Takatoku & Bandai 1/55 VF-1 Toys

Mega Review: If it’s a chunky monkey, this is the post where you’ll find it

Note: Knock-offs and gray market releases are not covered in this page… there’s just way too many to keep things coherent here. If you own one of these but with slightly different packaging or contents, then it is likely a knock-off or gray market release.

Packaging & Extras: (3/5) +1 for gift-sets
Takatoku boxes (29.3 x 25.2 x 6.8 cm) feature beautiful artwork and textured cardboard that really feel like a higher end toy. With these toys having been reissued by Bandai, about the only reason left to track down the originals is their superior packaging. When purchasing these secondhand, the large front window is frequently damaged or has separated from the box. If you look very closely at different releases, you may notice slight changes to the shape of the window on the front of the box as Takatoku made four revisions to it from 1982-1984. The VF-1 toy was packaged in battroid mode in a Styrofoam tray surrounded by:
1) Instructions
2) Gun that fires bullets
3) Bullets on a tree
4) Gun holster for forearm
5) Stickers
6) Toy catalog/advertisement

You could purchase the GBP accessory as a standalone item or you could purchase this giftset to get both the armor and a VF-1S Hikaru toy. It kind of makes you wonder if there wasn’t a change to the script where either a second appearance of the GBP was dropped or the Miss Minmay episode was moved earlier so Hikaru was still in his VF-1J instead of the 1S. The box is elongated to allow two Styrofoam trays to hold the contents side-by-side with large windows. As with the standalone releases, the large windows have had difficulty surviving the test of time. Box contents include everything from the standalone release as well as:
7) GBP armor
8) Stickers for the GBP armor

Takatoku followed up their successful 1/55 VF-1 toys with a giftset that included the 1/55 VF-1S toy, now in off-white rather than gray, and super armor. The Styrofoam trays were again arranged horizontally. You received everything you did with the standalone releases as well as:
7) TV FAST packs
8) Additional sticker sheet

Matsuhiro/Hasbro was the next company to take advantage of the mold with the production of the Transformer Autobot Jetfire. Jetfire is a very slightly retooled reissue of the Super VF-1S Hikaru toy. The standard textured Takatoku box is abandoned for smooth cardboard and much busier artwork. For safety reasons, Hasbro did not include the spring-loaded feature of the gun or the bullets included in the Takatoku releases. This release retains the side-by-side Styrofoam tray layout and includes:
1) Instructions
2) Transformers catalog/brochure
3) Gun
4) Gun holster for forearm
5) Stickers
6) Red plastic film for viewing the tech specs
7) Super parts

While Hasbro locked down the international rights to the 1/55 VF-1 toy, Bandai had the domestic rights and was quick to bring to market the DYRL Strike VF-1S Hikaru toy. Initially, Bandai retained a textured finish for this release and commissioned some nice artwork for the cover and an impressive hangar diorama for the back of the box. Later releases look identical but drop the cardboard texturing. This was another giftset that featured two trays side-by-side, pushing the accessories to a new level. As well as the VF-1S toy, you received all the content from the standalone Takatoku releases as well as:
7) FAST packs
8) Strike cannon
9) Stickers for the strike parts
10) Mechanical file
11) Heat shield (screw-on)
12) Instructions for installing the heat shield
13) Minmay figure
14) 2x clip on missiles
15*) There was a mail away campaign to get a slide-on red heat shield.
The Minmay figure is fun if not grossly over-sized. The clip on missiles are a cool addition but they’re the wrong type of missiles for the movie. If you bought one of these toys but it came with Jetfire armor, this appears to be the result of someone liquidating a Matsuhiro factory. The items are genuine but they are not true retail releases.

Bandai also released a standalone DYRL VF-1A Hikaru. Like the Strike VF-1S toy, earlier releases of this toy come with similar textured cardboard to Takatoku’s release while later releases dropped the texture. The box features sweet stylized VF-1 artwork (inspired by the scene where Kakizaki meets his fate) and includes everything that came with the Takatoku standalone toys as well as:
8) Mechanical file
9) Battroid heatshield (slide-on)

Bandai’s first merchandising failure was the VT-1 Super Ostricth, a vehicle that propelled the movie’s plot via its inability to fight. The packaging is reminiscent of the VE-1’s and previous gift-sets. Again, The box features beautiful custom artwork and a small window exposing the toy within. Expect a little sunburn on the chest as the window generally allows sunlight to do some damage on these very white toys. Beyond the standard Takatoku accessories you get:
8) FAST packs unique to the VT-1
9) Battroid heatshield (slide-on)

Remember that blink and you miss it cameo by an Electronic Intelligence/Interference Valkyrie in Do You Remember Love? Yeah, neither did most consumers, but that didn’t stop Bandai from making a VE-1 Elintseeker toy that would warm shelves before turning into one of the hottest collector’s items. The VE-1 gift-set was packaged like all of the ones preceding it (same dimensions) and is adorned with beautiful original artwork. While this Bandai release dropped the mechanical file included it the earlier Bandai releases, this toy came with the same stuff included in the original Takatoku standalone toys as well as:
8) FAST packs unique to the VE-1
9) Battroid heatshield (slide-on)
10) Bandai customer survey
As with the Strike Valkyrie, there were numerous copies of this toy packaged with Jetfire armor, seemingly from someone liquidating Matsuhiro odds-and-ends rather than from traditional retail channels.

By 1990 the original Takatoku molds were in rough shape so Bandai elected to make some changes with a mix of refreshed and new molds. The first improvement you’ll notice is that Bandai eliminated the big windows on the box. No more yellowed toys and broken windows, this toy is completely sheathed in cardboard. That cardboard is adorned with beautiful custom artwork focused on the upperbody and head of the VF-1S which seems appropriate given the toy’s brand new head sculpt. Inside the box you’ll get the standard side-by-side layout of the VF-1S toy and Super Parts. This toy came with everything from the original VF-1S Super release by Takatoku as well as:
9) Battroid heatshield (slide-on)
Allegedly there are official Bandai Spanish and French language versions of this release that come with bluer armor.

More than 10 years later, Bandai once again revisited the 1/55 VF-1, this time with a brand new mold that was a near perfect recreation of the original Takatoku. These reissues begun with Hikaru’s VF-1J. This time, the standalone toys come packaged in fighter mode. The fun artwork is gone, a big window is back, and the package dimensions are a little different. There’s no more Styrofoam tray; instead the toy sits in a plastic tray supported by cardboard. Oddly, the Hikaru toy does not include a battroid mode heatshield, instead the contents are exactly the same as they were for the old Takatoku standalone toys, excluding the toy catalog. The stickers and instructions came in a plastic baggy beneath the tray.

After the Hikaru 1J release, Bandai reused the box format color-coded for each subsequent toy. The big improvement was the inclusion of a clip-in Battroid mode heatshield that was included with the instructions and stickers.

The final release of Bandai’s early 00s reissues was another TV Hikaru VF-1S gift-set just like the one Takatoku had more than 15 years prior. This reissue ignored the 1990s attempt at an improved 1/55 and went back to the original design. It comes with everything from the original Takatoku release (excluding the catalog) as well as the clip-on heat shield Bandai had made for this set of reissues.

2008 marked the 25th anniversary of Macross so Bandai dragged the 1/55 out for another showing, this time dubbing it the “Origin of Valkyrie” line and promising new variants, new head sculpts, and reissues of rare toys (like the Hikaru VF-1S Strike toy). The standalone toys used the same box dimensions and inner tray of the early 00s toys and the line debuted with… Hikaru’s VF-1J again. This time, the toy included the clip-on heatshield for battroid mode. Otherwise, the contents were unchanged from the 00s releases. Bandai followed up Hikaru’s 1J with a standalone Hikaru 1S before moving on to gift-sets.

The final two 1/55 VF-1 releases were DYRL versions of Hikaru and Max’s VF-1A toys bundled with super parts. The boxes are plain and carry the Origin theme from the standalone releases with the side-by-side layout (using a plastic tray) pioneered by Takatoku 25 years earlier. Due to licensing issues and heavy competition, Bandai shut the line down very quickly, before the new heads or rare reissues made it to the market. Only these two super releases, both unique in some way (Max never having been made and Hikaru’s 1A never being part of a super gift-set) evidenced the hope for the line. Contents for these super releases were the same as they were for the 2002 TV Hikaru VF-1S gift-set.

Charm & Collectability: (4/5), +1 for VT-1 and VE-1
Back before collectors fixated on scales, Takatoku chose 1/55 to deliver their ultimate Valkyrie experience. The toy is big at 22.5 cm tall in battroid mode and 26.5 cm long in fighter mode and hefty at 354 grams. Takatoku made a VF-1 in every size and budget category to make sure every child could own one but this was the one all the others aspired to. Three mode perfect transformation made a great selling point. Generally, the more desired toys (like Hikaru’s VF-1S/1J toys) were produced in larger quantities so it’s the duds like Max and Miria’s VF-1Js that demand the highest premiums. The gift-sets generally are more sought after than standalone toys but it’s not uncommon to see the Max & Miria standalone toys to demand similar prices to the gift-sets.
Many in the US are familiar with these Macross toys not because of Robotech but rather because of Transformers. How a Macross valkyrie became an Autobot is sort of an organic progression that may very well have led to the death of Robotech II: The Sentinels… and maybe even Robotech entirely. The first step in the process was the time delay from the airing of Super Dimensional Fortress: Macross and the acquisition of its distribution and merchandising rights by Harmony Gold. Macross aired in 1982, three years before being adapted as Robotech: The Macross Saga. Unfortunately, Takatoku needed only two years to make an absolute killing on one line of toys while bankrupting itself with others. In 1984, with a Macross feature film in development and Transformers making a huge splash in US, Takatoku was shuttered.
The show Transformers was largely a commercial for Takatoku’s rival Japanese toy manufacturer, Takara, and its affiliate, Hasbro. In the wake of Takatoku’s collapse, Matsushiro, the company that had been originally contracted to design and produce the 1/55 VF-1, acquired (or assumed) the rights to the 1/55 VF-1 mold. Takara/Hasbro contracted Matsushiro to manufacture the 1/55 VF-1 toy as part of Takara/Hasbro’s US Transformers product line, as the Autobot Jetfire. This is why early versions of Jetfire have a Matsuhiro stamp and a UN Spacy Kite on the wing. Shortly thereafter, Bandai acquired many of Takatoku’s assets from Matsushiro, including the Macross domestic merchandising rights and the VF-1 mold (though it stayed with Matsuhiro who continued to manufacture the products). Jetfires made after Bandai acquired the mold are stamped Bandai and lack the UN Spacy kite. Special thanks to MWer NightmareB4Macross who compiled this list of Jetfire variants:
Matsuhiro 1 – Ridged head guns, UN SPACY insignia painted on wing, lined canopy
Matsuhiro 2 – Ridged head guns, UN SPACY insignia sticker on wing, lined canopy
Matsuhiro 3 – Ridged head guns, UN SPACY insignia sticker on wing, unlined canopy
Bandai – Smooth head lasers, no UN SPACY insignia on wing (solid red line)
Bandai – Smooth head lasers, UN SPACY insignia sticker on wing
Bandai – Smooth head lasers, empty spot on wing
Ever notice there are a lot of really high quality knock-offs of 1/55 VF-1 and 1/3000 SDF-1 toys? Though there are certainly some actual knock-offs (like JOONS), many of these off brand toys from the 80s are original Takatoku products. Sometimes they’ve had the manufacturer stamp grinded of, other times it’s still on there. Some of these may have been attempts by Takatoku to make some money with international sales where Macross never aired… or perhaps they were attempts to sell some products without paying royalties to BigWest. Some were likely facilitated by Matsuhiro after Takatoku entered bankruptcy in the same vein Matsuhiro entered the Jetfire contract. Matsuhiro had the molds to the toy but not an agreement with BigWest, so producing the toys for other markets under other brands, or no brands at all, was a way to monetize those molds.
While Bandai making toys to be distributed by Hasbro was odd, things got even more uncomfortable when Macross: Do You Remember Love revived interest in that license and Harmony Gold released of Robotech the Macross Saga. Legal wrangling ensued with the outcome being that the Valkyrie could never become a cast member of Transformers in any animated form (so Skyfire was created as a workaround) and that the 1/55 VF-1 toy could continue to be used by Hasbro in international markets. Of course, the Valkyrie is a cool design so it did sell well in the US and saw several production runs. One could argue that, had Matchbox been able to import the 1/55 VF-1 toys under the Robotech brand, they could have been profitable enough to produce the sequel that was ultimately aborted in 1986.
Bandai’s first dedicated 1/55 VF-1 toys were merchandise for Do You Remember Love. I find it inexplicable that they didn’t make Roy in addition to their Hikaru Strike VF-1S though I’ve heard the prevailing thought was dead characters couldn’t move product. The poorest selling of their DYRL merch, the VE-1 and VT-1, would see only limited production and sold awfully making them hot collector’s items today. The Strike VF-1S was produced in greater numbers so it doesn’t demand the steep premium of VE-1 and VT-1 toys. There are two variants of the Strike VF-1S to hunt down. The early variant was produced while the molds still had the Takatoku manufacturer marks so Bandai covered them with a “BANDAI” sticker. The later versions show Bandai as manufacturer. There are two packaging variations of the Bandai stamped toys as well, the first having a textured box (same box as the ones stamped Takatoku) and the second having a smooth box. Curiously, the VT-1 and VE-1 also received the Bandai sticker treatment (white stickers this time) though the mold had already been updated to show Bandai as the manufacturer… this may have been done to present a consistent look and make it less obvious the Strike Valkyrie was hiding a secret.
Perhaps the first “renewal version” of a VF-1 toy was Bandai’s effort at an improved TV Super VF-1S Hikaru gift-set in 1990. The improvements, implemented because Bandai had to create new 1/55 VF-1 molds, were not well received and the toy sold poorly and is generally not highly regarded by collectors.
Before the 2002 flooding of the VF-1 market, Takatoku “chunky monkeys” (as they were affectionately deemed) were collectable at a level that today’s collector probably wouldn’t understand. Collectors, with new Internet auction tools allowing for easier nostalgia hunting, were paying over $1000 for good VF-1 toys. Sadly, this led to unscrupulous activity and I highly advise today’s collectors to avoid Takatoku VF-1 toys and head straight to the reissues. With the price of Takatokus hitting the stratosphere, many folks scrounged up poor condition Takatokus and Frankensteined them into toys they could pass off as being in good to fair condition over the Internet. Ultimately, the purchaser received a subpar product at an inflated price.
The introduction of new VF-1 toy designs by Yamato and Toynami reduced secondary markets for 1/55 VF-1 toys and the 2002 reissues of the 1/55 eroded the values further. The reissues had more paint applications and didn’t pose the same risk of being reconstituted toys. Though only Hikaru’s DYRL VF-1A was reissued from Bandai’s original line-up, values of the other toys continued to slide as well with the promise of new and better VF-1 toys.
When Bandai teased their Origin of Valkyrie reissues the 1/55 collector market hit rock bottom. Initial press for the line promised all new variants, new head sculpts, and reissues of the rarest toys. There was even talk of the toys being sold in ALL markets. The reality of the line under-delivered in all respects. The only new variant was Max’s DYRL Super VF-1A and Hikaru’s DYRL VF-1A being sold with super parts for the first time. The line ended rather quickly when BigWest squashed Bandai’s dreams of finally marketing the toys in other territories.
The secondary market has been more kind to the 1/55 VF-1 as the toys are growing scarce. Newer, better VF-1 toys continue to become more expensive and marketed to wealthy adults leaving a niche for people looking for the simpler, sturdier toys of yesteryear. Until I have the time and pictures available to make an infographic, here’s a complete list of original releases (many toys had multiple releases):
Takatoku VF-1J Hikaru: November 1982, 3,980¥
Takatoku VF-1S Hikaru: February 1983
Takatoku VF-1J Max: April 1983
Takatoku VF-1J Miria: April 1983
Takatoku VF-1J Misa: 1983
Takatoku VF-1S GBP: May 1983, 4,980¥
Takatoku VF-1S Super: February 1984, 4,980¥
Hasbro Jetfire:
Bandai DYRL VF-1S Strike Hikaru: October 1984, 4,980¥
Bandai DYRL VF-1A Hikaru: January 1985 3,980¥
Bandai DYRL VT-1 SuperOstrich: April 1985, 4,980¥
Bandai DYRL VE-1 Elintseeker: June 1985 4,980¥
Bandai 1990 VF-1S Super:
Bandai 2000 VF-1J Hikaru: December 2001 6,800¥
Bandai 2000 VF-1A Mass Production: May 2002 6,800¥
Bandai 2000 VF-1S Hikaru: May 2002 6,800¥
Bandai 2000 VF-1J Max: October 2002 6,800¥
Bandai 2000 VF-1J Milia: October 2002 6,800¥
Bandai 2000 VF-1S Super: August 2002 7,800¥
Bandai Origin of Valkyrie 1S: July 2008 7,800¥
Bandai Origin of Valkyrie 1S: July 2008 7,800¥
Bandai Origin of Valkyrie (1A Supers): August 2008: 9,000¥

Sculpt, Paint, & Detail: (6/10)
As you might expect from a toy referred to as the “chunky monkey”, you may find the toy to be a bit on the bulbous side. The chest is too large and that theme is pretty much carried out the entire way down to the feet. Despite being a little chunky, the Takatoku does a really good job of emulating the battroid line art, even better than many of the newer offerings which have slimmed the mode down a little too much (although we live in slimmer, more angular times and I’m sure if the VF-1 was designed today the battroid mode interpretation would have been less blocky). The gray Takatoku HikaruTV/Focker VF-1S comes with a permanently affixed black heatshield that looks great in battroid mode but not-so-hot in other modes. This might have been a selling point for the Super VF-1S gift-set that Takatoku released featuring a white Focker/Hikaru VF-1S without the permanently affixed black heatshield, instead that toy has an amber canopy… though that doesn’t look as good in battlroid mode, it still doesn’t look as bad as the covered canopy in fighter. The paint application is generally good although the legs of the Max & Milia valks look a little odd around the knees.
GERWALK mode is not a strength of the 1/55 toy. The arms don’t sit in a natural position and the legs can’t swivel out for an aggressive stance. Finer details like an antenna on the backpack or intake fans are absent.

Fighter mode has some large lips and nooks that reveal the transformation mechanisms. The most glaring issue with fighter mode is the battroid head displayed very prominently under the cockpit. In the line art and later toys, the head is nestled in a cavity toward the rear of fighter’s nose. Humorously, the original Takatoku is better in both fighter and battroid modes than the allegedly second generation Toynami Masterpiece figures (though the Toynami does better in “Guardian”).

The Strike VF-1S Hikaru gift-set remains the only way to get a set of strike parts for your chunky monkey. The strike parts are rendered in a very dark color which I would gladly take over some of the hues of blue we’ve seen on other releases.
Jetfire isn’t a strict recolor and reissue of the TV Super VF-1S Hikaru gift-set. The nose was reshaped to make it less likely you’d poke your sister’s eye out while whooshing it around the living room. There were also other changes made to the panel-lining of some parts.

The VE-1 and VT-1 toys feature the same blunted nose and panel-lining changes that were introduced for Jetfire. The VE-1 and VT-1 also feature re-shaped wings shown in the line art and the two-seat cockpit. Both toys also feature custom super parts that do a fantastic job capturing the unique looks of the vehicles. These toys don’t go to the slavish extremes of modern versions to capture all the unique aspects of the designs. The line art shows the chest line going straight across with the trap door being modified to accommodate this but the Bandai toys instead reused the chest and trap doors from the 1 seat versions of the vehicle.

Bandai later retooled the Super VF-1S gift-set and gave it a new head. The new head sculpt hasn’t been well received but the added barrels in the head guns were nice. While Takatoku’s original 1S Hikaru/Roy had a permanently affixed black heat shield, and their Super release had an amber one, Bandai’s version has a clear canopy and a black slide-on heat shield. Bandai also shifted the color of the super parts from a green/gray to blue. The final ‘improvement’ Bandai made was to eliminate the small rear landing gear doors (which could fall open in battroid on the Takatoku toys after some play) and the landing gear release button. This had the negative consequence of making an obvious cavity in the shins of battroid mode. On the positive note, the sharp nose returned to the VF-1.

When Bandai did its 2001 reissues, they returned to emulating Takatoku’s original toys, abandoning the “fixes” of the unpopular 1990 retooling. The reissues improved upon the original replacing stickers (either factory applied or included on the sticker sheet) with paint applications. The new tooling incorporated a slight change to the arms of the toys (which made the arm armor from old super parts no longer fit). The detail work is very nicely done with some of the stickers that previously only resembled text now being legible paint applications. The Super VF-1S release returned to an amber canopy and a touch of gray was added to the super parts to improve their color. All toys AFTER the initial Hikaru VF-1J toy come with a clip in heatshield that improves battroid mode.
The Origin of Valkyrie line, other than its unique entries, are reissues of the 2001 toys.

Design: (5.5/10)
Obviously this score would be a lot higher if this review were happening in the 1980s. The strengths from a design stand point are:
1) Perfect transformation that feels solid in all three modes (until you’ve transformed it 100+ times) and largely conceals the fact it transforms (if you flip the toy over in fighter mode, you won’t see an obvious robot body staring at you). The only caveat here is the lack of a heatshield to cover the canopy in battroid mode.
2) Integrated (spring loaded) landing gear with spinning wheels.
3) More articulation points than just those necessary to complete transformation
GERWALK mode requires the arms be angled at an awkward 45 degree angle to provide room for the hips. The landing gear could have used a notch at the fully extended point to keep them out as the nose gear has a tendency to collapse back into the bay unintentionally. Today we would expect opening cockpits, removable pilots, the ability to stow the gun in fighter mode, hard points for missiles on the wing, “wing flaps”, the airbrake, integrated heat-shield for the chest, connecting tabs to make the modes even more solid, intake fan covers for the hips, optional and/or articulated hands, and some other gimmicks.

The handling of the gun is awkward. The gun’s grip should have been thinner or the fists’ sliding mechanisms in the arms wider so that the gun could have simply been stowed by sliding the grip into the forearm cavity. In fighter mode this would have been off center but it would be better than complete incompatibility with fighter mode. Instead, we’re given a separate part for stowing the gun on the forearm in battroid/GERWALK modes which wouldn’t be a typical scenario even if the toy didn’t require a separate, easily lost, part. For Japanese releases, the gun does fire projectiles, quite well, but the little black plastic bullets are hard to find.

When Bandai made the 1990 retooled VF-1S giftset they eliminated the button to extend the landing gears and removed the rear landing gear bay doors. To extend the landing gear, the owner had to press a finger into the exposed cavity and press the gear forward.
The super/strike parts included with the gift-sets seem like after thoughts but they attach well. Most parts are just hollow plastic shells placed over the existing toy; they don’t add much mass and they also lack any engineering bonuses like removable panels or articulated nozzles. The leg armors and backpack attachment methods are very obvious and crude in comparison with modern toys. Though super parts were only included with bundles, they DO fit any 1/55 VF-1 toy up until the 2001 reissues.

Along with the blunted nose on the Jetfire toy, obvious difference is its inability to sweep the wings as far forward as Takatoku or Bandai toys. For whatever reason, toys for the international market can not attain a full forward wings sweep… but since that sweep doesn’t look very natural, it’s not a major loss.

The Strike Parts offer the ability to swap from super configuration to strike configuration. The Strike cannon also has the necessary pivot to point forward in battroid mode. Like the super parts, strike parts can be installed on any 1/55 VF-1 up until the 2001 reissues). Also included with the Strike toy was the first attempt at a swappable 1/55 VF-1 heatshield. Removing the canopy screw and reassembling wasn’t a user friendly solution but it was a solid first effort at a heatshield solution.

The Hikaru DYRL VF-1A refined the heatshield methodology by introducing the slide on heat shield. Sure, it’s not perfect transformation, it’s a part that can be easily lost or broken, and it does leave two little tabs poking up around the chest collar, but it was easy on/off and much more likely to be used. This became the standard heatshield included with all releases until the 2001 reissues.
All toys, even the Elintseeker, can function perfectly well as a standard Valkyrie (unlike Yamato’s V1 VE-1 with the radar arm permanently affixed to the backpack). The VE-1 is also the only gift-set to include arm armors that attach using the slot that slides the fist forward rather than the little pegs that clasp the front and back of the forearm.
The Bandai reissues in 2001 feature slightly different forearms so super parts made for toys manufactured prior to 2001 will not fit. Other than the first release of the reissue line (Hikaru’s VF-1J), these toys also introduced the new clip-in heatshield. The user is able to pop off the canopy and pop on the heatshield. This mechanism attaches firmly and was a nice improvement to the line.

Durability & Build: (9/10)
This score might seem a little on the high side because I imagine most of us remember eventually destroying our VF-1 toys. Every Jetfire I ever owned eventually had one or both arms fall off (there’s an internal plastic catch that eventually gets worn down with play). My Jetfires also eventually yellowed, which, looking back, probably says more about my ability to put my toys away than it does about the quality of the product. Still, my Jetfires were ruined through YEARS of PLAY. They feel rock solid due to their beefy plastic and large metal content (primarily in the legs). Modern VF-1 toys are far more complicated with more design features and articulation so they have much more that can go wrong. Common other issues to look for on the Takatoku and Bandai toys were:
1) Landing gears that no longer stay depressed in the legs OR no long support the weight of the toy
2) Landing gear doors that no longer stay up when the landing gear is depressed
3) Back plates that no longer have any resistance when tabbed into the toy’s front half in battroid (making the back come unhinged frequently when handling)
4) Loose wings and wear on the paint stripes on the wings. If the wings are loose they won’t stay firmly together in battroid mode.
5) Broken head lasers. A child in a rush to transform their toy could snap a head laser off while trying to force it.
6) Oxidized metal swing bars
7) Scratched paint (particularly on the legs of gift-sets where armor was applied to the legs at some point and the nose of fighter mode for those versions with painted noses.
8) Yellowing. Even toys that have spent their whole lives in their box may yellow as many of these boxes feature very large plastic windows. This is particularly true of the snow white VT-1.
9) Broken plastic clips on the armors. The armors will still work with a few clips broken or damaged so it can sometimes be hard to tell. The design of these armors practically ensures that the clips will eventually break for someone who puts the armor on and takes it off frequently… especially decades later as the plastic becomes more brittle.
10) Broken vertical stabilizer assemblies. The stabilizers reach their fighter position by being pressed over a small plastic nub. Sometimes this pressure can lead to the assembly cracking which is why my VE-1 and VT-1 pictures show very erect tailfins… I didn’t want to risk anything.
11) Poorly applied stickers (by the factory). These toys feature lots of pre-applied stickers and it’s sometimes obvious the factory worker was in a rush. The Bandai reissues don’t have this problem as they painted the details on.
12) Frankensteining (see my warning in the Collectability) and customizations that aren’t obvious when shopping for toys online.

Articulation: (5/10)
For the era, this toy’s articulation was very good. The head can look in all directions and the head weapon can pivot (both sides move together on 1J/S toys). The shoulders spin all the way around and the arm can extend away from the torso. The elbow allows 90 degrees of movement. There’s a twist point below the elbow which sets the 1/55 toys apart from their 1/100 brethren. The hips are fixed in position with the leg articulation being delivered by the GERWALK joint which allows the leg to swing forward 90 degrees or back about 75 degrees (if the wings are open). The Knees allow 90 degrees of movement. There’s no articulation at the feet which can be frustrating and was a huge improvement Bandai introduced on their Hi-Complete Models. A rotation point at the wrist would have also been helpful. It’s really surprising to me that, with all of Bandai’s modern reissues, they never introduced ball-jointed swap out hands. As you might imagine, a Takatoku looks very stiff next to modern toys.

Total Score: (33-35/50)
By today’s standards there are plenty of better toys out there but people don’t buy this toy anymore because it’s the best, they buy them because they are THE classic toy. With so many superior choices out there, it seems unlikely they will ever obtain the outlandish prices of the dot-com boom again. A lot of people ask “What’s a good toy to give my kid?” and this toy is ALWAYS the answer I give. The sad thing is, most people who are asking me want something cheap they won’t mind their kid destroying and, at this point, even the reissues are getting expensive again.

Note: This Mega Review replaced the following separate reviews:
1) Takatoku 1/55 VF-1 Toys originally posted on August 28, 2006 with updates in February and September 2008
2) Takatoku 1/55 Super VF-1S originally posted on July 29, 2006 with an update in January 2008
3) Bandai 1/55 VE-1 Elintseeker originally posted September 2006 with an update in December 2007
4) Bandai 1/55 VT-1 SuperOstrich originally posted November 2006 with an update in December 2009
5) Bandai 1/55 VF-1S 1990 Re-tool originally posted June 10, 2006 with an update December 2007
6) Bandai 1/55 VF-1 Reissues (2001/2002) originally posted September 8, 2008

11 Replies to “Takatoku & Bandai 1/55 VF-1 Toys”

  1. Great review, especially the info on Jetfire. Have you had any experience with Korean versions of these toys? I was always a little fuzzy on whether they were officially licensed versions or not. Some (the “Space Gundam V” versions) were absolutely knock-offs, but there were also ones that correctly labeled the toys as Macross Battroids so perhaps the Korean company eventually acquired the legit license?

  2. Unfortunately, my experience with the Korean versions is pretty limited. When it comes to knock-offs or quasi-legitimate releases it’s pretty hard to keep everything straight. There were all sorts of crazy releases, many with packaging specific to the regions they were sold in. The Joons valks are definitely knock-offs in that they feel cheaper than Takatoku toys and the parts aren’t perfect replacements to the Takatokus. Some day I hope to do a lot more research on the subject and prepare a dedicated post or update this one.

  3. JB: I had the Joons/Korean VF-1 toys and they were 100% bootlegs, albeit very good bootlegs. You can tell they’re boots because none of them had a Big West or Tatsunoko Production sticker, nor were any of them branded by Takatoku Toys, Matsushiro, or Bandai.

    micronian: Finally someone else that recognizes that Takatoku did a good job in emulating the battroid’s beefy proportions! Japanese robots of the 1970’s and 1980’s had bulky proportions, and the VF-1’s battroid mode was no exception. Modern VF-1 toys features have slimmed down the battroid’s appendages, in direct contrast to the official line art. While I must admit that a sleeker battroid mode does look appealing to me, the trade off is that it detracts from the toy’s accuracy.

  4. Special thanks to Neil for pointing out some facts I had overlooked and clearing up some misconceptions for me. Post is updated. If anyone else has more light to share on these topics please don’t hesitate to email me or post a comment!

  5. More of a question than a comment but first let me congratulate you for your excellent review (great pictures!). Does the GBP-1 arm parts fit the reissues?

  6. Greetings. Wanting them for the past few years, I’ve finally been able to acquire both the VT and VE Chunky Monkeys. I’m really curious to know if there’s ever been a number, or ball-park figure on how many were produced of each. When they do go on sale on ebay, they’re anywhere from $300.ooUS to $800.ooUS, disappearing almost immediately. Just curious. Thanks.

  7. I have a jetfire from the 80’s. Metal and plastic still fully functioning red and white logos. Plastic is yellowing On some parts. Some paint scratches. Can’t find the gun that came with him, but still looking. 100 percent original no b*******.
    no box. I am interested in selling. Is anyone interested?

  8. loose/worn vintage mecha toy joints can usually be very satisfactorily restored by disassembly and application of a high-quality PVC tape
    the major joints’ central shafts.

    i restored my own heavily used childhood MAC 7 1/65 VF-19 FIRE VALKYRIE with this method, as well as my own BANDAI 1/72 HCM VF-1J
    and 2001 BANDAI 2001 reissue 1/55 VF-1J, improving each to a virtually better-than-new degree of firmness on nearly all joints throughout…

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