The VF-11B is a Fantastic Toy
There have recently been a lot of posts on
the Macross World Forums from people claiming that the Yamato VF-11B sucks
or it is a piece of junk etc etc. The reason for these posts seems to
be that the people posting have been unable to transform or have had difficulty
transforming their VF-11Bs from battroid to fighter mode.
The most common complaints seem to be: -
- The shoulder plates will not stay snapped
into the chest in fighter mode.
- The shield pops off the arm in fighter
- The legs are not symmetrical due to
mis-alignment of the knee joint ratchets.
I was talking about this with Yamato recently
and they told me that they also have received between 10 to 20 complaints
from consumers in Japan who could not transform their toys to fighter
mode. As part of Yamato's excellent customer service policy, each customer
was asked to return their toy for examination so that Yamato could repair
or if necessary replace the toy with a new one. And guess what?
In every single case where a toy was returned, Yamato's staff was able
to successfully transform the toy to fighter mode without any problems.
The toys were shipped back to their owners in fighter mode just to prove
that transformation could be done.
Yamato's experience also matches my own. I
have transformed nearly a dozen different VF-11B toys, and while I admit
that it isn't always easy especially when the toys are brand new, I
have never come across one that I couldn't transform within 5 minutes
(usually much less).
Also, I would like to stress that
that amount of complaints received so far about the VF-11B is actually
very small in proportion to the amount of VF-11B toys already sold.
Yamato has admitted
that perhaps their instruction sheet for the VF-11B could have been a
little clearer, so to make it easier for less experienced customers to
transform the VF-11B they will soon be putting up a photo guide on transforming
and trouble shooting the VF-11B on the Q&A section of their homepage.
It's not up yet at the time of writing this news letter, but you will
soon be able to find it at < http://www.yamato-toys.co.jp/faq/index.html >.
Shield Peg Problem
The only genuine problem that Yamato have found
is that some of the shields will not stay on the arm in fighter mode,
because the attachment peg is slightly oversize. If you do encounter this
problem with your toy there are two things you can do: -
- Very carefully reduce the diameter of the
peg by filing it with a small file. Don't go crazy with the filing!
Just file a couple (and I mean a couple) of strokes, test the shield
and if it still doesn't fit file a couple more strokes, test etc etc
until it fits. make sure you also cover the back of the shield with
some tape to prevent it being scratched by the file.
- If you are uncomfortable with filing the shield
and If you purchased your VF-11B from Hobby Link Japan http://www.hlj.com/ you
should be able to return the defective shield to them for replacement.
Customers inside Japan are able to obtain replacement
shields direct from Yamato. Unfortunately due to the still unresolved
licensing issue , Yamato fans outside Japan are unable to take advantage
of Yamato's customer service.
Moving back to the other problems mentioned
by Macross World Forum members.
If you are having trouble getting the shoulder
plates to stay locked flat into the chest in fighter mode, the first thing
to do is to take a small Phillips head screwdriver and turn the left and
right shoulder joint screws 1 to 2 turns anti-clockwise to reduce tension
on the shoulder joint spring which is underneath the screw head. I've
found that the these screws are often over tightened during assembly making
it harder to get the shoulder plates correctly lined up.
If you are still having difficulties getting
the shoulder plates or arms together, it may be because the screws on
the rear of the shoulders are too tight preventing the upper arm from
straightening out. If this is the case just loosen the shoulder screw
by half to one turn.
Knees & Legs
Some people have recently posted that the knee
joints on their VF-11Bs are asymmetrical which prevents them from connecting
everything together in fighter mode. Personally, I have never come across
this problem and as long as you make sure that intake and middle leg section
are in the proper position the you should have no problem.
Anyway, one thing I have noticed recently is
that in response to fan feedback Yamato have increased the size of the
teeth on their ratchets. The YF-19 knee joints have 18 small teeth
and some consumers complained that these teeth wore out too quickly. On
the VF-11B Yamato has reduced the number of teeth and increased their
Graham's Toys or "Transformation is
Here are some pics of my VF-11B toys. Note
that all the shoulder plates are completely flat, do not overlap and stay
locked into the chest plate. It takes me no longer than two and a half
minutes to transform each of my toys to fighter mode. I have not had to
do any filing except on the attachment peg of one shield. The only adjustments
I had to perform on some of these toys is to adjust the tension on the
You don't have to be a genius or have years
of experience with transforming toys to get the VF-11B into fighter mode.
Just have a little patience, be prepared to make a few adjustments to
the screw or spring tension and you will have your VF-11B in fighter mode
in no time. And each time you transform it does get easier.
One of the few real problems with the VF-11B
is that the die-cast metal shoulder slider will rub against the leg in
fighter mode and sooner rather than later will start to rub paint of the
leg at the contact point (see pictures below).
I can't think of any way to solve this problem
and for Yamato it is really one of those no-win situations. What I mean
by that is that on the YF-21, the slider was plastic and on the early
toys broke rather easily. So Yamato changes to a metal slider for greater
durability on the VF-11B, but of course where metal rubs metal you get
wear. Yamato could always change to a plastic lower leg, but then fans
would scream that they are reducing the die-cast content. Like I said,
a no-win situation!
Even Bandai Screws Up
I would also like to point out that perhaps
all this Yamato bashing is a little unfair as even big companies like
Bandai produce toys with problems. For example here are some problems
with Bandai toys I have bought within the past couple of months that are
far from perfect: -
- Bandai MSIA Gundam RX-78: This small toy is
made of all PVC and the joints are so loose as to be ridiculous. I can't
even touch the toy without the arm falling off at the shoulder joint
or the leg coming off at the hip joint.
- Bandai's expensive SOC Daiku Maryu suffers
from a varying quality paint job from toy to toy. Also, the little Gaiking
figure has very loose joints.
- Bandai's Gundam FX Figuration 1/144 scale
action figures feature terrible paint jobs nothing at all like how they
are shown in the hobby mags.
- Banda's New material Model Turn A Gundam toy
is so fragile that only the second time I took it out of the box the
shoulder armor broke. I have heard of this happening to others as well.
- Bandai's SOC Combattler V toy. The bulldozer
blades on the Battle Tank are nearly impossible to open and close.
Personally, I think
part of the problem lies in that many consumers have too little patience
and/or no previous experience with transforming toys and little
knowledge of how the Macross Plus mecha transform. Some people who have
the older VF-1 toys may even expect transformation will be as simple
as with the classic VF-1. Well, the Macross Plus mecha are much more complex
designs than the VF-1 and also feature much more articulation than the
classic toys, so of course transformation will be more difficult.
I'm not any sort of toy genius, but I have never had any real problem
with any of Yamato's Macross Plus toys. All I have on my side is that
have spent a lot of time since 1994 studying how the Macross Plus mecha
transform and also I have also been playing with and collecting Japanese
mecha toys since 1977.