VF-25S Messiah Valkyrie Ozma Custom
Review by JoshB
The DX Chogokin VF-25S Messiah Ozma Custom is one of Bandai's first new transforming Valkyries since the disappointing all plastic Macross 7 Valkyries. In their absence, Yamato started making Valkyries and just now, some ten years later, they have finally gotten them right. The new DX Chogokin Valkyries from Macross Frontier are, in a way, Bandai's way of saying "Move aside son and let me show you how it's done"
Unfortunately, like anyone who has been away from their craft for a while, they are a little rusty and could use some practice.
The VF-25 Valkyrie is the standard variable fighter used by the SMS - a private military contractor assigned to protect the massive colony ship, Frontier. The SMS Skull Squadron is led by ace pilot Ozma Lee, and the VF-25S Messiah Ozma Custom is his Valkyrie.
Bandai initially released two DX Chogokin VF-25's - the Alto and Ozma Custom. Both toys are essentially the same, save for the head and paint decoration.
The toy comes in a nice, albeit small and light box. I expected it to be heavier for a DX chogokin. Inside the box is a full styrofoam tray with the valkyrie in fighter mode.
In my opinion, fighter mode is the most beautiful and solid of all three modes. All of the parts line up nicely and the fighter has a great aerodynamic feel.
The cockpit opens to reveal a detailed interior with a painted pilot.
The landing gear is diecast metal with hard rubber tires. The front landing gear is hidden behind two thin doors underneath the cockpit which are flimsy and precariously held in place. These doors will later prove essential in the transformation procedure, so its a wonder that they were designed this way.
The rear landing gear is located underneath the engine sections behind two large panels that flip open from one side.
Near this rear landing gear there are fins on each side of the fuselage that need to be revealed upon removing the toy from the packaging. These fins look as if they should splay outwards but are only able to point downwards. Not sure if this is a design flaw or what.
Also underneath the back of the vehicle is a connection point to store the gunpod. An included connector attaches to the back of the ship and then clips onto the plastic gunpod. Getting this connector to connect in and stay in is a bit of a chore.
Unfortunately the Gerwalk mode isn't executed as well as fighter mode. While the figure technically does transform into Gerwalk mode, it doesn't do it very well, making for an awkward looking display.
The main fault lies in the lack of range of motion in the legs. Had there been some kind of swivel joint in the upper legs you could splay the legs out and get a better looking mode, but as it is it is just stiff and boring.
You can fake a good Gerwalk mode by separating the legs at the intakes and just angle them out a bit.
Here's where the toy all comes together. You are going to hear a few complaints but keep this in mind - I still think it is great. But toy giant Bandai could use to learn a few things from Yamato.
First off, the transformation is not too bad, not that much different than a classic VF-1J or something, with the addition of some tricky moves around the torso. Pay special attention to the small bars that connect the shoulders. The joints are REALLY tight, and there have been reports of these breaking.
These joints do provide a ton of articulation, so just be careful.
Other arm articulation includes a swivel above the elbow, elbow, and wrists. One complaint is that the hands need to be swapped between modes, and do not store in the arms. For fighter mode you need to use the flat hands so that they can fit into the tail section, but you need to replace these with some of the other hands for it to look right.
The head is finely sculpted and looks great, but it barely clears the chest plate. There are ways to really ensure that the head clears the body, and that is to make sure you have the chest seated properly.
A good rule of thumb is that make sure the front chest plate is angled down as much as it can be, while the shoulder plates are angled back as much as they can.
Another issue with the head is the antennae - they are bendy. Bandai used a soft rubber for these instead of a firm plastic (probably to keep them from breaking) but what happens is that they don't retain their shape and are bent a bit. Supposedly you can straighten them out by heating them up, but mine are fine as is.
Due to the transformation mechanism, there is no waist joint.
The legs attach to a hip "block" via sturdy metal bars, but the block itself is an issue. It's supposed to secure to the body by a small tab, but that tab is not as tight as it should be and frequently pops out.
The top of the legs are diecast metal, with a joint just below the intakes (for Gerwalk mode) and then a double jointed knee. The cover for the knee is also articulated.
The ankles are one of the best things about this toy. They are SOLID METAL and really striking. They provide a solid foundation for this thing, so there are absolutely no problems standing it up. The foot sections are both jointed and feature a moveable cowling and diecast metal on the insides of the feet.
There aren't many accessories or weapons included with the VF-25S Messiah, and that is kind of a letdown. You do get the large rifle that has a telescoping barrel and moveable lower section as well as a shield (from the tail section in fighter mode).
Also included is a knife. You know, because giant transforming spaceships need a bladed hand-held weapon.
There will be an armor pack and stand set available as a Tamashii Web Shop exclusive.
Despite its flaws, I really enjoy this thing. It's fun to transform and not too daunting. The joints are ridiculously tight and the toy is very solid in all three modes. The diecast is well done, and lets face it, the thing looks killer.
The downsides, as noted above, are the weak Gerwalk mode, lack of accessories, bent antenna, and the need to change hands between modes. But somehow I can overlook this - this thing is a great toy and fun to play with.
It's actually a refreshing change of pace in regards to transforming Macross mecha. I actually like the fact that anime accuracy was put aside for a fun and easy transformation. I like the feel of the metal and the sturdiness that I think has been missing from other valkyries. That is not to say that I dislike the Yamato ones - far from it. This is a very different animal though. I think you will like it.
|Posted 8 February, 2009 - 22:41 by JoshB|