Sv-262Hs Draken Ⅲ Keith Aero Windermere Use
Review by VF5SS
In many ways, the Sv-262 Draken Ⅲ is the real star mecha of Macross Delta.The main Variable Fighter of the Aerial Knights from planet Windermere quickly established itself as unique among Valkyries with its compact profile, single tail fin, and faux single engine design. And unlike the rival VF-31 Siegfried of Delta Flight, the Sv-262's first on-screen transformation was played out in loving detail in order blow away viewers with its stunning ingenuity. And what really makes it special is how the Draken's prowess and beauty has as much basis in Macross's past as it does its future.
Please check out my video review!
As leader of the Aerial Knights, Keith Aero Windermere flies a customized Draken emblazoned with eye-catching golden highlights. The rather regal-looking aeroplane measures roughly 11.5 inches long.
The craft's sleek "cranked arrow" shape is very much a nod to the real life Saab J35 Draken, which is also the variable fighter's namesake. In toy form, the Sv-262 makes for a compact jet that easily maintains its form thanks to numerous interlocking parts.
Like most Valkyrie toys, the Draken rests on full set of retractable diecast landing gear. In a cool bit of engineering, the struts for the two main wheels actually fold in half so the gear can squeeze into the fighter's aerodynamic profile.
Like the VF-31, Bandai went all out on a bevvy of fine tampographed detail to bolster this Sv-262's already impressive paint job. The multi-winged bird that serves as the Aerial Knights' coat of arms looks especially well done as it overlays the gold stripes on the tail fin.
When you take the Draken out of its Styrofoam tray, each of the large "1" markings on its outer wings are covered by a piece of clear film. I have seen isolated reports of the film taking some (or all) of the number off when peeled away, but thankfully this does not appear to be a common problem with the figure. However, please be aware of this the first time you remove the Sv-262 from its packaging.
Another slick piece of tampo-printed goodness is the coat of arms located on the Draken's armored canopy. The effect makes the whole craft appear both very regal and terribly mysterious as it gives no glimpse of the pilot within.
Inside, the leader of the Aerial Knights fits cozily into the Draken's cockpit seat. Sadly, the toy cannot replicate the full holographic virtual environment setup seen in the series.
Keith Aero Windermere himself is one of the more colorful pilot figure to be included in a recent Macross toy. From the royal blues and gold trim of his spacesuit to the pink visor, the White Knight is a respectable looking vassal despite being roughly the size of Swedish fish. This is where the aforementioned "virtual environment" comes into play as in the series, as the Aerial Knights usually appeared to be wearing their normal helmet-less uniforms in a transparent cockpit within their Drakens. However, this is simply the result of cool anime technology. The toy has decided to err on the side of "reality" and depicts how the pilots look without holographic enhancement.
For a more traditional look, the Draken comes with an optional clear canopy piece. Swapping between the two pieces is both straightforward and easy to do.
As a roughly 1/60 scale aircraft, the Draken ends up being slightly smaller than its rival, the VF-31 Siegfried. Also, the Sv-262 is fairly light for a DX Chogokin, with some of its internal mechanisms being diecast metal. In some ways the lack of weight makes the toy feel like a step down from the satisfying heft of the Siegfried.
Still, the Draken's unique and somewhat retro silhouette (the actual Saab Draken first flew in 1955!) adds a cool bit of Scandinavian flair to any line up of Valkyries.
The toy comes with Bandai's usual Valkyrie display stand with a trio of mode-specific adapters. The fighter mode cradle does an okay job of plugging into some unassuming gaps in the plane's underside, though the connection is noticeably looser than on some other VF toys so don't bump the table too much. When in flight, the ventral fin located near the rear of the plane unfolds to complete the arrowhead look. Oddly enough, that little detail gives me a warm sense of nostalgia because it reminds me when my father and I built a MiG-23 model kit, as the Flogger has a similar feature. Shoji Kawamori's fondness for aviation shines through all the small touches like this.
And like in the show, the semi-conformal beam gun pod can swing out on a small armature for some "off-boresight" shooting.
For the most part, the weapon stays attached to the odd spatula-shaped connector when left left alone. Sadly, actually moving the gun around on its assembly tends to make the gun detach. You may want to move the armature first, and then plug the gun pod back in once you've achieved a good lock on.
My old FlightPose stand helps show off the Draken's classic Cold War era lines and curves...
As well as the aircraft's incredible profile. The way the Sv-262 manages to turn this sleek jet into a humanoid robot put it in a class with the best of Kawamori's Valkyrie designs.
The Draken's transformation starts familiarly enough with the outer portions of the wings hinging upward like with Frontier era Valkyries.
After that, massive chunks of the airplane swing out on multiple ratcheting joints to form the robot's legs.
The remaining central section pulls an ingenious trick in where the arms are stored shoulder-to-shoulder in a single line, rather the usual side-by-side arrangement.
From there, the limbs rotate 90 degrees on a shared mount into the proper orientation. Then the whole assembly rotates so that the underside beam cannon is now on top of of the Gerwalk.
This would not be the first time Shoji Kawamori used this novel idea for arm storage, as the obscure VF-9 Cutlass employed a similar mechanism many years prior. However, the Draken is the first mainline Valkyrie to use this technique and receive both a toy and model kit, whereas the Cutlass can only demonstrate its innovative transformation as expensive low-run garage kit.
Unfortunately, it's in the nuts and bolts of the conversion process that I find myself getting constantly frustrated with the toy. Frankly, the Draken feels "under-engineered" to the point of being kind of crude. I find this especially disappointing because when the preceding Siegfried felt like it was ushering in a new level of excellence for Bandai Valkyries. While the figure's transformation scheme is quite intuitive, many of the key mechanisms are plagued with joints that are too tight, and have to deal with irritatingly narrow clearances in places where parts move past each other. In particular, the double-hinge assembly for the wings feels like it never works right on my copy of the toy (one hollow pinned hinge always being stiffer than the other), leading to some nasty scraps and dents where the wing roots meet the main body.
Other parts, such as where the main body anchors itself to the groin area via a pair of C-clips is hampered by messy engineering and absolutely horrible instructions. Seriously, both the Draken's included manual and Bandai's official video do not properly convey what needs to be done during this step. Basically, both the groin area and the inner gray abdomen piece have to be angled downward as far as they will go (about 45 degrees), but the way the two bits move and interact is mushy and imprecise. It is only after these these parts are in place, that the hinged T-shaped panel on the end of the crotch can reach the waiting C-clips.
In addition, this little gray panel needs to get inserted at the right height into the cavity behind the cockpit. It's not so much a locking point as it is a guide for the upper body of the Gerwalk mode, but is still a necessary step.
Once Draken is wrangled into Gerwalk mode, the result is one of the leggiest bird walkers in the business. And when you examine this Draken's silhouette, and you'll start to recognize callbacks to the Zentradi Glaug from the original Macross.
One really cool touch is how the transformation flips the whole gun pod assembly from the fighter's bottom to the Gerwalk's top for the complete Officer's Battle Pod motif.
The conversion also leads to a arrangement in where fighter's wings move up and around to become pair empty shelves hovering above the main body. Once Bandai releases the corresponding Sv-262 accessory set (web exclusive of course), the included Lil' Draken drones will be able to perch atop their mother craft on these waiting wings.
As with previous Bandai Valkyries, the Draken features articulated hands as its default pair. The digits are divided into a movable thumb, an index finger with two knuckle joints, and the usual three-finger chunk. And while these are the only hands that can remain attached for the transformation, they aren't very useful for anything else. What you are seeing above is the extent the fingers can open up, and even with this limited movement their grip on the gun pod in handheld mode is abysmal. Coincidentally, the DX Chogokin VF-31 had similar issues with its articulated hands.
When transforming the Sv-262 back to fighter mode, the hand on the right arm must curl up in a particular way to prevent snapping the thumb off as it nestles in behind the cockpit. Here the index finger is flattened against the palm with the thumb laid directly over it.
This arm also features a pair of flip-up vulcan cannons, which slide forward on a moving forearm gauntlet. I had one of the guns pop off during handling, but it easily snapped back in place.
The other hand can be left balled into a fist for conversion. During the henkei, you may have noticed how the left forearm is comprised of several moving panels that coalesce into a cylindrical limb. This design feature shortens the limb for fighter mode and makes it so the hand winds up on the Draken's underside in fighter mode. Also note that the shield comes packed separately from the fighter, so it can be easily detached from its movable mounting post if need be.
Also included are three pairs of fixed-pose hands that are far more durable and functional that the articulated set. You get two fists, two gun-holding hands, and two splayed hands. Note that these cannot be kept on the the toy for fighter mode because they are too freakin' huge! Seriously, they're nearly twice the size of the default hands!
When placed alongside its adversary, the two Valkyries demonstrate a wonderful contrast in design and silhouette. You would never mistake one VF for the other, yet the two are instantly recognizable as a pair of Macross mecha.
And while the Draken's Gerwalk mode is visually impressive, its range of motion is subpar for the form. This is mainly due to how the pointy tips of the thighs are jammed up against the air intakes with no room to move. However, setting the toy up on the display stand does allow this bird to ride the wind in a more dynamic manner. This arrangement is enhanced by little touches, such as the movable engine nozzles inside the feet.
As the Sv-262 continues on to Battroid mode, the center mass swings around on a pair of struts in a similar fashion to the Frontier era Valkyries.
The process is much less irritating than switching the Draken to Gerwalk mode, but still has a tricky portion involving this little flip-out hook that helps secure the "spine" to the main body. You have to slide the surrounding gray area back far enough so to expose the hook, and then get your finger in there to actually swing the darn thing out. This part does get easier with repeated transformation, but feels like it could have been done in a more user friendly manner.
A simple hinged assembly moves a chunk of the fighter's nosecone down and out of the way to expose what will become the Sv-262's mechanical neck joint. After that, the now chest-mounted intakes come together to form a respectable B-cup bust for a Battroid Valkyrie.
Then, two panels on either side of the radome become a pair of Armored Core-esque antenna for the pointy nosecone head. The conversion ends with the previously seen gray panel from Gerwalk mode clamping down into a pair of slots to put the final lock on the Draken's torso.
The finished Sv-262 Battroid is one handsome machine that stands a little under 11.5 inches tall. Due to how much of the airplane ends up as the Draken's legs, the whole toy is incredibly well balanced in this mode.
Everything ends up in the right place with even the sizable wing backpack becoming a tidy package. In sharp contrast to Gerwalk mode, Draken's limbs are pretty much unimpeded as humanoid robot.
Keith's commander type Draken features a very foreboding head design that resembles an ancient death god. The neck itself is a simple ball-joint that does a decent job of moving its fierce gaze across the skies.
The beam gun pod extends nearly twice its original length into a what is clearly meant to resemble a knight's lance. And again, this is where you really want to use the fixed-posed hands as the articulated ones could barely pick up a squire's sword.
With the knight motif established, the design of the tail fin shield makes a whole lot more sense in Battroid mode. The base toy's transformable version does a respectable job of not looking too broken up by the hinges, but Bandai is still including a fixed flat shield in their upcoming Sv-262 Super Parts set.
The Draken is easily in the upper echelon of Valkyrie toys when it comes to Battroid mode articulation, which the included display stand handily demonstrates. Unfortunately, the wonky tolerances on my copy make moving the hips and ankles a pain. The former are plagued with being an awkward stiffness along several axis of motion, which also makes converting the toy back to fighter mode more of a chore that it should be. Also, my Draken's ankles actually make a nasty squeak when I try to rotate them to the left or right, and that's just shameful to the Windermerian legacy. There's also supposed to be a rotating waist joint where the groin block meets the main body, but it seems stuck on my figure.
Honestly though, if Bandai can work out some of these build quality issues for the rest of the Aerial Knights' Drakens, the DX Chogokin could be just as fun to pose as any other modern robot figure. Everything is there to make the toy really an inviting experience, it's just these problems in the execution that hold the whole thing back from true Windermerian glory.
Still, as a fan of Delta, having the two main Valkyries side-by-side in any mode is such an amazing thing to behold that I'm willing to forgive (some) of the toy's problems just for the sake of the experience. The Siegfried and the Draken couldn't be more different than each other, and it's that contrast that makes them the perfect pair.
I fell in love with the Draken the moment I saw it transform and believe the design is a real landmark for the thirty plus year lineage of Variable Fighters. There is so much potential here for something truly outstanding, but it the DX Chogokin honestly feels like a throwback to the good (but not great) era of Frontier Valkyries. Granted, the isn't bad per se, it's just the VF-31 Siegfried was so good that the whiplash from the Draken's failings make me feel more disappointed than I would have if it had been release first. For those looking to pick one up, as of this review it seems like the curse of antagonist mecha means the toy is sticking around at online retailers longer than those of Delta Flight crew. Will it be this way with the rest of the Aerial Knights? Only time will tell...
And Keith-oniisama will be watching with great interest.
(Cosplay by FalconKPD.)
|Posted 14 April, 2017 - 22:16 by VF5SS|