Review: The Monster you’ve always longed for
Packaging & Extras: (3.5/5)
As with the previous Hi-Metal R (HMR) releases, the Monster comes in a box made of nearly paper thin cardboard adorned by beautiful Tenjin artwork. Unlike previous HMR releases, this toy is entombed in a Styrofoam sarcophagus. Besides the monstrous core of the toy, you’ll find the following:
4 x barrels (note the installation order, “UN Spacy” should be on the perimeter locations
4 x barrel braces (totally unnecessary unless you’re a huge symetry nut)
The barrels and braces are on the exterior of the Styrofoam tray. The tray itself is hermetically sealed with packaging tape so you’ll want to keep those scissors handy. Once you’re inside, you’ll find the bulk of the toy wrapped in a plastic bag. Bandai didn’t give you much in the way of packaging or extras to get really excited about but what you need is here and when you see this giant hulk you won’t be too let down by the lack of bonus items.
Charm & Collectability: (3.5/5)
Released in July 2016 for an MSRP of 25,000, yen the jury is definitely out on this one. On the one hand, it’s an amazing toy, it has decent metal content, and it is in a line that is quickly becoming the most diverse SDF Macross line-up. On the other hand, it’s huge so space-conscious buyers will pass, it’s expensive, it doesn’t transform, and it’s not a hero vehicle. Those who spring for one will generally be unlikely to pick up a second one. One hopes that the huge price of entry means that Bandai has produced limited quantities and won’t be stuck with a shelf warmer they regret because it’s incredibly awesome that they’ve taken huge risks like the Regult, the Glaug, and now the Monster. The Regult sold out fairly quickly at international stores but the Glaug and Monster look like they might need some markdowns at some retailers. That said, I can definitely see this thing being a very hot commodity among laggards in a few years time.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
This toy is beautiful. There’s liberal use of translucent plastic for details like the lights next to the base of the cannons, at the ends of the arms, on either side of the cockpit and on the cockpit canopy. The line art isn’t the most consistent for the Monster so from certain angles some proportions may look a little bit off. Maybe the feet, cannon barrels, or arms are too long. When you have this thing in your hand, none of that will bother you. There’s nice detail work in the cockpit though no additional paint work. There’s also molded detail inside the area exposed when the ladder folds out. This toy doesn’t come with stickers, all the markings you see are painted on. The red accents, in particular, really make this toy pop. Without all the added panel lines this toy may have seemed rather plain but everything comes together to keep drawing your eye back to it.
The only reason this toy doesn’t score any higher is because it’s competing against toys that have to deal with the limitations and compromises required by transformation. The Monster doesn’t transform so it’s relatively simple but Bandai didn’t let this simplicity make them complacent. No, we get the following fun design elements:
1) Removable canopy with cockpit detail for the three pilots
2) Doors at the back of the cannon for dropping shells and reloading
3) Central pivot with piston detail to aim those massive barrels upward
4) Concealed front opening with drop down ladder for pilots
5) Back plate that drops down and asks as a tripod when using the most extreme angle of the central pivot.
6) Collapsing extensions in the leg above and below the knee
As with Bandai’s Robot Spirits/DX Koenig Monster, the tripod plate would extend further in a perfect world but it’ works as-is. While articulation will be discussed a bit later in the review, the design of the joints and the incorporation of numerous ratchets to handle all the weight is also phenomenal. My only complaint is that the top half of the Monster doesn’t latch to the bottom half (where the metal rod extends down) so it can be a little funny to handle.
Durability & Build: (9/10)
Since this toy is new this score should be considered preliminary. Out of the box everything felt incredibly solid. The included braces may cause some concern about pending looseness but it’s also possible the braces are simply meant to help users line up the barrels perfectly. There’s a lot of metal here where you want it. The bottoms of the feet are metal which probably helps with the center of gravity. Elsewhere metal is used liberally in high strain joints. The piston-shaped arm that holds up the top half of the Monster is solid metal also.
Like the design score, it’s only the fact I use the same scale for all toys that keeps the Monster’s articulation score from being higher because I honestly don’t know how it could be improved. This thing is super dynamic, right down to its articulated toe in the front of the foot. The round nob on either side below the barrels spins, the lights(?) on either side of the head pivot up and down, and the rocket launcher arms click-click-click into whatever position you want them. You can make the monster squat down super low with the barrels laid horizontal or stand up with its guns pointed high. No, it’s not going to do the crazy poses of a battroid Valkyrie but it will give you everything you could want from a destroid Monster toy.
Total Score: (42/50)
Are you bored with VF-1 toys? Do you wish manufacturers would take a risk on something a little more exciting? This toy is your opportunity to get an extremely high quality toy while supporting your desire to see more experiments. While the HMR VF-1 toys have numerous compromises to hit their price point and size, the larger Regult, Glaug, and now Monster toys deliver in grin-worthy ways (and hey, those VF-1 toys are still pretty good also). I really hope the HMR line lives a very long life, moves on beyond SDF Macross, and provides more people with the Holy Grail toys they’ve been longing to see. If you’re at all a fan of the Monster, and if you have the space and the money, this thing will blow you away.