Review(updated): The best of the old breed
Packaging & Extras (5/5)
Let me begin by stating I will be referring to this item as a “toy” mostly out of habit more than as an actual description of what it is. Clearly it is meant to be a completed model, or nearly completed model as the case may be, so it does have to be judged a bit differently. For example, it comes with an immense amount of valkyrie accoutrements that are on sprues. If this were a toy, that would suck. Since it’s not a toy though it’s easily overlooked. You receive a pilot, heat shield, missiles, guns, a figurine, stickers, supplementary documentation, and all packaged extremely securely in an under-stated, window-free box. How could you possibly go wrong with all that? Sure, if it was a modern release and an actual toy I would have loved for a 1/100 Hi-Metal style magnetic collector’s lid but for what it is it’s hard not to be pleased. Here’s a picture of the nifty inserts that also accompany the toy:
Charm & Collectability (2.5/5)
At one point in time these toys were quite the collector’s item and seen as a more grown-up and sophisticated alternative to the Takatoku “chunky monkey” valkyrie toys (and their many subsequent Bandai re-releases). A lot of time has passed since those days though and the HCM star has faded considerably. It still has more than a little sentimental appeal for many older fans and is the only mass-produced 1/72 scale VF-1 toy-type product. Toynami took many of the design cues from the HCM in developing their 1/55 MPC and the release of that product was nearly simultaneous with Yamato’s V1 1/60 VF-1 and Bandai’s reissue of the chunky 1/55 VF-1 resulting in a crash in the collectability of vintage VF-1 toys. Still, the HCM marks a high point in the vintage history of VF-1 toys and as such it will always be revered by many and sought by some. There were three HCM releases, a DYRL VF-1S Hikaru, a cannon fodder VF-1A, and this Hikaru VF-1J. I have absolutely no idea why those three were chosen. If you have any solid info on whether or not some are more plentiful than others please leave a comment.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint (5.5/10)
The lasers on the heads of these things are ridiculously large and the heads themselves tend to have less than ideal sculpts and perhaps seem a little small. The paint application, by modern standards, could have been more generous but decals were provided as compensation. The fighter mode of these toys feature a number of compromises aft of the auburn cockpit with an overall loose fit that leaves gaps and simply can’t compete with modern releases. The shoulders in battroid mode are slightly miss-shaped but the overall look is nice. Unfortunately there really is a lack of detail and GERWALK mode looks off more here than it does in other vintage toys (although it is clearly a weakpoint for all early toys). These days with Yamato’s 1/48 VF-1 and 1/60 V2 VF-1 and Bandai’s 1/100 Hi-Metal line classics like this toy just can’t keep up.
The major flaw in the design of the HCM is how it comes together for fighter mode. If the legs attached to the body of the vehicle, or if the legs, backpack, and arms all attached to each other like on the Yamato 1/60, the look would have likely been much better. In GERWALK mode it’s especially clear that something is missing. The HCM does have a few interesting little perks. First, it has hooks in the rear landing gears to grab the aircraft carrier cable and the hooks are well-executed and never a nuisance. Second, the missiles can be left on the wings when this toy is transformed into battroid mode. Third, once in battroid mode, the legs can be angled slightly outward to achieve a natural looking A-stance. Finally, the manner in which the hands of the toy are drawn in and extended is rather neat, a clip slides out from within the arm and thus hides what may otherwise be an unsightly mechanism (like the sliders you see on the MPC and the chunky monkey toys). One more thing worth noting is how great the hands of this toy are. The hands are incredibly easy to manipulate, well detailed, and do their job very well.
Durability & Build (7/10)
This is very tough to judge since this is, after all, a completed variable model that is so durable it actually feels a bit like a toy (although it doesn’t have much weight to it). Basically, it’s either a durable model or a somewhat durable toy. It does have giant head lasers which are a bit scary to manipulate and proned to snapping if transformation were done carelessly. A new HCM owner should also be careful with the tailfins during transformation as they look like a potential weak spot… which is why they’re not splayed out very far in myVF-1J pictures. It seems like the paint application on these toys is generally done quite well and the joints start nice and tight but are prone to looseness from wear. On the VF-1A sample I had the front landing gear bay doors had become loose and would hang freely down which wasn’t usually a problem in fighter mode since the toy sits on its landing gears in that mode but it did cause some issues with GERWALK. A simple piece of clear tape along the edge of one of the doors would have easily resolved this. Really though, there’s nothing here a collector would have to be apprehensive about but it is something you would probably want to think twice about before letting someone actually go “play” with it. When buying second-hand be sure to ask for high resolution photos or see the toy in person as these toys are now very old and may show signs of yellowing.
This toy sorely is missing a knee swivel joint, if it had one it would be really wonderful. It gets part way there with the ability to assume a wide stance but that’s where the fun ends. The ankles feature improved articulation over the Takatoku/Bandai 1/55 toys. Toynami would later implement the same ankles on their Masterpiece Collection and 1/100 scale toys. In modern toys you get twists at the knees, full ball joints at the hips, double jointed elbows that allow the hands to come up to the shoulders, ball joints at the heads, and sometimes even a waist joint… so if articulation is what you really love then stay away from any vintage offerings.
Total Score (31.5/50)
There was a time when this model represented the very best effort in Macross design. We have been fortunate since then to see many new creations. Some creations seem directly related to the design employed here, other have gone far beyond the scope of what Bandai ever imagined. Even with all the new advents in the Macross toy market this still remains an excellent product and a must have for all vintage collectors. If you’re not out for something specifically vintage than look to the modern releases. This toy does well enough in all categories to be considered nearly average… but that’s all it is. In fact, this best of the old breed is going to be used to set the scale for average as I update the Toynami MPC, Yamato V1, and Bandai/Takatoku VF-1 toys.
Note: This review has been updated on February 23, 2011. Content now reflects more recent releases, all pictures are higher resolution, comparison pictures added, and video review added. Original post date: July 21, 2006
Note: This review was updated again on January 5, 2012 to include pictures of the VF-1A offering and to update content.