Review: Maybe “Renewal” isn’t the right term…
Packaging & Extras: (4.5/5)
This toy comes in an attractive box that’s relatively compact and continues the themes seen in the Renewal VF-25 packaging. There’s no flip top lid to show you what’s inside which significantly reduces how large this box has to be since there’s no concern about presentation. As a Tamashii exclusive, the green version also came in a Tamashii brown shipper box. Both variants come with the following:
1) Gun (featuring barrel separation gimmick)
2) 2 x Fixed posed hands (a third set of fixed posed hands come pre-installed on the toy)
3) Pilot figure (already in cockpit)
4) Instruction manual
5) 1 x Articulated hands
6) Alternate transparent green canopy cover
7) Display stand with adapters for all three modes
8) Gun attachment piece
9) Crotch lock (prevents the crotch from collapsing back in battroid mode)
Specific to Brera’s release, you also got the following items:
10) Passenger figure (already in cockpit)
11) Super parts (Backpack, three leg parts, forearm parts, and shoulder parts)
12) Adapter for fighter display with super parts attached
Specific to the green variant, you also go the following items:
10) Male pilot figure (a Grace pilot figure is already in the cockpit)
11) Optional standard style head
12) Stickers (so you can choose commander version or standard)
If you’re trying to calculate the bang for your buck, the first four items were also included with the original DX VF-27 release (and the Ranka figure), items 5 and up are new. When reviewing the contents of this box three major letdowns were obvious before I started handling the toy:
A) Why on Earth would we go from an original toy with an integrated gun attachment piece to a renewal toy that needed a separate attachment?
B) Why would we need a crotch lock when the renewal VF-25 toys seem to do fine without them?
C) Why aren’t the articulated hands pre-installed on the toy? Does the renewal VF-27 toy need to use the knife-hand fixed posed hands for fighter mode just like the original toy did?
Of course I’ll answer all of these questions in this review but, obviously, this was not the warm fuzzy feeling I had when I received my first renewal VF-25 toy.
Charm & Collectability: (3/5)
Brera isn’t quite the lovable character the SMS crew was and calling him ‘heroic’ doesn’t feel right. Still, he has an emo draw for some people and the VF-27 itself is pretty cool looking (even if I’m not a huge fan of overly large guns). The Grace/Standard release was a Tamashii exclusive but it was clearly not a hot seller. Secondary sellers had stock of it for a very long time at discount. The release schedule was:
VF-27 Brera Custom with Super Parts, August 2013, 20,000 Yen
VF-27 Grace/Standard version, August 2015, 18,360 Yen tax included
The renewal version easily surpasses the original (February 2010) release’s MSRP of 16,000 Yen but with a bunch of extras and improvements. Considering the Brera release has super parts and a display stand, the price might even seem a bargain. Since this VF-27 renewal didn’t mark the huge upgrade that the VF-25 renewal toy was over its predecessor, it never became a hot item despite being in a popular scale, having metal, and being perfect transformation.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8.5/10)
The original release did a very good job in fighter mode and nothing has changed here except some painted exterior detail and a few little slots and notches to accommodate the super parts. People who were expecting a completely new mold with tons of new detail work (like we saw with the renewal VF-25 toy) will be let down as the improvements are limited to some paint work in fighter and GERWALK modes. The painted on detail seems to be a desperate effort by Bandai to make the fighter and GERWALK modes of the new version stand apart from the original release but they draw their inspiration from the Macross Frontier movies. The lack of new molded detail has led to some discussion as to whether or not this toy should be called a ‘renewal’ version. I’m using the term liberally here just because it seems like a great way to quickly differentiate between the releases. Battroid mode is significantly different around the pelvis but it’s not necessarily more line art accurate. The crotch has been reshaped a little and juts forward further and more easily but it’s still too large and still doesn’t jut forward enough. The new shoulder mechanisms hold position better in battroid mode but at the cost of not pulling together as tightly. Repositioning the legs does make the toy taller (the original stands 22CM tall, the renewal stands 24CM tall) which reduces how overly large the gun appears in battroid mode (the gun’s size is unchanged). While the new leg position is getting a lot of positive feedback it’s worth noting that the original toy was more accurate in its leg position judging by the line art I’ve seen.
Clearly this isn’t a complete ground up overhaul of the original toy but there are some significant changes. Let’s start with my observations upon opening the toy:
Q) Why do we have a separate gun attachment piece when the original toy had an integrated one?
A) On the new toy the gun connector piece has been replaced by a back support in the same style as the renewal VF-25 toys. This support ensures that the toy can support the super parts in GERWALK. The really good news is that this gun attachment part is optional. The revised front clip on the gun grips the crotch in fighter mode so tightly (when pressed all the way forward with the barrel closed) that there doesn’t seem to be a need for the secondary connector. A silver lining here is that the additional gun attachment piece also is fairly easy to add to the toy where digging out the integrated gun attachment piece took another step of transformation.
Q) Why do we need a crotch lock when the renewal VF-25 toys do well without them?
A) Like the gun connector piece, this part is optional but I found it to be very helpful and recommended, particularly when using the Super Parts. If using a display stand you will not use this piece as the battroid adapter also serves to lock the crotch in place. This piece and how helpful it is really sucks and is a big part of why I’m not scoring this toy higher… there should have been an integrated solution.
Q) Why does the toy come with fixed pose knife-hands instead of articulated hands installed?
A) While the articulated hands fit in fighter mode, they don’t tuck beneath the shield very well. You don’t HAVE to use the knife hands but they do make fighter mode look the best when viewed from below.
Okay, so let’s hit the improvements rapid fire style:
1) Additional accessories (green canopy, super parts or head, display stand, articulated hands)
2) Additional painted on details
3) Ability to attach the gun by just clipping it on
4) Legs sweep forward a little more in GERWALK mode
5) Pegs in arm rotation mechanism now fit more securely locking the shoulders in place in battroid
6) Hinge in arm rotation mechanism now allows the shoulders to stay locked in place while the parts on either side of the head can be angled (on the original release the pegs only stay in place when the parts to the side of the head have a very similar angle to the chest)
7) Head appears to be skewed a bit more vertically and other very minor tweaks throughout give the toy a slightly thinner/taller appearance
8) Repositioned legs in battroid mode with a crotch that juts forward a little better (as mentioned, it still sadly benefits greatly from a separate piece being used to prop the crotch forward).
9) New hands that connect via much thicker ball joints and are less prone to sagging under pressure (but the gun is still heavy enough to make this happen regardless)
Of course you still get all the nice design elements from the original release including:
1) Opening canopy with removable pilot/copilot
2) Integrated landing gear with front tow bar
3) Adjustable thrusters (the Brera toy also has adjustable thrusters on the super parts)
4) Perfect transformation (with the same caveat that the fixed posed knife-hands look best in fighter mode and a separate piece and the crotch-lock is very helpful in battroid
5) A GERWALK mode where the hips remain attached (this was the big improvement over the V1 VF-25 toys
6) Integrated knife in the shield and articulated shield edge which collapses for battroid mode and allows the shield to suck in much tighter to the arm than the V1 VF-25 shield could.
Durability & Build: (7/10)
Bandai has an average at best track record when it comes to the DX releases. Joints tend to get loose over time. Generally this can be fixed but it’s a bummer to spend over $100, sometimes $200 on a toy and know you’re going to need to maintain it. These toys also feature a glossy finish that seems to make it fairly easy to chip the paint off. You won’t need to be afraid of handling these toys but you’ll want to be a little cautious at a couple points in transformation. Chipped paint where the nose meets the chest has led to a number of original release owners leaving their VF-27 toys in battroid mode permanently. On the green version, the ball joint attachment of the optional head is a nightmare for the paint on the nosecone below the neck plate. You have to push HARD to get that head on the toy and, in doing so, you might be jamming that neck plate into the paint on your nosecone. Use extreme caution when switching from a Grace version to a standard version.
Assuming your toy doesn’t become a floppy mess, you can have a lot of fun posing these toys. The head is a ball joint. The shoulders themselves offer some nice articulation. I’m giving this toy an 8 instead of a 9 because we don’t get the additional shoulder joint the V2 VF-25 toys has that allows the arm to be extended away from the body at the shoulder. Instead you have to pivot the whole shoulder which limits arm mobility away from the body a great deal. You can compensate for this with the elbow swivel and the double jointed elbows but you’ll be aware you’re compensating for a joint that should be there. The wrists can spin on their balls and the articulated hands are nice and grip the gun well. There’s a waist joint but it’s rendered inoperable by the crotch support or display stand which is pretty lame. Hips are on ball joints. There’s a swivel point at the knee and the knee themselves have a standard range of movement. The feet offer a pretty decent ability to angle and tilt although the toys aren’t incredibly well articulated but that might help keep the toy very stable in battroid mode.
Total Score: (39/50)
The original VF-27 was a significant improvement over the original VF-25. The Renewal VF-25 was a significant improvement over the original VF-27. The renewal VF-27 does not feel like as good a product as the renewal VF-25. Should it be called a ‘renewal’ version? Probably not, though it certainly an improvement. Still, it’s a convenient label so I’m using it. The good news is that the original release is long sold out and this toy gave fans of the VF-27 owner a chance to get a better toy at a good price. If you’re a VF-27 fan, there’s nothing here that I think should hold you back from buying this. If you’re just looking for the best Frontier valk, here was my ranking:
3) VF-25 Renewal
5) VF-27 Renewal
Originally posted September 13, 2013.
Updated April 9, 2017 to include Grace/Mass Production release.
Updated April 30, 2017 to include battroid/GERWALK/Fighter transformation video