Macross Newsletter #38

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: -
  1. The shoulder plates will not stay snapped into the chest in fighter mode.
  2. The shield pops off the arm in fighter mode.
  3. 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 Q&A
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 < >.
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: -
  1. 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.
  2. If you are uncomfortable with filing the shield and If you purchased your VF-11B from Hobby Link Japan 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.
Shoulder Plates
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 size.
Graham's Toys or "Transformation is easy!"
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 shoulder springs.
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.
Paint Rubbing
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.
Graham's Thoughts
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.