Mega Review (updated): Includes Alto, Focker 30th Anniversary, Isamu, Ozma, and Rod Types
Packaging & Extras: (4/5)
The Tamashii exclusive Isamu variant comes in the standard brown Tamashii shipper which houses the true box inside. All boxes (excluding that brown shipper) are attractive without being overly gaudy but don’t feature any slick new art that collectors seem to really enjoy. There’s no flip-top lid but that’s becoming a rarity on the higher end Macross toys. So what does your hard earned cash get you aside from the toy itself?
1) Gun (expands, splits, and scope re-situates). Isamu’s and Rod Baltemar’s guns feature a sliding bayonet.
2) 3 sets of fixed-pose hands
4) Display stand (similar to previous DX stands, base is not painted on Focker’s release, the R.B. custom oddly comes with a painted SMS base though the valk was not used by SMS, it was a NUNS fighter)
5) Removable pilot figure
7*) Gun attachment piece (Isamu and RB releases only)
8*) Replacement head laser (Isamu release only)
For a perfect score Bandai should have included the super parts… sadly they opted to make an extra buck by making those a Tamashii exclusive even though there isn’t much to them. For the toys with the standard YF-29 head, a set of ABS replacement head lasers would have been much appreciated given how many of the PVC lasers are warped in the box.
Charm & Collectability: (4.5/5)
The original three regular release variants of this toy sold like hot cakes with preorders being very difficult to come by. The Alto reissue sold out so quickly some wondered if it had happened at all. The preorders for the Focker reissue indicated another rapid sell-out was imminent. The Focker scheme is a special product to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the airing of the original SDF Macross show. Only the Alto custom, to date, has appeared in any animation. The Isamu, Ozma, and R.B. customs appear only in the Macross 30 video game. Sales were so brisk for the original Alto toy that Bandai gave a green light to the V2 VF-25 project and these YF-29 toys should absolutely be considered the first release of the ‘renewal’ era. All the elements are here for this toy remaining a solid collectible as well. The toy features perfect transformation (you don’t even have to swap out the hands), has good metal content, and all are one-off variants that seem unlikely to get lots of production runs. I still find it kind of amazing it got a production run at all. Bandai has released or announced Tamashii exclusive super parts for all variants (except the most recent R.B. custom) so for those of you who missed the boat maybe you’ll luck out and Bandai will produce a bundled gift-set down the road… but I wouldn’t bank on it.
Alto Custom, June 2011, 17,000 yen (before tax)
Alto Custom, May 2012, 17,000 yen (before tax) – reissue
Focker Custom, October 2012, 17,000 yen (before tax)
Focker Custom, March 2013, 17,000 yen (before tax) – reissue
Isamu Custom, December 2013, 17,850 yen (after tax) Tamashii exclusive for Japanese residents
Ozma Custom, May 2014, 17,000 yen (before tax)
R.B. Custom, July 2015, 17,000 yen (before tax)
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
This might be too high a score considering I haven’t been able to get my hands on good CG art to compare the toy to. From what I can tell, the sculpt looks to be accurate. The paint jobs are sophisticated and Bandai did an excellent job emulating the art and keeping it clean. There’s lots of pre-painted detail and clear plastic inserts were used rather than painted plastic in numerous locations. While the VF-27 pilots were a vast improvement over the original VF-25 stubby and permanently affixed pilot, the YF-29 marks yet another improvement reducing the puffiness of the figure (although these pilots still don’t compete with Yamato/Arcadia pilots). It was nice to see Bandai made a new pilot mold for the RB custom Perceval since he has a different helmet than the others. There are some weaknesses. There are no stickers included with the toy to decorate the drab gray cockpit. Once revealed, the missiles inside their trap compartments don’t look missile-like. For the first time on the DX line Bandai has given us removable intake shields that expose turbine detail but the turbine could have used a bit of metallic paint to make it stand out. The yellow trim on the Focker scheme also looks a bit bright and there are some white details painted on white plastic… as if the factory filled the trim paints with the exact same paints used on Alto.
This toy represents a DRAMATIC improvement over the version 1 VF-25 toys. With the notable exception of the toys that come with guns that have bayonets, the gun attaches via the sides of the arms in fighter mode, there’s no longer a requirement for an additional gun attaching piece or the need to pull something up from inside the toy to grab the gun. The Isamu and RB variants do come with an additional gun clip due to the height of the bayonet causing the gun to angle when attached via the standard mechanism. In my experience, if you don’t mind a slightly downward angle, this part is completely optional. The attachment part moves the gun further toward the rear of the plane where there’s more clearance for the bayonet. You can attach these toys to the display stands with the gun attached (either with or without the additional piece for the Isamu toy). The cockpit features two seats, nearly big enough to fit two full sized pilots, and the second seat stows and can be concealed. All landing gears have been revised from the V1 VF-25 toy to provide additional clearance and the front landing gear has a separate tow-bar piece. As previously mentioned, there are now removable intake covers that reveal turbine detail. GERWALK mode now has a built in support mechanism that left me with no fear that the back of the toy would stay up in this mode and, as an added bonus, the mechanism can hold the gun in GERWALK mode. Unfortunately, the support part on the first run Alto toy proved inadequate when Bandai released the super parts. As such, Bandai increased the thickness of the support arm for the 30th Anniversary Focker paint scheme and the end result is a support arm that functions exactly as it should. The toy comes with articulated hands installed which can be left on throughout transformation and hold the gun well. The shield is also an improvement over the original VF-25 toy, it now features a compartment to store the knife and a collapsing back portion that allows it to lay flatter against the forearm. Transformation has improved with more solid movement of the shoulders which seems to keep them tighter to the body and there’s less give when moving the arms. The original VF-25’s waist plug mechanism which attached the pelvis of the battroid to the back has been revised, now using two metal prongs which allows the pelvis to jut forward like it does in the anime and seems to provide a more solid connection at the same time. Unique to the YF-29 are built in missile pods on the sides of the legs and in the shoulders, all of which are integrated very well and feature opening panels. The YF-29 also has built in guns similar to the VF-25’s Tornado Parts that are integrated into the back of fighter and pop up, extend, and rotate in what is probably the coolest fighter mode gimmick I’ve seen in quite some time. Unfortunately, on the Ozma variant the swing bar for these guns runs right through Ozma’s skull tramp stamp. On the Isamu toy the head laser interferes with the range of movement of the guns a little bit as they can’t be swung all the way forward in fighter mode. The issue created by Isamu’s head laser is easily overcome by not pulling the guns all the way forward and leaving them standing taller away from the plane. Speaking of heads, the head design for the Ozma custom also causes a hump in the back of fighter and GERWALK modes I wasn’t a fan of. The engines on the wings feature articulated exhaust nozzles (like the VF-27). Everything isn’t quite perfect though. The front landing gear can swing way back at an extreme angle instead of stopping perpendicular. The only real issue I found at all annoying though was the shield’s ability to stay on in fighter mode. The connection mechanism that is there is insufficient to really latch it into place… I was happy to find that it did connect quite solidly in GERWALK and battroid modes. The display stand included with these toys is very reminiscent of the original V1 VF-25 display stand… which is to say it’s nothing special. You have no adjustments you can make while using the stand in regards to height, angle, or direction the toy is pointing. Fun fact, the Isamu display stand is slightly different from the previous VF-25 display stands in that the screw that connected the fighter mode front attachment piece has been removed by a peg/slot as to avoid conflicting with the gun’s bayonet.
Durability & Build: (7.5/10)
There’s one thing that is proving to be a concern for the early adopters: the wings attach via hinges to the main body and they lack a stopper mechanism. Anyone who tries to sweep the wings further back than they naturally go will quickly break or stress mark those hinges. This is more problematic than it may at first sound in that it seems like the wings should pull back further behind the battroid. The common paint-chipping issues that have plagued all DX toys will still be present here but these problems are persistent on any line of toys that uses a fair quantity of painted surfaces. Like the V1 ball joints in the hips, the hips on the Durandal do seem to get loose even with very gentle handling. Generally a twist of a screw or the application of a touch of white glue will help resolve the problems with loose joints. However, most these tightening fixes prove temporary and so it can be very annoying to constantly tighten the toy after finding it fell down in your display case. One joint that seems very difficult to tighten up is the hinge at that holds the shoulder mechanism up. It looks like you’d have to remove the mechanism and then remove a pin to get at the area that needs additional tension. On my Isamu toy it looks like this area got loose quickly due to some flash on the pieces of plastic that are supposed to be pressed firmly together. Unique to the dark plastic of the Ozma toy were issues with stress marks on the wing hinges. MacrossWorld member Saburo was able to reduce stress mark issues on his toy using a hairdryer, see pic below. Not all toys come with these stress marks but it’s definitely something to be concerned about and if you’re buying one second hand you should ask for a photo of this potential problem spot. Another issue to be on the lookout for is bent head lasers. Particularly my RB custom had very curved lasers right out of the box. Similar to Saburo’s stress mark fix, heating up the head lasers (not to the point of melting them) seems to go a long way in straightening them back out.
Ball joints are placed in all the right spots. The hips, head, and ankles use ball joints. The knees offer a wide range of motion and have a swivel. The shoulders rotate around and there’s another rotation point at the bicep. The elbows have a double-joint allowing the toy to reach up toward it’s shoulders. The waist joint has limited mobility but it’s there. The YF-29 design is a little gangly which makes getting some poses a little difficult but it’s not for lack of points of articulation.
Total Score: (44/50)
The Alto toy came out just after Yamato’s phenomenal VF-19Kai toy leaving many people to have to decide between one or the other. Both toys are fantastic so there was no wrong decision to be made. The VF-19Kai toy has a level of refinement the DX toy doesn’t come close to. That said, the Kai had a much higher MSRP and that made it a little less fun to handle (for fear of damaging such an expensive purchase). The YF-29, on the other hand, is a ton of fun to handle. The new Tornado-pack-esque guns add to the fun, GERWALK stays together and poses nicely, and battroid is very dynamic. Obviously the Kai’s clowny look made it an easy pass for many collectors while the YF-29 has broader appeal. The YF-29 showed us that the DX line had a very bright future despite a somewhat rocky start. The subsequent Focker, Isamu, Ozma, and RB releases have not disappointed. I mentioned MacrossWorld member Saburo earlier, below are a few more pictures he snapped of the YF-29 Ozma Custom. Check out his flickr account here for lots more great shots.
Note: This review was updated July 9, 2014 to include content about the Ozma release.
Note: This review was updated January 17, 2014 to include content about the Isamu release.
Note: This review was updated November 11, 2013 to include an HD battroid to fighter transformation guide.
Note: This review was updated February 25, 2013 to include content on the Focker release, an HD video review, and an HD transformation guide.
Note: This review was updated September 21, 2015 to include content on the RB custom release.
Original post date: August 2011