Mega Review: Includes all VF-25 and YF-25 Toys
Packaging & Extras: (4.5/5)
These toys come in simple boxes made of shiny, very thin cardboard, but are relatively svelte at 36cm wide, 9.5cm deep, and 23cm tall. The toy lies inside a plastic bag, cradled by a Styrofoam tray, covered by a cardboard panel that’s sturdier than the stuff used for the box. Alto was the first release and came packaged with the following accessories:
2) Removable pilot figure
3) Gun (with collapsing stock)
4) 3x Pairs of fixed-posed hands (6 hands total)
6) DX Display stand consisting of a base, arm, and adapters for each mode (included in a second tray)
7) Alto EX armor figure with Base and black wire to connect figure to base
There are no stickers included with the toy; the idea being that all the detail you could need has already been painted on. I would have liked to have seen thicker cardboard and a collector’s style flip-top lid on the box. A dream package would have been a gift-set that included the super parts the vehicle was so frequently outfitted with in the show.
The Ozma VF-25S toy was the second release in the line and the first to don that sleek Macross 30th anniversary logo. Other than the art, the packaging and contents are unchanged except instead of getting an EX Armor figure with base and black wire, you get:
7) Smaller co-pilot (Ranka) figure
8) ABS rigid plastic head lasers… in case you don’t like the rubbery PVC ones that come attached
Curiously, Ozma also gets a different-colored gun. His is dark silver whereas Alto’s was purple.
The next release in the line was Michael’s VF-25G. There were no changes to the packaging but the accessories were a little different:
3) The standard VF-25 gun is replaced with the special VF-25G sniper gun. It is included in the tray with the display stand. The gun is really nice with pop-out supports and mock sliding ‘pump’ action
7) Like Ozma, Michael comes with a co-pilot (Ranka) instead of the EX armor figure
8) Like Ozma, Michael includes an ABS head laser you can swap out with the installed PVC version
9) Michael also includes grappling hooks with opening and closing claws
To be clear, this toy does not also include a standard gun, just the sniper rifle. The front connector of the fighter/GERWALK display stand adapter was slightly reworked.
Luca’s RVF-25 release comes in similar packaging but the depth bulges to 12cm. The contents are similar to Alto’s but instead of the EX armor figure you get:
7) The RVF-25 radar array
8) 2x gun pod attachment pieces (front and back)
9) An extension peg to move the shield away from the forearm
In a perfect world, you would be able to attach a gun pod without needing separate parts, but I don’t remember Luca doing much firing and I believe most people who purchase this toy are going to want to embrace the full recon layout. The shield extension is less fortunate. The display stand is reworked slightly to accommodate the lower sensor array in fighter mode.
Next came the mass production VF-25A toy which was back in the same sized packaging as the non-RVF-25 toys. This toy comes with everything Alto did, excluding the EX armor figure. Instead, you get:
7) ABS head laser
This was the most bare-bones release. It came in the same Styrofoam tray used for Alto but the slot for the EX-armor’s base was left empty. The included gun is the same silver as Ozma’s rather than the more anime accurate color of Alto’s.
The final release before a long hiatus was the YF-25 Prophecy. The packaging is unchanged from the original Alto release and, like the mass production release, this toy comes in the same tray as Alto’s 25F but with a void where the base for the EX Armor figure was originally packaged. Otherwise, you get everything that came with Alto and:
7) Full-sized co-pilot figure
The YF-25’s gun was back to being the more purple color of Alto’s release. Fun fact, the little baggies included with these toys were made to easily be torn while all the accessories included in previous releases came in bags that had to be cut. Probably because the YF-25 has NUNS markings instead of SMS, the included display stand is left entirely black to not draw attention to the fact that the base that SHOULD have been included is the one that came with the NUNS VF-171 toys.
BigWest and Bandai celebrated Macross’ 40th anniversary and the resolution of legal battles with Harmony Gold (which finally cleared the way for Macross toys (outside of the original SDF: Macross show) to be sold worldwide) with the release of the commemorative Macross Worldwide VF-25. The packaging swelled to 37.5 cm wide, 9.8 cm deep, and 24.5 cm tall. Why the bigger box? Probably to accommodate the new plastic clamshell tray that replaced the Styrofoam tray of the original releases. While the tray is different, the accessories remain familiar, consisting of everything you got with the original Alto toy, excluding the EX armor figure.
Alto’s Super VF-25F Gift-Set is coming April 2023 for 26,000¥ (28,600 with tax)
Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
With a nice metal content (332 grams of heft), perfect transformation, and a popular set of vehicles for a popular show, all the ingredients are here for a hot collector’s item. At 24 cm tall in battroid and 32 cm long in fighter, the toy is about 1/60 scale in both modes meaning it will fit right in with a lot of existing collections. Bandai’s first renewal releases were produced in small runs which quickly sold out. This wasn’t a surprise as the version 1 DX VF-25 toys originally sold beginning December 2008 had also been hot sellers for Bandai. Whereas those toys retailed for an MSRP of 12,000¥, we do see some price inflation on these “renewal” toys which went on sale in October 2011 with an MSRP of 14,000¥ (although your extra 2,000 Yen did get you a display stand and a vastly superior toy). The upward creeping price didn’t keep fans away and most stores saw all variants sell out (although it took Michael’s VF-25G a bit longer to disappear and Luca’s RVF-25 was easily obtainable months after its release). I think the YF-25 release has all the hallmarks of a hot future collectible. The vehicle made a very brief cameo in a hangar shot in the movies as well as appearing in Macross the Ride and Macross 30: Voices across the Galaxy. It’s a heroic looking paint scheme, has a unique head and canopy shape, was seen in the movies, and initial demand was probably subdued so it’s a good bet that Bandai skimped on the production number and won’t reissue it. The Macross Worldwide release is non-canonical so it may have a hard time holding its value. Bandai has teased reissue gift-sets for the core team which may negatively impact the secondary market of the originals.
Super Parts, Tornado Parts, and Armor Parts for these toys were available exclusively through Tamashii. As you should expect, accessories for the version 1 toys do not work properly with version 2 toys since the version 2 toys are completely different molds. Check out my separate reviews of the renewal accessories.
See the infographic above for all releases.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9.5/10)
It is almost uncanny how well Bandai nailed it. When the version 1 toy came out in 2008, there were a lot of grumblings from fans who felt the transition from CGI to toy should have been straight forward but had clearly been botched. At the time, I felt the version 1 shortcomings in emulating the art must have been sacrifices to build a sturdy toy, since the line art can look very thin at times. It’s clear to see now that I was wrong, emulating the line art nearly perfectly was possible; Bandai just needed some time and some feedback to their first effort to figure it out. With the combined experiences from Bandai’s DX VF-25 V1, DX VF-27, and DX YF-29, they now have the required expertise. As you can see in the profile and birds-eye shots of fighter, this effort nearly perfectly emulates the line art resolving numerous issues from the version 1 toy. The pilot may not have reached Yamato levels of detail but it was an improvement over the awful version 1 toys. The cockpit is also improved though a little bit of paint would have really helped put it over the top. The paint job on Ozma’s emblem is top notch.
I’ll dive deeper into GERWALK mode in the design section but it’s worth noting in this section that this toy looks fantastic in this mode. The improvements made to fighter and battroid mode are both on display. I was a bit let down that the gray used on the knee joint isn’t the same gray used along the interior side of the leg but it’s not hugely noticeable unless you’re looking at the toy close up. There are removable intake covers that expose turbine detail, but the turbines could have used a bit of paint.
Moving to battroid mode, the only concession I see here is that the hips are slightly lower than line art. The back has some detailing under it now that helps conceal the cockpit when viewing battroid from the side. Unlike the version 1 toy, the renewal version looks ‘athletic’ rather than ‘chunky’. The heads now sit in a more comfortable looking position (the necks is short on the version 1 toys) and the new molds for the heads look fantastic.
Michael’s sniper rifle has paint applications inside the supports to help make it pop. While I generally like the sniper rifle, it does look a hair too large in fighter mode. The grappling hooks also look amazing and add to the display options. The 25G head (and 25A) looks great.
Luca and Michael have their intakes made of the same plastic that is the primary body color so the lack of paint on the turbine detail is obvious. I would display my RVF-25 in fighter mode with all sensors deployed but don’t worry, if you’re a battroid fan, the toy looks great in that mode also!
The mass production toy captures the paint scheme well. Bandai didn’t do anything to make the mass production toy special which is fitting. Ironically, this bland paint scheme really stands out from all the other, very heroic, custom units.
The paint job on the YF-25 toy is probably the best of all the releases (although I’m sure the scheme turns some people off). Check out the little arrow and latch near the landing gear doors. While the paint job overall is very nice, the NUNS logo within the red diamonds should have been sharper. The YF-25 also features a different canopy shape and layout and a very nice-looking, unique head.
For the Macross Worldwide release, Bandai modernized the mold by moving to a matte finish. The matte finish received more praise than the paint scheme though it’s generally considered attractive.
Here’s a straight forward list of all the improvements seen on the V2 toy although some of these more appropriately belong in the sculpt/detail section:
1) Landing gear are larger and better detailed. Front landing gear has articulated tow bar, rear landing gear lock in place and can be deployed without partially transforming the toy.
2) Leg fins angle out properly and are a better size (although this makes them poke out the back of the leg when in battroid/GERWALK)
3) Pilot figure is removable
4) Area behind pilot in cockpit can be converted into a second seat which can fit the Ranka figure (included with Ozma and Michael) – excludes YF-25 which has a unique cockpit
5) Intake covers are removable to expose turbine detail
6) Gun attaches in fighter mode without an additional part – excludes RVF-25
7) Gun locks opened/closed and has a groove in the handle to help keep it in the hand
8) Fighter mode: head integrates more smoothly into the back
9) Fighter mode: legs sit higher
10) Fighter mode: nose doesn’t angle down too steeply
11) Fighter mode: blue parts in the nose are now blue plastic instead of paint
12) Wings no longer peg into the legs, instead the pegs attach at the side of the leg improving fit and ease of transformation
13) Articulated hands can now be stowed in fighter mode with a latch that collapses allowing the shield to hug the arm tighter in GERWALK and Fighter modes
14) Shield can hold dagger
15) Shoulder assembly is improved, transformation is easier, and shoulders maintain their position better
16) An additional joint has been added allowing the arm to move away from the body at the shoulder improving articulation
17) Legs now extend revealing a twisting articulation point at the knee, this allows the hips to remain locked to the fuselage in GERWALK mode which lends far more stability to that mode as well as increasing overall articulation
18) Arms now extend allowing the elbows a further range of articulation
19) GERWALK support has been added with the ability to hold the gun
20) Neck area is on a Z joint allowing it to extend further up placing the head further up in battroid mode
21) New pelvis latch mechanism has been added moving the hips lower down and allowing the pelvis to angle out properly (like the YF-29)
Michael’s version 1 toy could not sit on the landing gear with the sniper rifle attached, this is NOT a problem for the renewal toy.
The lower sensor array of the RVF-25 does interfere with where the gun would sit in fighter mode. To resolve this, Bandai included clips that allow the gun to mount forward of its normal position. While it’s a little bit funky, it’s a nice solution rather than abandoning the gun entirely. That lower sensor array also causes problems in battroid mode. To make space for the array against the forearm, the toy includes a spacer. On the plus side, the RVF retained the spinning and extension gimmicks from the V1 toy while adding the ability to fold the wings completely back in battroid mode.
The YF-25 has a unique two-seat cockpit that allows the toy to accommodate two full-size pilot figures.
The Macross Worldwide release was the first ‘2.1’ release, adding a matte finished and additional screws in the hip joint to hopefully improve tightness… or at least making solving looseness easier (first seen on the YF-29). The toy also has a reshaped neck plate though I haven’t seen how that improves things.
The included display stand is sufficient to elevate your toy and is sturdy but it’s otherwise ugly and basic. The RVF toy display stand arm moves the toy further back to give it clearance for the lower sensor array.
Durability & Build: (7/10)
The same issues that have plagued all DX Frontier toys will rear their ugly head here again. First, joints will get loose. Of particular concern are the shoulder joints. Generally, if the joints become too problematic and start hampering your enjoyment, then you can tighten them up by inserting some friction (try clear nail polish or tape on the ball). The head lasers on the Ozma toys seem to be universally loose, regardless of whether or not you use the installed PVC guns or the supplied ABS guns. While loose they are still manageable and the same tricks you would use to tighten any ball joint can be used on these. It is nice that Bandai supplied both rubbery PVC guns and more rigid (but more fragile) ABS guns for people who were turned off by the floppier look of the PVC guns. The second big problem is paint that can be chipped off. Transformation is usually when the paint is at its most vulnerable as the toy’s design tends to keep sharp edges away from the paint when the toy arrives in any of its final three modes. Michael’s grappling hooks connect at a spot of the toy where there is no paint so you can attach these extras without fear. There is a new concern in the form of the sharp points located on the inside of the knee which can be easily bent while articulating the toy. If the knees are fully extended, they can be swiveled and bent at will without danger but if you’re attempting a daring pose and the knee is no longer at full extension, then the edges are in danger. On the Ozma toy, some owners have noted inconsistency in the tones of gray used (generally, in the tone of the lighter gray color). On my sample, the light gray paint seems reasonably consistent but my pictures and experience with the toy was all under fluorescent lights so maybe the type of light shining on the toy affects how visible any differences are.
When Bandai refreshed the mold for the Macross Worldwide toy and introduced version 2.1, they improved hip tension by adding more screws to the area to ensure it stays tight. Unfortunately, this release added a new issue, the tip of the nose does not lock snugly into position creating a small gap in fighter and GERWALK modes.
Articulation is best witnessed by checking out the video reviews but I’ll run through things quickly here from top to bottom. The head lasers are on ball joints for the heads where that makes sense and pivot on the single laser types. The neck is a double ball joint so you can put lots of personality into each pose. The shoulders have an interior swivel that leads to a another double ball joint. Under the shoulder cover is a swivel point for the arm. The elbow is double hinged allowing 180 degrees of movement. The hand connects via a ball joint at the wrist. There are no articulated knuckles. The thumb has ball joint where it meets the palm. The trigger finger swivels separately from the other three fingers which are a solid piece. There is a swivel at the waist and the hips connect via ball joints with an impressive range of movement. The typical GERWALK joint exists below the intakes. Extending the knee exposes a swivel and the knees can hinge back better than 90 degrees. The ankles are on a ratcheting hinge that allows the toe to point straight down and that whole mechanism houses a ball joint that allows the foot to both camber and twist. Long story short… you can have a lot of fun with these toys and do some amazing poses.
Total Score: (43.5/50)
I gave the YF-29 a slightly higher score because I enjoyed the integrated missiles and tornado-like guns. Obviously, the VF-25 has more global appeal than the YF-29 since the 25 was in far more media. Some would argue against considering the YF-29 a better toy because the YF-29 has a less fluid transformation, particularly where the shoulder parts are concerned, when the toy is being transformed from battroid to fighter but that can be overcome with practice. I produced a list of over 20 improvements over the version 1 toy so yes, this is a significant upgrade AND A TOTALLY NEW MOLD. If you’re a fan of Macross Frontier, buy this toy. Could a better VF-25 toy be made? Maybe…. but not at this price point. Of all the renewal releases to date, the shield extension and extra gun attachment parts make the RVF-25 the least refined.
Note: This review has been updated on October 1, 2017 to add an HD Battroid to fighter transformation guide
Originally posted on November 21, 2011.
January 25, 2012, added DX VF-25S Ozma Lee custom.
May 13, 2013 added VF-25G Michael release and a new HD video showing the differences between the original toys and the renewal releases.
October 21, 2013 added RVF-25 Luca.
December 9, 2013 added HD video review of the VF-25G
December 15, 2013 added VF-25A as well as an HD video review
October 28, 2014 added YF-25 Prophecy as well as an HD video review
August 27, 2017 increased resolution photos and added an HD fighter to battroid transformation guide.
April 2023 added Macross Worldwide release and updated to current format