10.22.17

Bandai DX VF-31 Siegfried Toys

Posted in Bandai, Macross Delta, YF-30 Chronos, VF-31 Siegfried at 6:57 am by micronian

Review: VF-31J and VF-31F Versions

bandai-dx-vf-31j-1 bandai-dx-vf-31j-2 bandai-dx-vf-31j-3 bandai-dx-vf-31j-5Bandai DX VF-31J 4A

Packaging & Extras: (5/5)
It always surprises me when toy manufacturers decide to compete in the category of “nicest packaging” as Bandai has. The box features thick cardboard folded over a second time making it feel as sturdy as some shoe boxes. There’s a flip-top lid but when you flip the top there’s a cover beneath with a schematic and a warning to “Remove before flight”. It’s a curious but charming touch though it does lessen the benefit of the flip-top which generally let you immediately admire your toys. Once you get past that cover you encounter a plastic clamshell over a Styrofoam tray. The presentation is amazingly clean with the accessories all tucked behind a small cover. Besides the VF-31 toy you get the following:
1) Pilot figure (31J – Hayate, 31F Messer, 31C Mirage)
2) Co-pilot figure (31J – Freyja, 31F Kaname, 31C Makina )
3) 2 x Knife with pivot gimmick (for stowing behind the forearm)
4) Individual hologram device in flight position (arrow)
5) Individual hologram device in project position (square)
6) 6x pairs of fixed posed hands (fist, grip, pistol grip straight, pistol grip cocked, open hands, salute)
7) Display stand (consisting of a base and arm)
8) 3x clear display stand adapters (fighter, GERWALK, battroid)
9) Instructions
I didn’t mention a gun but because it comes attached to the toy and is fairly integral by design of the VF-31. All said, it’s a wonderful package with the accessories you would want and a display stand to boot. While the VF-31, as I recall it, typically flies without weapons on the wings, there are hardpoints there so the one thing that you might feel is lacking are some missiles/bombs.

Bandai DX VF-31F Messer 1 Bandai DX VF-31F Messer 2 Bandai DX VF-31F Messer 3

Messer’s release added the following:
10) 2x replacement head lasers
11) 1x replacement head fin

Bandai DX VF-31F Messer 8 Bandai DX VF-31F Messer 10bandai-dx-vf-31j-24Bandai DX VF-31F Messer 14Bandai DX VF-31J 20ABandai DX VF-31J 19BBandai DX VF-31J 18CBandai DX VF-31J 23B

Charm & Collectability: (4.5/5)
Time will tell on these but it’s clear by the price and the package that Bandai is trying to make these a collector’s item. Macross Delta seems to have been relatively successful and the plan is to currently issue every variant of the Delta platoon. The toy has metal (mostly in the joints and feet) and transformation is perfect so the two more important boxes are checked off. Look for my separate post on the Tamashii exclusive super parts accessories. Here’s what we know of the release schedule so far:
VF-31J Hayate custom, December 2016, 21,600Yen
VF-31F Messer custom, April 2017, 21,600Yen
VF-31C Mirage custom, September 2017, 21,600Yen

bandai-dx-vf-31j-10bandai-dx-vf-31j-7bandai-dx-vf-31j-6Bandai DX VF-31F Messer 6Bandai DX VF-31F Messer 7

Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9.5/10)
Bandai spared no expense when it came to painting detail onto these toys. You will note there were no stickers in the box and that’s because every marking is already on the toy, generally painted very crisply. The sculpt looks like the toy flew straight off the screen. The weaknesses are very minor. There’s not a lot of detail in the cockpit and the cockpit itself is shrouded by a very golden canopy that doesn’t offer much transparency. The VF-31F toy’s canopy is less opaque but it still makes it difficult to see the pilots within. Hayate does get a nice helmet-less pilot figure and Mirage’s figure does have a bit more chest so it’s clear she’s a woman. The copilot figure is wearing a helmet though the more memorable scenes of two people in the cockpit generally involved a Walkure member not wearing a helmet… so it seems a little like they threw a helmet on the girls so they could use one mold for all of them. The intake turbine detail, like the renewal VF-25 toys before them, don’t have any painted detail making it look very plain. Landing gear enthusiasts will likely emit audible groans the first time they expose them. The rear landing gear are an awful joke and the front landing gear seems pretty generic though it does have an articulated tow bar. There’s also a lot of different color sensors going around toward the front of the plane which is a bit garish. Fans of Messer’s custom may be very let down by the angle of the reaper logo. To be anime accurate the logo should be pitched pretty significantly forward from its positiong on the toy and there’s no clear reason why Bandai didn’t do this. Those nitpicks aside, this toy is pretty amazing.

bandai-dx-vf-31j-8 Bandai DX VF-31F Messer 9Bandai DX VF-31F Messer 11Bandai DX VF-31J 22A Bandai DX VF-31J 15A Bandai DX VF-31J 11A Bandai DX VF-31J 9B

Design: (9/10)
This toy does include the design elements you’ve come to expect from high-end Macross collectables:
1) Detailed, removable pilot figures
2) Opening canopy
3) Integrated landing gear with separate spinning rubber tires (front landing gear locks forward and includes articulated tow bar)
4) Removable intake covers to expose turbine detail
The VF-31 features the same optional 2 seat configuration that was in the VF-25 and YF-29 so Bandai has integrated it into this toy exactly as it did renewal VF-25 and the YF-29 toys. You also get compartments on the back of the leg that slide forward to expose Walkure’s hologram devices (either pivoted upward or slid all the way forward). The gun can be removed from the backpack and held in the toy’s hand. Beyond the gimmicks, the toy is very solid in each mode with perfect transformation that is complex without being demanding. The battroid design requires a lot of back kibble and mass so Bandai put ratchets in the hips (along with an extension mechanism for greater range of movement). You may remember that one of the bigger weaknesses of the renewal VF-25/VF-27/VF-29 toys was the plate below the head didn’t really lock into place but that’s definitely not a problem here, everything is solid. This toy does feel like a generational improvement over the Frontier toys with the YF-30 being the transition (I’d probably consider the 19Adv a member of this new generation as well). All of the faults with the YF-30 are neatly addressed here without the addition of new problems. There’are no needs for additional supports, everything smoothly and securely locks together. As for quibbles, while the canards and stabilizers make it relatively easy to determine the correct angles, it’d be nice if they had more resistance when they reached their proper locations. I end up having to retake pictures a million times because everything wasn’t perfectly symmetrical. The guns that swing around on the forearm have a similar issue, you can see in the picture below that they slid inward in fighter mode making the seams too large. It’d be really nice if they had a detent to create resistance at the point where they were perfectly forward in either direction. The biggest negative here isn’t entirely Bandai’s fault. The rear landing gears are AWFUL. They offer almost no clearance at all from their kneecap housing, they look horrible, they seem entirely impractical, and they will make you grateful to have an included display stand… even if the display stand is kind of ugly and very rudimentary. Another negative are the articulated hands that come installed on the toy. The trigger finger is stuck in a pointing position while all the other fingers have a knuckle. This relegates you to open hand poses or forces you to use the supplied fixed-pose hands. The articulated hands also don’t do a good job holding the gun.The toy allows you to stow knives behind the forearms. I had tolerance issues the first time I left knives behind he forearms but in my transformation video from battroid back to fighter mode I left them on again and everything worked great.

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Durability & Build: (7/10)
It’s too soon to accurately grade this toy so I’m giving it an average score as a place holder. You will scrape paint off the toy, the instructions basically tell you that it’s going to happen. This appeared most true to me in the area where the arms swing forward from fighter to battroid mode. The back of the fighter mode curves down into a hook that is painted blue on top of white plastic and the arms are almost guaranteed to rub against this and shear some paint off. Fortunately, this won’t be the most visible wear spot so if that’s the worst of it, then the score here will creep up. Other areas of paint rub I’ve seen on my toy include a rather annoying scrape behind the canopy (where the gap I’m about to discuss sometimes forms) and near the swivel on the biceps. There’s also one ‘fit’ area that bothers me. Behind the cockpit, where the nose connects to the fuselage, there tends to be a small gap that’s a little thicker than all the other seams. You can reduce/eliminate it with some pressure but during handling it will pop back up (and pushing it too firmly might be how I caused my paint to rub off on my Messer toy). There’s a sliding mechanism here so it seems like they didn’t get the tolerances perfected. When I first pulled the toy from the box it had numerous gaps and fit problems. This was the same on my 19Advance and I had to transform that toy several times to iron out all the kinks… my 31 toys were much kinder. I was able to massage them a bit and get everything lined up but moderate handling generally causes a few seams to get fatter than I’d like. I have seen some complaints about foot extension gimmicks not being very strong (sliding too easily back into the leg after extension) but my samples have had no problems, offering an audible click to let me know success was achieved. Specific to the Messer toy, the head spike is removable which should help it from accidentally breaking during handling but does open it up to possibly being lost. It pegged in just securely enough for my liking but others have complained that it was a little loose on their toys. If you find yours is loose, the easy fix is to put a tiny bit of clear nail polish, white glue, or even a sliver of clear tape to help bolster the thickness of the peg and then reinstall it.





Articulation: (9.5/10)
I don’t think a transformable toy can do much better than this. This toy did everything I asked of it. The backpack weapons pivot independently and rotate and angle similar to the mechanism from the DX YF-30 toy. Watch the video for a full run down of all the points of articulation, it’s very impressive. As mentioned earlier, there’s a hip extension gimmick that lets you get the legs to be even more dynamic. The feet feature ratcheted positions for GERWALK. In GERWALK, I found myself wishing I could rotate the feet further outward but that was really my only negative. In battroid mode the legs really shine letting you angle and twist in several spots.

Bandai DX VF-31F Messer 5Bandai DX VF-31J 12Abandai-dx-vf-31j-17Bandai DX VF-31J 16CBandai DX VF-31J 14BBandai DX VF-31J 13B

Total Score: (44.5/50)
Consider this a preliminary score since the durability/build section is still a wildcard. Obviously, I’m pretty impressed by the total package here. The toy looks like a high end collectible, it feels great in each mode, and it is also fun to transform and play with. If you’re a fan of Delta you will need to get at least one DX VF-31 toy. If you hate Delta but are a fan of this mechanical design, you’re still going to want to hunt one down, it’s that good. At 32CM long in fighter mode and a bit more than 25CM tall in battroid, it’s exactly 1/60 scale so no reason to fear it won’t fit in with the other Macross toys in your collection.

Original post: January 4, 2017
Updated May 28, 2017, Added content relating to the VF-31F Messer release.
Updated June 18, 2017, added HD Battroid Gerwalk Fighter transformation guide.
Updated October 22, 2017, added VF-31C Mirage content and HD video review.

15 Comments »

  1. musmo said,

    January 4, 2017 at 10:00 am

    wow, thanks!

    maybe the picture of the landing gear is upside-down… or maybe it is wanted? just quickly check

    cheers and happy new year!

  2. Archie said,

    January 4, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Is this the highest score you’ve given a valkyrie toy to date?

  3. Nightmareb4macross said,

    January 4, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    Great review, Jenius.

    The shoulders on mine were so tight out of box that I was afraid to break them. Once I saw this video, I feel much more confident during transformation.

    Thanks for everything, you have made this VF much more enjoyable, and makes me really look forward to all the 31 releases.

  4. wm_cheng said,

    January 4, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Awesome, always love reading your reviews!

    Thanks for doing the work. One question, I find that pulling the ankles out, there is a detent at the most outward notch which works fine in Gerwalk mode, but it doesn’t seem to hold at any other point other than the most inner/retracted position – is this the position for Battroid or should there be an intermediate position I’m missing here?

  5. micronian said,

    January 5, 2017 at 6:02 am

    Thanks to everyone who left comments here and on Youtube. I updated this post and the Youtube video to not focus on the knife and if it stows in fighter mode. It looks like it DOES stow in fighter mode (I originally noted that I couldn’t get everything perfectly flush with the knife stowed) so maybe I just didn’t have everything lined up perfectly when I was trying it.

    Musmo – I was just having some fun with that picture but good looking out.
    Archie – No, the VF-19Advance currently has a 45/50. That said, I could easily see the durability scale her drifting up to an 8/10 if we don’t see a trend toward major breakages between now and the Messer release and that would have the VF-31 at the top of the list.
    NB4M – Always good to hear from you! Good luck to us both in tracking down the next one…

  6. micronian said,

    January 5, 2017 at 6:39 am

    wm_cheng – I agree that it didn’t feel like there was any ratchets in between out and in. Based on the height in battroid mode I believe the retracted position is what you need for battroid and not an in-between position. Mine was generally stiff enough where I could go for intermediate positions if I didn’t push down on it (or if I twisted the foot).

  7. MacrossJunkie said,

    January 6, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Nice and thorough review, Jenius.

    On the topic of the ankles, I believe they are meant to be extended in battroid. If you look at the CG renders, you can see the ankles extended and visible in battroid mode.

    Going by the instructions and rendered images of the 31, I think the crotch plate is suppose to lie flat instead of being angled out as the 25-29 had gotten us used to.

  8. MacrossJunkie said,

    January 6, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    I recant the part about the crotch plate being flat in the instructions. Looks like they angled it out in the transformation finish pictures. Still, I just go by how it looks in the CG renders.

  9. Sildani said,

    January 9, 2017 at 12:29 am

    Hi!

    Great review, I just want to respectfully point out two typos:

    In the pic of the YF-30 Chronos and the VF-31 Siegfried side by side in fighter mode, you misidentify the Chronos as the YF-31 on top, but correctly call it the YF-30 on the bottom of that pic.

    Under durability, “the arms are almost guaranteed to rub against this and sheer some paint off”. Shear, not sheer, in this instance.

    Excellent review and thanks for making them!

  10. micronian said,

    January 9, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Nice catches! I’ve made the corrections. Thank you for helping make the post better.

  11. Striker said,

    May 16, 2017 at 3:49 am

    Hello there,
    I really appreciate the amount of information and effort you put in your reviews. and i learn a lot from them.

    when you finally review the VF-31 Siegfried Messer Ihlefield, I would like to request an info regarding the resistance of his grim reaper emblem (shinigami) decals from scratching due to parts rubbing together during transformation.
    the decals on the plamo version are so prone to scratching. i hope the chogokin versions would do better.

    More power to you sir, and keep on posting reviews.

  12. micronian said,

    May 16, 2017 at 5:46 am

    Thanks, I’ll try to scrutinize that when I handle it… with any luck it will be soon.

  13. Striker said,

    June 2, 2017 at 12:40 am

    Thanks a lot, nice review. thanks for giving attention to the emblem on the review. thanks again and more power.

  14. David Home Woo said,

    November 3, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Big fan of your reviews and YouTube channel. Thank you so much for you in-depth analysis. I have two question:
    1. Do you know when Mirage’s VF-31C super parts will be released?

    2. Would you have any suggestions on where could I get them?

  15. micronian said,

    November 5, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks! Responses:
    1) Negative, nothing announced yet. Early December there’s a big Bandai event where they’re already teasing Macross announcements for the 35th anniversary.
    2) Nobody sponsors me and many releases, these days, sell out in the first minutes of their preorder windows. That said, try looking at Hobby Link Japan, Hobby Search Japan, Amiami, Nippon Yasan, CDJapan, Angolz, Anime-Export, BiginJapan, Playmoya, and maybe in checking those out you’ll stumble on a few more… it’s certainly not an exhaustive list and I can’t say I have experience with all of them. This response will self-destruct if any store wants to sponsor me :).

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