A Review of Lancer's VFA-6I Alpha Fighter from Toynami's Robotech Masterpiece Collection
A few weeks ago, I posted a review of a Veritech Fighter replica that Toynami produced as part of its Robotech Masterpiece Collection (click here to read that review). This post is a companion to that review, since this is a review of an Alpha Fighter from the same Robotech Masterpiece Collection line. When I purchased this Alpha Fighter, I did so because I felt that I should have an Alpha counterpart to the Veritech that I purchased for such a low price. Unfortunately, I had to pay the original, non-discounted price for the Alpha, and I'm still unsure if the price I paid was worth the product that I received. Read on for my complete review.
Even though the Veritech and Alpha mechas from Robotech originally came from two different anime series--Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Genesis Climber Mospeada, respectively--they shared similar patterns of distribution in the U.S. during the mid-80s. To reiterate what I posted in the Veritech review, "Robotech shared a commonality with Star Wars in the sense that if you wanted a vehicle replica to play with, you'd end up with a toy that mostly looked like the vehicle but was not completely accurate in detail; on the other hand, if you wanted an exact replica of the vehicle, you'd have to purchase and assemble the model kit version."
Both Veritechs and Alphas were released as model kits in the U.S., although somehow the Veritech was picked up as part of Revell's Robotech model kit line (which pre-dated the Robotech anime series) while the Alpha was repackaged and distributed as a Leader-1 kit for the models distributed by Monogram that were based on the GoBots toy line. Despite the new GoBots label, the Leader-1 model kit captured every detail of the Alpha fighter from the Mospeada/Robotech anime series. There were also some toy versions available of the Alpha fighter during the mid-80s if you were lucky enough to find them. Matchbox released a few transformable Alpha toys under the Robotech license, although I was able to purchase an Alpha toy that was still inside the original Japanese Mospeada packaging. Nevertheless, the toy versions of the Alpha lacked many of the details that the Monogram model kit version had.
An Alpha Fighter model kit from the 80s ...
... and a transformable Alpha Fighter toy from the same decade.
Like Toynami's Veritech replica, Toynami's Alpha replica looks and feels as if someone built a model kit version of the mecha with more durable materials and then released it for sale as an assembled, painted product. I tried to assemble GoBots Leader-1 kit and even though my completed model barely held together, I'm familiar enough with the kit to know that the Toynami Alpha took most--if not all--of its details from the model kit.
The box that the Masterpiece Collection Alpha came in looks like a huge, hardcover book, complete with a volume number. The volume I purchased was the green Alpha Fighter flown by Robotech's resident drag queen diva, Lance "Lancer" Belmont (a.k.a. Yellow Dancer). To denote that the Alpha collection series is different than the Veritech collection series, the spine of the book features a picture of Lancer that can be lined up with the other Alpha volumes in sequence to look like a Mospeada cast photo. The box also included a signed certificate of authenticity, which tells you the official number of the item produced within the limited edition toy line.
Toynami did a great job at re-creating the dimensions and details of an Alpha Fighter in a plastic and die-cast metal form, thus making it a fantastic display piece for Robotech collectors. The Alpha includes a mountable gun pod and retractable landing gear, it transforms into three modes--Fighter, Guardian and Battloid--and the cockpit opens to reveal a removable armored pilot figure.
In addition to the main feature of transformation, the smaller details of the Alpha are captured as well. Hinged panels can be opened all over the Alpha to reveal hidden missile racks, and another panel can be opened to store a collapsed Cyclone vehicle. Of course, the Cyclone is too small to be transformed into either its motorcycle or battle armor modes, but I'm glad that Toynami included this detail for devoted Robotech fans.
One of the best things about Toynami's Alpha Fighter is the amount of die-cast metal that was used in its making. This replica feels solid, almost as if it could double as a paperweight. Yet where the Alpha impresses with its die-cast metal parts, it disappoints with its plastic parts--which is a serious problem, because the plastic parts are what facilitate the Alpha's transformation and pose-ability. It's difficult to perform complete transformations of the Alpha, because you don't want to press or pull too hard on the plastic pieces for fear that they might break; as a result, the Alpha looks a bit awkward and disjointed in each of its modes. The Alpha also includes hands with movable joints in the fingers so that the gun pod can be placed in either hand, but one of my Alpha's thumb joints broke while I was shooting the photos for this post. Hence, my Alpha is now officially left-handed.
If I had to buy an Alpha Fighter replica by itself, I would have searched for something that was cheaper and more durable than what Toynami had produced. I'm not sure if this option is possible because I don't know for sure if it even exists, yet I would've searched hard for that option if an Alpha was the only Robotech collectible that I wanted. Nevertheless, I don't completely regret the purchase of a Toynami Alpha Fighter because I have a Toynami Veritech Fighter, which was produced in the same scale as the Alpha; thus, I can compare the sizes of both of these mechas in their various modes and how their sizes differ to correspond to different alien enemies in the Robotech universe (e.g., the Zentraedi and the Invid). As someone who is infatuated with accuracies of scale in miniature replicas, I'm still a wee bit giddy that I can make such a hands-on comparison.