Review: Keith’s ride to begin, hopefully more to follow
Packaging & Extras: (4/5)
Bandai’s second Macross Delta DX release comes in the same excellent packaging as their first, Hayate’s VF-31J. You get the same thick box, same interior cover with the “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT” warning, and, once you’re through that, you’ll find a Styrofoam tray with a plastic clamshell over it. The accessories are hidden underneath a cover in the Styrofoam tray. The SV-262 comes with:
2) Vertical stabilizer/shield
3) Clear canopy cover
Under the accessories lid, you’ll find
6) 3x fixed posed hands (Fists, gun grips, and open palms)
And beneath the Styrofoam tray, you’ll find another plastic tray that contains:
7) Display stand (Base and arm)
8) 3x clear display stand adapters (Fighter, GERWALK, and battroid modes)
Considering that the gun and vertical stabilizers are integral to the toy, this doesn’t feel like the same level of goodness the VF-31 toy came with. The fixed posed hands look large even before you put them on the toy. Whereas the VF-31 comes with SIX sets of fixed posed hands, the three included here seems a little light. I don’t remember there ever being a clear canopy on a Draken III in the show so I’m not sure what the inspiration is there. If the idea is that the clear canopy lets us see the pilot, like we could see the pilots in the show, then another pilot figure wearing plain clothes should have been. There are hard points on the wings but there’s nothing to put on them but that’s not terribly surprising since I don’t recall the Draken IIIs ever carrying missiles or bombs. The VF-31 toy also came with a pair of daggers but this toy doesn’t come with the sword that was seen toward the end of the series. You also won’t get the mini Drakens which were used frequently in the show. Finally, the vertical stabilizer splits open to reveal the forearm-mounted shield and has some ugly hinges screwing up the emblem; an optional fixed shield with crest unmarred should have been included. Bandai has announced that the sword, the shield and mini Drakens will be sold as a Tamashii exclusive set later in 2017.
Charm & Collectability: (3.5/5)
Not everyone loves bad guys so there will be less of an interest here. Not everyone loves Macross Delta so that may also slow some sales down. There’s very little metal so this toy won’t invoke much sentimentality. That said, this is an attractive toy, features perfect transformation, and is a unique design so some people are going to love it. Of all the Drakens, one would assume that the Keith variant will be the most desired as he was the greatest ace of Delta. Releases so far:
SV-262H, Keith Aero Custom, March 2017, 22000 Yen.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
This toy doesn’t come together nearly as tightly as the VF-31 toy does in fighter mode. There are gaps and seams all over the body of fighter mode but this shouldn’t be surprising since the art on the front of the box is huge and not touched up to make things fit tighter together. I found the clear canopy generally unattractive. Some parts I expected to be translucent plastic are instead simply painted in a brilliant metallic red (which still looks attractive). The paint is phenomenal and truly makes this toy pop. GERWALK mode looks like the unloved bastard of a Glaug and an SV-51 which is pretty cool by me but many others will see it as awkward. Sometimes battroid mode looks to be all legs and neck but that’s faithful to the line art so, if it bugs you, blame Kawamori before Bandai.
This isn’t a toy that transforms, it’s plastic origami. Transformation is complicated, not intuitive, and will have a learning curve. If you put in the time or love transformation puzzles you’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of it. The core of the toy locks together well in each mode but the back kibble/wings don’t really lock into correct positions. The top lock in battroid could be more secure, particularly because all the joints are so stiff out of the box you really have to torque on them which can cause the lock to pop loose.
What you’ll like:
Integrated diecast landing gear with rubber tires (and the rear ones fold into tiny bays)
Articulated tow bar on front landing gear
Opening cockpit canopy (with swap out feature for clear canopy)
Separate pilot figure
Perfect (though complicated) transformation
The integrated gun extends away from the body in fighter mode and angles/pivots
The gun features a folding fin to allow sufficient ground clearance
Articulated thruster within foot
Pop out guns in right forearm
Airing of grievances:
The rear landing gear don’t lock in place, either at the base or at the extension point
The gun is missing a tiny peg at the front to lock it into the perfectly straight position in fighter mode
Articulated hands don’t do a good job grasping the gun.
The shield doesn’t lock together securely
The kneecap extension doesn’t lock in the extended position
The included display stand is the standard Bandai DX fare with no articulation points
The display stand adapter for GERWALK mode requires more effort than its worth
The transformation instructions leave something to be desired
The wings never tab into what would be a proper position and in GERWALK mode they conflict with the shoulders
The guns housed inside the right forearm can’t pop up in fighter mode without some effort.
Durability & Build: (7/10)
Bandai stepped up the packaging by putting adhesive plastic strips on the toy to stop the Styrofoam from ripping off all that beautiful paint… unfortunately, on some toys the paint adhered to the plastic strips. This toy is very complicated which generally bodes poorly for durability. Out of the box it is extremely tight and it can feel like you’re forcing it which may lead to snapped parts. There are lots of painted parts rubbing against each other at various points in transformation so scratches will likely be prevalent; I already have a few. There have been some breakages reported from poor gluing of a piece here or there but I haven’t seen any fatal breakages yet. I’ll revisit this score if a common issue arises.
This toy is so stiff it can lead you to believe it’s not as articulated as it is. There’s allegedly a waist swivel but I couldn’t get more than a millimeter of twist out of mine. It’s either too tight or something didn’t translate from the design to the real world. There is an ab crunch of sorts but it’s not very natural and you’ll have to readjust the toy when you’re done enjoying your ab crunch pose. The head’s ability to swivel around is impaired by a part of the nose of fighter mode that is directly behind it. The hips provide an excellent range of movement. The toughest thing to get used to are the feet. It’s an entirely new foot design and it feels limited. Out of the box the feet are also very stiff which makes it hard to tell if you’re encountering the limit of the range of movement or just aren’t applying enough pressure. What seemed a real bummer is that the toe can’t be lifted upward in battroid mode though you can generally find ways around that.
Total Score: (40.5/50)
This toy is 29.5CM long in fighter mode and 26CM tall in battroid making it almost perfect 1/60 scale in both modes for sticklers. I really like the look of it and it is an impressive toy but I’d stop short of saying that it’s a good buy for everyone. The VF-31 toys really raised the bar and the SV-262 falls just short of hitting it. Above all else, this toy looks really cool. If you love the look of the Draken III and you have patience or enjoy a good challenge, then you should buy this toy. If you’re not sure you like the look of the Draken III or you occasionally find yourself wanting to smash toys mid-transformation because things aren’t going as planned, then you should probably stick to the VF-31. The real problem with this toy is that the transformation is so complicated that it will diminish the fun factor for the average transformable toy enthusiast. I hope we gets lots of variants so I have more excuses to have these toys out and transforming… maybe someday I’ll enjoy it more.
Updated July 16, 2017: added HD transformation guide from battroid back to fighter mode