VF-17S Diamond Force Color
Review by VF5SS
One of the many signs of our collective mortality is the fact that the Macross franchise has been going strong for nearly thirty years. During that time, the enigmatic Shoji Kawamori has been living the dream. He combined two of the most otakuist of otaku things, combat aircraft and giant robots, into an ever expanding line of fictional machines that are collectively known as Valkyries. As such, the equally otakuish hobby of toys based on giant robots is home to a wide variety of Valkyrie toys.
This is one of them.
One of the appealing aspects of Valkyries is how Kawamori combined his aforementioned love of airplanes with the sensibilities of transforming robots. Practically all of them manage to create an air of realism, mainly by being adaptations of real-life fighter jets and bombers. Both Macross Plus and Macross 7 introduced numerous new Valkyries that drew inspiration from the then cutting-edge ideas of the future of aerial warfare. Chief among these was the VF-17 Nightmare, which was based on the actual F-117 Nighthawk. As the F-117 was often called the "Stealth Fighter," the VF-17 was nicknamed the "Stealth Valkyrie."
See, it says "Stealth Valkyrie" right there. Trust me; I am an expert on these things.
As one of the main Valkyries in Macross 7, the VF-17 is primarily used by the fleet's elite three man unit: Diamond Force. Because this is science fiction, one of these pilots naturally is a main character. Gamlin Kizaki, a young man with lilac hair (whose love interest is a girl with pink hair) is a straight laced, no nonsense kind of guy. His backstory can be summarized in about two and a half minutes. During the course of the show he is forced to rise up and take command of Diamond Force, when he graduates from using a VF-17D to inheriting captain Kinryu's VF-17S.
Yamato has continued its foray into the Macross license by creating toys based on the Valkyries seen in Macross 7. After the success of the truly outrageous VF-19Kai Fire Valkyrie they set their sights on the VF-17, which has to be important since it is in the intro. Transforming VF-17 figures are harder to come by. The only two I can recall are the Bandai VF-17 Stealth Valkyrie (produced in both VF-17D and VF-17S variants) and the Experten VF-17D/S 1/100 kit.
This toy is so beautiful ;-;
The VF-17S in fighter mode is absolutely stunning. As a rather unconventional looking Valkyrie, its matte plastic exudes the sleek and stealthy nature of the design. Like the two VF-19 toys, this figure is locked solid. Within its dark exterior lie many diecast metal structural supports that give the whole craft a surprisingly hefty feel. The accents on the VF-17S are very minimalist with only a few yellow stripes along the wings and legs to indicate its status as an S-type Valkyrie for those who are like Roy. Part of me was wishing this toy was done in a shinier finish like the VF-19s, but upon reflection that would probably cause dust and fingerprints to hyperspace fold from all over the known universe onto the toy.
The VF-17S is designated a space superiority fighter because it is black which makes it hard to see in space. Well, not in anime's typical bluish star field space, but you get the idea.
The figure includes a pair of stand adapters for Yamato's Macross display stands or their defunct Mighty Block stand. Of course, I just stick with the Flexi-Display stand for ease of use. Like every Yamato Valkyrie, the VF-17S is held together in fighter mode through numerous locking tabs that keep everything in line.
If this figure has one small issue with its impeccable blackness it'd be the exposed locomotive knee-joints underneath. I don't see that as a huge deal since it shows off some of that magnificent metal. Also check out that landing gear. It's metal, painted white, and has rubber tires just like every other Valkyrie in this toy line. Also note the slots in each wing which will be used to secure the Super Packs in fighter mode.
The shape of the fighter mode is perfect. It's a black arrow that pierces my heart in a good way.
Underneath the stealthy purple canopy is a fully painted figure of Gamlin Kizaki. True to the series, his flight suit is physically identical to Docker's with different colors. Gamlin is much more handsome.
As a neat concession the real idea of passive stealth, the VF-17S carries its gun pod internally. Now, due to the fact a toy needs to have things like screw holes and joints bigger than small hydraulic pistons, Yamato's VF-17S cannot do the characteristic stock footage scene of the gun pod launching out of one leg. Yamato was still able to make a rather elegant solution that allows you to store the gun pod in two halves in each leg. Each piece does stick out a bit, but they are still covered by a ventral flap. Each wing is attached to that large diecast metal bar embedded in the back plate.
The storage cavities can be covered by a sliding panel that completes the look of the calves.
For this review I borrowed Josh's Bandai VF-17S in order to show off how it compares to the new Yamato toy. As a 1/65th scale figure, the Bandai VF-17S is only slightly smaller than the 1/60 scale Yamato VF-17S. The new toy is much sleeker than its predecessor, yet does not sacrifice durability for anime accuracy. In fact you will soon see how the new toy goes out of its way to surpass the original in terms of build quality.
See it's the Diamond Force. Do you get it?
For details on the transformation, please check the accompanying video in this review.
As a way of establishing the VF-17S as a more powerful Valkyrie, it has a unique Gerwalk mode where the arms are bent backwards to expose beam cannons inside each elbow. You need a good fingernail to pull each cannon out, so space out time between clippings. Like every single Yamato Valkyrie, the VF-17S uses a combination of swivel joints and sliding ratcheted knee joints to achieve the characteristic A-stance. The new metal ball-jointed ankles give it even more stability. The back plate with the wings is secured via fold out tabs on the previously seen ventral plate so it will not sag over time.
Interestingly enough the swivel joint on the legs is right on the Gerwalk joint rather than the usual position of right above the knee.
Through the use a hidden mechanism, you can expose a pair of verniers in the back plate. The one on the left is open while the one of the right is partially closed. When the figure is returned to fighter mode, the legs will push the vernier covers into the closed position.
The figure has a pair of optional hand covers to hide the fists while they are stored. I've been told these parts look like a moody cousin of Balrog (huzzah!) and are easily removed by retracting the arms at the elbow, which will push the hands through enough to dislodge them.
Each arm has a double hinged diecast metal and plastic shoulder joint.
To ensure the longevity of the toy, the articulated shoulder pauldrons are attached to the shoulders via a diecast metal frame.
As a fully qualified love-interest saving device, the VF-17S can be configured in the typical Gerwalk mode in order to solve problems. This happened a few times in the show, as well as in the game Macross VF-X2 because the programmers weren't getting paid to code a new primary weapon just for one mode.
Oddly enough, the VF-X Ravens VF-17 has purple stripes, which means it's totally a Baltimore Ravens Valkyrie.
The VF-17S in Battroid mode is tall, striking, and powerful. I absolutely adore the way this toy renders it. It feels very solid and stable. More of the yellow highlighting is exposed in this form, which creates a striking contrast with the stealthy lines of the VF-17S. Official publications call the VF-17 a Heavy Battroid, and it certainly looks like a bruiser.
While the VF-17S has a fighter mode unlike any other Valkyrie, its silhouette in Battroid mode is unmistakably that of a Variable Fighter. Note the pair of slots on each side of the back plate which will be used to attach the shoulder mounted Super Packs.
Some have noted this toy has some sizable gaps in the Gerwalk mode. One of these issues can be fixed by simply sliding the wing roots in towards the back plate. The gap between the shoulders and chest plate are due to the deletion of some mysterious panels shown in the line art. In my opinion, the toy is so fantastic that I don't care~.
May your forehead grow like the mighty oak
As an S-type Valkyrie, the VF-17S exudes authority through the four laser cannons on its monitor turret. The space ninja faceplate and piercing red visor command respect.
The VF-17S has no issues assuming the classic Valkyrie pose.
Due to the roomier forearms of the VF-17S, this toy uses hands that are similar to the ones of the VF-22S toys. These have better proportions than the typical articulated Valkyrie hands. The thumb, trigger finger, and three remaining fingers are all hinged with a peg in the palm for securing the gun pod. Handling the gun pod with both hands is no problem due to its retractable foregrip.
The gun pod has a removable magazine which reveals some Gatling gun detailing. Through the beauty of stock footage, this is also where the beam adapter attaches for when Gamlin needs to ward off an angry Tengu.
As an a fine example of the effort put into this figure, both shoulders have an additional diecast metal hinge allowing the arms to angle backwards for more expressive poses.
Diecast metal ball-joints in the hips and ankles allow for a perfect combination of stability and flexibility. The ankles especially are beastly chunks of metal that slide in and out for added range of motion.
The VF-17S is capable of very dynamic wide-legged poses while maintaining stability.
Its tight joints allow it an easier time interacting with some of its fellow robots.
You find a King Tiger in the desert and flip it over.
It lays there, its treads baking in the sun while you just sit there watching.
You're not helping.
Why is that?
One must stand tall in the face of giants.
"I believe in you, Karaoke Ninja."
The VF-17S's transformation was engineered to also allow access to the cockpit in Battroid mode.
The build quality on this figure is amazing. The hips are attached with a collapsible diecast metal frame, which is in turn attached to a solid block of diecast underneath the cockpit. This area is hidden by the retracted nosecone in Battroid mode.
The head and upper arms are connected to another diecast metal block. Essentially everything in the upper body is connected to this area.
Right now the VF-17's Super Packs have not been released in any form. This is probably due to them being prominently used on the VF-17D rather than the VF-17S and we know how Yamato likes to stick to the story. We can, however, see this rather ingenious method they have engineered for allowing a deep slot at the front of the legs while maintaining a solid look when the VF-17 is not fully equipped. Simply push in this panel on the opposite side of the landing gear door…
…and then move the black switch inside the wheel well to fully retract the panel. You also use this switch to push the panel back into the default position.
One thing you may have noticed is the lack of the usual Diamond Force logo and UN Spacy logos on the Battroid's chest plate. According to my liege, Lord Graham, this is because the designer in charge of the toy preferred how it looked without any markings other than the yellow stripes. While I know it offends some that we may have to apply stickers like bloody serfs, I must admit I do like the look of the unmarked VF-17S. The sticker sheet includes a wide variety of options for giving your VF-17S any number of configurations. You can even make it part of the Macross Frontier era with a few New UN Spacy logos.
Also included with the VF-17S is an announcement by Yamato that they are going to produce a 1/60 scale Perfect Transformation VF-4G Lightning III from Macross Flashback 2012. Not only is this year the thirtieth anniversary of Macross, but it's also the last third of Flashback's title. My liege confirmed this is going to be a completed toy, and while it a web shop exclusive, certain online retailers have been carrying Yamato Web Shop items so I am not worried that this fan favorite Valkyrie will be too difficult to obtain.
I bequeath thee the title of Sir Gamlin of Seven.
With all the craftsmanship that went into Yamato's VF-17S toy I can confidently say that the torch has been passed. The Bandai VF-17S that once held the rank of the only transforming VF-17S toy can now recognize this newcomer as a rightful heir to the throne.
The Macross 7 television series always had the most varied and colorful cast of Valkyries. While it took over a decade for the show to receive some well deserved attention to the mechanical designs that inspired a new wave of fans, I am truly glad to have this many Valkyries from one of my favorite shows in my collection. Each is an enjoyable toy in its own right and there are still many more to come.
To be continued...
|Posted 2 January, 2012 - 21:55 by VF5SS|