Mega Review: Everything but the accessories!
Packaging & Extras: Regular Releases (4/5), +0.5 for gift-sets
With their first ‘ultra-premium’ release, Yamato wanted their packaging to convey the grandiosity of the goods within… so they gave the box the grand dimensions of 37 x 36.4 x 14.2 cm. I have always hated that the box isn’t perfectly square. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to put one of these toys away only to realize that I’ve slid the tray in the wrong direction. To make the most of this real estate, the toy comes packaged in fighter mode with wings fully splayed. Early releases come in boxes with flip top lids that allow the collector to admire their toy without ever having to remove it from the box. The earliest releases have Velcro tabs on the flip top lid to keep it down but this proved to create more issues than it solved so they were abandoned after the original LowVis VF-1A release. The original releases (Hikaru VF-1A, Max VF-1A, Focker VF-1S) were simple black boxes with text indicating the toy inside, later release gained images of the toy and various backgrounds. The Macross Chronicles VF-1A toys come in matte cardboard boxes without a flip-top lid. As well as a plastic clamshell to keep the toys safe, the toys came with plastic wrapped around the nosecone and in a band around the gun attaching it to the gun strap. Beyond the toy, the box also contains:
1) 4 sets of TV style missiles (Low Vis, Woodland, Stealth, and 25th have custom color missiles)
2) 4 sets of DYRL style missiles (Low Vis, Woodland, Stealth, and 25th have custom color missiles)
3) Pilot (in one of three variants, DYRL, TV, or non-canon)
4) Gun (Low Vis, Woodland, Stealth, and 25th have custom color guns)
5) Gun strap (and attachment rings)
With the exception of the Macross Chronicles Max TV-1A release, if the box indicates the toy is a TV release it also comes with:
6) 2 pairs (4 total) fixed posed hands (R gun grip, L open, fists)
Flipping the cardboard tray that houses the toy in its clamshell over reveals a baggy taped to the back. Inside this baggy you’ll find
9) DYRL toys also come with an additional marking guide.
Yamato released three “Weathering Version” 1/48 VF-1 toys, Roy’s VF-1S, Hikaru’s VF-1S, and finally Hikaru’s VF-1J. Roy comes in his standard VF-1S box with a special sleeve over it indicating it’s the weathering version. Versions of this toy purchased at 2008 Winter Wonder Festival have a matte sleeve while toys purchased later through the Yamato website have a glossy sleeve. Hikaru’s VF-1S comes in the standard box with a note on the clamshell warning about scratching the paint and a sticker on the front of the box. Hikaru’s VF-1J comes in the standard release box only differentiated by a note on top of the plastic clam shell. A bonus included with the weathering edition were:
9) Waterslide decals
The grand got grander when Yamato released their TV super part gift-sets with the box swelling to a massive 37 x 36.4 x 18.1 cm. The fighter plane (Hikaru, Max, or Miriya’s VF-1J) came with the super parts already attached. Beyond the contents for a TV Valkyrie already listed above (not the waterslide decals included only with weathering versions), you also received:
9) TV style super parts
10) Neck cavity filler/reinforcement
11) Reaction Missiles
The packet behind the carboard tray also included:
12) Micro missiles on sprues
The instructions also included discussion of the super parst.
The Strike Stealth gift-set comes in the largest of all 1/48 boxes at 38 x 37 x 26 cm! Inside the box you’ll find stealth strike parts and a stealth VF-1J packaged individually. Each interior box of the gift-set is plain white. You get everything included with the TV gift-sets plus:
13) a strike cannon
Charm & Collectability: (2.5/5)+1 for some variants
Yamato took numerous lessons learned from their efforts on the version 1 VF-1 toy and applied them to the design of their 1/48 toy. To the chagrin of many collectors, they eschewed metal construction. Attempting to match the hue of the paint to the plastics on their 1/60 toys had been a struggle and the paint scratching vexed many collectors. Since a 1/48 scale VF-1 is very large, any additional weight caused by metal would have required additional reinforcement of the joints and, with the move to friction-based ball joints at the shoulders and hips, Yamato didn’t want to risk putting a toy out that couldn’t hold a pose. For those reasons, the relatively massive 1/48 VF-1 (31 cm long in fighter, 25.5 cm tall in battroid) weighs a relatively paltry 320 grams, which is 28 grams LIGHTER than their 1/60 version 1 toy (the trend continued, their 1/60 version 2 toy didn’t even hit 200 grams). To put this in perspective, the Yamato 1/48 is 3 cm taller than a 1/55 Takatoku VF-1 but more than 30 grams lighter. So, while all of these toys feature perfect transformation, the lack of heft will be a turn off for collectors used to old school figures. The eventual release of Bandai’s DX toys (which are also 1/48 scale and weigh nearly 500 grams while out-classing the Yamato in every category) greatly diminished the market for all variants of these toys.
After feedback from the initial three releases, Yamato made some minor improvements to the wing flaps and nosecone so they wouldn’t knock off as easily and removed a tooth from the front landing gear bay doors so they’d be easier to open and less likely to incur scratched paint.
Some variants will be more sought after than others. It is generally believed that 300 of each of the “weathering version” toys were produced. The Focker VF-1S Weathering Version was originally released at the 2008 Winter Wonder Festival and was coveted by collectors before being made more widely available via the Yamato website but remains the hardest Yamato 1/48 VF-1 to track down. Yamato made a VF-1S Hikaru Weathering and Weathering Strike Parts available to 250 winners of a Macross Chronicle contest. It appears these toys/accessories were later made available through the Yamato website or another retailer as they have not retained their value as much as the Focker release. Though the original LowVis VF-1A, inspired by custom Yamato saw at a trade show, is Yamato’s first attempt at a weathering effect and was identified as a “limited version” it’s unclear how many were sold and it never became a hot collector’s item.
Though arguably the most interesting 1/48 toys Yamato sold, the non-canon paint schemes (Low Vis, WoodLand, Stealth, and 25th anniversary) did not sell well, were never reissued, and have not become hot collector’s items. Some canon paint schemes also sold poorly and were not reissued like Kakizaki’s DYRL VF-1A and the AngelBirds VF-1A.
When the Macross Chronicles Special Editon TV Max 1A was released many consumers had already moved on to the 1/60 V2 toys but shops still ordered a fair amount of stock and had a hard time selling them. As a result, few shops ordered excess TV Hayao 1As when they were announced making them more collectable despite the less popular character.
Honorable mentions go to the Figure-Oh! Meteor Buster VF-1A (awarded through the magazine’s essay contest) and an all black VF-1J that was awarded through a credit card campaign. The Metero Buster is a one-of-a-kind custom made toy, rather than a Yamato product, that came in a box signed by Shoji Kawamori. Only three credit card VF-1Js were produced. It looked like an all black (unpainted) VF-1J and was a reward that could be obtained by spending a lot of money on the credit card during a campaign period. I’ve never seen one of these in person but the release of Yamato’s ‘stealth’ repaint later seemed to destroy any interest in it as any industrious individual could strip the gray from that toy and have their own all black VF-1J.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8.5/10)
At the time of its release, the 1/48 so easily trampled its predecessors in all respects that it quickly dominated the market. The toy isn’t without fault, in fighter mode the arms hang a bit low. In battroid mode the arms look thin, the integrated hands look tiny, the chest looks large, and the nosecone hangs low. The pre-painted detail, for its day, was average for a toy of this size and looks absolutely sparse in comparison to Bandai’s 2002 1/55 reissues or any of Bandai’s more recent releases. This was easily the best sculpt of any VF-1 toy when it hit the market and little touches like the intake fans, air brake, and GERWALK antenna made this toy the gold standard until the Yamato 1/60 version 2 toy hit shelves.
Yamato captured unique nuances of the TV version super parts creating a separate mold from the movie version parts (which were sold separately). The TV parts are a little lighter hue and that the arm armor is a different mold entirely.
Yamato didn’t paint the intake fan or air brake areas on the Stealth version which prevented those details from popping out in the sea of black plastic. The use of multiple shades of gray add visual interest to the toy. The clear eye visor should be red and the toy should come with Decepticon logos to put on the strike parts.
The original LowVis VF-1A toys is still one of my favorite schemes of all time. The weathering effect is a bit odd, it looks like faint spots added to the toy, but the pale grays and blues come together to look like something you’d see on an aircraft carrier.
The ‘woodland color’ version is an impressive bit of paint work though I was much less impressed with it than I was the original LowVis toy. I think the barrel on the top of the head would have looked better black instead of silver. The green gun and hands were… a bold choice.
Yamato didn’t light the world on fire with their interpretation of the AngelBirds paint scheme. They later did a much better job with the same paint scheme in their 1/60 Version 2 line by using darker colors, pushing the stripes forward, and adding color to the leading edges of fighter. Though both toys reflect the school girl uniform that was the inspiration for the scheme, the 1/60 V2 toy looks good doing it while the 1/48 toy looks pretty bland.
When it came time to make a 25th anniversary scheme, Yamato struggled, originally planning a very colorful YF-19 and VF-1S toy. Sentiment from fans who saw the prototypes at trade shows was negative enough to scrap those plans in lieu of the black and gold toys we ultimately received. Pictures of the original schemes are presented above, pictures were taken by MacrossWorld member Save.
Some people aren’t fans of the weathering editions and the type of weathering that Yamato had applied but I think it’s a nice touch for those of us that aren’t qualified to handle airbrushes. The weathering editions also feature some pre-applied stickers which helps them really pop on a shelf.
For the Macross Chronicles exclusives, Yamato finally crafted a TV style head (which should have been produced back when they made the AngelBirds toy but that ship had long sailed). Max and Kakizaki may not be the most exciting themes but after several non-canon releases they were a nice way to retire the 1/48 mold.
There are lots of areas where this toy should be lauded as it’s the first “second generation” VF-1 toy (the Toynami MPC and original 1/60 VF-1 being the end of the first generation). Here are the premium features this Valkyrie has:
1) Opening cockpit
2) Removable pilot including legs and arms (one of three different styles)
3) Removable intake fan covers that, when removed, expose intake fan detail
4) Perfect transformation with integrated heat shield
5) Removable nose cone with mock radar array (would be removed for a smaller crotched version of the GBP)
6) Integrated landing gear (metal gear with rubber tires) that lock in their deployed positions with anime accurate three door bays. The front gear also includes an articulated tow bar.
7) Integrated air brake behind canopy
8) Articulated wing flaps
9) Hard points on the wings that accommodate various ordinance (TV, DYRL, or reaction missiles) though they don’t do a great job holding the missiles securely
10) A gun that collapses at the barrel and grip and can be stowed in fighter mode without dragging on the ground when the landing gear are deployed
11) Integrated antenna for GERWALK mode
12) Backpack locking mechanism for use with accessories sold separately (FAST packs, strike parts, GBP)
13) Integrated side cavity fillers (though they’re rather deep set and only conceal a portion of the cavity)
The transformation sequence, while not radically different from predecessors, was overhauled to allow things like a twisting waist, integrated heat-shield, and hidden swing for the legs in the migration from fighter to battroid. Early adopters had to overcome a slight learning curve with the updated style of transformation but many soon found it nearly as intuitive as previous incarnations of the VF-1. Minor but common inconveniences include easily knocking off the missiles or wing flaps, loose airbrake cover, difficulty accessing the nose hole plugs, occasionally popping the heatshield off during transformation.
Durability & Build: Version 1.0: (6.5/10), +.5 for later releases
The first releases featured some fit issues such as the easily dislodged nosecone and wing-flaps mentioned above. In addition, the canopy was occasionally floppy and would not stay up on its own and the front gear’s tow bar would often dangle listlessly and potentially fall off creating some issue in tracking it down. While chipped paint is still an issue of concern, first edition toys had teeth on the front landing gear covers that made opening the doors more difficult and increased the likelihood of harming the paint. Also unique to the first edition Focker was a build issue that caused the VF-1S head to have a bump on its right side. After the improvements made after the first few releases the wing flaps became harder to dislodge, the nose cone stayed in place, and the VF-1S lost the odd mole on its face.
On all toys the painted swing arm can be easily chipped during transformation. To help reduce other incidental paint chipping, Yamato included more packing film on later releases to prevent rub during transit. The Macross Chronicles VF-1A TV Max toy also makes good use of colored plastic as to help avoid paint scratches at the hips. There are rubber O-rings in the hips that may also begin working their way out of the socket with only moderate handling, a situation alleviated by removing the leg and re-seating the ring. The hips can become loose, a situation generally caused by the plastic block that houses the ball joint forming cracks. Other issues include head hatch hook (that lock the backpack to the back) falling off too easily and not supporting the weight of FAST packs on the Valk and the BP8 (that code taken from the parts list Yamato published) hinge below the backpack snapping when pressure is applied to the backpack. Avoid breaking the BP8 hinge by making sure the little triangle antenna on the back of the vehicle is fully recessed when using the trap door hook to lock the backpack in place. The BP8 can also snap if you try to push the backpack upward (if you find it drooping) so don’t be a hero, just use the flop out hook on the top of the backpack to keep it in place.
The reaction weapons do a very poor job staying on the wings or even staying connected on the missile trees… the fit is too loose. The forward missile bays on the FAST packs can also suffer from a weak attachment and fall off during only moderate handling. The gun attachment point on the arm armors of the super parts also fails to solidly grip the gun which can cause the gun to plop out.
This toy was an improvement over its predecessors in all respects, including articulation, though it did leave some room for improvement. The head swivels left and right and looks down but is not a ball joint so it can not be cocked. Head lasers can be adjusted up/down (independently where there is more than one). The shoulders spin all the way around and the arm can come out at the shoulders. There’s a twist point in the elbow. Unfortunately, the elbow is only a single joint allowing about 90 degrees of articulation. The included articulated hands attach via a peg that allows the hand to rotate at the wrist and there’s a hinge at the wrist allowing the hand to move back or forward. The hands have a separate thumb and trigger finger and don’t do a great job looking natural. The waist exists but is limited by the connected swing bar in the back. Hips are ball joints allowing the leg to rock the toe in/out, achieve an aggressive wide stance, and rotate all around the body (until they run into the body). There’s a rotation point at the knee. Like the elbows, the knees are a single joint and only rotate 90 degrees. The foot is a simple design that allows the toe/heel to move up/down but there’s no twisting the foot or rocking it left/right. You can pull the foot down further to get a larger up/down sweep, a necessity for GERWWALK mode. I occasionally had issues with the ratchets in some of the joints. Points in the range of movement conflicted with the ratchet (meaning I’d want an elbow at a 25 degree angle but it would only stay in a 28 or 22 degree position). The Yamato V2 improved in most respects (particularly the knees and elbow range of movements) and the Bandai DX added numerous articulation enhancements later.
Total Score: (38.5/50) – (40.5/50)
Even the very first releases of the 1/48 toys are still good toys. If you plan on handling yours, it’s better to look for the later releases. If you’re going to buy just one Yamato 1/48 toy, I highly recommend getting one of the super bundles. The Weathering Edition toys are very attractive and hard to come by so those are also popular among the diehard collectors. Would I recommend the 1/48 toys over the 1/60 V2 toys? No. The V2 toys don’t have the same gimmicks (no air brake, wing flaps, or removable nosecone) but their build quality is a step above the 1/48s and they handle much better. The 1/48 does deserve a special place in every Macross collection as the valk that serves as the foundation for a full generation of toys. Even the now vastly superior Bandai DX toy is simply a modern interpretation of the same design with very little substantive changes. If you have the time and space, the 1/48 is a really cool toy and it’s something every Macross collector should experience.
Original Post Date: June 12, 2006
October 16, 2006, cleaned up pictures
May 30, 2009, added SD video review and content to reflect V2 releases
October 27, 2010 added Max TV-1A
August 28, 2016, added list of releases, increased resolution of most photos to HD, added HD transformation guide, added HD video review, updated format to make it easier to read.
February 25, 2020, added some 4K pictures, added some weathering version pictures, updated content to reflect the Bandai DX VF-1 release.