This is it. After so long trying to get a Bandai Renewal-level Macross toy I finally managed to lay my hands on this baby, and it’s also my first DX Chogokin toy. Putting the Bandai slamming aside, this is the first Renewal-level Macross toy from Bandai which is a great improvement over the original VF-25 series of toys. I heard that a lot of engineering on the YF-29 carried over to the Renewal VF-25 series, but having never touched one of them before I’m not sure if the latter have any more updates themselves.
The box art is decent just like many of Bandai’s other toys. Unfortunately my box is squashed probably due to the postal service as the carton it came in was squashed too. The toy itself is safe though. While the back has a gratuitous amount of Engrish there is not much else, even in Japanese, besides a single photo of each of the 3 modes. There is also a tear on the back of the box as I carelessly allowed the sticky tape from the bubble wrap touch the box…
It’s been a really long time since I’ve handled a toy that comes in a styrofoam tray. The box itself is made of thin cardboard so there is a corrugated cardboard lid stuck on top of the tray for added protection.
A separate blister tray holds the parts for the included display stand. The stand is unpainted but retains the SMS logo.
The manual is printed on thick glossy paper. I’m not sure whether it’s typical Chogokin quality or just emulating Yamato.
This particular variant is supposedly a tribute to Roy Focker who was a badass both in Macross Zero and the original series. The colour scheme is complex and is a welcome change from the simpler paint schemes on my Yamato toys. Unfortunately it means that practically every black area on this toy is painted – the nose cone is already chipped after only a single transformation!
At first glance it doesn’t appear to contain a high metal content, but it weighs as it ought to for its size. There are panel lines all over but they are unpainted.
I’m a sucker for planes with forward swept wings. The vertical stabilisers are more prominent than the stubby ones on the VF-19, making it look more convincing as a real flying aircraft. The rear end is shaped better than the VF-19 too, which is just a flat edge from its shield. I don’t really care about the extra engines on the wings though. It might look better with the Tamashii exclusive Super pack but I don’t think I might be able to get it without paying ridiculous inflated prices when it gets released.
Front view. Forgot to remove the intake covers, but it isn’t a big deal as I’ll show how the insides look like later.
The Frontier Valkyries are skinny and have sleek Fighter mode silhouettes. The landing gear are made of unpainted die-cast. There is an articulated plastic tow bar on the front; all tyres are black plastic. The front landing gear strangely tilts back quite a bit. The rear landing gears have a spring-loaded stopper that provides the necessary tension for them to snap into the deployed position.
It’s not clear in this photo but the entire inside of the feet/nozzles are die-cast.
The canopy is made of clear purple plastic, as are some of the larger purple areas nearby. Smaller areas are painted. Notice the tiny winglet at the front end of the nose.
The pilot figure is removable. The cover at the back can be removed to reveal a second seat which can be unfolded. I’m not sure whether it’s supposed to fit a second figure as the canopy cannot close completely if I move the pilot figure to the rear seat.
There is some slight painted detail inside the engines. You can barely see the turbine blades. Also, clear parts on the wing roots.
The wingtips can be tilted up or down. They actually click into one of the three positions – very impressive.
The entire engine section can also rotate 360 degrees with a slight click when they go into the horizontal position.
The nozzles are on ball joints so they can tilt in all directions.
There is a pair of cannons on the back which can deploy reminiscent of the Tornado pack seen in the first Frontier movie. They can tilt and rotate all the way around, but the tight axle makes the plastic arm feel a bit flimsy. It’s best to grip the cannon by the connection point and carefully rotate the cannon without twisting the entire arm.
The intake covers are removable, but there isn’t much detail painted or otherwise on the turbines.
Like the front end there is also a pair of winglets just behind the head.
No idea why the marking is white on white (or light gray actually) plastic over here.
The vertical stabilisers have metallic painted tail lights on them, as well as some fine stamp printed markings.
The gun pod is held between the arms. Removing it is a hassle though as you have to lift the wings to free the legs just to be able to get the arms to move apart and release the gun from their death grip.
The landing gear are stowed in this picture. One of the front landing gear hatches doesn’t really close down nice and flush with the fuselage and you have to fiddle with the hatches a bit to get them to behave.
The included stand can be configured to support the toy in its various modes. Unfortunately it cannot be adjusted in any other way.
Still better than nothing.
In Fighter mode the toy is reasonably solid with the moving parts secured by locking tabs except for the nose cone which can be nudged out of position easily. I might have missed out on the instructions but I did not realise that in Fighter mode the Gerwalk joint on the thigh needs to be out at the first position instead of having the legs completely straight as the tabs on the wing roots cannot reach the slots on the sides of the legs. It took me a while as I struggled to get the legs to lock in place. While I didn’t break anything I hope I didn’t cause any scratches on the backs of the legs.
I think the YF-29 is slightly harder to transform than the awesome VF-19. From Fighter to Gerwalk you have to do a bit of back-and-forth transformation just to get the arms out. There are locking tabs all over, but the shield connects very loosely and pops off easily which is quite annoying. There is a support bar you have to unfold to prevent the rear half from sagging – something I heard was lacking in the original VF-25. Not sure if things could have been done better still but the supporting arm provides a mounting point for the gun. The gun clips on tightly and is difficult to remove without inadvertently dislodging the supporting arm.
The legs splay very nicely and are supported by the large feet which have a wide range of motion. They don’t seem to be able to swing sideways a lot but still support the toy well. The knees can bend forward very well, but in Battroid mode, not so much backward.
Pardon my horrible photography skills as you can’t really see the support arm from this picture.
Holding its gun.
The rear cannons can deploy in Gerwalk mode too.
It’s a pity the stand cannot be adjusted. Maybe Bandai was afraid an adjustable stand might not support the weight of the toy. It’s still possible to put the toy in a few nice poses on the stand.
The stand supports the toy with the gun mounted underneath but it’s done in a clumsy manner. You have to insert the gun in the stand, mount the toy on top and attach the gun to the support arm while everything is on the stand. It’s difficult to dislodge the gun pod so I think it would be tough to get the toy out of the stand if you attach the gun pod to it.
This thing is gorgeous. It embodies the Frontier aesthetic very well and looks as sleek as its animated counterpart; with 3D models there is much less anime magic involved. It appears back-heavy but can still stand properly without falling backwards. I think the die-cast locations helped a bit in preventing its centre of gravity from being shifted back too much.
The details on the head are stamp printed, as is the Skull Squadron logo. The head lasers are made of soft plastic on ball joints; no alternative hard plastic ones are given.
The shoulders have opening missile hatches.
The thrusted out crotch prevents the tops of the legs from hitting the front canards. It’s an impressive mechanism that manages to hold itself in place quite well. However the front canards are not removable and are made of hard plastic. When transforming into Battroid mode the tops of the legs would bump into the canards if you are not very very careful so it’s a bit worrying.
The legs appear similar to the VF-25.
The side panels rotate and open to reveal a bunch of missiles – perfect for doing the Itano Circus. The covers themselves have small holes that act as missile ports when shut and you can actually see the missiles in position ready to be launched.
The gun pod has a cool transformation mechanism. When you extend the barrel the scope automatically pops out and can swing side to side. The barrel does not have any locking mechanism so it’s easy to nudge the barrel into a weird position.
The combat knife can be stored inside the shield.
The head is on a double ball joint allowing for a wide range of motion.
The rear cannons now become a pair of over-the-shoulder cannons and retain most of their movement range.
The shoulder joints are die-cast. A single ball joint for the shoulder and double elbow joints allow for a fairly wide range. Unfortunately the die-cast shoulder joints tend to wear out very quickly. The hands are articulated with the index finger and 3 fingers similar to most older MG models. You can switch the articulated hands for the fixed pose hands which come with a pair of fists, weapon-holding hands and chopping hands for doing salutes and kung fu. I didn’t use the fixed-pose hands as the articulated hands were good enough for holding the weapons securely.
A side effect of the transformation is the unsecured sideways-swinging waist. It doesn’t lock in place until you mount the toy on the stand.
The legs don’t splay very wide. The hip joints are die-cast and wear out very quickly too. The knees are on ratchet joints and bend about 90 degrees which is a bit of a pity considering how well they can bend forward for some nice Gerwalk poses. The thighs rotate just above the knee joints. The die-cast feet are on ankle joints which can extend and have articulated heels and toes but don’t seem to offer a lot of sideways range. The ankle guards are also movable.
Time for some Itano Circus.
In Battroid mode the toy doesn’t feel really tight as there are very little solid areas to hold and the die-cast shoulders and hips wear out quickly, making the toy feel a bit floppy when you pick it up.
- Shoulder joints and supports
- Hip joints
- Ankles and insides of the feet
- Landing gear
Due to the paint job it is very prone to chipped paint. After a single transformation the nose area of my toy was already damaged. There are many other areas prone to chipping also. Most of the toy is molded in white plastic and painted over so it is troubling. There is a fair bit of stamp printing which is great. The proportion of metal doesn’t seem a lot, only on the shoulders, hips and ankles. It weighs a bit due to its large size but doesn’t feel as hefty as the SRC toys, or the VF-19 which uses die-cast for practically every load-bearing element ie. a lot of metal. The stand while not adjustable is a welcome addition to the toy and allows it to be put in a variety of poses safely, something sorely lacking in Yamato’s offerings. It’s a great toy but in terms of engineering doesn’t feel as elegant or polished compared to Yamato’s VF-19. You can tell the brands apart visually too. Bandai’s YF-29 is packed with detail and has a lot of stamp printing and paint but you can see some of the issues such as messed up paint indicative of Bandai. I would have given this 5 stars if not for the fact that I touched a Yamato VF-19 beforehand. People would have remarked that in a few decades’ time if Yamato picks up the Frontier license it might do a better job, but this isn’t likely to happen now. It’s a pity that Bandai now holds a monopoly over these toys and we’re all at the mercy of its sales tactics.
The YF-29 and VF-19 both have forward-swept wings, but if you’re forced to pick only one of them, I’d highly recommend Yamato’s VF-19 variants (not the YF-19). The prices of Bandai’s toys tend to skyrocket on the second hand/scalper market, but with Yamato’s doors shuttered the same may hold for its toys as well so you should act fast.