Review(updated): Now includes all variants!
Packaging & Extras: (3.5/5) +1.5 for Arcadia Giftset
Yamato toys shipped in a paper thin cardboard box adorned with bad art surrounding a picture of the battroid mode toy. I assumed Yamato had done their research and determined people really don’t care that much about the box so long as it’s obvious what’s inside but then Arcadia rose from Yamato’s ashes and produced a giftset that featured the collector’s-style flip-top lid. The VF-19 boxes were smaller for Yamato than their previous bloated efforts. Beware, these toys do have a tendency of coming with a fair amount of mold release (a film of grease) on the plastic, particularly where packaging material was in direct contact with the merchandise. Expect to give the toy a good wipe down with a cloth when you first remove it from the packaging. The package contains the following:
2) A very robust sticker sheet (specific to each type of VF-19 toy)
3) A very nicely sculpted and painted pilot figure (Basara for the Kai, Docker for the 19S/F, and a different Basara for the 19P)
4) Filler pieces for the back of the legs (optional)
5) Filler piece for behind the neck in fighter and GERWALK modes (fairly necessary)
6) Optional shield for battroid mode
7) Yamato launch arm display stand connector pieces
8) Gun (19Kai’s gun has removable magazine, sliding stock, and front angled piece that can be recessed, 19S/F/P gun has a recessing barrel, removable magazine, and removable hammer section)
9) Optional less clowny face (19Kai only), Shoulder speaker pylons (19P only)
Obviously at this price you’d want a display stand and maybe some fun extras like a standing Basara figure… or something. I’m glad they didn’t go overboard with the extras since this toy is already expensive but as it is I do feel like they may have skimped a bit. Word from those that like to apply the stickers on their toys is that these stickers, while impressive in their volume, are of poor quality and will not look good once applied to the toy without loads of extra work. As you would expect, the Arcadia gift-set has a lot more good stuff in the box:
1) Sound Booster
2) Fighter mode attachment for Sound Booster
3) Attachment to connect the Sound Booster to a Yamato Launch Arm display stand
4) Singing Basara Pilot Figure
5) 4x standing figures of the band
With exception of the band members, all of those extras are what you would get if you purchased the standalone Yamato Sound Booster. Since Arcadia reused the inner tray from the Yamato release, the band members are thrown in the box in little plastic baggies under all the trays.
Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
Charm for these will likely vary largely by type. I’m going a hair above average here because this toy is so nice that some people who might usually pass on Macross7 valks (one looks straight out of a McDonald’s cartoon) may purchase it just to have such a nice piece. Here’s a list of the releases:
Yamato VF-19Kai Fire, May of 2011, MSRP 22,000 YEN
Yamato VF-19S Blazer, November 2011, 22,000 YEN
Yamato VF-19F, August 2012, 22,000 YEN
Yamato VF-19P, December 2012, 22,000 YEN
Arcadia VF-19Kai + Sound Booster Gift-set, September 2014, 34,800 YEN
The 19S,F,and P are less silly looking but obviously they’re no where near as iconic. There’s more metal here than on most of Yamato’s previous releases which will likely make it more appealing. This score would probably be lower outside of Japan where Macross 7 usually isn’t considered very good.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
This toy does extremely well considering the copious quantities of anime-magic involved in this pre-CGI transformation. Rather than lavish it with praise about just how nearly perfect it is it’d be quicker for me to point out its very few shortcomings:
1) It’s probably impossible for any toy to ever be as chunky as Kawamori’s battroid art for the VF-19. The Yamato attempt is no exception but I’d guess Yamato got as close as anyone could and the inclusion of the optional shield for battroid was a nice touch. Some people have complained the feet are far too small but I would lump that in here… not necessarily because the feet couldn’t be bigger but because the bigger feet go better with the chunkier line art. While you can see some big diversions from the line art, especially in the VF-19S battroid comparison, it’s hard to imagine those battroid modes somehow transforming into fighter mode. Just the same, if a new VF-19 comes out a decade from now I wouldn’t be surprised if improvements are made.
2) Could there be more painted on detail on this toy? Sure but I suspect Yamato was wise in letting owners decide what level of detail they want since there isn’t a preponderance of art showing the canon and correct extra detail that wasn’t animated (to my knowledge).
3) The backs of the hands are the wrong color on the 19Kai toy (thanks to MacrossWorld for pointing that one out).
4) There’s a big hump in front of the face which causes a big gap. There’s also a gappy looking area under the uni-boob. This is one of those odd areas where you’ll be astounded by how well engineered the product is but then you’ll look at the area on the extremely simple Bandai Hi-Metal toy and note that things actually came together a bit cleaner there.
5) The shielded intakes on the hips are too large (but now I’m having to nitpick)
A nice added touch on the VF-19P toy is a barely visible 19Kai face on the back of the green face plate. For those who don’t like the idea, it’s really hard to see it. For those who were always perplexed by how the 19P grew a 19Kai face after being doused in whale blood… well, this doesn’t answer that… but it’s neat none-the-less. The 19P also features interior landing gear bays that are painted teal and gray landing gears (rather than the standard white).
First we’ll go over the highlights and then I’ll touch on the things that make it fall short of perfect:
1) Integrated landing gears complete with slide out mechanisms to allow the doors to open completely and conceal the hinge. Landing gears also slide outward to lock into place. Tires are rubber and spin. Front landing gear features a tow-bar.
2) Canopy opens and cockpit accommodates separate pilot figure. Pilot’s seat rotates during transformation and the pilot can be seen via a trap door in battroid mode.
3) Transformation has been improved over the YF-19 toy. Parts lock firmly into place in all modes. Head is nicely concealed in fighter mode which is no small feat since the head on the VF-19Kai and VF-19S is huge when one considers the big fin, side lasers, and where the head is stowed.
4) Gun has a number of mechanisms allowing it to be attached in fighter mode without the use of any removable parts. A slight negative is that the gun is pointed somewhat downward in fighter mode.
5) Shoulders conceal speaker detail which is easily revealed in battroid mode (19Kai toy only)
6) Legs conceal missiles which can be maneuvered to appear to be launching from the leg cavity in battroid mode (all variants).
7) The use of metal is intelligent. It reinforces the toy’s spine and ankles (and probably some other joints I didn’t notice). It’s not just metal content for the sake of metal content. Slots for attaching the optional sound booster accessory is built into the metal spine.
7) Face can be easily replaced and both faces locking firmly in place (VF-19Kai only).
1) The toy requires an optional part in fighter and GERWALK modes to conceal the battroid mode’s neck.
2) There are no removable intake covers to expose turbine detail. I’m told this was discussed internally at Yamato but the decision was made to forego this detail since the focus of this toy’s design was battroid mode and the designers were able to incorporate more articulation in the hip by not having the turbines.
3) While GERWALK mode locks together nicely the range of motion at the GERWALK joint and in the ankles make it so this mode nearly requires a stand. Trying to over-extend the GERWALK joint would quickly break the joint and trying to angle the feet forward renders the ball joint in the ankle very loose very quickly. I’ve come up with a cheat that makes the mode not so bad for me though, see the picture above.
Durability & Build: (8/10)
This was really hard for me to score since I broke a little tab on my VF-19Kai on the first transformation. Had anyone told me to be careful of this tab I highly doubt the break would have happened so it doesn’t feel right to bring the score down here too low. So, consider yourself warned. When transforming to GERWALK do not pull the joint out too far. This can be tough on your first transformation because the joint is very stiff. Just go one click at a time and know the joint doesn’t go quite as far out as it does on some other valkyrie toys. Also, don’t manhandle a GERWALK toy to get a really aggressive pose. Kawamori’s vision for the 19 in GERWALK mode has always struck me as an afterthought so for this toy’s durability I recommend just skipping GERWALK mode entirely… you won’t be missing much. Other than that one issue this toy feels extremely sturdy. Some people might take issue with some of the color matching in the reds or blues as the painted parts don’t look quite the same as the plastic ones. The quality of the plastic seems a step above Bandai’s DX toys which frequently have dark and light color swirls within the shiny plastic. Since posting this review a number of early adopters have had the ankles on their toys go loose. I’m told the ankle’s ball joint features a plastic hemisphere coupled with a metal hemisphere which is a step up from an all metal ball joint but it’s apparently not enough to prevent loosening over time. To keep the joint from becoming completely sloppy it’s highly recommended you don’t try to point the tow or heel downward. The ankle seems to be designed to allow massive amounts of camber/toe but not very much tilt forward/back. This can be very frustrating in GERWALK mode where more ankle mobility might have made that mode more fun without a stand. The 19S/F/P ankle is made of entirely unpainted metal and the rod leading to the ball joint no longer has an indent toward the rear. I suspect the no-paint approach was Yamato’s effort to help increase the amount of movement the ankle can handle before it starts loosening. The lack of an indent might mean Yamato changed types of metal for their second release but I think it’s more likely just a case of different parts being available at a latter construction date. One last item that has been getting criticism is the razor thin back edges of the VF-19 toys’ wings. The edges are so thin and sharp you could slice cheese with them and this has led to a lot of fear that the wings will get knicked in the normal process of transformation. Some people have also complained about minor warping of the wings because they are so thin. One final note, the head lasers on these toys feel like they’re made of ABS to me (although hopefully I’m wrong and they’re POM). You should use caution around the head lasers, especially the “blazer” valkyrie (19S) which has very thin guns up top that are also exposed in fighter.
This may be the first toy I’ve reviewed that is actually easy to pose on one foot in battroid mode (if your ankles don’t go loose that is). The new ankles are an absolute joy when tight. The arms also feature a clever mechanism to simulate a full elbow joint (it’s kind of like the arm has two elbows which makes a lot of fun poses possible). So why not a perfect score? The head isn’t on a ball-joint so it can’t be cocked (although it does swivel both up and down), obviously there’s no back articulation or waist. I don’t know that I’ll ever give a transformable toy a perfect score here so this is probably as good as it gets. I would have also liked for the articulated hands to have been able to look like they were holding the barrel of the gun.
Total Score: (42/50)
So for those of you taking notes, this toy does score several points higher than Bandai’s Hi-Metal effort. Of course, the Hi-Metal toy is roughly 1/3 the price of this bad boy and I think it still nicely fills a niche as an affordable and fun alternative to this extravagant luxury item. Honestly though, I did’t feel like Yamato was flogging me too much with the MSRP. Sure, I hated to pay it, particularly given the terrible exchange rate we had at the time, but when I saw how far advanced this is from Yamato’s old 1/48 VF-1 toys, and I remember buying them at their MSRP, things made sense. I certainly feel that this is a better purchase than Yamato’s very good 1/3000 SDF-1 toy that was released. Fresh out of the box these toys can be EXTREMELY tight. Transformation might seem like a real pain the first time through. After the second or third things will become a little better but even my most heavily handled toy (the 19Kai) feels as tight as I would want it to. If you already own a Yamato VF-19Kai and Soundbooster the Arcadia version doesn’t seem to offer enough for me to recommend another purchase.
NOTE: This review has been updated
April 29, 2015: Added pictures and content relating to Arcadia’s VF-19Kai + Soundbooster giftset
November 30, 2011: Included pictures and content regarding Yamato’s VF-19S Emerald force toy.
April 8, 2013: Added an HD Video review, a transformation guide, and content on the 19F and 19P.
Original post: May 25th, 2011