Bandai’s release of their VF-171 toy turned out to be controversial as it was riddled with quality issues. There were many reports of the black-coloured parts on the toy crumbling, especially the complex triangular-shaped parts that become the shoulders. I preordered this but never got around to opening it until I got the Armor Parts set. My experience with this toy though, was a long story.
The smaller accessories are packed in sealed bags. There is a pair of head lasers in rigid plastic, cover parts for the arms in Fighter mode, a pilot figure and 3 pairs of fixed-pose hands. The gunpod doesn’t transform but has an unfolding foregrip and tab for mounting onto Fighter.
It looks similar to the VF-17 from Macross 7 except with a Frontier-style long nose. I’m not sure how different this toy is from Yamato’s VF-17 though. Either way, they’re based on the real-life F-117.
At least there’s some generous stamp printing going on, but the designation on the tail has a really stupid-looking serif font.
The markings make it look quite busy but I like it.
The nozzles in the die-cast feet can be easily seen.
It’s a bit challenging to open the canopy as its shape makes it inaccessible.
As usual, die-cast/rubber for the landing gear. The gear doors seem to fit quite well on this toy. The gunpod has an extra tab towards the front, ensuring it remains centred and firmly attached all the time. Unlike most other Valkyrie toys the intakes are permanently shut.
The standard-issue stand has a different, plain base.
The secondary tab on the gunpod needs to detach so that it can pass through the base. I feel it to be a little unnecessary, but the toy attaches to the tabs on the stand firmly if you got through the trouble.
The non-adjustable stand requires some creative camera angles.
Wish Yamato/Arcadia could do as much printing as Bandai. Those No Step markings are just lovely.
The VF-171 transformation is ironically too complex rather than fun. At this stage it’s not so bad but the sequence of steps is really important. Even after messing with it so many times I still have to refer to the manual when transforming it. The legs rotate 90 degrees and there is some complex locking mechanism that prevents them from rotating back until you collapse the extending knee joint. Ironically instead of having the black parts on my toy crumble I didn’t follow the sequence and hamhanded the knee joint so badly I went to buy a second one. I’ll talk more about it at the end of the review.
And there’s the complex origami-style folding triangles on the sides of Fighter that disappear inside the shoulders which crumble on many owners’ copies. The triangles are held together with screws and their tension helps prevent the shoulder armour from sagging. It seems like they are screwed in so tight that the plastic cracks, but the issue is why such a brittle material is used for those areas.
On the bright side this toy has some great ankle joints that surprisingly don’t weaken. Look at the nice stance it has going on there.
I’m not sure how to describe Battroid; it’s like a cross between the sleek Frontier-style design and the bulky Macross 7 proportions. Either way, I really like it.
However, transformation to Battroid is really complex and nerve-wracking. It also doesn’t feel as solid compared to Fighter. The body/spine doesn’t appear to lock together and can move all over the place. The base of the neck also isn’t fixed to anything. The hip joints are supposed to crank forward/upward but they don’t lock firmly and are too loose, swinging backwards once you pick the toy up.
It has a cool visor that catches light well.
Erm nipple guns. They are on ball joints.
The upper arm is unpainted die-cast. I’m not sure if Bandai is cutting corners by not painting it, but paint on die-cast parts chips really easily and given the amount of moving parts on the arms I can sort of understand. The shoulders are loose on mine, and there is a second joint that is a pain to manipulate in Battroid. If you don’t work it into the correct position, it makes the shoulders sag.
The neck has a wide range, possibly due to the transformation mechanism. The head lasers are on ball joints.
However the backs of the long elbows bump against the folded wing-cape most of the time.
Like the other Frontier toys sideways motion is hampered by the tops of the thighs.
The knees bend around 90 degrees and require the knee joint to extend to achieve that range.
With the foregrip unfolded.
So my story with this guy goes like this. I was really ill some time ago and when I had enough strength to climb out of bed I decided to open and play with this. I managed to transform it from Fighter to Battroid, then left it alone for some time before getting back to transform it back to Fighter. I didn’t read the manual properly and couldn’t get the legs to rotate because I didn’t retract the knee joint completely. Eventually I ruined the locking mechanism and couldn’t get one of the legs to budge in any direction, and then got the entire knee sheared off. With one broken leg I ended up ordering a used one from Mandarake which had the cracked shoulder triangles, so I simply took the shoulders from my first one and transplanted it onto the used one. I also loosened the screws in the triangles so hopefully they don’t crack so soon.
Compared to the other Frontier toys, the VF-171 has few accessories, so you can’t do much with it other than attempt to transform it and not get frustrated. Battroid mode could have been more solid as well. While I liked the design of this toy, it’s very hard to transform and is riddled with quality issues, so you can find it going for cheap on several shops. The VF-171EX doesn’t have the cracking issue but costs much more. At least it’s something different and not the umpteenth iteration of the VF-25.