VF-0D Phoenix Shin Kudo Ver.
Review by VF5SS
As a toy company, Yamato's unwavering loyalty to Macross came with many costs. They strove to produce as many high quality products based on the license as possible, but sometimes fell short of the mark. Nearly a decade ago, their 1/60 scale Perfect Transformation Macross Zero figures essentially defined the type of Valkyrie toys they would make from there on out. This decision effectively set the rules for future Macross merchandise as the majority of Valkyrie toys that followed were large, 1/60-ish scale figures featuring perfect transformation. Even Bandai followed suit and tailored their DX Chogokins to fit in next to Yamato's products. When they had just about hit their stride, the company underwent some restructuring. It later arose from underneath stacks of marked down Destroids under the name of "Arcadia". Within half a year, they announced the fan favorite VF-0D Phoenix would be getting the high end toy treatment and it seemed like all of Yamato's work had come full circle.
Please check out my video review!
Arcadia's 1/60 scale VF-0D Phoenix is a rare example of a new toy I have purchased that is almost exactly what I expected it to be. And I want to emphasize that this is in fact a completely new Valkyrie made with all new tooling and a number of redesigned parts that differentiate it from Yamato's Macross Zero toys. One reason it doesn't feel more novel than fresh is that the Phoenix itself is a Valkyrie known for being a fully realized CG model. Unlike the VF-1 or VF-19, there isn't a lot of wiggle room for interpretation and, barring its quality control issues, Yamato's original figure was a faithful rendition of the design as a toy. Arcadia's (and Yamato's) lead Macross guy, Mr. K, is a big fan of the series and no doubt wanted to capture this unique design in toy form.
When you first look at the VF-0D, it is hard to deny it is an absolutely stunning aircraft that stands out from its peers. The base VF-0 was already a tasteful update on the iconic VF-1, but it's the large wings and extra canards all over the air frame that push the D variant into a higher level of realistic aircraft beauty. When these design features are applied to a toy that is already a hair over 12 inches long, the overall display is hard to dismiss.
The Valkyrie's deep blue color is very striking and I think it looks amazing.
Arcadia provided a full sticker sheet for further customization, although, unlike the old VF-0 toys, the VF-0D has all of its UN Spacy emblems tampographed on it. The only thing the new Valkyrie lacks that the previous ones had is the "UN SPACY" text on its legs. To compensate, the stickers include text for other branches of the United Nations military for you to put on the airplane.
Small pilot figures of Shin Kudo and his trusty backseater, Edgar LaSalle, sit nicely in the cockpit under an opening canopy.
Arcadia even managed to give them their unique helmet designs where Shin has lightning bolts and Edgar has his double heart emblem.
They went a step further by tampo printing the console display to complete the image of a realistic jet fighter's cockpit.
In addition to the gun pod and an extra nose antenna, the VF-0D comes with two pairs of underwing stores. You get some actual real life missiles in the form of two AMRAAMs, and a more Macross-y set of micro missile pods. The former can only slot in to the outermost pylons and lack one of their middle fins due to how they attach. Further inward, on the underside of each wing, are two hard points where the missile pods can attach.
Here's a fun factoid that astute viewers may have noticed. The VF-171s in Macross Frontier use the same (or similar) weapons as the aircraft from Macross Zero. The toys altered them somewhat to better differentiate between eras so Bandai's versions seem a bit more spacy than Arcadia's.
Also check out how the VF-0D dwarfs its closest cousin, the VF-1D.
The VF-0D comes with the usual trio of stand adapters tailored for each mode. These parts are made to work with Arcadia's Macross Simple Display Stand, which itself is a remold of the same armature that originally came with Yamato's Sv-51 and YF-21 toys. So to demonstrate this accessory, the Phoenix is using its nemesis's display stand. Frankly, the adapter for fighter mode is downright awful. It clamps way too tightly around the robot's thighs and is extremely difficult to remove. Also, it doesn't seem like there is any room for the gun pod, so you have to leave it off. The thing does its job but is far too frustrating to deal with.
So for some aerial photography, I am going back to my trusty Flight Pose stand.
The VF-0D's trademark delta wings make it look both graceful and powerful in flight.
Note the partial splotch effect along the edges of the blue where it meets the white underbelly. This is a cool anime accurate detail that evokes the feeling of real life camouflage.
The toy does a terrific job emulating Hidetaka Tenjin's artwork.
Aside from a few variant-specific touches, transforming the Arcadia VF-0D is largely the same as it was with Yamato's VF-0 toys. Most changes to the design are in structural areas like the upper arms, elbows, ankles, and the knee joints. Anything that had breakage problems on the original figure has been re-engineered with diecast metal assemblies. In fact, the figure doesn't seem to have any problems with quality control, but rather suffers from quality gone out of control. A few key joints on my toy were incredible tight which made the conversion process hard to enjoy (I'm still waiting for feeling to return to my thumb). Probably the worst offender was one of the ankle sliders which refused to budge even after about twenty minutes of tugging. While I am glad nothing on the figure is broken, I didn't expect the Valkyrie to break me.
Also be wary of the the mechanism that allows each tailfin to wrap around the inside of the leg. It is supposed to pull up first and then hinge the fin over. If you try to hinge it before you pull the trapezoid area near the base upward, you risk damaging the tiny edges of the piece. This was another part of my figure that was super tight out of the box so I had to be careful handling it.
If you find that the movable canards are getting in the way they can be easily detached and then put back on once everything else is in place.
Both missile weapons can remain attached to the wings during transformation. Note how the outer winglets can fold flat. Doing so makes the AMRAAM's pylon line up with the edge of the wing.
Wrestling with the VF-0D does pay off as it results in one of the best looking Gerwalk modes in the whole Valkyrie lineage. The Phoenix embodies the look of a heroic bird walker even more so than the original VF-1.
Arcadia's VF-0D uses an ankle assembly similar to Yamato's later Valkyrie toys like the VF-19 and VF-17. A diecast joint slides out from the leg with the foot itself moving on a metal ball-joint connected to an inner hinge. It provides the right amount of articulation and seems to be a lot more robust than on those aforementioned toys.
As I mentioned before, the knees have been completely redesigned with a diecast metal slider.
This new VF-0 still features a movable kneecap and leg swivels to achieve the optimum A-stance.
Arcadia's Phoenix retains the movable air brake and arrestor hook. The latter is actually blocked by the gun pod in fighter mode, but I am not sure if that is just a flaw with the original design that carried through to the toy.
The backpack has the same array of boosters as before. Pulling on a slider hidden under the arrestor hook slides the engines into place. These need to be recessed back in for fighter mode as the hands occupy this area when the arms are stored.
The gun pod still sandwiches between the arms in fighter mode and can also be carried on the side when in Gerwalk or Battroid mode.
Curiously, Arcadia kept the weird skeletal hands from the original VF-0 toys. These were actually inherited from the old 1/48 VF-1 figures and don't quite represent how the Phoenix's hands look or function. Still, they open and close fine and feel a lot sturdier than this type of appendage ever did in the past. An additional tab in the palm helps secure the hand's grip on the gun pod.
Also in keeping with Gerwalk mode's unspoken function of rescuing heroines in distress, the arm can indeed reach close to the cockpit as seen in Macross Zero. Lacking an in scale Mao Nome, her part will be played by Alto Saotome who is a trained onnagata.
Thankfully, the Gerwalk mode stand adapter is much easier to attach and does its job very well. The part just clips onto the diecast swing bar the legs are attached to and will hold the Valkyrie aloft without any problems.
In Battroid mode, the VF-0D strikes a good balance with its proportions and matches the CG models from the anime quite well. Even the huge wings fold up neatly enough to keep its front profile fairly compact.
One thing the toy couldn't replicate from the anime is how the wings actually move up a bit on their swivel points to help minimize the gap in the middle. It's a minor quibble, though, as you can always move the backpack down a bit or just let it be.
Much like with the old Yamato VF-0s, you can leave the nose antenna on during transformation, but I've always felt that doing so is just courting disaster. Still, it can rotate 180 degrees so it will rest behind the door where the swing bars plug in.
Arcadia's efforts to reinforce the Phoenix's bicep and elbow resulted in an upper arm that is mostly diecast metal. They even added a new feature where the forearm can be pulled out a few clicks to expand the arm's range of motion.
The VF-0D can now touch its own shoulder.
Free from its underside cowling, the head can turn left or right and even tilt slightly side to side. The VF-0D's Armored Core style face features clear red parts for its sensor eyes.
The base of the neck rotates on its own while the head sits atop a diecast hinge that ends in a ball-joint.
If you allow for enough clearance in the back, the Phoenix can look straight upward.
The single head laser cannon has a trick of its own. An extra joint towards the base lets it rest right in the middle.
Or bend up and over the forehead bump to point forward.
Further improvements to the articulation include pull out hip joints. While it does give the legs some more room, I find the joint is looser when extended outward so I tend to leave them clicked inward. Also, remember to push the thighs back in before going back to fighter mode.
While the VF-0D does have a greater range of motion, the figure is still limited by its own design. The Valkyrie's huge wings and multitude of tiny pointy bits make posing the toy a bit harrowing.
It is remarkably well balanced and can even keep a leg up on one toe.
Putting the Battroid mode VF-0D up on the stand involves a strange looking adapter that cups the robot's nosecone groin.
As weird as it looks, the part also does its job admirably.
So here is Arcadia's VF-0D alongside the Yamato VF-0S that I reviewed many years ago. At first glance, the two toys look very similar even accounting for the parts that make the D model unique. I want to re-emphasize that Arcadia's toy is an all new figure with fresh tooling and even some altered proportions in the main body and limbs.
Old Roy is quite rickety compared to his young protege but still shows that Yamato got the design of the VF-0 mostly right on the first try.
Probably the easiest way to show that the VF-0D is a whole new toy is to compare the fine details on the surface of the toy. The recent figure has subtle panel lining while the original's sculpt was good but more obviously toylike.
And even years later, Shin's archrival Nora Polyanski can still look down on him from inside her gigantic Sv-51. I can definitely see Arcadia revisiting the Anti-UN fighter after they have made a few more VF-0s.
Lastly, I want to close out this review with a picture of the VF-0D Phoenix next to the YF-30 Chronos. In the PS3 game Macross 30, the VF-0D is your starting Valkyrie and over the course of the story you are given the YF-30 to bring everything to a close. In a way, this image represents the beginning and end of Variable Fighter history up to this point.
Arcadia's 1/60 scale Perfect Transformation VF-0D Phoenix is a Valkyrie toy that many fans have wanted ever since Yamato started making Macross Zero toys back in 2006. About nine years later, both Yamato and the VF-0 have risen again with renewed fervor. The market for Macross toys has certainly changed in the intervening years, though. Development costs and other factors resulted in a steep price creep for high end Valkyrie toys. Being a much smaller company than Bandai, Arcadia plays to an even more niche market with their figures based on older Macross properties. The VF-0D carries a hefty price tag of 36,800 yen, which would make anyone a bit skeptical about the inherent value of the toy.
Honestly, I can only speak for myself when it comes down to what I received versus what I paid for. Oddly enough, with the exchange rate being what it is at the time of this review, I ended up paying less for the VF-0D Phoenix than I did for Yamato's swan song, the VF-4 Lighting. In both cases, Yamato/Arcadia produced a fully realized collector's toy based on the Valkyrie in question. Both are loaded with diecast metal and respectfully depict the works of Shoji Kawamori in three-dimensional form. The VF-0D is as impressive a figure as the VF-4, and it is likewise temperamental in a few ways. As an overall package, I feel like it accomplishes what it set out to do. Going forward, all the future VF-0 toys that Arcadia makes, like the S type and A type they've been showing off at trade shows and on Twitter, will be using this base mold. As the single-seat Phoenixes are much more compact in design, a lot of the touchy bits of the D type will not be present. Overall, it is my belief that Arcadia has created a solid foundation that future toys can build on and will continue to serve the fans who support them.
|Posted 5 March, 2015 - 15:55 by VF5SS|