Review: Shut up, it’s not a doll it’s an action figure!
Packaging & Extras: (5/5)
Bandai’s packaging for their other DX toys hasn’t been quite as superb as it is for this DX toy (although the VF100 Armored Alto had a very nice package also). You get a box that isn’t overly large, features a flip-top collector’s lid, and houses everything you would hope an EX Gear toy would come with. Rumors abound that EX Gear toys will later be made for all the main Macross Frontier characters but only time will tell. What sealed the deal for the perfect score here was the fact the toy comes with an action stand and the ability to convert the stand into a makeshift cockpit. Everything is done very well and it makes the toy that much more fun.
Charm & Collectability: (3.5/5)
Once again I’m reviewing a toy too early to judge this section properly so I’ll give it an average score. The toy doesn’t technically transforms (although it certainly alters), it contains diecast but only very minor amounts, and it’s more of an action figure than a mecha. For me, I’m much more a fan of mecha toys but I’ve seen how every anime shop on the Web has a huge inventory of anime figures so I have to assume there is a broad market that a toy like this will appeal to. The price for the toy may seem a bit steep but after some handling I found it to be quite reasonable.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
I’m being a little forgiving here as I think it’s much easier to get a robot toy to look exactly perfect than it is a character figure. Bandai has done a very good job of making the girl-boy Alto look very similar to his animated self right down to his questionable masculinity (he looks a little girly in that pic from behind doesn’t he?). While I’m not quite the expert at Frontier designs this toy seems pretty darn accurate to my memory. There are some minor proportion variances and some rather unsightly joints but otherwise I was very pleased with the look of both the figure and the Gear.
Once again I was very impressed. I have only very minor complaints that I’ll list here but otherwise I have huge heapings of praise. First, the crotch armor simply pegs on without any locking into place. This means that a minor amount of playing/posing is going to pop that crotch armor right off. Second, the targeting system that flips up over the helmet is fidgety when not in use and easily bumped out of alignment. Third, attaching the arm parts of the EX Gear was somewhat frustrating as I kept popping the hands off the toy when I went to clamp the arm armor down. Other than those negatives this toy is really clever. It captures the essence of the gear as Alto typically wore it and it converts into its cockpit position (pictured later in this review). Sure, there are several pieces to have to contend with but it’s easy to see how there easily could have been many more.
Durability & Build: (7/10)
There are some fit issues with parts being pegged together easily popping off which can lead to some frustration. On my sample one of Alto’s shoulder pads absolutely refused to stay in place. It looks like one drop of glue would completely fix that so it’s no deal breaker in the least but I’m not the type to glue my toys so I found it very frustrating. I have heard others complaining about parts not staying on as snugly as desired and other complaints that some joints weren’t as tight as desired. All complaints have been minimal, with all users testifying that with a little patience they were able to overcome their obstacles. Those complaints aside, I’ve read a good deal of enthusiasm from owners so you should be able to buy this toy without fear of it being broken in the box or easily falling apart on you.
Fan-frakkin’-tastic. The only issues you’ll run into with these poses are: 1) Your imagination, 2) Stuff falling off and furstrating you, 3) balancing issues.
Total Score: (43.5/50)
Obviously this toy isn’t going to appeal to everyone but for those who it does appeal to Bandai has really delivered. It’s fun, it looks great, it’s built fairly well, and it makes an incredible display piece (as I tried to demonstrate above). If you’re a Frontier fan who isn’t just all about transforming jets but also has a fair amount of love for the characters than this might be a line of toys really worth following. That said, I haven’t seen any prototypes of the alleged follow up releases yet so we’ll have to see if initial sales dictate further investment by Bandai. For those of you having issues with the price. I absolutely LOVE Yamato’s new destroid series and this toy isn’t priced much differently from those and I feel this toy has a much bigger bang for the buck.