F-15E Strike Eagle (TMC)
Review by VF5SS
The world of Muv-Luv is a place where boys become girls, mankind becomes alien snack food, and airplanes become sweet robots.... and I love every text box of it. Lately I've been working my way through Muv-Luv Unlimited visual novel and its unlimited info dumps where I learned the importance of putting curry powder on a snake before eating it. As such, I think it's high time for another toy review! This time it's going to be a twofer of sorts. I've got the same figure released in two different toy lines by the same company so be sure to check out my review of the A3 F-15E Strike Eagle to get a good look at the how Volks can get the most out of their molds.
"I'll kill every last one of you bastards. All I need are bullets. We have a lot of bullets here! EARTH IS A MINERAL-RICH PLANET!"
Godspeed random Strike Eagle pilot guy.
In real life, the F-15 Eagle is one of America's most iconic combat aircraft. Even the nerds who visit this website will recognize it as the airplane G1 Starscream transforms into. This venerable air superiority fighter was later updated with FAST packs and eventually reworked into a versatile multirole fighter designated F-15E Strike Eagle. If that all sounds familiar to Macross fans out there, that's good! However, we're talking about the franchise where robots ARE airplanes rather than TURN INTO airplanes ok? In Muv-Luv, the F-15 Eagle is a dependable second generation Tactical Surface Fighter that is fielded by numerous countries around the world as humanity attempts to stop the marauding BETA. As a nod to the real life aircraft, the Muv-Luv Eagles were later upgrade to Strike Eagles to make all the airplane nuts following the series (like me) squeal with joy.
So this rendition of the F-15E Strike Eagle is still a Volks toy but is not an A3 figure. This is actually a part of the TMC or Tactical Surface Fighter Model Collection series which is a spinoff of A3. While it is the same mold as the corresponding A3 figure, it is made out of a different grade of plastic. A typical A3 figure is made out of slightly soft PVC and is fully painted, a TMC figure is made from a much harder color molded PVC that weighs a little less. This revamp mostly boils down to an excuse for Volks to re-release older figures at a less expensive price point as the TMC Strike Eagle costs about 1500 yen (roughly 16 dollars) less than its A3 counterpart. Eager to acquire any version of the Strike Eagle, I jumped on this one when I saw it on Mandarake.
The TMC version of the Strike Eagles is roughly six inches tall and comes with almost the same number of accessories as the corresponding A3 figure. Strangely only thing missing is a pair of knife wielding hands. You still get a pair of guns with attached hands and another pair of guns with attached mount pylons. It also comes with a pair of fists and splayed hands. The harder plastic makes all the accessories' pegs go in and out of their respective holes a little smoother than on some A3 figures but feels like it might be more brittle in some ways.
Muv-Luv's version of the Strike Eagle is an pleasingly straightforward design. It's the kind of robot that's sleek enough to look better than its clunkier predecessors but not too outrageous as to outshine the current "hero" type machines. I must say the legs on this bird are particularly shapely too.
Like most Tactical Surface Fighters, the Strike Eagle takes many cues from its real life namesake. The front section of the real airplane is the basis for the head design of this TSF. Bright orange paint is used to pick out all the little details like the piercing narrow visor that's common to many American TSF's. Other details like the two chest intakes and squared off shoulders echo the simple and blocky nature of this robot's namesake.
Tampographed markings on the shoulder denote that this Strike Eagle belongs to the United Nations who in a nice change of pace do not govern all of humanity in the Muv-Luv universe. This time they held onto all those petty international grudges we all came to luv in real life!
The Strike Eagle is one of those Volks figures that features little plug in details for the backs of the knees which are also present on the F-4 Phantom.
Simply slide these out from a peg hole on the upper thigh to allow the knee joints a full range of motion. The remaining knee detail parts can then be used as tiny beetle-based Zoids.
While the change in materials means some of the molded details are sharper on this figure, the fit between certain parts suffered in the conversion process. On the one hand, the wings of the Strike Eagle characteristic jump units are free of any PVC warping but on the other hand the base of each jump unit does not meet the back of the skirt armor as cleanly as it should. You can see they rounded edge is a bit off from where it needs to be to cover the little gray detail bit.
Also since the TMC Strike Eagle is a revamp of one of the earliest A3 figures, it uses a simple movable strut for mounting the jump units so they have a much more limited range of motion compared to the later figures that just use a full on A-Lock joint for the strut. In the end you have to maneuver the large (and pointy) jump units around using just a pair of swivel joints. Sometimes the tips of the jump units can knock against each other or any weapons you have hanging off the back. They also tend to pop off as you spin them.
Since the TMC Strike Eagle is essentially a reissue of a what was a four year old toy at the time of its release, the figure is a mixed bag in terms of articulation. The neck joint is especially egregious as it can barely move more than thirty degrees left or right. Even worse, neck movement is completely impaired if you decided to attach the weaponless mount pylons as they stick up far enough to knock into the back of the head. The waist joint is also somewhat limited as it can only turn left or right with no ability to tilt the upper body up or down. However the arms are very well done with numerous clicky A-Lock joints giving everything an impressive range of motion.
The Strike Eagle's extra wide feet feature ankle tilts that let the figure do a little stretching before morning duty.
With tilting skirt armors, the Strike Eagle can get pretty low if you know what I mean.
"WHAT A WEAPONS BAY ON THAT ONE!"
"Hmph! You Americans are so crass!"
A fully loaded Strike Eagle makes for an impressive display. It's not too flashy, but it's the kind of robot design I can really get behind.
Despite the change in materials, the TMC Strike Eagle is still pretty back heavy due to its massive jump units. It wouldn't be too much of an issue if the jump units were attached in a more flexible manner like later figures. Here they're always point out at an angle which makes balancing this toy a bit of an adventure. Still they jump units do feature some great detailing and the Volks tradition of burnt metal style colors for the engine exhaust continues with beautiful results.
Like the man in the screencap said, they got a lot of bullets in Muv-Luv and without any pesky knife wielding hands you pretty much have to outfit this Strike Eagle for gun sweeper duties.
BANG! POW! BOOM!
These are AMWS-21 assault cannons... The most powerful single-handed guns on the face of the Earth! Did I fire 3990 shots or 4000? You gotta ask yourself, "Do I feel lucky?" Well... do ya punk!?
You want summa dis?!
The Strike Eagle is pretty good at kneeling thanks to its deep knee bends and mostly unhindered thighs. My only issue is the skirt armor hinges upward on a weird squared off peg so that it clicks softly in a handful of positions instead of moving smoothly. Unlike the later figures that secure the skirt armor with stronger pegs or metal pins, here they tend to work themselves off their mounts while posing. Just remember to push them back on now and again to prevent any accidents. While the skirts do just pop on again, if they fall with the weight of the entire jump unit pressing down on the small hinged flap on the front of the skirt you may see some breakages.
By the way I'd like to thanks Prometheum5 for helping assuage what was a lot of cussing after a photo session.
Probably the thing I love the most about Volks's Strike Eagle is that it can indeed achieve a crouching sniper position. I'll get into reasons why I like this in the A3 figure's review. Needless to say it looks really cool and this figure is very solid when in this stance.
As this Strike Eagle is a little lighter, it works a lot better with my Mighty Block stand.
Even for a big robot, the Strike Eagle looks quite graceful in flight.
Just a big blue airplane looking for a blue sky.
As I alluded to before, I also own the A3 version of the Strike Eagle. I'm going to save looking at that figure in depth for its own review but I'd like to point out some peculiar differences between the TMC and A3 line. For one thing the TMC boxes are really compact compared to the standard A3 package. In a typical A3 release the figure and all its accessories occupy one or more plastic trays inside the box. By contrast, TMC packaging places only the core figure on its own tray with all the other accessories being relegated to sealed plastic baggies underneath. It makes me wonder how much of that 1500 yen difference in price is the from the toy's construction and how much is from them using almost half as less packaging material. Maybe Volks was trying to save the planet's precious resources before the BETA ate them all.
Seriously, the TMC figure's box is barely any thicker and the only thing it doesn't have that the A3 release does is a pair of hands! They didn't take up that much space!
My Strike Eagles know their roots, man! This is a foundation built on my youth spent playing Jane's Combat Simulations and the very prestigious F-15 City War.
"So I transform into an F-15."
"What a coincidence, I am an F-15! We should totally hang out after work since we have so much in common! Do you like FAST packs?"
Here's my proud (fictional) American made Tactical Surface Fighters. The US has quite a legacy even in a Japanese sci-fi series.
Overall the F-15E Strike Eagle represents a time when Volks was still working out how to make a great action figure. In some ways it's a great piece for Muv-Luv fans looking for a representation of this ubiquitous design in toy form but in other ways it is kind of annoying to handle. Despite its fairly conservative sculpt, Volks's take on the Strike Eagle seems more adept at dynamic wide-legged poses than some of its line mates. Stranger still, most of my Muv-Luv Revoltechs can stand up straighter than these particular Volks toys. I lament the Revoltech F-15 figure never making it past the teaser phase as I would have loved to have seen Kaiyodo's take on the design. I don't think the Volks figure is bad, in fact playing with it can be quite fun as it looks pretty amazing once you get it in the right pose. I just wish it erred on the side of Volks's later releases where they started learning the ins and outs of action figure design. When the TMC figures pop up in the secondary market they tend to run about 3000 yen (roughly 30 dollars give or take yen rates) and can be had for under 50 dollars after shipping. I was definitely glad to get a TMC figure just to see how they compare and since it is the Strike Eagle design I feel pretty pleased with my purchase overall. I don't want to close this out just yet so check out my review of the A3 F-15E Strike Eagle to see my overall thoughts on Volks's F-15 figures.
|Posted 18 April, 2013 - 22:19 by VF5SS|