Observations & Critique: Sound Boostah!
The Yamato Sound Booster comes in a package slightly smaller than the VF-19Kai toy but it’s otherwise extremely similar. The box is adorned with pictures of the toy in its various state, is made of incredibly thin cardboard, and houses a plastic clamshell in an interior cardboard tray that contains the following in addition to the toy:
1) Singing Basara pilot figure (for VF-19Kai toy’s cockpit)
2) Attachment for Yamato display stand
3) Attachment for Sound Booster to VF-19Kai toy in fighter mode
4) Stickers and instructions
The instructions are printed on matte paper and seem really cheap. I was hoping this toy would include some standing figures like a Mylene, Gamlin, etc. due to the ridiculous price range so I was a little let down by their absence (Arcadia later included those standing figures in their gift-set).
This toy was released in August 2011 with an MSRP of 10,280 Yen. The non-diehard Macross 7 fans who convinced themselves to buy the VF-19Kai at a very high MSRP because word got out how good that VF-19 toy was couldn’t bring themselves to spend all that extra scratch on this accessory. Just a few short months later retailers had already begun discounting this accessory and I suspect we might see further cuts in price before this accessory disappears from stores and gradually becomes a collector’s item (like Yamato’s 1/48 Stealth Super Parts). Arcadia re-issued this toy with gold accents instead of yellow ones as part of a gift-set that included the VF-19 (also with gold trim) and standing figures of Fire Bomber in 2014; again, demand seemed limited.
As you can see from the line art comparison, Yamato pretty much nailed the look. Getting the proportion right wasn’t the end of it. They used clear plastic parts for detail work and added painted mechanical details in numerous nooks and crannies. The sculpt, detail, and paint on this toy is phenomenal and is definitely the high point.
Where sculpt, detail, and paint is the strong point of this toy the engineering is the big letdown. First, Yamato concocted an unnecessary system of concealing the pegs that attach the toy to the battroid involving sliding trap doors that ultimately seem completely gratuitous since the pegs could simply have lied down and been flush with the exterior surface. While Yamato’s system works perfectly fine it’s over-the-top and makes you think Yamato worked hard to make this accessory as expensive as possible. It’s been pointed out to me that the sliding doors also serve as a lock to keep the pegs extended outward but even then, a detent in the peg’s mechanism would have served a similar purpose at a fraction of the complexity. To add insult to injury, the three little pegs that extend from this area do a poor job holding the backpack mode sound booster to the battroid toy (though this varies slightly from toy to toy). Yamato should have incorporated a way for the backpack toy to latch to the shoulders but since they didn’t the backpack easily slides out of its slots. Speaking of gratuitous gimmicks whose only purpose appears to be increasing the MSRP of this product, the top bays that open and swing outward feature little arms that rotate downward to lock the doors in place… but the doors stay in place perfectly fine without them. Since the sound booster doesn’t fair well in attaching in battroid you would hope it would do better in attaching in fighter… but it manages to do this worse. Word is that Yamato wasn’t going to have the sound booster attach at all in fighter mode and changed their minds at the last moment. The included attachment piece seems to attest to this. In this day and age of perfect transformation it was easy to forgive Bandai for using an attachment piece for their sound booster due to its much smaller scale but Yamato doesn’t seem to have an excuse. Sure, the attachment piece works well but I don’t want to have to track down parts when I transform my toys. Those complaints aside the toy does do some things well. The speakers and top bay doors do an excellent job concealing their opening mechanisms. The top antenna is also slick in the way it tucks back into the toy. There’s a black bar that comes down and fits on top of the battroid’s shoulder but I’m not really sure what it accomplishes.
This toy is constructed of plastic that feels thick and sturdy, much more so than Bandai’s much smaller Hi-Metal sound booster. The quality of construction is reassuring given the toy does have some small parts. I think you should be able to handle this toy with very little fear of damaging it, so long as you handle it properly.
At the end of the day, unless you’re a HUGE Macross7 fan then I don’t see a compelling reason to recommend this product. Yes, when attached to the VF-19Kai it does make a large and impressive display piece… but the VF-19Kai toy was already an excellent display place.
This review has been updated, an HD video review was added as well as reference to Arcadia’s reissue as part of their gift-set.
Original post date: December 27, 2011.