Mega Review (updated): In summation, skip V1 and go straight to V2
Packaging & Extras: Standard Releases (includes Alto VF-25F, Ozma VF-25S, and Alto Fold LE VF-25): (4/5)
All standard releases came with the following:
C) Gun attachment piece
D) Three pairs of fixed-posed hands
E) Instructions (specific to the release)
All toys came in attractive boxes with Styrofoam trays. There are no flip-top collector’s lids and no toys came with stickers or decals (the idea being that all the details you needed have been painted on by Bandai). The fold edition LE was shipped in a brown shipper box. The fold LE’s box inside is colorless with a hologram effect and all the normal accessories are present but most have been cast of the same translucent plastic as the fold-effect toy. Bandai stepped up their game when they released the version 2 toys. The version 2 toys include a removable pilot figure, an accessory EX Armor figure with display base and wire (to simulate flying), and the SMS display stand that was sold with the V1 gift-set bundles. This is just the first example of many as to why the V2 toy is superior. If you haven’t checked out the V2 toy’s review you should check that out now as that’s really the toy you should be looking to buy.
Packaging & Extras: Gift-sets (includes Michael Super VF-25G, Luca Super RVF-25, Alto Super VF-25F Movie Edition, Ozma Armored VF-25S, Tornado VF-25F): (4.5/5)
Super & Armored toys come with all the same accessories as the standard release (except Luca, who does not have a gun attachment piece) as well as the following:
F) Display stand (base is painted on Movie Edition Super VF-25F and Tornado edition)
G) Display stand connectors for fighter, battroid, and GERWALK modes
H) Super, Tornado, or Armored Parts (with custom specific extras like Luca’s radar dome and Michael’s gun and extra gun attachment piece)
I) GERWALK supports (Armored and Tornado Gift-sets only)
While the VF-25 toys still come in sturdy Styrofoam trays the super/armor/tornado parts come packaged in thin plastic trays. Michael’s gun is a particularly nice extra, it’s Zentran style huge, very well detailed, and includes all the little spokes and scope. Some extras, like Michael’s gun, come taped to the back of the super parts trays. The Armored VF-25S gift-set comes with a neck extension piece for the VF-25S toy.
Charm & Collectability: Standard Releases (excluding LE Fold version) and Super Alto VF-25F Movie Edition: (2/5)
The old recipe for this dictates that anything that features metal and perfect transformation has a good chance for being very collectable. Upon release in December 2008 the Ozma and Alto VF-25 toys proved very popular with preorders selling out quickly and additional stock being marked-up abovetheir initial MSRP of 12,000 YEN. This was originally supposed to be a $100 toy before the Yen rallied and demand jumped (supply also was slim at first, the price trailed back down as Bandai got more stock and alternate versions to vendors). The second issue of this toy (not to be confused with the “Renewal” version or Version 2.0) is unrecognizable from the first issue unless you actually pull the toy out of the box. The second issue has reinforced pegs (although I’ve never seen the pegs that were reinforced break) and also includes the holes on the back plate that would allow for the attachment of the fold booster. The movie version gift-set released in November 2009 for an MSRP of 16,000 YEN is rated as having the same collectability as the standard releases because Bandai chose to re-color it… in a way that isn’t accurate to the movie or TV show. Overall, these releases scored lower than average due to the number of people who were turned off by the flaws of Bandai’s first big deluxe Frontier toy and that was before the Version 2.0 was released. Now that that toy is out and so vastly superior to this one the charm has diminished greatly and the collectability has collapsed.
Charm & Collectability: Gift-Sets (and LE Fold version): (2.5/5)
The inclusion of additional parts and a display stand increases the draw of the gift-sets. The Michael and Luca gift-sets were released in March 2009 for an MSRP of 16,000 and 17,000 YEN respectively. Ozma’s Armored VF-25S gift-set was released in August 2009 for an MSRP of 18,000 YEN. In October 2009 Tamashii released their exclusive fold effect Alto VF-25F (not a gift-set). In March 2010 Bandai released the Alto Tornado VF-25F gift-set. The final Version 1 Bandai DX VF-25 release was Michael’s VF-25G with Tornado and Tornado Accessory parts released in February 2011 (just eight months before the version 2 hit stores!) for an MSRP of 19,500 YEN. The fold version is included with this group as, although it has limited appeal, it was also only available in limited quantities and still demands a premium. Unfortunately, all the quirks of the various armors and super parts have limited demand. For those that didn’t buy the gift-set but still want the super parts or armor that was later released as part of those bundles, Tamashii made all of the add-ons website exclusives. To date the add-ons include:
1) Super Parts (Alto/Ozma customs, includes display stand, to date buying the Super Parts is the only way to have a Super Ozma VF-25S or a properly colored Alto Super VF-25F). There’s a separate review for these parts.
2) Armored Parts (Alto/Ozma customs, includes display stand, to date buying the Alto custom armored parts is the only way to have an Armored Alto VF-25F)
3) Gallia IV Bonus Parts (includes clip on wing speakers, fold booster, and 1/60 singing Ranka figure). There’s a separate review for these bonus parts.
4) Ghost & Weapons Bonus Parts (includes Ghost fighter with stand and various clip on wing weaponry).
5) Tornado Parts (includes display stand)
6) Tornado Accessory Parts (includes special armaments that can be attached to the existing Tornado Parts).
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: All Releases except Super Alto VF-25F (6.5/10)
In my initial review I went soft on these toys because I thought the VF-25 was ugly and anorexic in the show and I kinda liked seeing it fattened up a bit. I still scored it average pointing out that it was too chunky and made a number of compromises. One major bummer is that the unique traits of each VF-25 from the show seem to have been eschewed by Bandai in favor of doing simple repaints. A terrible side-effect of this decision has been the appearance of a smaller neck on the Ozma toy because the chest and back plates are exactly the same as they are on Alto which left less room for Ozma’s neck (pictured above is the original release without neck extension, pictured below with the armor is with the neck extension installed). Pilots are permanently lodged in their seat with minimal detail and while the cockpit and pilots pale in comparison to Yamato’s efforts they’re plenty good enough for a toy. There are also other areas where detail has been thoughtfully added and even the metal in the feet has been nicely detailed. When Bandai released the Version 2.0 toy in 2011 it became painfully evident just how bad the shortcomings are on the version 1. The Version 2 is amongst the best likenesses to an anime design I have ever seen. If you like the way the VF-25 looks in Frontier then you’ll love the new version 2.0 DX VF-25… and you’ll probably think this version 1 toy is pretty ugly in comparison (I provided several comparisons above so you can do just that).
When the super bundles were released there was an obvious issue with different plastics being used (most obvious in the Luca toy). In most normal lighting situations the varying tones of green are almost imperceptible but under the bright lights of a photo booth they become quite evident. Fortunately the average Joe is not going to have his toy sitting under bright lights at all times so the average consumer will likely not be too deterred by this phenomenon. Another error I saw pointed out while surfing the various forums and other reviews for the Luca toy was that the shoulders both indicate “004″ but one should indicate “SMS” (although some art for the show also shows both shoulders with “004″).
Say what you will about the armored VF-25S but it does look imposing in any mode. The original GBP made the VF-1 look a bit like a hockey goalie while the VF-25 just looks big and scary. The detail work is solid but not excellent. The paint job includes many nice details (check out the little skull on the chest armor flap) although it could have been better. The armor has some weaknesses. The new landing gears in the leg armor look pretty bad (they should be diecast) and the missiles don’t do a good job of concealing the fact they’re one piece of plastic with painted tops. The good news about all of the super, armored, tornado bundle kits is that they do hide most of the flaws that grab most extreme fans who see the naked VF-25 toy and the armor also conceals the color variations in the plastic for those particular sensitive to that phenomenon. The VF-25F toy included with the Tornado Parts bundle has darker interior colors and a darker gun but the paint looked a bit sloppier to me.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: Super Alto VF-25F (6/10)
Baby blue super armor? Seriously? Not only that, they gave the stand alone toy a blue hue as well. I don’t think I’ve seen a single person state they prefer this variant of the toy. To compound matters, when the movie was released Alto’s VF-25F looked nothing like this toy.
Design: Standard Releases (6/10)
Originally I thought I made a good list of this toy’s design faults when I created the list below:
1) Gun doesn’t stow in fighter mode without an optional part. Knife can not be stowed in fighter mode
2) Wings angle upward in fighter mode and lack hard-points
3) Rear landing gears are too small and the fins on the leg don’t angle out appropriately
4) Knife-hand fixed posed hands are only useful in fighter mode. It would have been nice if there was at least one point of articulation so you didn’t feel you absolutely HAD to change the hands as part of transformation.
5) Hips have to be disconnected to achieve A-stance in GERWALK mode which makes GERWALK mode less stable (rectified on VF-27)
6) The shield sits too far out on the forearm because it doesn’t collapse (rectified on VF-27)
7) Pilot is not removable and possibly not to correct scale (rectified on VF-27)
8′) Shoulder mechanisms have no locking feature keeping them in the proper place in battroid (rectified on VF-27)
9) The waist area has no mechanism allowing it to be locked in the angled outward position
10) The pilot is too easily visible from a side-view in battroid mode.
11) Head lasers are made of PVC and are often warped
Even with all those faults I still gave the toy an average score. It was hard being really critical when the DX’s only competition was the horrid VF100 VF-25 toys. Now that Bandai has given us a proper VF-25 toy in the form of the V2, I noted over twenty improvements in that review. I won’t muck up the review by replicating that list here but if you still haven’t checked out my V2 review you should do that.
Design: Gift-sets (6/10)
All of the gift-sets come with the same underlying toy discussed in the stand-alone section but sometimes the extra parts they come bundled with have some flaws of their own. Of course, you don’t HAVE to use the extra parts and even Luca can be made to look fine as a standard type VF-25 (almost). If you do apply the super parts or armor, leaving the crotch armor on the toy and transforming the toy into fighter mode is not recommended. Sure, you can make it work, but it adds to the likelihood that fighter mode won’t come together properly and the frustration can far outweigh the benefit. Some people swear they physically can NOT leave the crotch armor on and transform their toys to fighter mode so why give yourself the trouble for a part you won’t be able to see? The super parts also suffer from insufficient anchors on their hips (not as much a problem on the Armored Ozma and not existent on the Tornado) which causes the hip armor to become easily dislodged. Similarly, the arm armor on all gift-set variants can also become unseated from minor handling. The super armor in particular also attaches to the toy’s leg in such a way that it hampers articulation of the knee. Bandai was unable to come up with a way to get Michael’s VF-25G to work in fighter mode with the landing gears (the toy instead rests on the gun) and were unable to figure out a way to get Luca to be able to have any gun at all in fighter mode (the rear sensor array interferes with the gun connection point). The armored Ozma also suffers from being unable to hold its gun in fighter mode as the attachment piece just wasn’t long enough to clear the armored parts. All gift-sets have huge problems with GERWALK mode as the weight of the parts on the rear and wings of the toy causes everything aft of the shoulders to fall down. Bandai included reinforcing pieces with the Armored Ozma and Tornado releases but that’s obviously a little awkward. Essentially, if you’re a big GERWALK fan, just know that you’re going to absolutely need to use the stand for any stability at all. The version 2.0 toys released in 2011 include a built in GERWALK support mechanism which is yet another reason I recommend you pass on these V1 toys and move straight to the V2.
Unique to the armored Ozma, the ankle bands of Ozma’s VF-25S toy need to be removed to put the leg armor on. Not a big deal, they pop right off and pop right back on but it seems like the leg armor should have been a clamshell or encasing design rather than a slide on. Also unique to the armored Ozma is the toy’s neck extension which isn’t integrated but rather needs to be inserted/removed; you can not have the extension attached in GERWALK or fighter modes. With all the armor attached to the armored Ozma the tolerances to get the vehicle to hold together in fighter/GERWALK modes are very tight and very frustrating. Getting this toy in armored fighter mode for the first time took me Zen-like patience. The wing-root armors are extremely awkward in every mode, even fighter. They are large enough where they are constantly in the way and loose enough where they pop off inadvertently.
Of course the extras in the gift-sets aren’t all bad. The super parts gift-sets feature missile bays for the shoulders that open to reveal the missiles inside. Luca’s super parts feature a radar dome that can be opened and spins freely (although it is a bit too big to fully collapse the wing sections inward in battroid mode). The Tornado parts offer a huge range of movement on the two main guns and have four doors that open up with added detail inside. The armored Ozma features integrated landing gears in the leg armor with some pretty neat mechanisms to conceal them. As you would hope on a toy this expensive, all the missile bays open to reveal missiles housed inside (although they’re not individually crafted missiles like Yamato’s stellar 1/48 VF-1 GBP). Bandai also improved the manufacture process of the standalone VF-25S they included with the Ozma gift-set; the lasers on the head are now almost perfectly straight.
Durability & Build: All Releases: (6/10)
There are three issues with these toys. First, the initial paint application didn’t feature the ultra crisp lines of CMs or Yamato toys I’ve been seeing lately. Second, the antenna-type lasers on these toys are made of PVC. Yes, I know that this is because so many chunky monkey toys managed to break their head lasers over the years but on the Ozma toy these lasers are so thin that they can’t stay straight (it actually works fine on Alto). Third, there’s bound to be lots of paint flaking off just like there was on the original chunky monkeys. Another common complaint is that the toys still had some oily residue left on them from the manufacture process (it’s harmless and wipes right off). The great news is that this toy has a ton going on with it yet feels very solid. The plastic is really thick, lots of crucial parts are made of metal, things that move often click (you can even feel the teeth in the wings). There were a few toys that came with broken screws that caused the arms to fall off but fixing this was as easy as replacing a screw. In an odd reversal of the norm, there have been complaints that the shoulders are far too tight which makes it nearly impossible to move the arms. If you encounter this issue your best bet is to sigh, gather all your patience, sit down on the couch, turn on your favorite show, then proceed to gently try to work the arms back and forth while you watch. By the end of the program you should find that you can move the arms around although they will probably still require a good deal of effort. Enjoy this period of over-tightness while it lasts as there are also starting to be more and more people complaining that their DX toys have become floppy with the joints no longer having enough friction to hold aggressive poses even after only moderate handling. Another chief offender when it comes to looseness is the peg that holds the crotch to the back of the plane in battroid. While this peg generally does its job well in the beginning (although there were some who noted a weakness immediately) some have found that after repeated transformation the peg doesn’t hold very well and have inserted a piece of paper in the slot in the back to help increase friction. The fixed-pose hands included with the original releases have a tendency of separating where the hand meets the armor plate on the back of the hand. Subsequent releases solved this problem by gluing the armor to the hand itself which might be something you should consider if you’re afraid of losing those little armor plates.
The extra parts included with the gift-sets compound the potential of chipping paint off the base toy. Recently there have also been complaints regarding hinges breaking within the VF-25S toy when displayed with the armored parts attached. Those breaks don’t seem to be an epidemic and it’s possible that they’re a result of rough transformation (and the transformation with armored parts can be very rough as the toy is quite gangly when fully decked out). My Michael VF-25G sample had one intake joint that made loud “clicks” as it moved while the other joint did not but both joints were perfectly stiff so there was no detriment to the experience. There were some complaints of Luca toys that did not have their full stripes painted on their wing-root armor. While my sample came fully and properly painted I did notice a swirl in the plastic likely caused by a heat variation during manufacture. Another paint flaw can be witnessed on the Tornado parts. On many Tornado gift-sets the right leg armor has the SMS painted upside-down (as can be noted in my pics).
Articulation: All Releases (7.5/10)
The articulation is not worthy of any raves but it’s definitely a sizable step-up from the chunky toys of yesteryear. The heads are on balls atop the neck so they can pivot in every direction, the hips are ball-joints with decent mobility (although hindered by their surroundings), the feet can pivot nicely in all directions when fully extended (you can also fully extend them, angle them, then retract them), and there’s even a waist joint (eat your heart out YF-19 toys). What you don’t get is a mid-leg swivel or a large range of movement at the knee which creates some minor difficulties for GERWALK mode. The shoulder design is on the wonky side and you can expect that any time you try to pose the arms you’re probably going to move the shoulders out of their proper positions (although you can just as easily push them back). If you don’t watch how you’re positioning the upper hips you may press against the swing bar which can cause paint rub and press the waist peg out causing the toy to fall (as pictured above the durability and build section).
The gift-sets all feature booster nozzles on ball-joints and opening bay doors. The super parts packaged with Michael, Luca, and the Alto Movie Version all have the downside of reducing knee mobility so it was tempting to score them a point lower here but I’ve already touched on that in the design section. On the flip side, it’s rather impressive what can be done with the Tornado VF-25F and the Armored VF-25S considering how bulky they look. Since I’ve already reduced the design score for the disaster the gift-sets are in GERWALK mode I won’t continue to bag on that here but suffice it to say if you like GERWALK you’ll want to use the included display stand.
Super Alto VF-25F Movie Version (32/50)
Now-a-days it goes without saying, although I’ve said it several times, that you shouldn’t get any V1 toy, instead you should look for the new V2 toys. If you have to buy just one V1 toy don’t get the Movie Super Version unless the blue-hue really attracts you. The tornado parts are much more impressive and include a VF-25F with the most accurate paint scheme to-date. If the tornado parts don’t do it for you and you really want a V1 super Alto then you should shop eBay for someone selling the anime accurate super parts before settling.
Standard Releases: (32/50)
Originally these toys scored slightly above average and I said “If you love the VF-25F and you aren’t a huge stickler for anime accuracy then this toy will likely satisfy your needs.” After these toys had been on the market for a half year or so there started being some very loud criticisms of the design and Bandai’s effort. Bandai proved they were listening to that criticism when they released their much improved VF-27 toys. The only other VF-25 toys available were Bandai’s Robot Soul battroid-only-toy (which is quite fun) and Bandai’s VF100 toy (which is not -fun). Then Bandai released the V2 VF-25 DX toy and it’s a true game changer planting this V1 toy in the history books as an obsolete first effort.
Gift-sets and Fold Version LE: (32.5-33/50)
The Fold LE definitely appealed to certain people and not others. If you don’t dig the look of it then it should be an easy pass for you. So, if you don’t dig the psychedelic pink VF-25 but you still want to own one V1 VF-25 toy and you only want the best one you have some decisions to make. The armored VF-25S looks huge, almost silly huge, which some people flock to and other people avoid. Michael’s VF-25G goes great with the Tamashii exclusive Galia IV parts so if you’re out to recreate that episode or some crazy mecha sniper scenes then you should consider picking up that toy. I love bright blue toys and have never been too huge of a stickler for toy realism. Luca’s DX toy may someday prove to be our modern Elintseeker collectable so that’s something you may want to consider… right up to the day they release a V2 version. I still haven’t seen the Macross Frontier movie, so I don’t know just how cool the Tornado parts are in action, but of all the accessory kits they’re currently my favorite. I expect some day we’ll see V2 variants of all the main VF-25 toys so if you’re weighing getting a V1 toy now or waiting for a V2 I would highly recommend you wait because the V2 toy really is that much better. For their part Bandai is trying to make a “collect ‘em all” phenomenon with the Tornado Parts by releasing a magazine ad that shows Alto’s VF-25F wearing various parts of different armor accessories to create new bundles.Macrossworld member Areaseven translated the ad (obviously first uploaded by toyworld.com.hk) as follows:
1. Tornado Wings + Armored Parts = Typhoon Messiah (upper left)
2. Tornado Wings + Super Parts = Lightning Messiah (upper right)
3. Tornado Parts + Super Parts + VF-27 Parts = Slash Messiah (lower left)
4. Armored Pack + Tornado Parts = Destroy Messiah (lower right)