Mega Review: Available in Ivanov, Nora, and mass production variants
Packaging & Extras: (5/5)
Yamato reused the packaging for their 1/48 line of VF-1 toys for the 1/60 scale SV-51. The box is about 37 x 36 x 14.5 cm large and features a flip-top lid that lets you check out the toy without removing it. Much better use of the space of those boxes is made here, the toy itself is so big it had to be positioned diagonally. Inside you get the following:
1) 2 x Boosters for on top of the wings
2) 4 x Micro-missile launcher/auxiliary tank
3) 2 x Medium range missiles1 x Gun (integrated in fighter mode) with removable magazines
4) 1 x Pilot figure
Removing the top tray reveals a second plastic tray that includes:
5) 1 x Display stand (base, arm, support arm, connector)
6) 3 x Display stand adapters (fighter, GERWALK, battroid)
Like previous Yamato products, you’ll also find these items smuggled in behind the cardboard tray:
7) 1 x Instructions
8) 1 x Stickers
In a sweet little bonus, the weapons can attach to the hard points of the VF-0 or V2 VF-1 toys. Arcadia later made an improved SV-51 including many of the same accessories but they did NOT include a display stand with their release. The Arcadia version also includes only two micro-missile auxiliary tank hybrids and instead includes two smaller micro-missile pods. The wing-mounted boosters included with the Arcadia toy have improved molds that include articulated exhaust flaps.
Charm & Collectability: (3/5)
People don’t buy enemy mecha toys (or so the old logic goes) and even fewer buy them when the MSRP sails above the $185 mark. At initial release people were paying upwards of $225 to have this toy shipped to the states. It landed with a thud and was moved to discount bins where all three versions (but particularly the Nora and Mass Production versions) languished to the point where they were often on sale for 50% off. When Arcadia arose from Yamato’s ashes and produced a new VF-0 toy, I speculated that it might make the Yamato toy more collectable since it was unlikely Arcadia would try to release a new SV-51 mold… and I was totally wrong. Not only did Arcadia make a newer version, they doubled-down on the outlandish pricing selling their version for an astronomical 36,800¥! While the Arcadia toy has modest improvements, it’s about the same size in both modes (both are 38 cm long in fighter mode, the Yamato is a hair shorter in battroid at about 29.5 cm to Arcadia’s 30.5). The Arcadia toy does feel a bit more premium due to some added heft; it weighs 452 grams to Yamato’s rather light 336. Since the Arcadia toy’s improvements are rather modest, there’s still room in the market for the much cheaper Yamato product as it’s still a deluxe toy featuring perfect transformation of schemes featured prominently in the anime. Here was the release order and pricing information:
August 2007 – DD Ivanov Custom – 21,800 YEN
November 2007 – Nora Custom – 21,800 YEN
February 2008 – Mass Production Type – 21,800 YEN
There is some talk of a second DD Ivanov production run with fewer QC issues but I don’t have documentation on when it would have happened and it would have been sold in the exact same box as the first production run.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8.5/10)
The sheer size of these toys alone gives them a strong presence in any display case. Today we expect our premium toys to come with the most prominent details in paint but Yamato deserved praise for doing some of this back in 2007. The most crucial emblems on the toy (and its boosters) are painted on so you won’t have to rely on the somewhat thick stickers or trust in your ability to apply them perfectly. The pilot, the cockpit, and even the canopy, are all well detailed. I was able to detect extremely faint white overspray in a couple areas that seem to be related to the inside of the landing gear bays being painted white. The glowing white intakes are very shallow and seem a bit out of place (the SV-51 doesn’t have intake covers like most future UN Spacy designs). The biggest knock on this toy is that you can actually peek through the toy in fighter mode due to small gaps around the center/gun. As you can see from the line art comparisons, Yamato did a great job, especially for the first SV-51 toy ever, but there was room for some minor improvements.
If you’re debating between the newer Arcadia toy and the Yamato, the Arcadia toy did make a number of refinements. From a purely visual perspective, the Arcadia toy has a better pilot mold, sharper panel lines, crisper painted details, less obvious screws, new/improved detail work, and no gaps in fighter mode.
While the Ivanov and Mass Production toys may look a little dull, I was very impressed with my Nora toy. Some wanted Nora’s trim to be yellow but the metallic bronze accents really pop. I struggled with my decision to add one to my collection but when I had it in hand I was happy to have it. Yamato also went the extra mile and gave us a clearly female pilot figure for the Nora release.
I’ve addressed the gaps you can see holding the toy in fighter mode up to a light so I won’t continue to harp on that negative here. Otherwise, this is an extremely impressive toy. Initially there was some concern in the resin prototype stage that the toy would not be able to stand erect without the assistance of a display stand (possibly a factor in the decision to include the stand) but I’m happy to report that the toy stands without issue on its own accord in both GERWALK and battroid modes. The inclusion of the display is very welcome allowing everything from submarine launching poses, fully loaded banking fighter attacks, aggressive GERWALK poses, and dynamic battroid action. On a side note, owning this toy will immediately convince you that the SV-51 is WAY too complicated to be a predecessor to any variable fighter in the Macross universe. Just about every part of this toy serves some other purpose and has some trick to it that converts it from a truly menacing jet to a pope of destruction. Check out the HD transformation guide in concert with the review to gain a true appreciation of how complex the toy is. I loved how the VTOL vents carry through several different parts within the toy rather than just being superficial to the top and bottom pieces that are exposed. Of course you get the deluxe features you expect including:
1) Integrated landing gears that lock in the deployed position, have spinning wheels and rubber tires, and are sufficiently large
2) Opening canopy with removable pilot figure
3) Ability to stow the gun in fighter mode/securely handle it in other modes
4) Hard points that receive various accessory weapons
5) Perfect transformation
There were some instances when the doors on the legs would pop open during handling. Magnets are used to help keep the nose and arms (in fighter mode) in place. The upper wing hard point is concealed with a removable plug which is nice for all those who have no intention of using the booster rockets. The gun has additional removable magazines with retractable pegs for mounting (you’ll need both magazines for the sleekest fighter mode but I preferred the look of one magazine for battroid and GERWALK). What really prevents this toy from scoring higher are the lack of locks for numerous parts to ensure they stay in the proper position. Handling this toy can be very frustrating as the wrong parts will move on you. If you’re weighing this toy against the Arcadia version that came out more than a decade later, that toy made the following improvements:
1) Ability to expose the VTOL intake fans while in fighter
2) Mechanisms to conceal gaps in fighter mode
3) Redesigned wing hinges to make them more stable when in the fully-loaded position
4) Cosmetic improvements (crisper painted details/panel lines, eliminated screw holes, improved pilot mold)
5) Refined transformation mechanisms (eliminated the spinning tabs on the Yamato gun magazines in favor of slots with pegs in the legs, eliminated magnets in favor of more secure pegs/slots)
6) Articulation improvements (shoulder covers can pivot upward, improved range at elbows/knees)
Durability & Build: (6.5/10)
Sadly, the Ivanov suffered from the Yamato “first run” curse. Within a couple days of release there were complaints that the hinge meant for one wing had been installed (backward) on the second wing which impeded the folding process. If you own an Ivanov and the wings don’t fold the same in battroid mode then you have this problem. Initial reviewers also pointed out that the wings weren’t sufficiently strong to hold up the boosters without bowing (to be fair, the wings are supposed to be slanted when the big boosters are attached). As more people handled their toys there also were numerous complaints about looseness of fit issues where the toys were becoming sloppy and impossible to pose in certain positions. Some people also complained that their SV-51s came with fogged up canopy plastic. There is some debate whether or not a true “second run” of the Ivanov toy with slightly improved QC happened. Yamato released the toy and then sent more stock out a couple months later, seemingly being too soon to be a true second release and more likely just being the second half of a first production run. For my part, my toys were build-problem free and after minimal handling stayed tight (the legs are huge and the weight will pull them down during some extreme poses when using the stand). Some years later, my Ivanov toy is now getting loose. One final thing to note, the longer wing attachments (hybrid fuel tank/micro missile launchers) do fall off fairly easily but they are nowhere near as bad as the reaction missiles on Yamato’s 1/48 and 1/60 V1 VF-1 toys.
This toy is a LOT of fun to pose (provided the joints aren’t loose in which case I imagine it’d be a total nightmare). The head swivels left/right and can look up but it’s not on a ball joint. The shoulder rotation point is awkward (moving the arm can cause the transformation mechanism to shift) and the shoulder armors don’t angle upward sufficiently. The shoulder transformation can be tricky, if the arms are dangling down on your toy and you can’t figure out how to get it to hold the gun outward then you haven’t transformed the shoulders properly. If there’s a piece of plastic dangling, you need to rotate the shoulder mechanism to bring it all tightly together. The elbow and knee joints only allow 90 degrees of movement. The hands are the standard Yamato 1/48 VF-1 hand (pivots for the trigger finger, thumb, and other three fingers as one piece with a wrist on a peg that can twist) but with a big cover on the back. There is no waist on this toy but the ball-jointed hips have very good range of movement which helps make up for that. There’s a twist point in the leg. The feet have three individually articulated toes (with knuckle pivots), the ability to extend the heel, a heel that allows you to bring the front toe up or far down, but only limited lateral movement.
Total Score: (39/50)
Yamato’s SV-51 toys were superior to their VF-0 toys. Arcadia’s VF-0 toys are far superior to their Yamato counterparts and while their SV-51 is better than the Yamato(assuming you didn’t get one with a build issue, see the review of the Arcadia SV-51), it’s not the dramatic improvement we saw on the VF-0 line. I once wrote: “I can’t imagine Arcadia or anyone else will ever make another version of this toy so if you think you might want to get one, now is a good time to start hunting for it.” Well, I was wrong, and I encourage you to check out both reviews thoroughly to determine how much the improvements on the Arcadia toy are worth to you given the huge price discrepancy. These may not be the best Macross toys out there but if you’re a fan of the SV-51 or Macross Zero, you really owe it to yourself to have at least one in your collection… even if you just leave it in fighter mode to dwarf your other fighters. Note the cannon fodder pictures below are promotional Yamato photos so the actual product might differ slightly.
Note: This review has been updated:
July 2009 – Original post
August 2009 – Yamato Nora and Mass Production SV-51 Toys
November 9, 2014 – Consolidated separate SV-51 reviews, added HD video review and transformation guide, increased the resolution of the photos, and added line art comparisons.
August 20, 2017 – Added HD battroid to GERWALK to fighter transformation video
March 3, 2020 – Added scan of instructions, pictures from Arcadia review, and updated content to reflect the release of the Arcadia toy