Phatslappy's Review of the Bandai 1/55 Scale VF-1J
Differences Between the Bandai Valk and the Yamato Valk
My take on the original valk has always been that it is a toy, and the Yamato valk is more of a pose able transforming figure. Assuming my take is correct, it doesn't make much sense to do a part by part comparison as I did with the Bandai reissue and the Takatoku. Instead, the comparisons will mainly focus on showcasing some features while exposing some shortcoming between the two toys.
The Bandai is a big toy at 1/55 scale. It is of a more blocky/square design than the Yamato. Taking advantage of improved painting in manufacturing techniques, the valk has surprisingly high detailed decals. It is made of shiny plastic, smooth to the touch. The Yamato is a smaller scaled toy and is made of a rougher plastic that is flat colored. The canopy is clear, showcasing a detailed cockpit that the Bandai lacks severely. Another difference is that most of the screws are covered on the Yamato, and the intake on the chest plate actually has an intake. On the Bandai, the intake is a painted stripe. The biggest attribute of the Yamato is its attention to detail. The wings have painted lights as well as clear lights along with the usual paint, and the overall shape of the valk is much sleeker than the Bandai. Also, the running lights that flip down in fighter mode are a welcome feature. In addition, Yamato's innovative design on the tail fins hides what is an obtrusive hinge on the Bandai VF-1J. One drawback of the Yamato VF-1A is that the paint is flat colored, and the paint is nowhere near as highly detailed as the Bandai VF-1J. In fighter mode, the Yamato is better designed than the Bandai in that it secures the legs to the body in three points, creating a stronger bond. The swing bar holds the entire leg of the Bandai to the body and simply isn't as strong. In fighter mode, the Yamato even seems to mask the hip joints rather well; although it still shows, it actually doesn't look as bad as I had anticipated. A point I need to emphasize again, is that the Bandai also has an extremely large gap that separates the chest plate and back plate while in fighter mode. On the Yamato, it takes two joints to put the tail fin pack in a vertical position and aligns it parallel to the back of the battroid. The Bandai uses one joint that readily snaps into place, although it is at an angle. The tail fin pack on the Yamato does not seem as sturdy as the Bandai because of the small amount of material holding in place such a large pack. Despite being a smaller toy, the Yamato VF-1A seems to be just as heavy if not heavier than the Bandai VF-1J, a testament to the amount of metal they used in manufacturing the toy.
The Landing Gears
Since the landing gear has a lot of differences, I've decided to devote an entire section to it and covers both the appearance and the playability. The VF-1A's landing gear is more detailed. The front landing gear also has a cover that the Bandai does not. In the rear landing gear, the VF-1A has two separate covers while the Bandai uses one and uses part of the landing gear itself as a cover. Needless to say, the VF-1A covers are much more appealing. The Yamato's landing gears are also painted, with black painted tires and it even has rims! The biggest problems with the landing gears, however, are that the front wheels do not turn while the rear ones do, the wheels don't make any effort to stay down, and returning the front landing gear to the bay is cumbersome and requires some force. Even bringing down the landing gears can be somewhat cumbersome. I think the problem lies in the fact that there are supposed to be rubber rings that help to keep the landing gears rigidly placed. From what I've heard, some of Yamato's valks are missing the rings which causes it to go up and down without much force. It's kind of a catch-22 because you want them to stay down when you put them down and stay up when you put them up. But you also don't want to struggle to deploy them. The Bandai VF-1J comes with metal landing gears that also have metal wheels. The landing gear is spring loaded and each is deployed by a latch. The springs help the plane stay off the ground while being wheeled around, and for the most part does a decent job. The biggest detractor is probably the glass-shattering squeak that emanates from the toy when it's being wheeled around…that and the lack of a cover on the front wheel.
The best way to sum it up is the Bandai provides a more accurate transformation to the show while the Yamato provides a more accurate representation of the valk. The Bandai is far easier to transform than the Yamato, and certain transformation sequences expose some fragile parts on the Yamato, most notably the shoulder plate that fits into the chest. The Bandai VF-1J can be easily transformed and no parts must be removed in the transformation. The Yamato VF-1A requires that part of the nosecone be removed, and the legs be removed and attached elsewhere before it can be assembled into battroid mode. While the swing bar is overexposed on the Bandai VF-1J, it does provide a transformation that is accurate. The hip does make that movement during the transformation. It's just that the swing bar is invisible. One small point to bear in mind is that in fighter mode, the Bandai VF-1J can fly inverted without the tail fin coming down while the Yamato cannot. Trying to fly inverted will caused the tail fin pack to fall. Because of its articulation, the Yamato is able to perform basically every pose you would see in the show with extreme accuracy. The Bandai can also do many poses, but the accuracy would be far left behind because of the rigid structure of the ratchet joints. The Yamato uses a combination of ratchet joints, ball joints, and notches in its joints. Bandai uses mostly ratchet joints in combination with washers for joints. It should be noted that the Yamato's shoulder plate prevents the arm from completing a full rotation. Trying to complete a full rotation of the arm would cause the shoulder plate to pop out of the chest. Despite this, the Yamato VF-1A is still far more articulate than the Bandai. Because the Yamato has 3 bonding points while in fighter mode, the VF-1A does not suffer the paint wear that is experienced in the Bandai VF-1J. The lack of support on the legs while in fighter mode causes the paint to wear on the legs and rub onto the arms.
The Bandai VF-1J comes with a gun pod, gun ammunition, and a gun clip to attach the gun pod to the arm. The ammunition can be fired from the gun pod, and it can cover approximately 15-20 feet of space. The Yamato VF-1A comes with a telescoping gun pod, an assortment of missiles, as well as a heat shield cover which is interchangeable with the clear canopy cover. The shape of the heat shield makes it look funny if it were used in fighter mode, but helps secure the body in place while in battroid mode.
Introduction VF-1J Review Bandai/Yamato My Preferences