Review: Like Han and the Millenium Falcon, Isamu likes to stick to what he knows
Packaging & Extras: (5/5)
The VF-19Advance is one of those instances where the toy receives a perfect score on the merit of the ‘extras’ though the packaging could be better. You get a very flimsy cardboard box adorned with some good images of the toy looking really cool. There’s no flip-top lid that would let you see the toy without opening it but it’s not the most outrageously priced Isamu toy we’ve seen and the packaging isn’t overly large, so maybe that’s a worthy concession. In the box things get really good. Inside the box you’ll find the toy in a Styrofoam tray sealed by tape along the entire perimeter by an unmarked cardboard lid and two plastic trays housing the rest of the accessories. Besides the toy, the Styrofoam tray includes:
1) Gun (with pivot gimmick)
2) Isamu pilot figure
3) Pinpoint barrier punch effect (in 4 pieces, the swirling effect parts that mate to it are in one of the other trays))
4) 3x pairs of fixed posed (but with articulated wrists) hands
In the first plastic tray you’ll also find:
5) Advance Packs (2x leg armors, 2x rear leg parts, 2x outer shoulder parts, 2x upper shoulder parts, 2x interior shoulder parts, 2x boosters on wings)
6) Neck cover for GERWALK mode
In the final plastic tray you’ll find:
7) SMS Display stand (1x base for toy, 1x arm for toy, 3x adapters (1 for each mode), 2x additional braces for fighter mode adapter, 2x bases for boosters, 2x arms for boosters, 2x adapters for boosters
And sandwiched between all that good stuff you’ll find:
8) Instructions Bandai DX VF-19Advance Instructions Web
The braces for the fighter mode display stand adapter can be moved into an upper position for standard fighter mode and a lower configuration for when the advanced packs are installed but the difference wasn’t significant. How is this better than the Arcadia YF-19 toy? You get a display stand, albeit a mediocre one. You don’t get stickers (you don’t need them) or leg cavity fillers (you won’t miss them). How is it worse than the Arcadia offering? Arcadia gave you more wing armaments than you would ever be able to utilize whereas Bandai doesn’t give you a single missile of payload. Arcadia also gave you Yang and an additional Isamu pilot figure and packaged the whole thing in an uglier box that DID offer MIB collectors the ability to see what they owned without cutting any tape. With the Arcadia toy you were overwhelmed at all the options you had, with the Bandai toy you’ll quickly be a little put off by the sheer volume of parts needed for the display stand and the advance packs. Advance packs are the Macross Plus fast packs plus the additional top of shoulder parts (2x each arm) and wing boosters.
The YF-19 came out years later and Bandai had siginficantly stepped up their packaging game in that time span. The YF-19 comes in a box made of thicker cardboard. There’s now a lid that opens but since the toy isn’t packaged to look pretty, pulling up the lid only reveals a secondary lid with some nice art on it. Removing that lid finally reveals the toy in a Styrofoam tray covered with a plastic lid (unlike that plain cardboard lid that was taped to the top of the VF-19Advance). Under a small lid you’ll find the following accessories housed within that Styrofoam tray:
1) Isamu pilot figure (with helmet)
2) Isamu pilot figure (without helmet)
3) Yang Newman copilot figure
4) GERWALK neck cover
5) 2x paired hard point connectors (for reaction missiles)
6) 3x pairs of fixed posed hands
7) 6x individual hard point connectors (for use with individual application of the reaction missiles, the LPP-12, SPP-8, or HMM-111CS)
8) 4x dual hard point conversion pieces that convert the above connector into a tree to connect two AOM-85)
9) Gun (with pivot gimmick)
In the first plastic tray you’ll also find:
10) 8x AOM-85 mid-range missiles
11) 4x SPP-8 green micro missile pods
12) 4x LPP-12 green beam weapons
13) 4x HMM-111CS aerodynamic weapons pods
14) 4x reaction missiles
15) AAPP/T-02 Heavy arm cannon
16) Fold drive (connectors included in final tray)
17) Fast packs consisting of 2x leg armors, 2x shoulder armors, and 2x calf armors)
The final tray includes:
18) Pin-point barrier punch effect (4x pieces)
19) Display stand consisting of a base, arm, and adapters for each mode
Under all the trays you’ll also find:
20) Instructions Bandai DX YF-19 Instructions Web
Items in blue represent accessories only included in one release. Another way I could have written the YF-19 parts list would have been “it’s everything that Arcadia included plus a fold drive, display stand, heavy arm cannon, fixed posed hands, and pinpoint barrier punch, but without the stickers because all the details are already painted on the toy and without leg cavity fillers but you won’t miss those.” The one thing that is obviously missing is the a cover for the rear seat to make the YF-19 appear a single seat vehicle like it does for the first half of Macross Plus. The display stand included with the YF-19 has the generic base that Bandai has included with numerous other releases rather than the ‘SMS’ base that comes with the VF-19Advance and a wider fighter mode cradle to accommodate attachment of the heavy arm cannon.
Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
It was surprising to see a cameo by Isamu Dyson in the VF-19Advance in the second Macross Frontier movie. It was a greater surprise to learn that Bandai was making a toy of the 19Advance hot on the heels of the release of the Arcadia YF-19. Arcadia debuted their toy in March 2014 for 32,800 Yen. A year later the Bandai VF-19Advance hit shelves in June 2015 for 23,000 Yen. So the Bandai VF-19Advance was about 30% cheaper but still fairly expensive in comparison to other DX Macross toys. It didn’t seem to matter. They sold briskly and before long they were only available at a premium. It seemed obvious that a YF-19 repaint was likely but it took Bandai 4 years to make it happen. Given the YF-19’s bountiful accessory kit and more iconic paint scheme and features, it is likely to be a very hot seller. If Bandai ever does a reissue, it will be interesting to see if they do it as a “Full set” or makes a more affordable, bare bones release. Like other DX toys, the VF/YF-19 has metal reinforcing joints and is perfect transformation if you’re not a stickler for a neck cover in GERWALK mode. If metal content is of primary concern to you, the Arcadia toy has the entire battroid spine made of metal. Releases in this line so far include:
VF-19Advance, March 2014, 23,000¥
YF-19 “Full Set”, September 2018, 27,000¥
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
As the VF-19Advance was the first release, many people purchased it and used it as a YF-19 replacement. The subsequent release of a proper DX YF-19 is surprisingly different despite being 95% the same mold. There are two notable changes to the mold. First, the VF-19Advance has a true one seat cockpit that can not be converted to two seats and has a one piece canopy that opens like a traditional fighter jet. The DX YF-19 has a dedicated two-seat cockpit and two piece canopy that opens forward and back with a split in the middle. Second, the YF-19 has very different heels. The 19Advance has long sleek heels which look great in fighter and pretty long in battroid. The YF-19 has very stubby heels which are definitely more anime accurate to Macross Plus but look a little clunky in fighter mode while looking good in battroid. The most obvious visual difference between the two toys are the various painted details. Some were obvious, the 19Advance has markings related to SMS while the YF-19 has UN Spacy logos. Some of the other differences are a bit more surprising. There are emblems and writing related to “Sinsei Industry”, the in-universe company that created the YF-19 (usually written as “Shinsei”). There were already a huge number of painted on warning signs but it looks like someone at Bandai studied their 19Advance for a long time and realized the markings weren’t totally consistent and had some more added for the YF-19 (like on the arms and part above the intake). The gun on the YF-19 also has the model type painted on. The shield on the YF-19 also has two little slots in it to accommodate the fold booster gimmick. The arm on the YF-19 has mounting slots for the arm cannon that are not present on the 19Advance. It will be interesting to see if the VF-19Advance ever gets reissued, and, if it does, if it includes those slots. Overall, the YF-19 is also a tiny bit lighter beige than the VF-19Advance.
There are a few areas where this toy bests the Arcadia YF-19. First, it gets the intake shape right and eliminates the fat leading edge above the intake in fighter mode. Second, you don’t need to extend the legs in fighter mode to reveal the black area that shouldn’t be there. Third, the fins below the legs are a better size. Fourth, the canards are a better size and they have a better rotation system that doesn’t rely on an obvious peg (though some wish the canards could be angled higher). When viewing fighter mode from the side the Bandai is a clear winner. However, if you view both toys in fighter mode from above the Arcadia shield fills the gap between the legs better than the Bandai offering. Arcadia also nails the curves of the neck in fighter mode; Bandai reduced these curves which does give Bandai an edge in not having to have the big gap above the nose in battroid mode. When it comes to painted on detail, the Bandai trounces the Arcadia offering. Some may even feel that Bandai got a little carried away with the painted on markings. “Pleasantly Chunky” is a very good way to describe the Arcadia YF-19’s battroid mode. The Bandai toys do have an excellent battroid mode that is thinner and perhaps more athletic looking but I feel the Arcadia battroid captures the animation spirit better. As usual, Bandai’s landing gear, while metal with rubber spinning wheels, don’t compete with the painted look of Arcadia’s gear and gear bays.
Taking the comparison to the Arcadia toy a bit further, the included weapons in both companies YF-19 sets are VERY similar. The Bandai toy does benefit from a tiny additional paint application on the rear of the AOM-85 mid-range missile and Arcadia added a little more paint to their HMM-111CS weapons. Arcadia made their toy compatible with the Yamato YF-19 fold booster. Though the Bandai fold booster does not have the super cool LED effect Yamato employed, the look of the Bandai booster is much more impressive from the panel lines to the interior detail to all the paint applications. While the pilot figure is a step up from previous Bandai offerings, it still falls short of the Arcadia figures. The Arcadia gun is also far bulkier and much more pleasant to my eye.
When I first gazed upon the Advance in its Styrofoam tray I could see gaps. If it was transformed properly at the factory then shipping had managed to jar it into a sloppier configuration. I transformed the toy half way to GERWALK and back to fighter and then had several new gaps although previous gaps were resolved. An hour and a half later I had finally ironed out all the gaps and everything looked pretty good. Though my YF-19 didn’t require as much massaging out of the box, you must go into this toy expecting this sort of frustration. This toy does not make the exact proper position obvious for individual modes. You will need to result to trial and error and maybe watch some 4K transformation guides to remind yourself of little tricks along the way you’ve forgotten (ooh, watch mine!). You will need to apply more pressure than you think should be necessary while avoiding areas that seem fragile. You will sweat. You will need to be patient. In time you may master it but in the beginning you must be a certain type of person, or very lucky, to enjoy hopping between modes and getting everything perfect. I have heard of people really struggling with putting on the advance packs. This should not be the case. If anything is fighting you too much, watch the videos for guidance and look very closely for little ‘L’s and “R’s on the smaller pieces. Getting beyond all that, this toy is amazing. Positives of both the VF-19Advance and YF-19 include:
1) Opening canopy with removable pilot figure (and copilot figure on the YF-19)
2) Removable intake covers to reveal intake fan detail (they stay on better than the Arcadia ones do)
3) Integrated front landing gear with articulated tow bar ( features a neat collapsing gimmick but doesn’t lock in extended position)
4) Integrated rear landing gear that lock into position (but don’t pivot out like the Arcadia’s do)
5) Ability to stow the gun in fighter mode without interfering with landing gear
6) Fast pack and advance pack that don’t require any parts-swapping (but do leave a peg exposed and I wish the advance pack wing boosters attached more firmly)
7) Removable face to reveal internal mechanics in battroid
8) Hard points on wings
9) Integrated internally stored missiles in legs (accessible even with fast packs on and removable)
10) Gun has pivot gimmick allowing it to be straight in fighter mode
11) High speed mode
12) Mountable pin-point barrier punch accessory
The VF-19Advance has a traditional canopy as opposed to the center split canopy the YF-19 had. Both the Arcadia and Bandai toys lock together well in each mode and feel solid. I would actually say, once you get the hang of it, the Bandai toy has a more satisfactory transformation to battroid as the way the chest comes together is superior and ensures a very tight fit and the arm transformation is simpler for an arguably better result. Going to fighter mode is a win for the Arcadia toy which comes together more naturally than the Bandai. Arcadia does offer a couple gimmicks on their YF-19 toy you won’t get here. The Arcadia toy has the ability to convert into a two-seat configuration which is inexplicably missing from the Bandai toy. Bandai opted to not connect the top of the wings to the leg fast packs in fighter mode which is clearly wrong and not an error Arcadia made (Bandai compounded this error by Photoshopping the art on the box to make it appear as though their toy didn’t have this short-coming). On the plus side, when the fast packs are on the Bandai toy you can still access the leg missile whereas this missile is not available on the Arcadia toy unless the fast packs are off. The Arcadia gun is clearly superior to Bandai’s in both look and function. Bandai’s pivot in the gun during fighter mode is visually off-putting from certain angles and it seems a telescoping grip of some kind would have been a more appealing solution. Arcadia also gave you the ability to collapse the trigger area of the gun and then stow the gun behind the shield in GERWALK or battroid modes. Bandai did something different to the shield and gave us a few unique benefits:
13) Neck cover for fighter mode that is integrated into the shield
14) Leg transformation that eliminates indents on the inner sides of the lower legs
These are welcome gimmicks in that they make the toy have a more perfect transformation. You will only need a neck cover in Gerwalk mode. While a lot of thought clearly went into both the Bandai and Arcadia toys, I ultimately scored the Bandai higher because the Arcadia is better on paper than it is in your hands. This is particularly true of the high speed mode wings. The wings are stiff enough on the Bandai toy where you won’t constantly be cursing them. On the Arcadia toy the wings are so loose they will destroy your enjoyment of handling it.
The DX YF-19 upped the ante by including a heavy cannon accessory for the right arm. I found it very impressive that this accessory also transforms so that it can be used in fighter mode. The fighter mode implementation isn’t perfect as the extra height of the cannon moves the gun so low that it interferes with the landing gear. To counter this, Bandai gave you the option to mount the gun sideways but even that allows only the tiniest amount of clearance (if any). I definitely recommend using the display stand if using the arm cannon in fighter mode and then mounting the gun vertically. Bandai also altered the display stand to be a bit wider than the VF-19Advance display stand as to not interfere with a fighter-mounted arm cannon. In battroid mode, the arm cannon is pretty cool featuring three opening bays that reveal weaponry in excellent detail. As mentioned above, the VF-19Advance arm does not have the slots to mount the cannon so this weapon is only for use with the DX YF-19.
Another feature unique to the YF-19 that was not present in the VF-19Advance is a rotation point at the knee. The VF-19Advance introduced the novel approach to GERWALK of having the legs pivot out behind the hips/intakes and it worked pretty well but wasn’t exactly intuitive. The DX YF-19 has those same pivot points and adds a twist at the knee making it even more fun to handle in both GERWALK and battroid modes.
Durability & Build: (8/10)
Both the VF-19Advance and YF-19 come with very stiff hips that have led to people breaking them. I encourage you during your first transformation to unscrew the two screws on the hip and then remove the housing and loosen the two screws you’ll find underneath it. Doing this will make completing transformation easier and make it less likely you’l break your toy’s hip some day. The DX YF-19 comes in a fancier box but it might have come at the expense of effectively safeguarding the toy during delivery. There were numerous reports of head lasers broken off the YF-19 toys before they were removed from the box. A rampant issue with the DX YF-19 are vertical stabilizers which are far too easily bumped from the toy, including the smaller in-set piece that folds over during transformation. Bandai changed the attachment of the vertical stabilizers from the VF-19Advance and the end result is far less satisfactory. Another complaint that has been popping up with the YF-19, and one I have seen first hand, is an inability to lock the chest area in battroid mode. The toy features a door that closes on a peg in front of the cockpit area and something is causing the geometry to be off just enough to create pressure on that connection pushing the door upward. As the door is a secondary lock, it’s not the end of the world, and it may be something that resolves after a few transformations as pieces loosen up… or it might signify some later catastrophic failure so I’ll keep an eye on it. If you know a fix or a description of exactly what is causing the problem, please do leave a comment! Other manufacturing woes reported far less likely include the standard litany of warped parts, missing parts, and ill-fit but seem to be well within Bandai’s typical levels. This toy can definitely be frustrating but the fact people find themselves repeatedly transforming it back and forth as they develop a knack for getting things in the right spots and ironing out gaps but aren’t finding they’re breaking anything is a very good sign.
The greatest articulated YF/VF-19 toy has arrived! Anything you want! All the candy in the whole wide world is here for you! Okay, maybe I’m getting carried away, but it’s really good. The head is on a ball joint, the elbows have a double hinge, the hips can flair WAY out, the ankles are on ball joints with a great range of motion. How good is this toy? It has a waist (though the range of motion is tiny).
Total Score: (44.5/50)
So the question among many has been which to get, the Arcadia YF-19 or a Bandai VF-19Advance or YF-19. If you’re a huge fan of Advance packs then the answer is obviously the VF-19Advance. If you’re a fan of the YF-19 with loads of cash, you really should own both an Arcadia and Bandai DX YF-19. Seriously, they’re both great toys. I adore my Arcadia toy but if I had to recommend just one, it’s the Bandai. This is primarily a function of Arcadia shooting themselves in the foot with very loose wing and ankle joints that destroy the fun factor and leave you feeling like you overpaid. If they were able to do an improved release with tighter joints it would be a tougher decision but, even if they did, the additional accessories on the Bandai offering, all of the painted on detail, and the incredible articulation at a lower price point would be impossible to overcome. I will provide one caveat here. Though the Arcadia toy was very frustrating at times with loose joints and things that fit loosely popping out too often (intake covers, top of the head, back of the gun, canards, wing weapons) I do find it easier to get everything back together properly in fighter mode whereas the Bandai, even after a few transformations, can be difficult. So if you prioritize ease of transformation or a chunkier representation, then you may want to consider the Arcadia toy first.
Original Post: December 12, 2015
Updated: October 7, 2018, added fast pack and advance pack installation in fighter mode video (previously included as part of the transformation guide)
Updated: October 12, 2018, added some content on the YF-19, added scans of the instruction manuals, added 4K fighter to battroid mode instruction video
Updated: October 14, 2018 with pretty much all new pictures and a 4K YF-19 video review
Updated: November 11, 2018 with a line art comparison, a photo of the heavy arm cannon with barrel extended, and 4K Battroid to Fighter transformation guide