The VF-4A Lightning III from ‘Macross Flashback 2012’ finally has the toy treatment it deserves.
There are a few mecha from Macross that are quite the Holy Grail for toy collectors. One of these is the VF-4 from Macross Flashback 2012. It took a while for Arcadia to get around to this version, but it is finally here, and it is utterly glorious.
The history behind this variable fighter is quite the storied one. We first saw a prototype version of the mecha in the original Macross TV series. However, it wasn’t until much later did we see the final version in Macross Flashback 2012 released in 1987.
In both animated instances, we only saw it in fighter mode. That meant, how the mecha transformed was mostly a mystery.
What made matters more infuriating, is that the follow-on design of the VF-14 Vampire was based on the VF-4. We again saw that very briefly in Macross Plus in 1994 and then again in Macross 7 in 1995, to which the Varauta repurposed it into their Elgerzorene variable fighters.
So while this gave some hints on how the VF-4 would transform it wasn’t until the PlayStation game Macross Digital Mission VF-X released in 1997 would we finally get to see all three modes.
The big surprise here was how the battroid mode ended up looking. While the fighter and GERWALK modes were fairly straightforward and inline with its 80s design lineage, the battroid mode look like something straight out of the 90s.
The VF-4 in fighter mode was mainly how fans knew of the design.
This is because the creator of Macross and one its main mecha designers, that of Shoji Kawamori, had evolved his style in the years since the VF-4 was first shown. Looking like something out of Omega Boost, another PlayStation game Kawamori had worked on, the newly finished VF-4 was a unique design in how it crossed decades in a stylistic sense.
Now, many collectors thought we would never get the VF-4 in fully transformable toy form. However, just before Yamato went under, they released a 1/60 scale VF-4G Lightning III toy from Macross Digital Mission VF-X. It was a beautiful piece of engineering but was very hard to get a hold of, as it was on online only purchase in Japan.
When Arcadia started up its Macross toyline, we received a re-release of the toy, but by this point it looked like the Macross Flashback 2012 version would not be made, but then Bandai surprised us with a smaller Hi-Metal R toy.
It was only a matter of time then until Arcadia released this version and here it now is, and it is really rather fantastic.
There are two versions of this toy, the standard version and the premium finish version. This review is of the latter and it comes with a fair more detailed paint job and extra tampo printed elements.
You also get an extra GU-11 gunpod and an updated pilot figure of Hikaru Ichijo. This is why this particular release matters, as the VF-4A Lightning III was Hikaru’s mecha in Macross Flashback 2012.
The battroid mode for the VF-4 was designed quite a bit later.
That means all the livery and coloring is as per the anime, and not the game version.
The sculpt and detailing are also entirely spot on, which is hardly surprising considering that T-Rex designed this toy. The articulation and subsequent transformations are also handled well and in a very logical fashion.
The wings also fold down very nicely in battroid mode and while you can fold the tail fins inward, it’s up to you by how much you want to do that. In the line-art (shown above) they are quite flat but in the game and other depictions they are also shown more vertically. In any case, the tail fins can be folded in as much as you want.
There is also quite a lot of diecast throughout the toy, mainly acting as an endoskeleton to help with the transformation but also in the joints. It’s worth pointing out that the upper arms are still diecast here as well, they have just been painted over as per the anime coloring.
While this toy is compatible with Arcadia’s stand (sold separately), it can be posed and displayed just fine on its own. The balance in GERWALK and battroid modes has also been well thought out and they each hold poses just fine. The fighter mode also comes with diecast landing gear, which fold away into the frame.
Overall, this is the best toy release of the VF-4 to date and is finally of the Macross Flashback 2012 version we all wanted and having been waiting several decades for. The price point is pretty steep but it’s definitely worth it.
You can order the 1/60 scale VF-4A Lightning III Premium Finish version from retailers such as HobbyLink Japan and Amazon Japan.
VF-4A Lightning III
VF-4A Lightning III Gallery
Price: 38,280 yen (or around $359)
Disclosure: Arcadia sent me a sample of this toy for the purposes of this review.
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