Non-affiliated, Non-lengthy, Non-articles about Transformers

Friday, 25 April 2014

Macross One Year Project - Jan 2014

If December was the month that I did the most research and learning about Macross 1/55 Valkyrie history, variants and reissues, prices and sources/resources, then the dawn of 2014 was the month in which I made the most purchases and built a solid foundation for the collection I was dreaming of. Literally dreaming of, and that's a weird sensation. I do this, I blitz a new interest and then look at the collateral damage, but having interests with attainable goals (read: justification) is a new thing to me that first started with IDW More Than Meets The Eye comic collecting. Here's January 2014's one year project progress.

Takatoku vintage VF-1S Hikaru Ichijo

Packaged in robot mode, with the all-important styro bar

VF-1S Battroid Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Takatoku - VINTAGE
Private (The Spacebridge) - £50 
Purchased Jan 2014 - received Jan 17th 2014

Vintage Macross 1/55 Valkyries were not always the domain of Bandai, they were originally manufactured by the wonderful Takatoku Toys, purveyors of such fine products as the Special Armored Battalion Dorvack "Pre-Whirl" and "Pre-Roadbuster" in addition to the Armored Insect Battalion Beetras "Pre-Deluxe Insecticons" prior to their demise in 1984. The VF-1S you see above was my first vintage Takatoku Macross purchase, and it's one incredibly recognisable toy, the first ever VF-1S sculpt which would of course eventually, through a number of subsequent iterations, become the Transformers Jetfire. Pardon the crude history, but that's not why we're here!

No clear canopy on this one

Grey base colour and famous yellow trim

This VF-1S that was first piloted by Roy Focker, was released as Hikaru's jet since he was the main protagonist of the Super Dimensional Fortress Macross TV series in Japan, and more likely to sell units. It was lovely that the 2001/2 Bandai reissue featured Focker's name on the box and jet, but the original is clearly assigned to Hikaru and he is drawn on the box front. The canopy is not removable, it is simply the squadron's skull and crossbones insignia. The yellow trim is also a little warmer than the neon of the reissue, so they are distinguishable at a glance. Compared to the reissue it is missing some detailing, because there are no tampos, but decals still sitting on the sheet waiting to be applied. Most noticeably for me, the stripe that would run around the nosecone at the base of the canopy.

I noticed how disagreeable the landing gear spring is on these vintage birds, with some real patience required for it to actually hold the gear in a retracted configuration. The problem is when it springs out, you have a hard time folding up the backpack properly and getting the bugger back in the styro! I was also surprised to see how the legs are angled backwards to get them into the styro, these Takatoku Battroids are not in the 100% correct robot mode when packaged. The actually-useful gun clip was missing, there was looseness in the figure - especially the backpack that wouldn't stay clipped to the back when you rotate the arms - but it's vintage. It's classic, and even though the discolouration disease has touched this VF-1S slightly, it's still a historical toy. For me it is not simply enough to own the reissue, this vintage toy gives that reissue context and character, so it was entirely necessary for me to collect reissues and vintage versions of the same jet. The best part is, they're not exactly the same, and to me that's crack.

Bandai VF-1A reissue - Hikaru Ichijo

VF-1A Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Bandai - REISSUE
Auction - £30.77 (<- All prices include shipping + fees)
Purchased Jan 2014 - received Jan 28th 2014 (1 of 2)

It may seem odd for me to have been so excited for this one, as it's another armour-less VF-1A just with red trim, virtually identical to the VF-1A Super Valkyrie Max from December, but because my VF-1S vintage Strike was ever so slightly discoloured, having a pure white red trim 1/55 was something I craved. But it wasn't white! Before I go into that though, we cannot ignore that amazing price. After shipping! I am not lying, because it was opened and was started at 1000 yen, I got it for an unbelievable steal and to this day it  is the best value Macross item I have bought.

Red trim, and a pink-ish white base colour

I never imagined a subtle base colour change would have such an effect

Originally this toy was released by Bandai as part of the animated "Do You Remember Love?" Macross movie range with the VF-1S Strike Valkyrie and a few others. It was bone white for the 80s release, but the reissue has a pinkish tone to the base colour and it's fabulous, I mean seriously you have to see it in the flesh to appreciate just how striking it is and how well it contrasts with the black and red trim. I should mention that my daughter took an immediate shine to this toy and wouldn't give it back when I freed it from the packaging for at least 15 minutes. He danced, he climbed the kitchen unit, he sang nursery rhymes and then he was rescued.

At a recent UK TF pub meet, one of the guys commented that he kept rotating the VF-1A head to find the face but never did, but it's not a sentient robot so it totally pulls off the featureless, emotionless cyclops look. I love the horn too, VF-1A is a complete winner in my estimation. Tampos, removable canopy and all red heat shield with skull & crossbones, mega-firing rockets and an additional stickersheet are all included in this fine package. I really don't know whether or not I got lucky, but at this point I'd picked up two VF-1A reissues for a pittance compared to the 1J and 1S reissue prices, and the value for money has been off the scale. This is not a rare reissue, it's everywhere, and some patience will snag anyone a well-priced one.

Bandai VF-1S reissue Super Valkyrie - Hikaru

The reissue poster boy

VF-1S Super Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Bandai - REISSUE
Auction - £70.44 (<- All prices include shipping + fees)
Purchased Jan 2014 - received Jan 28th 2014 (2 of 2)

In the same package as the above reissue VF-1A came this masterpiece, the reissue Super Valkyrie. This was the first of the modern Bandai reissues to feature the full armour and a completely white base colour for the VF-1S sculpt. Takatoku Toys were responsible for the original VF-1S Super Valkyrie which came in a delightful box featuring the same styro layout that Transformers Jetfire would later adopt. This was the big one, the hero of the TV show in his squadron leader jet with the fast packs. The reissue is popular and tricky to get at a good price, but considering proxy fees and shipping via EMS from Japan are included in that £70.44, you cannot argue with the quality of product you get for less than £100. Reissues of this quality from the Transformers world that are over 10 years old cannot be had for this kind of price.

White base colour, warm yellow trim

Light grey armour

This is a phenomenal toy, and I suspect back in the day it blew kids' minds. We all know G1 Jetfire, we know how breathtaking the first combination of robot and armour can be, and the VF-1S Bandai reissue does not disappoint in the slightest. Bone and brilliant white, armour that snaps on with a satisfying click and a hold that does not incite fear of damage and stress marks, looks that kill and the divine VF-1S head sculpt, subtly decorated all over with tampos...pure toy heaven.

It comes with the same updated features of most of the reissues; canopy, tampos etc and the black skull & crossbones heat shield that is more fun than it should be to clip and un-clip in place of the translucent jet canopy. The build quality and hold of the tight joints is as excellent as you'd expect, with no issues present for the landing gear in this decade-old toy now. Receiving this and the VF-1A Hikaru in the same package was a mighty Christmas-y feeling. The box is gigantic, though. Seriously, I have no idea how to store these.

UK release Matsushiro Starforce Space Fighter VF-1J

Artwork on box sides replaced with photography

VF-1J Battroid Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Matsushiro - VINTAGE
Auction - £56.00 (<- All prices include shipping + fees)
Purchased Jan 2014 - received Jan 29th 2014

This is not a bootleg! There are so many VF-1J vintage bootlegs out there in this mock-Macross packaging that it can be a minefield for the uninitiated. However, with the reading I was doing and the advice of friends, I identified this as a genuine vintage Matsushiro-released official Macross VF-1J 1/55 Battroid Valkyrie. Ever wondered why so many VF-1Js show up in UK Transformers lots? Well this is the reason. And, due to the childhood connections of some UK collectors with this item, I had to bid what I felt was quite high to secure it on eBay UK.

My first VF-1J - so plain without tampos!

Now I don't mean to say it wasn't worth it, I'd pay the same today, but you can see it is used, incomplete and missing all paperwork. I really wanted every single toy's paperwork for this project, and it would have been great to see Matsushiro UK paperwork, but alas it was not to be. It's important for me to say I did not expect to be buying this item originally when I started the project, but local releases are candy when it comes to big toy lines, and an official UK vintage 1/55 Valkyrie was irresistible. A number of Takatoku designs were released under “Starforce” in the UK and Europe, including this Macross VF-1J which happens to be “3 toy puzzles in one”, a Batrain toy and even the Pre-Whirl "Ovelon Gazzette" from Dorvack. Matsushiro were known to be involved in the manufacture of Takatoku toys and were even responsible for the variant early Jetfires we'll look at soon.

Hikaru. Again.

This Starforce VF-1J was my first taste of the VF-1J mould and I had been looking forward to it a lot. The vintage piece was as loose as you'd expect for a used 30-year old item, but surprisingly not yellowed (ok maybe one spot) and not damaged. The landing gear was behaving too. It's nowhere near as spectacular as the VF-1S Supers, the reissue VF-1A Supers or the red and blue VF-1Js of Miriya and Max, but that doesn't mean it isn't beautiful. Its simplicity and 2-tone scheme is its strength and it stands out in a crowd of Valkyries. As far as I know it's also the first 1/55 Valkyrie mould ever released in Japan and iconic in that its Hikaru's first bird. The toy that started it all for Macross Valkyries is no small matter. Another thing that is no small matter is the packaging for the Takatoku-style Battroid Valkyries. They barely squeeze into an unmodified Detolf shelf and a lot of Transformers had to leave to make space for just one of these guys. 

So, as of January 2014:

VF-1J Battroid Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Takatoku - VINTAGE
VF-1J Space Fighter (Hikaru Ichijo) - Matsushiro UK - VINTAGE
VF-1S Battroid Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Takatoku - VINTAGE
VF-1J Battroid Valkyrie (Max Jenius) - Takatoku - VINTAGE
VF-1J Battroid Valkyrie (Miriya Jenius) - Takatoku - VINTAGE
VF-1A Battroid Valkyrie (Mass prod.) - Takatoku - VINTAGE
VF-1S Super Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Takatoku - VINTAGE
VF-1S Armored Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Takatoku - VINTAGE
GBP-1S Armor - Takatoku - VINTAGE
VF-1S Strike Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Bandai - VINTAGE
VF-1A Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Bandai - VINTAGE
VE-1 Elint Seeker - Bandai - VINTAGE
VT-1 Super Ostrich - Bandai - VINTAGE
VF-1S Super Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Bandai - 1990s REISSUE

VF-1S Battroid Valkyrie (Roy Focker) - Bandai - 2000s REISSUE
VF-1J Battroid Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Bandai - 2000s REISSUE
VF-1J Battroid Valkyrie (Max Jenius) - Bandai - 2000s REISSUE
VF-1J Battroid Valkyrie (Miriya Jenius) - Bandai - 2000s REISSUE
VF-1A Battroid Valkyrie (Max Jenius) - Bandai - 2000s REISSUE
VF-1A Battroid Valkyrie (Mass prod.) - Bandai - 2000s REISSUE
VF-1S Super Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Bandai - 2000s REISSUE
VF-1J Battroid Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Bandai - Origin of Valkyrie REISSUE
VF-1S Battroid Valkyrie (Roy Focker) - Bandai - Origin of Valkyrie REISSUE
VF-1A Super Valkyrie (Max Jenius) - Bandai - Origin of Valkyrie REISSUE
VF-1A Super Valkyrie (Hikaru Ichijo) - Bandai - Origin of Valkyrie REISSUE

Hergoss VF-1S Bootleg (Skyfire colours)
Joon's VF-1J Bootleg (Skyfire colours)
Joon's VF-1J Bootleg (Green)
Transformers G1 Jetfire - Matsushiro 

The First Bird

All the best


  1. Wonderful article, though I'm a tad envious at those prices, well done.
    It would be really useful to document the differences between the originals and the reissues, from a 'completionist' point of view, this would be even more fascinating, thanks!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! Once I had/have all the ones I'm after, the idea was always to do something comprehensive like a figure by figure analysis of reissue versus vintage and variants therein. As you can see though, the project has become a 2 year thing, and no sign of picking up pace recently...

      All the best