Mega Review (updated): Includes Alto, Focker 30th Anniversary, Isamu, Ozma, and Rod Types
Packaging & Extras: (4/5)
These toys come in basic boxes (23 x 36 x 11 cm) made of thin cardboard adorned with images of the toys within. There’s no flip-top lid nor original artwork. Inside, you’ll find the toy housed in a Styrofoam tomb covered with a cardboard lid. On top of that lid you’ll find a baggy with:
Baggies in Styrofoam tray include:
2) 3 pairs of fixed-pose hands (salute, gun grip, fists)
3) Dagger (original Alto version is all gray, all later releases are two-tone)
4) Removable pilot figure
5) Gun (expands, splits, and scope re-situates)
In an additional plastic clam shell you’ll also receive:
6) Display stand (Consisting of a base, an arm, a nosecone holder, a fighter adapter, a GERWALK adapter, and a battroid adapter)
Bandai didn’t paint the SMS logo on the base of the display stand for the 30th Anniversary release, maybe to drive home the fact it’s a non-canon paint scheme that did not appear in Macross Frontier, rrelated movies, or any video games. It’s a bummer that Bandai chose to make the rather insubstantial super parts a separate release instead of making this a bundle set and it would have been nice if they included hard plastic head lasers as an option for each release.
The third release in the line was Isamu’s custom sold as a Tamashii Web Exclusive (TWE). As with other TWE items, this toy came in a brown shipper. While some TWE items come in monochrome boxes, the Isamu box within the shipper looks like a standard retail release with full color. This toy comes with everything from the prior releases and makes these changes:
5) Gun (retains the functionality of regular releases but adds a sliding bayonet)
7) Extra head laser made of hard plastic (there’s a soft plastic head laser on the toy)
8) Gun attachment piece for fighter mode (optional)
All releases receive unique, color instruction booklets.
Rod’s YF-29 is like Isamu’s YF-29 but with a slightly different layout of the parts and, regrettably, no harder plastic replacement head lasers. Rod retains the gun with the bayonet but the extension for fighter mode moves from the display stand tray to the baggy with the fists/dagger/pilot (so Bandai could re-use the tray from the non Isamu releases). Rod should have received a NUNS display stand base (Bandai used it for various other Frontier toys) but curiously instead included an SMS display stand complete with painted lettering.
Charm & Collectability: (4.5/5)
This is a perfect transformation toy, in a common scale (31.5 cm long in fighter mode equates to 1/60 scale), has some metal parts (384 grams makes it heavier than the 354 grams of a classic 1/55 VF-1 or Transformers Jetfire), produced in low quantities, and was featured heroically in Macross media (excluding the Focker paint scheme which was commemorative of Macross’ 30th anniversary). Alto’s YF-29 was feature in the Frontier movie, the others in the Macross 30 video game. Bandai is releasing a Alto custom gift-set with improvements to the finish of the toy and the wing engine, hip, and ankle joints in October 2020 for 23,000¥. The elements are there for this to be a hot collectible. Alto’s version has been available three times and, in all instances, the preorder window was so fleeting, many didn’t realize it had even been made available. Bandai has released Tamashii exclusive super parts for all variants except the R.B. custom, look for my separate review of those parts. See the photo above for a complete list of releases.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
Bandai did an excellent job emulating the art and keeping it clean. With a couple minor exceptions, pre-painted detail abounds, and clear plastic inserts were used rather than painted plastic in numerous locations. From a shape and paint perspective, Bandai did an amazing job. There were only a few weaknesses I found. Though this was the first Bandai Macross toy to feature removable intake fan covers, Bandai could have made this more worthwhile by adding a bit of paint to the intake fans to make them pop. The drab cockpit also could have used some details and the missiles, tucked in various silos throughout the toy, aren’t very convincing. Though I have a sentimental affinity toward shiny plastics as they remind me of the toys of my youth, the collecting world would prefer any future reissues or ‘renewal’ versions be done with a matte finish.
While the VF-27 pilots were a vast improvement over the original VF-25’s stubby and permanently affixed pilots, the YF-29 pilot improves more with better proportions (although these pilots still fell short of the Yamato/Arcadia pilots of the time). Bandai went the extra mile in making a new pilot mold for the RB custom Perceval since he has a different helmet than the others.
The yellow trim on the Focker scheme 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 without consideration of the canvas they were applying the paints to. Some people love this scheme, others do not. It is clearly a scheme that is simply “inspired by” the original Focker scheme rather than an attempt to recreate it on a new vehicle.
The tan used for the Isamu toy is easily my least favorite Isamu color. The combination of high shine plastic with THAT tan is awful and I must not be alone since this seems to be the least popular high-end Isamu toy. In an homage to his YF-19, Isamu’s YF-29 has a modified, one central laser, style head.
Ozma received a unique head that seems to be an homage to Samurai helmets (though there’s also something pirate-y about it). The only negative of this head is that it seems an odd fit in fighter mode where it looks more like a hump than the other heads do. The grays are darker here than they are on his VF-25S. The placement of the skull on top of the swing bar for the integrated cannons on the back of the plane is unfortunate.
Rod’s paint scheme is gorgeous. The orange visor on the head gives the Perceval a truly menacing look. Though his plane has a new name, there are no physical differences between the Perceval toy and the Durandal (in universe, I believe the Perceval was the second phase of the prototype frame with improved avionics).
This toy followed Bandai’s original DX VF-25 toys and represents a DRAMATIC improvement over them. Positives include:
1) Ability to attach the gun in fighter mode without extra parts (though an optional part is included with bayonet guns to allow them to sit flatter in fighter mode)
2) Opening cockpit with removable pilot figure
3) Option to convert the cockpit to a two-seat configuration by removing the second seat cover and lifting the seat up
4) Integrated landing gear with spinning wheels, rubber tires, and an articulated two bar on the lead gear
5) Removable intake fan covers to expose intake fan detail
6) Integrated GERWALK mode support for the back half of the plane (V1 VF-25 toys had issues with the back drooping)
7) Ability to mount the gun to the GERWALK support so the toy can have two free hands and the gun mounted
8) Integrated, articulated hands that can remain on the toy throughout transformation (though the saluting hands do fit better for fighter mode). V1 VF-25 toys needed to swap hands for transformation.
9) Collapsing shield support so the shield sits tighter on the arm than it did on V1 VF-25 toys
10) Integrated dagger storage area in the shield
11) Integrated missile bays in the leg that pivot and open
12) Integrated missile bays in the shoulders
13) Integrated cannons that can be lifted up, extended, and pivot in any mode
14) Articulated thrusters (mid-wing and feet)
15) Ability to pivot the wing-mounted engines
It’s hard to quantify just how tremendous of a leap forward this toy was from the V1 VF-25 toy. Transformation mechanisms at the pelvis and shoulders work much better on the YF-29 and lead to a more satisfying experience. The pelvis on the V1 toy connects via a single plastic peg, the crotch area is too large and it doesn’t achieve the proper angle, on the YF-29 the area is better proportioned, achieves the appropriate angle, and connects via two metal pegs on either side for a much sturdier connection. Unfortunately, the GERWALK 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 that functioned exactly as it should. Though the landing gear are all improvements over the V1 toys, the front landing gear on the first Alto version (fixed for later releases) can swing back too far instead of stopping perpendicular. The only real issue I found annoying was the shield’s inability to stay on in fighter mode. The connection mechanism is insufficient to latch it into place… I was happy to find that it did connect quite solidly in GERWALK and battroid modes.
The Isamu and Rod toys come with guns that have bayonets and an extra extension for attaching that gun in fighter mode. The traditional attachment works but angles the gun downward a bit. With the extension, the gun moves a little farther back and achieves more clearance to be flatter. On the Isamu toy, the head laser interferes with the range of movement of the cannons in fighter mode as they can’t be swung all the way forward. 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.
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. There are no adjustments in regards to height, angle, or direction the toy is pointing. Fun fact: the Isamu/Rod display stand differs from the other display stands; 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.
WordPress is bugging out but here were a couple other YF-29 videos I made back in the day (copy the URL since the embed is broke):
Alto and 30th anniversary: https://youtu.be/fWlEj-w_Lfo
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 those hinges. This is more problematic than it may at first sound because it seems like the wings should pull back further behind the battroid. The common paint-chipping issues that have plagued all DX toys are still present but these problems as expected on any line of complex toys with a fair quantity of paint. Like the V1 VF-25 ball joints in the hips, the hips on the Durandal/Perceval do get loose even with gentle handling. Generally, a twist of a screw or the application of a touch of white glue will help resolve problems with loose joints. However, most these tightening fixes are temporary so it can be annoying to constantly tighten the toy after finding it fell down in your display case. One very difficult to tighten joint 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, 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 lacks. Maybe because it was a little cheaper, maybe it was just because I prefer the design, but I found the YF-29 to be more fun to handle. The new Tornado-pack-esque guns add to the fun, GERWALK stays together and poses nicely, and battroid is very dynamic. The YF-29 showed us that the DX line had a very bright future despite a rocky start (the V1 VF-25 toys). 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.
Original post date: August 2011
November 11, 2013: included HD battroid to fighter transformation guide.
February 25, 2013: included Focker release, added HD video review, and HD transformation guide.
July 9, 2014: included Ozma release.
January 17, 2014: included Isamu release.
September 21, 2015: included RB custom release.
May 14, 2020: added 4K images and updated content.