Yamato 1/72 VF-11B Thunderbolt Toys

Mega Review: Includes first edition and second edition with fast packs

Packaging & Extras: first edition (2.5/5), second edition (3.5/5)
The Mac Plus packaging is the precursor to Yamato’s version 1 1/60 line of toys and it shows.  The boxes are large and flimsy with giant windows showing the product within.  The VF-11B comes with two vacuum-formed heat-shields to cover the cockpit in Battroid mode.  Oddly enough, the heat-shields are still on the plastic they were vacuum-formed on and must be cut to be freed.  This is more odd on the first edition in that those toys were shipped in Battroid mode so you would think it would come attached.   You’ll noticed I haven’t used the heatshield in any of my pictures… that’s how much I care for Yamato’s approach here.  The second edition toy does come packaged in fighter mode and the heat shields on that release appear to be partially cut but they’re still attached on their vacuum-formed plastic and must be pried off by the owner.  They did make up for it in some degree through the gun that is included.  The gun has an expanding stock and a bayonet that swings forward which are both very nice touches and an extra hand is provided so that the gun can actually be held.  The gun that comes with the fast pack version of the toy features a silver bayonet, the first edition toy comes with a black bayonet.  Finally the toy comes with some lackluster decals and instructions detailing how to complete the transformation and an advertisement of some sort.  A pilot figure was included with the second edition of the toy as well as super parts. 

Charm & Collectability: first edition (2/5), second edition (2.5/5)
Here’s the original release schedule of Yamato’s 1/72 Macross Plus toys:
1) YF-19 First Edition – July 2000 – 6800 YEN
2) YF-19 Second Edition – December 2000(?) – 6,800 YEN
3) YF-21 First Editon – December 2000 – 6,800 YEN
4) VF-11B First Edition – May 2001 – 6,800 YEN
5) VF-19A  – August 2001 – 6,800 YEN
6) YF-21 Second Edition with Fast Packs – April 2003 – 7,800 YEN
7) VF-11B Second Edition with Fast Packs – June 2003 – 7,800 YEN
As you can see, the VF-11B was the last first edition toy released and it’s evident that Yamato had started doing some forward thinking by this point and had included the attachment points for Fast Packs to be released later.  Too bad Yamato didn’t carry this forward thinking on to their 1/60 VF-1 toys but that’s a different issue altogether.  The golden era of this toy’s collectability has long passed, starting to rapidly disintegrate around December 2006 when Yamato released their 1/60 YF-19 toys and led many to speculate that 1/60 incarnations of the YF-21 and VF-11B would follow.  In April 2009 Yamato unleashed their 1/60 VF-11B toy which represented a tremendous improvement (as it should since the MSRP ballooned to a whopping 18,800 YEN).  First editions of this toy score worse than the second edition in that the first edition was marred by terrible build quality issues that led to many first-time buyers finding their toys already broken in the box.  There’s a fair shot though that all the first edition with broken hips have landed themselves in rubbish bins by this point but you should still look long and hard at the hips if buying a first edition toy in the secondary market.  Sticklers for scale may find that this toy doesn’t truly represent a 1/72 version of the craft.  According to the Macross Mecha Manual the VF-11B should be 15.5M long in fighter and 12.9M tall in battroid.  Dimensions for the toy are approximately 24.5CM long in fighter and 19CM tall in battroid.  This math works out to an overall scale of between 1:63 and 1:68.

Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (7/10)
There are a few issues but overall this toy looks fair to good.  I’ll start with the most obvious issues.  First, fighter mode has a large hinge at the base of the wing that is necessary for transformation but looks pretty bad outside of Battroid mode.  Second, the tail fins aren’t nearly large enough- I don’t really know how this could have been overcome since they collapse into the leg but they’re definitely too short.  In fact, the fighter mode looks very nice but almost appears to have been pancaked a bit.  Third,  the rear landing gears are a bit weak and could definitely have used some improvement.  Fourth, battroid mode suffers from two large extensions atop the shoulders which are necessary for transformation.  Fifth, there is a screw cover right in the nose of the fighter… like Cindy Crawford’s mole but not nearly as alluring.  None of the Mac+ Valks look particularly good in GERWALK mode but I think the VF-11 pulls it off the best, as does this toy.  For a toy of this scale there’s plenty of detail and the paint is well applied and looks great. The fast pack edition makes some color changes (very minor) and adds the UN-Spacy kite to one of the wings.  The fast packs themselves leave a bit to be desired as they’re not highly detailed and they didn’t get the proportion entirely correct.

Design: (6.5/10)
You know what I find pretty sad?  This toy seems to have a transformation even more complicated than the VF-1 but Yamato managed to create a perfectly variable transformer for the VF-11 and couldn’t do the same for the 1/60 VF-1 that followed (although they’ve rectified that and some in their 1/60 VF-1 2.0).  There are some neat tricks employed here to get the arms to swing out from the center of the toy.  The transformation doesn’t seem overly complicated but it’s certainly not simple either.  As mentioned in the sculpt section, the landing gears are pretty funky.  The gun has some fun gimmicks like a rear brace that extends and a bayonet that flips out.  This is the only first edition toy which shows evidence that Yamato was thinking ahead to future accessory sales as the fast packs that come with the second edition toy fit on the first edition.  Some people would probably give me a hard time, and rightfully so, for calling this toy a perfect transformation toy since the heat shield is not integrated.  Yamato’s 1/60 toy manages this transformation much better with an integrated heat shield, removable intakes, no big hinges at the wings or shoulders, no screw hole on the nose, and much improved landing gears.

Durability & Build: first edition(3/10), second edition (7/10)
Unfortunately this first release had a very big issue.  Yamato used thin plastic rods to connect the hips to the vehicle’s waist.  It’s believed that the problem goes further than just the rods used being plastic.  Apparently there may have been a bit of sloppiness when it came to the manufacture causing the plastic rods to also be glued on one side.  The result being, that as soon as pressure was applied to the rod, the hip wouldn’t move or rotate at all like it was supposed to and snap the rod.  Whatever the exact cause, the fact remains that the hips are fragile and MANY reached their destination already broken within the toy’s packaging.  As you can imagine, this irked many of the early converts and it’s highly recommended by most collectors that a first edition VF-11B be avoided unless you can be certain the hips are fine through your own inspection.  Yamato also had problems with primering their Mac+ line so if you do decide to take it out you should be very cautious with the painted parts and trying to keep them from chipping although the 11B toys have proven to be less problematic that the 19 toys.  There are a few other bits and pieces throughout the toy that look like potential danger areas so it’s highly recommended that this toy always be handled with care.  The second edition toys did not have the hip issues but my sample has fists that refuse to stay on unless rotated to very specific points.  The shields on both editions can be too easily removed.

Articulation (6.5/10)
This toy has all the standard joints but it has some pretty big limitations.  Here are the areas where it could use improvement:
1) Head is a swivel, not a ball joint, there is no up/down mobility
2) there is no rotation point in the legs which renders GERWALK weak
3) the feet don’t offer a great enough range of movement to provide a stable enough platform for the rather stiff legs
4) there is no waist to speak of
5) the elbows allow only slightly better than 90 degree range of movement
6) the hands are not articulated and a second hand must be used for gripping the gun 
Another issue that should have been addressed is that the two swivels in the arm aren’t surrounded by enough friction so that it’s possible the arm will spin with the weight of the gun (a problem that also reared its head on Yamato’s 1/60 VF-0S first edition toys).

Total Score: first edition (27.5/50), second edition (33/50)
The second edition’s score is still pretty solid nearly a decade after this design first hit the street.  Sure, Yamato’s 1/60 toy trumps these 1/72s in every way, as one would expect, but there’s still a bit of charm left in the fast pack edition.  The first edition toy suffers from terrible build quality issues but for those of us lucky to have purchased a good one it did a pretty nice job holding us over until Yamato released their 1/60 toy.  I enjoy owning all of Yamato’s 1/72 toys for historical purchases as much as anything else.  These were Yamato’s rookie releases that include subtle hints of a company that was bound to make huge strides forward in the coming years.  Aside from that nostalgia purpose, I would advise all surfers to save up their money and find a version 2 toy… although they can be QUITE expensive.

This review has been updated to include all new higher resolution pictures, new content referencing the 1/60 line of toys, line art comparisons, and a video review.  This mega review merged two previous posts:
Yamato 1/72 VF-11B First edition, originally posted July 22, 2006, updated March 14,2008
Yamato 1/72 VF-11B Second edition, originally posted July 9, 2006, updated May 12, 2008

6 Replies to “Yamato 1/72 VF-11B Thunderbolt Toys”

  1. Thanks for the review! I bought the first version when it originally was released (preordered, even!) and really like it in spite of the hip surgery I had to do with it later. Too bad the price doesn’t quite make it worth picking up the new one, especially since my original’s resale value is so low…

    Tip for the heat-shield: When you cut it out, leave two square tabs on it about halfway along each long side (sort of like the tabs you have in paper press-out-and-make-it book kits) just forward of the white crest. Fold them under so they slip underneath & inside the canopy. That’ll hold it on very securely and flush to the canopy without tape. Looks great!

    Wish I’d have know that when I cut out the first of the pair of heat shields.

  2. Thanks for the tip AcroRay! I still find it hard to believe in this modern toy era a company gave us an item we’d actually have to cut out from thin plastic and tape to a toy!

  3. price has slipped..i just picked one up for 63$-via evilbay.!!

    wish the legs had more articulation tho…’-‘

  4. I have one of these and I would love to see a transformation guide! I haven’t had time to transform him yet haha.

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