Mega Review: Includes Ivanov, Nora, and Mass Production variants
Packaging & Extras: (5/5)
The SV-51 toys come in boxes in the same style packaging Yamato introduced with their 1/48 VF-1 series, including the opening flip-top lid that lets you check out the toy without removing it. Much better use of the space of those boxes is made here, the toy itself is so big it had to be positioned diagonally. Inside you get the following:
2 x Boosters for on top of the wings
4 x Micro-missile launcher/auxiliary tank
2 x Medium range missiles1 x Gun (integrated in fighter mode) with removable magazines
1 x Pilot figure
1 x Display stand (base, arm, support arm, connector)
3 x Display stand adapters (fighter, GERWALK, battroid)
1 x Instructions
1 x Stickers
Per Yamato tradition, additional stickers and the instruction manual have been smuggled behind the box’s inner tray. In a sweet little bonus, the weapons can attach to the hard points of the VF-0 or V2 VF-1 toys.
Charm & Collectability: (3/5)
People don’t buy enemy mecha toys (or so the old logic goes) and even fewer buy them when the MSRP sails above the $185 mark. At initial release people were paying upwards of $225 to have this toy shipped to the states. It landed with a flop and was soon found in discount bins and all three versions (but particularly the Nora and Mass Production versions) languished to the point where they were often on sale for 50% off. There may be a perfect storm brewing where this item could be extremely collectible. It’s a deluxe toy featuring perfect transformation that was prominently featured in an anime with little likelihood of a new version. With Arcadia now using the Macross Zero license odds are good we’ll get the hero mechs again but it seems very unlikely a renewal of the SV-51 will happen. Here was the release order and pricing information:
August 2007 – DD Ivanov Custom – 21,800 YEN
November 2007 – Nora Custom – 21,800 YEN
February 2008 – Mass Production Type – 21,800 YEN
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8.5/10)
The sheer size of these toys alone gives them a strong presence in any display case. Today we expect our premium toys to come with the most prominent details painted on but Yamato deserved praise for doing this back in 2007. The most crucial emblems on the toy (and its boosters) so you won’t have to rely on the somewhat thick stickers or trust in your ability to apply them perfectly. The pilot, the cockpit, and even the canopy are all well detailed. I was able to detect extremely faint white overspray in a couple areas that seem to be related to the inside of the landing gear bays being painted white. The glowing white intakes are incredibly shallow and seem a bit out of place (the SV-51 doesn’t have intake covers like just about all future UN Spacy designs). The biggest knock on this toy is that you can actually peek through the toy in fighter mode due to small gaps around the center/gun. While the Ivanov and Mass Production toys may look a little dull, I was very impressed with my Nora toy. Some wanted Nora’s trim to be yellow but the metallic bronze used really pops. I really struggled with my decision to add one to my collection but when I had it in hand I was happy to have it. As you can see from the line art comparisons, Yamato did a great job, especially for the first SV-51 toy ever, but there was room for some minor improvements.
I’ve addressed the gaps you can see holding the toy in fighter mode up to a light so I won’t continue to harp on that negative here. Otherwise, this is an extremely impressive toy. Initially there was some concern in the resin prototype stage that the toy would not be able to stand erect without the assistance of a display stand (probably a factor in the decision to include the stand) but I’m happy to report that the toy stands without issue on its own accord in both GERWALK and battroid modes. On a side note, owning this toy will immediately convince you that the SV-51 is WAY too complicated to be a predecessor to any variable fighter in the Macross universe. Just about every part of this toy serves some other purpose and has some trick to it that converts it from a truly menacing jet to a pope of destruction. Definitely check out the HD transformation guide in concert with the review to gain a true appreciation of how complex the toy is. I loved how the VTOL vents carry through several different parts within the toy rather than just being superficial to the top and bottom pieces that are exposed. The landing gears are well conceived and stow well while being sufficiently large. There were some instances when the doors on the legs would pop open during handling. Magnets are used to help keep the nose and arms (in fighter mode) in place. The upper wing hard point is concealed with a removable plug which is nice for all those who have no intention of using the booster rockets. The gun has additional removable magazines with retractable pegs for mounting (you’ll need both magazines for the sleekest fighter mode but I preferred the look of one magazine for battroid and GERWALK). What really prevents this toy from scoring higher are the lack of locks for numerous parts to ensure they stay in the proper position. Handling this toy can be very frustrating as the wrong parts will move on you.
Durability & Build: (6.5/10)
Sadly, the Ivanov suffered from the Yamato “first run” curse. Within a couple days of release there were a number of complaints that the hinge meant for one wing had been installed (backward) on the second wing which impeded the folding process. If you own an Ivanov and the wings don’t fold the same in battroid mode then you have this problem. Initial reviewers also pointed out that the wings weren’t sufficiently strong to hold up the boosters without bowing (to be fair, the wings are supposed to be slanted when the big boosters are attached). As more people handled their toys there also were numerous complaints about looseness of fit issues where the toys were becoming sloppy and impossible to pose in certain positions. Some people also complained that their SV-51s came with fogged up canopy plastic. There is some debate whether or not a true “second run” with slightly improved QC ever happened of the Ivanov or if it’s all just luck of the draw. Yamato released the toy and then sent more stock out a couple months later, seemingly being too soon to be a true second release and more likely just being the second half of a first production run. For my part, my toys were build problem free and after minimal handling stayed tight (the legs are huge and the weight will pull them down during some extreme poses when using the stand). Some years later, my Ivanov toy is now getting loose. One final thing to note, the longer wing attachments (I believe they’re gun pods of some sort) do fall off fairly easily but they are nowhere near as bad as the reaction missiles on Yamato’s 1/48 and 1/60 V1 VF-1 toys.
This toy is a LOT of fun to pose (provided the joints aren’t loose in which case I imagine it’d be a total nightmare). There are some improvements that could be made. The shoulder rotation point is awkward, the elbow and knee joints have limited range of movement, and the head is not on a ball joint. The shoulder transformation can be tricky, if the arms are dangling down on your toy and you can’t figure out how to get it to hold the gun outward then you haven’t transformed the shoulders properly. If there’s a piece of plastic dangling down you need to rotate the shoulder mechanism to bring it all tightly together. There is no waist on this toy but the hips have very good range of movement which helps make up for that.
Total Score: (39/50)
Yamato’s SV-51 toys were superior to their VF-0 toys. Now that Arcadia is giving us a modern VF-0D toy there might be some renewed demand for this menacing villain. I can’t imagine Arcadia or anyone else will ever make another version of this toy so if you think you might want to get one, now is a good time to start hunting for it. It’s worth noting that initial feedback for the mass production and Nora version of the toys was more positive than it was for Ivanov. It seems Yamato had learned a few things from the Ivanov release and was able to make the later releases a little tighter. These may not be the best Macross toys out there but if you’re a fan of the SV-51 or Macross Zero you really owe it to yourself to have at least one in your collection… even if you just leave it in fighter mode to dwarf your other fighters. Note the cannon fodder pictures below are promotional Yamato photos so the actual product might differ slightly:
Note: This review has been updated:
Updated August 20, 2017 – Added HD battroid to GERWALK to fighter transformation video
November 9, 2014 – Consolidated two separate posts, added HD video review and transformation guide, increased the resolution of the photos, and added line art comparisons. The following posts were consolidated:
August 2009 – Yamato Nora and Mass Production SV-51 Toys
July 2009 – Yamato Ivanov SV-51 Toys