August 2023, 14,000¥

Paint, Detail, & Mold: (9/10)
Bandai surpassed the paint detail of the Arcadia standard edition VF-0 toy. The Arcadia toy has nice translucent plastic accents on the trapezius protrusions, black dots below those yellow ‘lights’, red translucent detail on top of the head, and “VF-0” written beneath the Jolly Roger on the chest, which are all lacking from the Hi-Metal R. However, the Hi-Metal R includes the squadron number on the nose and wing, “UN Spacy” on the leg and leg armors, and the correct gray leg fin which are all lacking on the Arcadia toy. The battroid line art comparison shows that both toys do an amazing job of capturing the feel of the animation. Arcadia insists that battroid mode should have a slight angle at the GERWALK joint in the hip which makes the intakes appear longer which is closer to the line art. The Hi-Metal R instructions don’t ask you to include the angle which makes the legs look closer to the line art while the intakes look too steep. Obviously, you’re free to adjust to your liking though the GERWALK joint on the Hi-Metal R is a simple hinge where it locks at different positions on the Arcadia toy. The only major mold difference I found between the two was the chest hump. The bulge on the Arcadia chest is much less pronounced than it is on the Hi-Metal R toy.

Moving to GERWALK exposes the lovely, rainbow-effect, cockpit canopy. This may prove divisive as it won’t go with other Hi-Metal toys you own but, as long as all the VF-0 toys have it, I approve. The head recesses nicely below the cockpit and everything looks spot on.

Fighter mode looks fantastic from every angle. Some may have preferred white landing gear but silver is fine for most. The intake fans are right up at the front of the hip, which is pretty standard for Macross toys if not the most realistic. The cockpit canopy doesn’t open and the canopy has a rainbow tint that obscures the interior so Bandai didn’t waste any effort sprucing the cockpit up. The intake fans and the thrusters in the feet get a bit of paint which helps makes those details pop.

Design: (7.5/10)
Hi-Metal toys are NOT deluxe toys but they do a good job impersonating them. You won’t find high-end features like integrated landing gear, an opening cockpit, or articulated hands. Instead you get parts you pop off and swap to get the appropriate look. Bandai has improved the landing gear implementation on the VF-0 compared to the VF-1 toys. On the VF-1 toys, you remove the closed landing gear doors from the leg and replace them with an extended landing gear part that has the open doors molded to that part. On the VF-0 toys, the landing gear doors are hinged and can be popped open so you don’t have the ‘closed landing gear doors’ part to store when using the extended gear part.

Transformation of the VF-0 is more ‘perfect’ than the VF-1 which absolutely requires you to swap out the cockpit canopy for the battroid heat shield. There are no parts on the VF-0 that NEED to be swapped out (assuming you use one of the two sets of perfect transformation capable wings). Like the VF-1S toys that offer splayed or straight head lasers, the VF-0S toy has head guns in a second, lower position, but it’s such a minor visual difference, most should just leave them in the tray. The pitot tube needs to be removed when going to battroid mode, but I suggest removing it on the Arcadia 1/60 toy when going to battroid mode also. Since the pitot tube is hidden in battroid, I don’t consider removing it a negative. The perfect transformation hands are NOT capable of holding the gun, you’ll need to use fixed posed hands for that. If you’re familiar with the Arcadia transformation, you will feel right at home with the HMR. GERWALK gets the same extending knees and there’s a similar ability to bring the shoulders lower and flatten out the shoulder covers to give the wings more clearance. Going to fighter mode, the arms of the VF-0 use the same sliding hinges Bandai uses on their HMF VF-1 toy which is superior to the Arcadia pivot twist mechanism which puts a scary amount of strain on the plastic. Unfortunately, fighter mode isn’t quite as sturdy as I would like. The peg on the heat shield that locks the nosecone up has a tendency to pop free and if you grab the nose, there’s too much wiggle, it’s not a rock-solid fighter. The Arcadia toy has a little bit of wiggle, but it’s worse on this HMR toy.

The included leg armor are no frills affairs that plug directly into the legs via pegs and do a decent enough job staying there. The included missiles are three separate missiles that can be disconnected from the central rail which may come in handy for diorama builders out there. Unlike the gun on the Hi-Metal R VF-1 toys, the VF-0 toy is perfect transformation from stowed to handheld mode, no need to swap in/out the grip.

The included hands attach via ball joints but it takes a bit more care to enjoy these than it might on other toys you own. Be sure to pinch the forearm trap door tightly the entire time you attempt to install the new hand. If the door pops up at all, you’ll push the wrist into the forearm and it’s cumbersome to slide it back out without a hand already attached (the provided ‘pick’ tool helps). Once it’s on, it stays securely in place and functions well.

The included Tamashii Stage Act Display stand is attractive enough, and flexible, but the joints on mine were very loose out of the box which limited functionality. A quick turn of the screw had me enjoying more posing. You can pivot the arm at the base and the joint at the base is ratcheted. It’s the pivot point where the extension would attach that needed tightening on mine. The adapters peg in allowing you to rotate them on their peg for more posing flexibility. There’s no heft to the base so you will be limited if you move the center of gravity too far from center.

Durability & Build: (8/10)
The first time I had my battroid toy on the display stand, before I tightened the screw, it all collapsed and my toy took a three foot spill onto the hardwood floor. Some parts went flying but everything snapped together again like it had never been an issue at all. Don’t ever use that stupid battroid pitot tube plug. When I slid the display stand adapter on that thing popped off and would have been lost forever if it hadn’t be the sheer luck that it popped off into my hand. I haven’t heard any common complaints so far of this toy so my experience leads me to believe this toy is very playable. It might be less prone to breaking than its bigger cousins, but don’t be misled by my score to make you think this toy will feel substantial in your hands… it’s slight and feels more like a modern Transformer than something from the 80s. There are some metal parts, cleverly used in joints like the shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles.

Articulation: (8.5/10)
The head lasers rotate individually. The neck is a long peg with a ball at the end where the head attaches. You can pull the head up on the long peg creating a long, skinny neck, that then creates space for the shape of the head to cock/angle in either direction on the ball. There’s a plate under the neck connected to a hinge that doesn’t lock in position so you can also pull the head forward to assist in ‘looking down’ poses, which is helpful since that’s the direction where the shape of the head restricts the mobility of the ball joint the most. The shoulders are simple ball joints that allow the arm to move in all directions with only minimal restriction from the body or shoulder cover. Just past the shoulder ball joint is a twist point in the top bicep area. The elbow mimics the fantastic extension found on the Arcadia toy which enables a full 180 degree motion. The hands attach to the body via ball joints, so they pivot and rotate freely at the wrist. As seen on the Arcadia and Hi-Metal R VF-1 toys, these toys feature a hip extension, allowing you to move the intakes farther away from the body to achieve some seriously wide stances. Those hips then connect to a ball joint so you can angle the leg in/out and rotate it until it hits the wings which are the real limiting factors here. Since the GERWALK joint is just a hinge, you won’t get the same functionality out of that you would on toys where it is ratcheted, though it may still come in handy for some battroid posing and I didn’t find it to be an issue in GERWALK mode. Of all the joints on this toy, the knee is the only weak point, stopping at about 80 degrees of backward mobility (about 100 degrees short of perfect and 10 degrees short of what I view as acceptable). There’s an extension in the knee but it only allows the knee to pivot forward, and that gives you 90 degrees of forward articulation for GERWALK mode which is ample. When the feet are recessed, the housing around them limits their functionality to basic toe/heel up/down, which is decent enough for most posing. You also have the option to extend the feet which frees up an internal pivot. The foot is attached to a ball joint which is attached to that pivot. The pivot allows you to move the foot within the housing, increasing the range of movement. Once extended, you can angle the foot in all directions and twist it in/out for some very dynamic poses. In summary, you get all the outstanding articulation of the deluxe Arcadia toy except for the backward knee sweep and ratcheted GERWALK joint. The wings and pieces on either side of the cockpit make some battroid poses harder to obtain.

Total Score: (41/50)
If you could only own one VF-0 toy, it should be the Arcadia Premium Finish VF-0D. If you’re rich but not THAT rich, then the Arcadia VF-0S toy is a great option, avoid their 0A toy because of the faulty hips. If you just checked the secondary market prices for that toy and thought “no thanks”, then this is the perfect toy for you. Some might argue it’s expensive for what it is, but compared to the other VF-0S toys on the market, it’s a bargain! The parts tray is still intimidating to me but better to have too many optional things than find yourself wishing for more. It’s not substantial in the hand but it is playable and fun in every mode. The detail work for a toy of this size is impressive and there’s no sign of compromise in the looks of any mode. For scale junkies, this will fit in great with the rest of your growing Hi-Metal R collection. I continue to be a big fan of the HMR line for its combination of good looks, fun factor, and (relative) affordability and this is another easy toy to recommend.