Review(Updated): Now includes Grace/Cannon Fodder Variant
Packaging & Extras: Brera: (3.5/5), Grace: (4/5)
I really enjoy Bandai’s packaging of the Macross Frontier DX toys (although they do better on the smaller toys than the bigger ones). The DX VF-27 toys come packaged in a Styrofoam tray with the following:
2) 3x pair of fixed posed hands (fist, gun grip, open palm, the toy also has a set of knife-hand hands attached)
3) Pilot and copilot (Brera), Green and red pilots (Grace)
4) Gun (with opening and scope gimmicks)
5) Fold booster attachment
6) Fold booster (Grace only)
Grace gets a higher score because her toy includes the fold booster and a connector piece to attach it to the VF-25 toys if you prefer. If you’re not planning on buying the Grace toy you’ll have to track down the “Gallia IV bonus parts” (see my review) to get a fold booster for your Brera toy. I was originally skeptical that Bandai would be able to squeeze a fold booster into the VF-27 packaging without increasing its volume but they pulled it off. The only other shortcoming of the packaging is the lack of a collector’s style flip lid but not having one probably allows Bandai to ship the toy in a smaller box so I don’t really hold it against them. Two extras you won’t notice the first time you pull the Styrofoam tray out are Brera and Ranka figures in the cockpit of the Brera toy or an anonymous green pilot in Grace’s toy (an extra Brera pilot figure is also supplied with the green VF-27 for some reason, it’s a shame it’s not a Grace figure).
Charm & Collectability: (3/5)
I don’t think Grace or Brera have a strong or devoted following but the improvements of these toys over the original release VF-25 toys did make them quite popular until the renewal VF-25 toys came out. There were two releases:
VF-27 Brera Custom, February 2010, 16,000 Yen
VF-27 Grace Custom, June 2010, 16,000 Yen Tamashii Exclusive
The subsequent release in August 2013 of an improved version of the VF-27 for 20,000 Yen with a display stand and super parts (I call it a ‘renewal VF-27 for simplicity’s sake) further diminished the collectability of these toys. Since the renewal VF-27 isn’t any where near the type of improvement we saw when Bandai went from original VF-25 to Renewal VF-25 there’s still room for these original releases in collections. If you’re a big GERWALK or fighter mode guy then these original releases should suit you perfectly fine. This is a perfect transformation toy from a popular show featuring a good deal of well-used metal… that normally bodes well for collecting. Grace’s toy also has the benefit of being a web exclusive that probably wasn’t produced in overwhelming quantities. Word is that both toys did sell fairly well.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8/10)
The DX toys are still a bit thick (chunky) and the crotch area, largely retained from the VF-25 toy, doesn’t really pull off the angling that you’ll see in the anime. He’s supposed to be at nearly half-mast but instead he can only muster a quarter-mast by cheating (place either an eraser or an unused fixed posed hand behind the crotch and it will prop it forward). The painted on detail is very good and taken directly from existing line art unlike the renewal version which adds more painted on detail of unknown origin. Fighter mode is pretty sexy but Bandai doesn’t go to quite the same lengths Yamato did on some of their V2 VF-1 toys. The landing gears have been improved over the VF-25 now featuring a tow-bar, the pilot figures are vast improvements over the molded in place VF-25 figure although not up to Yamato/Arcadia standards. The huge gun is nicely detailed but this mega beam rifle is a bit too large looking in battroid mode. I suspect this is because of how large the gun is supposed to look in fighter mode so I’m not holding it too much against the toy. Really, this thing looks good, plain and simple. Note in the battroid line art comparison above that while the renewal version looks less chunky (a definite improvement) it’s not necessarily that much more line art accurate in the waist area. I’ve replaced the primitive video review that used to be in this post with my new HD comparison to the renewal toy.
It’s my understanding that the VF-27 was NOT designed by the same group who designed the VF-25 (although they clearly had access to the original group’s work). In fact, the group that developed this toy had experience in designing Macross toys for another well-known Macross toy manufacturer. Here’s the design highlights:
1) The booster nozzles are articulated
2) The gun separates and features a hidden clip for attaching in fighter mode
3) There’s a clip built into the toy so the gun can attach without optional parts
4) The knees now have a swivel (not present on original VF-25 toys)
5) The hips can stay attached in GERWALK mode (not present on original VF-25 toys)
6) There are now pegs within the shoulder mechanism that holds things together better
7) There’s an opening canopy with removable pilots (pilots were affixed on original VF-25 toys)
8) Integrated landing gears with front tow bar
9) Integrated knife in the shield and articulated shield edge which collapses for battroid mode and allows the shield to suck in much tighter to the arm than the original VF-25 releases could
Since the original DX VF-25 toy was the first attempt at a deluxe VF-25 I didn’t realize how poorly it was done. This toy came along and showed the world that big improvements could be made. Bandai then made more big improvements when they introduced the YF-29. Check out my HD video above to see the improvements that the renewal version added. While there not as substantial as the improvements Bandai made between the original VF-25 and renewal VF-25 releases, the new GERWALK support goes a long way to making GERWALK more stable and the new shoulder block transformation mechanisms make battroid more fun to handle.
Durability & Build: (7/10)
The good news is that I haven’t heard of a single person receiving an already broken toy. I saw another review where someone broke one of the smaller nosecone fins off the plane so it definitely seems like you’ll want to be conscious of those little fins when transforming. The biggest concern initially is the paint, especially the paint on the nosecone which can be very easily scratched when transforming to/from battroid mode. All of the paint on the toy can be removed fairly easily it seems but that paint on the nose is pretty vital to the overall look of the toy and it’s in a position where only the slightest mis-transformation will cause plastic to drag across the top of it. Be very careful and ask to see this area if buying a toy second-hand. The loose crotch to back connection that plagued the VF-25 toys seems to have been eliminated although the design looks essentially unchanged. I did buy one of these used and the joints were very loose. Be aware that you might have to do some joint maintenance to tighten things up.
I had a ton of fun posing this toy. There seemed to be pretty frequent issues with balance and I often struggled with getting the feet just right but otherwise I really enjoyed this in every mode. The waist joint may prove a little loose if you’re planning on lots of twisting poses. This toy’s score is limited by the lack of a joint just below the shoulder that would allow the arm to extend away from the body. This joint was introduced later on the VF-25 renewal toys.
Total Score: Brera (37/50), Grace (38/50)
This was my original conclusion statement:
There’s no question that this toy represents a significant improvement over the VF-25 DX toy. Between the design upgrades and the attention to detail, I was extremely pleased with my purchases. I know the VF-25 design probably has a much larger fan base since it was the star of Macross Frontier so it’s sad that Bandai wasn’t able to put something this nice together for that design. Hey, if decades of Macross toy production has proven anything it’s that Macross fans will buy the same design repeatedly if it shows improvement so maybe Bandai will visit the VF-25 again some day. In the meantime, if you’re a VF-27 there’s no good reason not to buy this toy… just be EXTREMELY careful with that nosecone paint. Heck, if you’re not planning on selling it you might want to go ahead and give the toy a light clear coat.”
Obviously we did get a renewal VF-25 toy and that toy is easily superior to the original VF-27 toy and even the renewal VF-27 toy. The differences between the renewal VF-27 and the original version aren’t incredibly dramatic, particularly in fighter and GERWALK modes, so if you’re on a budget and you prefer fighter mode don’t rule these original releases out.
Updated September 29, 2013 with pictures/content relating to the renewal version and an HD video comparison
Updated June 13, 2010 with pictures/content relating to the Grace/CF release
Original post date: March 16, 2010