Bandai DX YF-19 and VF-19Advance Toys

Review: Like Han and the Millenium Falcon, Isamu likes to stick to what he knows

Packaging & Extras: (5/5)
The VF-19Advance receives a perfect score on the merit of the ‘extras’, the packaging could be better. You get a very flimsy cardboard box (36 x 23 x 15.5 cm) adorned with images of the toy. There’s no flip-top lid that would let you see the toy without opening it but the packaging is efficient so many will view that as a worthy concession. Inside the box you’ll find the toy in a Styrofoam tray sealed by tape along the entire perimeter by an unmarked cardboard lid and two plastic trays housing the rest of the accessories. Besides the toy, the Styrofoam tray includes:
1) Gun (with pivot gimmick)
2) Isamu pilot figure
3) Pinpoint barrier punch effect (in 4 pieces, the swirling effect parts that mate to it are in one of the other trays))
4) 3x pairs of fixed posed (but with articulated wrists) hands
In the first plastic tray you’ll also find:
5) Advance Packs (2x leg armors, 2x rear leg parts, 2x outer shoulder parts, 2x upper shoulder parts, 2x interior shoulder parts, 2x boosters on wings)
6) Neck cover for GERWALK mode
In the final plastic tray you’ll find:
7)  SMS Display stand (1x base for toy, 1x arm for toy, 3x adapters (1 for each mode), 2x additional braces for fighter mode adapter, 2x bases for boosters, 2x arms for boosters, 2x adapters for boosters
And sandwiched between all that good stuff you’ll find:

8) Instructions
The braces for the fighter mode display stand adapter can be moved into an upper position for standard fighter mode and a lower configuration for when the advanced packs are installed but the difference wasn’t significant. How is this better than the Arcadia YF-19 toy? You get a display stand, albeit a mediocre one. You don’t get stickers (you don’t need them) or leg cavity fillers (you won’t miss them). How is it worse than the Arcadia offering? Arcadia gave you more wing armaments than you would ever be able to utilize whereas Bandai doesn’t give you a single missile of payload. Arcadia also gave you Yang and an additional Isamu pilot figure and packaged the whole thing in an uglier box that DID offer MIB collectors the ability to see what they owned without cutting any tape. With the Arcadia toy you were overwhelmed at all the options you had, with the Bandai toy you’ll quickly be a little put off by the sheer volume of parts needed for the display stand and the advance packs. Advance packs are the Macross Plus fast packs plus the additional top of shoulder parts (2x each arm) and wing boosters.

The YF-19 Full-Set came out 4 years later and Bandai had siginficantly stepped up their packaging game. The Full Set comes in a box made of thicker cardboard (37.5 x 24.5 x 14.3 cm). There’s now a lid that opens but since the toy isn’t packaged to look pretty, pulling up the lid only reveals a secondary lid with some nice art on it. Removing that lid finally reveals the toy in a Styrofoam tray covered with a plastic lid (unlike that plain cardboard lid that was taped to the top of the VF-19Advance). Under a small lid you’ll find the following accessories housed within that Styrofoam tray:
1) Isamu pilot figure (with helmet)
2) Isamu pilot figure (without helmet)
3) Yang Newman copilot figure
4) GERWALK neck cover
5) 2x paired hard point connectors (for reaction missiles)
6) 3x pairs of fixed posed hands
7) 6x individual hard point connectors (for use with individual application of the reaction missiles, the LPP-12, SPP-8, or HMM-111CS)
8) 4x dual hard point conversion pieces that convert the above connector into a tree to connect two AOM-85)
9) Gun (with pivot gimmick)
In the first plastic tray you’ll find:
10) 8x AOM-85 mid-range missiles
11) 4x SPP-8 green micro missile pods
12) 4x LPP-12 green beam weapons
13) 4x HMM-111CS aerodynamic weapons pods
14) 4x reaction missiles
15) AAPP/T-02 Heavy arm cannon
16) Fold drive (connectors included in final tray)
17) Fast packs consisting of 2x leg armors, 2x shoulder armors, and 2x calf armors)
The final tray includes:
18) Pin-point barrier punch effect (4x pieces: left punch/right punch/two small connectors for each hand)
19) Front/rear folld booster connectors
20) Display stand consisting of a base, arm, and adapters for each mode
Under all the trays you’ll also find:

21) Instructions
Items in blue represent accessories unique to each release. Another way I could have written the Full Set parts list would have been “it’s everything that Arcadia included plus a fold drive, display stand, heavy arm cannon, fixed posed hands, and pinpoint barrier punch, but without the stickers because all the details are already painted on the toy and without leg cavity fillers but you won’t miss those.” The one thing that is obviously missing is the a cover for the rear seat to make the YF-19 appear a single-seat vehicle like it does for the first half of Macross Plus. The display stand included with the YF-19 has the generic base that Bandai has included with numerous other releases rather than the ‘SMS’ base that comes with the VF-19Advance and a wider fighter mode cradle to accommodate attachment of the heavy arm cannon.

Bandai’s reissue of the YF-19 dropped the ‘full set pack’ monicker and trimmed the package depth (27.5 x 24.5 x 11 cm). The box adopts the traditional side opening with no extra effort given to presentation for the trays within. Bandai has abandoned Styrofoam in favor of a vacuum formed plastic tray for the YF-19. Under the small lid you’ll find a paired down set of accessories. For ease of comparison, I’ve copied the full set list and striked the accessories not included in this version:
1) Isamu pilot figure (with helmet)
2) Isamu pilot figure (without helmet)
3) Yang Newman copilot figure
4) GERWALK neck cover
5) 2x paired hard point connectors (for reaction missiles)
5) 3x pairs of fixed posed hands
7) 6x individual hard point connectors (for use with individual application of the reaction missiles, the LPP-12, SPP-8, or HMM-111CS)
8) 4x dual hard point conversion pieces that convert the above connector into a tree to connect two AOM-85)
6) Gun (with pivot gimmick)
The second and final plastic tray includes:
7) Pin-point barrier punch effect (4x pieces: left punch/right punch/two small connectors for each hand)
8) Display stand consisting of a base, arm, and adapters for each mode

As is standard for DX releases, you’ll also receive a unique set of color instructions.
The choice to give this release two pin point barrier punch effects instead of throwing in the bigger, swirlier version from the full-set pack was intersting. Had Bandai reused the old pin-point punch effect, the Full Set and regular release would be differentiated from contents only by the inclusion/exclusion of one tray of parts.

Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
It was surprising to see a cameo by Isamu Dyson in the VF-19Advance in the second Macross Frontier movie. It was a greater surprise to learn that Bandai was making a toy of the 19Advance hot on the heels of the release of the Arcadia YF-19. Arcadia debuted their toy in March 2014 for 32,800 Yen. A year later the Bandai VF-19Advance hit shelves in June 2015 for 23,000 Yen. So the Bandai VF-19Advance was about 30% cheaper but still fairly expensive in comparison to other DX Macross toys. It didn’t seem to matter. They sold briskly and before long they were only available at a premium. It seemed obvious that a YF-19 repaint was likely but it took Bandai 4 years to make it happen. Given the YF-19’s bountiful accessory kit and more iconic paint scheme and features, it is likely to be a very hot seller. If Bandai ever does a reissue, it will be interesting to see if they do it as a “Full set” or makes a more affordable, bare bones release. Like other DX toys, the VF/YF-19 has metal reinforcing joints and is perfect transformation if you’re not a stickler for a neck cover in GERWALK mode. If metal content is of primary concern to you, the Arcadia toy has the entire battroid spine made of metal. Releases in this line so far include:
VF-19Advance, March 2014, 23,000¥
YF-19 “Full Set”, September 2018, 27,000¥

Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
As the VF-19Advance was the first release, many people purchased it and used it as a YF-19 replacement. The subsequent release of a proper DX YF-19 is surprisingly different despite being 95% the same mold. There are two notable changes to the mold. First, the VF-19Advance has a true one seat cockpit that can not be converted to two seats and has a one piece canopy that opens like a traditional fighter jet. The DX YF-19 has a dedicated two-seat cockpit and  two piece canopy that opens forward and back with a split in the middle. Second, the YF-19 has different heels. The 19Advance has long sleek heels which look great in fighter and pretty long in battroid. The YF-19 has very stubby heels which are definitely more anime accurate to Macross Plus but look a little clunky in fighter mode while looking good in battroid. The most obvious visual difference between the two toys are the various painted details. Some were obvious, the 19Advance has markings related to SMS while the YF-19 has UN Spacy logos. Some of the other differences are a bit more surprising. There are emblems and writing related to “Sinsei Industry”, the in-universe company that created the YF-19 (usually written as “Shinsei”). There were already a huge number of painted on warning signs but it looks like someone at Bandai studied their 19Advance for a long time and realized the markings weren’t totally consistent and had some more added for the YF-19 (like on the arms and part above the intake). The gun on the YF-19 also has the model type. The shield on the YF-19 also has two little slots to accommodate the fold booster gimmick. The arm on the YF-19 has mounting slots for the arm cannon that are not present on the 19Advance. It will be interesting to see if the VF-19Advance ever gets reissued, and, if it does, if it includes those slots. Overall, the YF-19 is also a tiny bit lighter beige than the VF-19Advance.

There are a few areas where this toy bests the Arcadia YF-19. First, it gets the intake shape right and eliminates the fat leading edge above the intake in fighter mode. Second, you don’t need to extend the legs in fighter mode to reveal the black area that shouldn’t be there. Third, the fins below the legs are a better size. Fourth, the canards are a better size and they have a better rotation system that doesn’t rely on an obvious peg (though some wish the canards could be angled higher). When viewing fighter mode from the side the Bandai is a clear winner. However, if you view both toys in fighter mode from above the Arcadia shield fills the gap between the legs better than the Bandai offering. Arcadia also nails the curves of the neck in fighter mode; Bandai reduced these curves which does give Bandai an edge in not having to have the big gap above the nose in battroid mode. When it comes to painted on detail, the Bandai trounces the Arcadia offering. Some may even feel that Bandai got a little carried away with the painted on markings. “Pleasantly Chunky” is a very good way to describe the Arcadia YF-19’s battroid mode. The Bandai toys do have an excellent battroid mode that is thinner and perhaps more athletic looking but I feel the Arcadia battroid captures the animation spirit better. As usual, Bandai’s landing gear, while metal with rubber spinning wheels, don’t compete with the painted look of Arcadia’s gear and gear bays.

Taking the comparison to the Arcadia toy a bit further, the included weapons in both companies YF-19 sets are VERY similar. The Bandai toy benefits from a tiny additional paint application on the rear of the AOM-85 mid-range missile and Arcadia added a little more paint to their HMM-111CS weapons. Arcadia made their toy compatible with the Yamato YF-19 fold booster. Though the Bandai fold booster does not have the super cool LED effect Yamato employed, the look of the Bandai booster is much more impressive from the panel lines to the interior detail to all the paint applications. While the pilot figure is a step up from previous Bandai offerings, it still falls short of the Arcadia figures. The Arcadia gun is also far bulkier and much more pleasant to my eye.

Design: (9/10)
When I first opened my VF-19Advance, it was misaligned and I spent a full 90 minutes partially transforming the toy and massaging all the parts to their proper places. Though my YF-19 didn’t require as much massaging out of the box, you must go into this toy expecting this sort of frustration. The exact proper position is not obvious for individual modes, consult the instructions frequently and watch my transformation guide. You will need to apply more pressure than you think should be necessary while avoiding areas that seem fragile. You will sweat. You will need to be patient. In time you may master it but in the beginning you must be a certain type of person, or very lucky, to enjoy hopping between modes and getting everything perfect. I have heard of people really struggling with putting on the advance packs. This should not be the case. If anything is fighting you too much, watch the videos for guidance and look very closely for little ‘L’s and “R’s on the smaller pieces. Getting beyond all that, this toy is amazing and featurs these design elements:

1) Opening canopy with removable pilot figure (and copilot figure on the YF-19). The VF-19Advance has a traditional canopy as opposed to the center split canopy of the YF-19. The Arcadia toy has the ability to convert into a two-seat configuration which is inexplicably missing from the Bandai toy.

2) Removable intake covers to reveal intake fan detail (they stay on better than the Arcadia ones do)

3) Integrated front landing gear with articulated tow bar ( features a neat collapsing gimmick but doesn’t lock in extended position)
4) Integrated rear landing gear that lock into position (but don’t pivot out like the Arcadia’s do)
5) Ability to stow the gun in fighter mode without interfering with landing gear. Bandai employed a pivot at the gun’s midpoint so it could lay flat on the bottom of fighter mode. This solution is visually off-putting from certain angles and a telescoping grip of some kind would have been a more appealing solution.

6) Fast pack and advance pack that don’t require any parts-swapping. Bandai opted to not connect the top of the wings to the leg fast packs in fighter mode which is clearly wrong and not an error Arcadia made (Bandai compounded this error by Photoshopping the art on the box to make it appear as though their toy didn’t have this short-coming).

7) Removable face to reveal internal mechanics in battroid

8) Hard points on wings. Note: The Full Set YF-19 comes with 8 hard point connector pieces. The YF-19 and VF-19Advance have 3 connection points on each wing (6 per bird). This means you can fully outfit your YF-19 Full Set and another toy can receive two of the remaining weapons.

9) Integrated internally stored missiles in legs. Unlike the Arcadia YF-19, the leg missile is still accessible when the FAST packs are on.
10) Gun has pivot gimmick allowing it to be straight in fighter mode

11) High speed mode

12) Mountable pin-point barrier punch accessory. After the ‘Full Set Pack’ YF-19, Bandai simplified the pin point barrier punch and included two of them. Though not as visually splendid, the new pin point barrier punch effects are much lighter, putting less strain on the ball joint in the shoulder. When using the punch effect on the left arm, the shield must be removed.
Both the Arcadia and Bandai toys lock together well in each mode and feel solid. Once you get the hang of it, the Bandai toy has a more satisfactory transformation to battroid. The chest comes together with a very tight fit and the arm transformation is simpler for an arguably better result. Going to fighter mode is more fluid for the Arcadia toy. The Arcadia gun is clearly superior to Bandai’s in both look and function. Arcadia also gave you the ability to collapse the trigger area of the gun and then stow the gun behind the shield in GERWALK or battroid modes. Bandai did something different to the shield and gave us a few unique benefits:
13) Neck cover for fighter mode that is integrated into the shield
14) Leg transformation that eliminates indents on the inner sides of the lower legs
These are welcome gimmicks in that they make the toy have a more perfect transformation. You will only need a neck cover in Gerwalk mode. While a lot of thought clearly went into both the Bandai and Arcadia toys, I ultimately scored the Bandai higher because the Arcadia is better on paper than it is in your hands. This is particularly true of the high speed mode wings. The wings are stiff enough on the Bandai toy where you won’t constantly be cursing them (though they also have room for improvement). On the Arcadia toy, the wings are so loose they will destroy your enjoyment of handling it.

The DX YF-19 upped the ante by including a heavy cannon accessory for the right arm. It’s an impressive accessory thaat also transforms so that it can be used in fighter mode. The fighter mode implementation isn’t perfect as the extra height of the cannon moves the gun so low that it interferes with the landing gear. To counter this, Bandai gave you the option to mount the gun sideways but even that allows only the tiniest amount of clearance (if any). I recommend using the display stand if using the arm cannon in fighter mode and then mounting the gun vertically. Bandai also altered the display stand fighter mode adapter to be a bit wider than the VF-19Advance’s as to not interfere with a fighter-mounted arm cannon. In battroid mode, the arm cannon is a lot of fun, featuring three opening bays that reveal weaponry in excellent detail. As mentioned above, the VF-19Advance arm does not have the slots to mount the cannon so this weapon is only for use with the DX YF-19.

Another feature unique to the YF-19 that was not present in the VF-19Advance is a rotation point at the knee. The VF-19Advance introduced the novel approach to GERWALK of having the legs pivot out behind the hips/intakes and it worked pretty well but wasn’t exactly intuitive. The DX YF-19 has those same pivot points and adds a twist at the knee making it even more fun to handle in both GERWALK and battroid modes.

All toys come with a display stand that is basic, offering adapters that hold the toy in a fixed position in any mode. The fighter mode adapter is large and clunky and has a bit of slop in it allowing the toy to rock left or right. The VF-19Advance comes with an SMS base. The YF-19 stand comes with Bandai’s generic base for non-SMS toys. Bandai reinforced the arm of the display stand included with the standard (not Full Set) YF-19.

Durability & Build: (8/10)
Both the VF-19Advance and YF-19 come with very stiff hips that have led to people breaking them. I encourage you during your first transformation to unscrew the two screws on the hip and then remove the housing and loosen the two screws you’ll find underneath it. Doing this will make completing transformation easier and make it less likely you’l break your toy’s hip. The DX YF-19 Full Set comes in a fancier box but it might have come at the expense of effectively safeguarding the toy during delivery. There were numerous reports of head lasers broken off the YF-19 toys before they were removed from the box. A rampant issue with the DX YF-19 are vertical stabilizers which are far too easily bumped from the toy, including the smaller in-set piece that folds over during transformation. Bandai changed the attachment of the vertical stabilizers from the VF-19Advance and the end result is far less satisfactory. Bandai returned to the VF-19Advance-style vertical stabilizer connections for the non Full Set YF-19 reissue, resolving that issue.

Tolerances can be very tight and stiff. On the YF-19 Full Set toy, I could not get the peg on the back of battroid to latch. It took tremendous effort to get the slider to move the last few millimeters. This kind of difficulty sliding parts on a transforming toy raises concern that someone will accidentally apply too much pressure to free a frozen part and cause a catastrophic failure.

Articulation: (9.5/10)
The greatest articulated YF/VF-19 toy has arrived! The head is a ball joint that spins, pivots, and cocks though there’s a limited ability to look up. A neck pivot allows the whole head to come forward/back. Shoulder pivots at the torso allow the arms to swing backward. A metal ball joint within the shoudler assembly allows the base of the arm to move in any direction. The shoulder armor and the flap that covers the base of the arm are both articulated so that they will not impair the shoulder’s movement. A double-hinge assembly allows the elbow to do a full 180 degree of natural movement and a twist just below the elbow allows the forearm to move in any direction. The hands peg in, allowing them to rotate, and feature a wrist, thumb with a ball joint at the base, an articulated trigger finger, and the other three fingers connected via a hinge. There’s a waist joint but the movement is very limited by the toy’s fixed spine. The hips are metal ball joints that allow the legs to spin all the way forward/back with a natural amount of in/out rotation while an extention gimmick allows for a very wide stance. A rotation point at the GERWALK joint allows you to point the toes outward while the GERWALK joint augments the abilit for the leg to sweep forward. YF-19 toys feature a second rotation point behind the knee cap. In GERWALK mode, the rotation point at the GERWALK joint allows the legs to sweep out wide while the rotation point at the knee allows the toy to further point the toes outward. The VF-19Advance lacks the second rotation point making it a little less fun to pose in GERWALK (it still does fine). The knee joint allows roughly 120 degrees of movement, superior to the more typical 90 degrees we see in many other toys. The ankles are ball joints that extend to move the foot far enough away from its housing to rotate in any direction. The ball joint connects to a hinge which allows the foot to lay flatter in some wide stances.

Total Score: (44.5/50)
So what do you choose, one of these toys or the Arcadia YF-19? If you’re a huge fan of Advance packs then the answer is obviously the VF-19Advance. If you’re a fan of the YF-19 with loads of cash, you really should own both an Arcadia and Bandai DX YF-19. If you don’t NEED all the extra accessories, buy the basic YF-19 to skip the problems with the Full Set’s vertical stabilizers. I adore my Arcadia toy but if I had to recommend just one, it’s the Bandai. The Arcadia toy was very frustrating at times with loose joints and things that fit loosely popping out too often (intake covers, top of the head, back of the gun, canards, wing weapons) compounded by loose wings and ankle joints that make the toy more difficult to enjoy. If Arcadia were able to do an improved release with tighter joints, it would be a tougher decision. While that would be my choice, if you prioritize ease of transformation or a chunkier representation, then you may want to consider the Arcadia toy first.

December 12, 2015: Original DX VF-19Advance Review
November 11, 2018: YF-19 content, Battroid to Fighter guide, added fast pack and advance pack installation in fighter mode video (previously included as part of the transformation guide).
June 2023: Added YF-19 reissue content

5 Replies to “Bandai DX YF-19 and VF-19Advance Toys”

  1. Hi! I have wanted a YF19 toy since I first watched Macross Plus in the 90s.
    I recently found myself with a bit of money to burn, and searched Ebay for good quality valkyries. The Bandai VF19 caught my eye, and when I did some research, I found your review on YouTube which convinced me it was worth purchasing.
    I eventually found one for $280.US, which is HotToys money, but since I collect HotToys, blowing that much dough on a plastic novelty wasn’t unprecedented. ;)
    Anyway, I havn’t received it yet, so I’ve yet to discover if it lives up to expectations.
    I bought a 1/60 Yamato VF1 (Milia) 10 years ago, and found that to be a very cool piece, so if the Bandai toy is as good, I’ll be happy.
    One question; can you advise me on where I could get some bombs/missiles for my VF19? Preferably in the same green colour as the advance parts, but anything that fits would be fine..
    The Yamato VF1 came with multiple missile clusters, rocket pods and external fuel tanks etc, so it would be sweet to have some similar ordinance for my new valkyrie…
    Thanks for the in depth review!
    Drew

  2. It’s a great question, unfortunately I don’t really have any good answers for you. I don’t think any Yamato weapons would come close to working but I certainly haven’t tested them all. Some of the Frontier DX weapons would probably work but they wouldn’t be close matches visually to what you’re looking for.

  3. Just got the bandai YF-19 full set and it’s glorious!
    Your transformation video really helps a lot, however can you make a battleroid to gerwalk to fighter mode transformation video tutorial? Just like the ones with VF 31.

  4. Got the Bandai YF-19 a couple of weeks ago and struggled a bit through transformation. Wish I had your video back then. It’s so good! Now if only we could get news on a Bandai YF-21 to go alongside this toy. Would be glorious!

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