Review: What dreams may come
Packaging & Extras: (4/5)
The box measures 36x23x11 centimeters making it a little deeper box than the VF-171 toys and a little less deep than the V2 RVF-25 but otherwise the same. In keeping with Bandai’s trend since the first YF-29 release, there is no fancy artwork on the box and no flip-top collector’s lid. Inside the box there’s a Styrofoam tray that holds the majority of the toy and accessories, a plastic tray that holds the stand and braces, and a plastic pouch for the instructions. Here’s a breakdown of everything beyond the YF-30:
2) Display stand: Base, arm, 5 connector pieces (2 for fighter, 1 for GERWALK, 2 for battroid)
3) GERWALK brace
4) Battroid brace
5) 2x Pairs of fixed posed hands, 1 x pair of articulated hands
6) 2x Replacement head lasers (ABS)
7) Gun (with opening and scope gimmicks)
8) Pilot Figure (already in cockpit)
I must admit, I’ve never played Macross 30 so I don’t know if there’s anything missing from this package that gamers would feel ought to be here. From my perspective, it’s a competent package without any bonuses to make you say “ooh neat!” The toy comes with a set of fixed-pose hands in the knife-hand position already installed which is a little peculiar since the articulated hands fit just fine.
Charm & Collectability: (3.5/5)
As with any toy hot off the presses, time will tell what the actual score is here. Released in August 2014 for 20,000 YEN, it was the most expensive Macross DX toy since the first YF-29 ushered in the “V2” era in June 2011. Some of that expense may relate to how infrequently Bandai expects to use this mold although there are other paint schemes in the game and none of us know whether or not this mech will be in the next Macross series (which has already been announced if you didn’t get the memo). For now the toy benefits from the Bandai DX Macross buying frenzy that Bandai has been able to stoke through low supply but this is offset by the obscurity of the mecha/pilot and the higher price coupled with some questionable design choices (more on that later).
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9.5/10)
It’s always very hard to judge the only toy representation of a new mech, especially one I’m not familiar with from having watched it in an anime. From the images I have seen, this toy looks like a faithful recreation of the design. Some will be thrilled to hear this toy isn’t as glossy as previous DX releases. The plastic doesn’t feel textured like some matte toys out there but it doesn’t feel slick either. We do get some finer details like the ‘no step’ signs and all the markings that should make it so you’re not upset a decal sheet wasn’t also included. The text is so small you’d probably never notice but the missile boom does have a couple issues. The “Caution Missile” sign is painted upside down and on one side of the boom the words are transposed to “Missile Caution”. There haven’t been any upgrades to the mold or detail paint work on the pilot and the turbine detail in the intake continues to be lackluster.
This toy has the standard gimmicks we’ve seen of all the DX releases in the V2 era:
1) Opening canopy with removable pilot
2) Integrated landing gears (2 doors each with the hinges on sliders which better conceals them)
3) Metal landing gears with spinning rubber wheels (and they lock in their extended positions)
4) Ability to attach the gun in fighter mode (without additional clips)
5) Removable intakes that reveal turbine detail
6) Perfect transformation*
Can you transform this toy to any of its modes and not use the included braces? Yes, you can leave the braces in the box. However, handling this toy without the braces is less enjoyable so they are recommended. Without the GERWALK brace the mode feels sloppy. Attempting to handle the toy requires placing your hands in some areas and not others. This toy would have scored better had there been integral solutions to the instability. It’s a shame too because the new take on GERWALK (which adopts more of the features of battroid) is a lot of fun provided the brace is used. For those of you who refuse to use braces, you can achieve a very satisfactory traditional GERWALK mode (where the intakes are attached to the fuselage). In battroid mode the brace is (at least initially) less important. The brace is meant to hold the nosecone up and lock the upper body down but out of the box the toy is stiff enough to accomplish this on its own throughout light handling. For more moderate handling and posing you’ll want the brace on more to lock the top of the toy down than anything else. Unfortunately transformation to battroid once again requires manipulating a plate below the neck and as with the VF-25 and YF-29 toys it’s difficult to know when you have it in exactly the right place since it doesn’t lock into a position specific for battroid mode. Otherwise, transformation is very smooth and it feels more similar to the YF-21 transformation than the VF-25 which is a nice change of pace. I have a few nits not related to transformation. In fighter mode the rear stabilizers don’t lock into position so they’re easily jostled during handling. The gun could similarly benefit from a design element to help acquire the right position and keep parts in their proper positions. The swing bar the gun uses for installation in fighter mode seems as if it were intended to recess fully into the butt of the gun but it inexplicably doesn’t. When installed in fighter mode, the gun has a gradual slope downward meaning it probably wouldn’t be the most effective in a dogfight. The pilot figure is not secured well within the cockpit so he rattles around during handling. For those of you who hate the missile bar, it is removable and will sometimes come removed when you try to disconnect the gun. On a positive note, the toy comes with hard points on the wings allowing you to install the weaponry from the DX 171 armor parts (and probably a future YF-30 specific Tamashii upgrade kit). The missile bar can be extended in fighter mode. Check out Saburo’s black background picture below proving this. Check out his full gallery by clicking here.
Durability & Build: (7.5/10)
As with all Bandai DX toys, extreme caution will be necessary with the paint. Right out of the package, with very careful inspection, you’ll probably notice some blemishes from the plastic or Styrofoam the toy is packaged in. Handling and transformation definitely will give you opportunities to do more damage. There seem to be common build issues with the left foot where the front and rear sections don’t align perfectly in fighter mode but this is something you might actually have to look for to notice. I noted earlier that you don’t NEED to use the braces to put this toy into any of the given modes but it seems a good bet that over time these toys will loosen up and the value of those braces will increase. On the sample Bandai was using the nosecone joint had become very loose thus making the brace an absolute necessity.
The articulation on this toy is fairly amazing in GERWALK mode and is phenomenal in battroid mode. Check my video to see everything in motion. The head is on a ball joint and the guns on the head are articulated. The shoulders are on ball joints and there’s a pivot where the shoulder connects to the arm allowing you to swing the arm away (although the range of motion on this pivot is limited). There is a swivel mid-bicep and a double-jointed elbow that allows a full 180 degrees of movement. The articulated hands are not particularly impressive with four fingers on a pivot point and a ball joint at the base of the thumb. As the hands are removable ball joints you can of course twist and pivot them at the wrist. The toy has a waist joint that actually allows you to spin it 360 degrees. The hips are ball joints attached to an extender (though the extension doesn’t help much) so if the wings weren’t in the way you could spin the legs all the way around as well as pivot them outward or inward enough to obtain very aggressive poses. The GERWALK joint is available but the mobility at the hip renders it unnecessary. There’s a rotation point at the knee as well as the knee joint itself which can go backward more than 90 degrees when extended and forward 90 degrees. The ankles appear to be the same ball-joint-based ankles on the YF-29/VF-25 V2 toys so they pivot in and out and you can raise the toe up a little or point the toe way down.
Total Score: (41.5/50)
Ignoring the YF-29 since so much of that toy is very closely related to the VF-25, this is the best first version of a variable fighter toy since the Takatoku days but due to the inclusion of those braces it still leaves the impression that it’s the first time a company has attempted this particular model. Being attractive provides reasonable cover for a multitude of sins and this YF-30 toy is very attractive and fighter mode seems flawless. The kick-ass battroid mode also helps make up for some design shortcomings. So how does this toy stack up against the other recent Bandai DX Macross offerings? Here’s my rankings:
2) VF-25 Renewal
4) VF-27 Renewal
Agree? Disagree? Did I miss something? Leave me a comment! Thanks –