Review(updated): A New Hope AKA “renewal version” (includes VF-25F, VF-25S, and VF-25G)
Packaging & Extras: (4.5/5)
If this toy came in a beefier box with a flip-top collector’s lid to it than I very likely would have given it a perfect score. I would have ignored the flimsiness of the box and given it a perfect score if the toy came bundled with super parts. As it is, you do get some nice extras:
2) Removable pilot figure
3) Gun (with collapsing stock), note: Ozma’s gun is a non-canon dark metallic gray. Michael’s gun features pop out supports and mock pump action.
4) 3x Pairs of fixed-posed hands (6 hands total)
6) Smaller co-pilot figure (Ozma and Michael only)
7) EX armor figure with Base and black wire to connect figure to base (Alto only). Grappling hooks (Michael only).
8) ABS head lasers (Ozma and Michael only)
9) Display stand for DX toy
You’ll note that there are no stickers included with the toy; the idea being that all the detail you could need has already been painted on. I felt either a few stickers or some more detail could have been added for the cockpit area but that’s probably a discussion for a different section. The Ozma toy was the first toy released with that sleek Macross 30th anniversary logo. The grappling hooks included with the Michael release open and close.
Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
Bandai seems to be inflating the score in this section with their recent releases by keeping production runs down. If you don’t believe me, try finding a YF-29 Alto or VF-25S in stock somewhere. The version 1 DX VF-25 toys originally sold beginning December 2008 were hot sellers for Bandai. Whereas those toys retailed for an MSRP of 12,000 YEN we do see some price inflation on these “renewal” toys which went on sale in October 2011 with an MSRP of 14,000 YEN (although your extra 2,000 Yen did get you a display stand). The upward creeping price didn’t keep fans away and most stores saw all variants sell out (although it took Michael’s VF-25G a bit longer to disappear). Will more be produced down the road? If the version 1 toy is any indication than yes, you should have lots of opportunities to get yourself one. On that note, Bandai has a reissue of the VF-25F hitting stores July 2013. Bandai released the VF-25S Ozma Custom variant in January 2012. Super parts and armor parts for these toys were available exclusively through Tamashii. Word on the street is that the Tornado parts will ultimately also be released directly through Tamashii as well but that could just be speculation based on what we saw with the V1 toys . As you should expect, accessories for the version 1 toys do not work properly with version 2 toys since the version 2 toys are completely different toys.
Sculpt, Detail, & Build: (9.5/10)
It is almost uncanny how well Bandai nailed it. When the version 1 toy came out in 2008 there were a lot of grumblings from fans who felt the transition from CGI to toy should have been straight forward but had clearly been botched. At the time, I felt the version 1 shortcomings in emulating the art must have been sacrifices to build a sturdy toy since the line art can look very thin at times. It’s clear to see now that I was wrong, emulating the line art nearly perfectly was possible, Bandai just needed some time and some feedback to their first effort to figure it out. With the combined experiences from Bandai’s DX VF-25 V1, DX VF-27, and DX YF-29 they now have the required expertise. If there’s one item that still stands out as not being quite right it’s that the hips are still just a tiny bit north of where they ought to be. From a detail perspective, it would have been nice if the turbines were painted and if more paint had been applied to the pilot and cockpit.
Here’s a straight forward list of all the improvements over the V2 toy although some of these more appropriately belong in the sculpt/detail section:
1) Landing gears are larger and more properly detailed. Front landing gear has articulated tow bar, rear landing gears lock in place and can be removed without partially transforming the toy.
2) Leg fins angle out properly and are a much better size (although this makes them poke out the back of the leg when in battroid/GERWALK)
3) Pilot figure is removable
4) Area behind pilot in cockpit can be converted into a second seat which can fit the Ranka figure (included with Ozma)
5) Intake covers are removable to expose turbine detail
6) Gun attaches in fighter mode without an additional part
7) Gun locks opened/closed and has a groove in the handle to help keep it in the hand
8) Fighter mode: head integrates more smoothly into the back
9) Fighter mode: legs sit higher
10) Fighter mode: nose doesn’t angle down as much
11) Fighter mode: blue parts in the nose are now blue plastic instead of paint
12) Wings no longer peg into the legs, instead the pegs attach at the side of the leg improving fit and ease of transformation
13) Articulated hands can now be stowed in fighter mode with a latch that collapses allowing the shield to hug the arm tighter in GERWALK and Fighter modes
14) Shield can hold dagger
15) Shoulder assembly is improved, transformation is easier, and shoulders maintain their position better
16) An additional joint has been added allowing the arm to move away from the body at the shoulder improving articulation
17) Legs now extend revealing a twisting articulation point at the knee, this allows the hips to remain locked to the fuselage in GERWALK mode which lends far more stability to that mode as well as increasing overall articulation
18) Arms now extend allowing the elbows a further range of articulation
19) GERWALK support has been added with the ability to hold the gun
20) Neck area is on a Z joint allowing it to extend further up placing the head further up in battroid mode
21) New pelvis latch mechanism has been added moving the hips lower down and allowing the pelvis to angle out properly (like the YF-29)
So are there still some areas that could be improved? Yes. While the plate the neck sits on has been improved the transformation to battroid still feels a little sloppy.
Durability & Build: (7/10)
The same issues that have plagued all DX Frontier toys will rear their ugly head here again. First, joints will get loose. Word is that the joints are improved over the version 1 toy but there have already been complaints about joints getting loose. Of particular concern are the shoulder joints. Generally if the joints become too problematic and start hampering your enjoyment of the toy then you can tighten them up by inserting some friction (try clear nail polish or tape on the ball). The head lasers on the Ozma toys seem to be universally loose, regardless of whether or not you use the installed PVC guns or the supplied ABS guns. While loose they are still manageable and the same tricks you would used to tighten any ball joint can be used on these. It is nice that Bandai supplied both rubbery PVC guns and more rigid (but more fragile) ABS guns for people who were turned off by the floppier look of the PVC guns. The second big problem is paint that can be chipped off. Transformation is usually when the paint is at its most vulnerable as the toy’s design tends to keep sharp edges away from the paint when the toy arrives in any of its final three modes. Michael’s grappling hooks connect at a spot of the toy where there is no paint so you can attach these extras without fear. There is a new concern in the form of the sharp points located on the inside of the knee which can be easily bent while articulating the toy. If the knees are fully extended they can be swiveled and bent at will without danger but if you’re attempting a daring pose and the knee is no longer at full extension then the edges are in danger. Of concern of the Ozma toy in particular, some owners have noted inconsistency in the tones of gray used (generally, in the tone of the lighter gray color). On my sample the light gray paint seems reasonably consistent but my pictures and experience with the toy was all under fluorescent lights so maybe the type of light shining on the toy affects how visible any differences are. I was a bit let down that the gray used on the knee joint isn’t the same gray used along the interior side of the leg but it’s not hugely noticeable unless you’re looking at the toy close up (check the last pic in this review to see if it bothers you).
I’ll do my best to show off just how good this toy is in the video review. The range of motion on each joint is superb and every joint you could need is present. For a transforming toy, I don’t think articulation could really get any better.
Total Score: (43.5/50)
I gave the YF-29 a slightly higher score because the knees didn’t look like they were as prone to damage and because I enjoyed the integrated missiles and tornado-like guns. Obviously the VF-25 has more global appeal than the YF-29 (since the 25 was in far more shows). I know some would argue against considering the YF-29 a better toy because the YF-29 has a less fluid transformation, particularly where the shoulder parts are concerned, when the toy is being transformed from battroid to fighter. I produced a list of over 20 improvements over the version 1 toy so yes, this is a significant upgrade. If you’re a fan of Macross Frontier, buy this toy. Could a better VF-25 toy be made? Maybe…. but i really doubt it’d be at this price point.
Note: This review has been updated on May 13, 2013 to include the VF-25G release and a new HD video showing the differences between the original toys and the renewal releases.
Note: This review was updated on January 25, 2012 to reflect the release of the DX VF-25S Ozma Lee custom. Originally posted on November 21, 2011.