Review by JoshB
I totally love Macross Plus. It was my second awakening to the world of anime, and it was the first series to get me into an anime composer – Yoko Kanno.
It’s hard to pinpoint what it is about PLUS that I love so much. Sure, it has a lot to do with the fantastic soundtrack and dazzling visuals. I love all the mecha designs, and I think the story is fantastic. It’s just so different than other Macross series. It still has the central theme of music and love, but the backdrop is much smaller this time. You don’t get involved in some galactic war. In this series, the war is for the love of a woman.
Guld Goa Bowman and Isamu Dyson are both ace pilots, chosen to test pilot two new Valkyries. The two have a bitter rivalry going back to their youth over their love for Myung Lone. While the boys have both grown to become pilots, Myung has become the manager for Sharon Apple, a “Virtual Idol”, and the hottest singer in the Galaxy.
Little do they know that Sharon’s AI is patterned after Myung’s personality. Sharon’s obsession for Isamu leads her to take control of a third prototype fighter, the Ghost X-9, as well as the SDF-1 in a final battle during a concert in Macross City.
Needless to say, it’s pretty epic.
The YF-21 is the losing ship in this contest. The ship features a Brain Direct Image interface, which enables the pilot to control the ship with his mind. Guld Goa Bowman suffers from severe mental instability due to use of the BDI, and it is theorized that only his Zentradi physiology enables him to push the ship to the limit.
Although the YF-21 Omega prototype failed and was eventually destroyed, a production version dubbed the VF-22 would eventually be brought into service, although without the BDI interface.
Enough backstory, onto the toy.
Fortunately, Yamato decided to go back to the drawing board and re-engineer one of their earliest Valkyires to bring it up to modern design standards, and to make it the standard 1/60 scale.
The result is what you see here – a perfect-transformation 1/60 scale YF-19 Valkyrie. It’s very nice, but of course there are a few flaws that need to be mentioned.
It should be noted that the YF-21 is a big ship, much larger than the standard VF-1 series. The toy in fighter mode comes in at 35 cm long.
As the toy comes packaged in fighter mode, that’s what we will address first. The fighter has fantastic lines and is smooth as could be. All transforming parts are hidden well beneath various covers and panels. The cockpit can open and features a detailed interior and removable Guld figure.
Behind the cockpit is a large yellow antenna that is removable. I recommend you remove this when transforming this toy, otherwise you risk snapping it off if handled improperly.
The surface of the fighter features etched details, paint application, and various decals that you can apply. More decals are provided than are needed, so it’s best for you to decide how detailed you want it to be. I added some decals around the cockpit, but left the rest of the ship alone.
The wings can bend down to replicate the steering mechanism of the fighter, and the rear fins are moveable as well. The exhaust fins are also poseable, but perhaps too much so. The slightest bump and they are moved out of position. These are also easily removable, so take care not to lose them.
The landing gear on the YF-21 are made out of painted metal, and feature real rubber tires. Landing gear is located beneath the nose and underneath each wing. Opening the panels requires strong fingernails or the use of some sort of sharp object. The paint on the gear chips easily.
Let me say this – transformation is difficult, but like anything, the more you so it the better you will get at it. I shot a video about the transformation, but better you watch it than me try to explain it all. It is complicated, but that’s par for the course with these new valks.
Once in Gerwalk mode you are greeted with a surprise – it stands! It looks good! Really good! The YF-21 is poseable as hell and stands pretty solidly. No complaints here. It can use both the FAST packs and the stand in this mode, but we’ll talk about those in a later section. Gerwalk mode is great.
Once you are in Gerwalk mode, you are almost there. Just a few more clicks and clack and snaps and viola! You have Battroid mode, and the thing looks just great. There are a few things you need to be aware of during transformation, but once again, watch the video for that.
There are a few neat touches that I wanted to point out in Battroid mode. For one, you can open the cockpit and push the whole assembly backward so that the pilot is in the proper position for this mode.
The hands feature articulated fingers (trigger and thumb) as well as pegs to hold the included weapons in place. The forearms slide back to reveal cannons at the bottom of the arms.
The head is fully articulated. You need to be sure that the cockpit is pushed fully down and out (again, see video) to get the full range of motion.
Oh, and yes, there is a Waist Joint, but it doesn’t move much.
FAST stands for Fuel and Sensor Tactical and what these are is additional armor to beef up the appearance and armament of the Valkyrie. It seems each Valkyrie has FAST packs, but the YF-21’s FAST pack is the least assuming of the lot. The packs consist of additional arm armor, and large panels that cover the bottom of the fighter and become the “Skirts” in Battroid mode.
The FAST packs for this toy suck balls. For one, the arm armor clips on too tightly, causing me to actually break off one of the rear wings while trying to remove one (more on that later). And the large panels are almost impossible to get on, and when you finally do, its almost impossible for those panels to come back together under the toy. Each lower panel features a spot to hold a gun, but the guns do not stay clipped into them. They just fall off. I don’t know what the deal is with these, but it definitely feels like this armor was an afterthought.
The only included weaponry are two cannons that are stored on the underside of the FAST packs. Each cannon extends to reveal a collapsible handle with a hole in it. These holes fit into pegs on the hands to ensure a firm grip.
Also included are attachment parts to attach a fold booster (Sold separately)
The YF-21 includes a clear display stand, and is different than the standard Yamato display stand. I got real annoyed at this stand, real quick.
First of all, you need to use special attachments to use the stand with this fighter. One part is used in both fighter and Gerwalk mode, the other in Battroid mode. In fighter mode, you have to open up the underside of the ship to attach it, and then it pokes out below, barely allowing the fuselage to close. The clips aren’t so bad in the other modes. But the way the clip attaches to the stand is troublesome. The connection here is SO TIGHT that you cannot twist the Valkyrie at all, lest the whole base come wrenching apart. I mean, it’s a peg, it should rotate.
At the head of the base is a joint with keyed points of articulation. This means that while positionable, it can only be in certain positions, and you actually have to take the whole assembly apart to reposition it. Couple that with the arm and support that barely attaches to the base and you’ve got a difficult situation. Once you have found a way you like it, great, but getting there is a bitch.
As a whole, the YF-21 is a pretty good toy, but what would a review of a Macross toy be without nitpicking and bitching about tiny things?
Well, this first thing isn’t really a nitpick; it’s a very legitimate flaw. When I said earlier that I broke off the rear wing, I wasn’t entirely accurate. What I DID break off was the clip that holds the wing itself in. I can easily re-insert this piece, and it stays in well enough, but if you try to use the FAST pack armor, forget it. I’ll probably glue this part in at some point, but be aware.
The die-cast metal used in this toy is scarce, but what is used is painted and chips very easily. Mainly the landing gear and the hip connector parts. The legs can easily detach at the hips (the instructions show you, so I guess its technically not a defect) but sometimes these come apart when you don’t want them to.
When transforming back into Fighter mode, getting the legs and the fuselage covers to line up flat is a PAIN IN THE ASS. There just seems to be not enough room for all the parts to connect. I can make it look good enough, but definitely not the way its supposed to look. There is a supplemental piece of paper included that looks to have handy tips to help this mode along, but since I can’t read Japanese, that’s pretty much useless.
In Battroid mode, the cockpit is floppy against the body. It would have been nice to include some kind of clip here to keep these two parts together.
And as I said before, the FAST packs suck.
Yeah, I like it, despite its flaws. If you are a perfectionist, you may want to wait until a version 2 comes out someday. For now, this is as good as it gets for a YF-21. Its’ big, looks great, and has a complex and interesting transformation.
I want to give a special CDX shout out to Wing from Image Anime who gave me the hook-up on this piece. Thanks a lot Wing!
|Posted 11 March, 2009 - 05:35 by JoshB|