VF-25S Ozma Lee Type Super Parts Renewal Version
Review by VF5SS
Macross's iconic Variable Fighters (or Valkyries) are known for being incredibly flexible and versatile in any environment. From the deepest waters to the vast ocean of space, the power of Overtechnology allows the writers to get characters just about anywhere so long as they have access to a jet with arms. Sometimes a Valkyrie needs a little help from a set of add-on parts that contain extra weapons, engines, fuel, and more missiles than anyone knows what to do with. As the latest flagship Valkyrie of the franchise, the VF-25 Messiah has its own slew of accessory packs in the form of Super Parts and Armor Parts.
For Bandai's first attempt at the VF-25S Ozma Lee Custom in the DX Chogokin line, they only made the Super Parts for Ozma's Valkyrie available as a Tamashii Web exclusive with the Armor Parts being available in a bundle with a slightly retooled toy. For the Renewal Version of the VF-25 toys, Bandai once again relegated the Super Parts to their Tamashii Web Shop. In order to obtain this set, I went through Tokyo Hunter, who act as proxy buyers for Japan exclusive items.
I hear one of those guys is a big fan of Ishtar and her friends.
While I am quite pleased with this set, I must lament the added barrier to entry with web exclusive items that can make every little flaw sting a bit. It may be difficult to obtain these accessories past their initial pre-order window, but a lot them appear on places like Amazon.co.jp and Mandarake.
I do want to clarify that these are not the Armor Parts that Ozma Lee typically outfitted his Valkyrie with in Macross Frontier. The Super Parts were mostly used by Alto, Mikhail, and Luca. Ozma's Super Parts set, however, is physically identical to the concurrently released Alto Super Parts set and will be the same for Mikhail's and Luka's own sets as well.
The full spread of parts is quite impressive. The full list of parts include are:
-Two wing-mounted main boosters
-Two armored intake covers for the upper thighs
-Two replacement up-armored hip guns
-Two replacement collar pieces with attached missile pods.
-One armored chest plate
-One replacement codpiece
-Two propellant tanks for the sides of the legs
-Two calf armor pieces
-One additional armor part with booster for the backplate
-One extra armor layer for the shield
-Four additional stand adapter pieces (not pictured)
Most of the Super Parts are fully painted and feature a great number of tampo printed markings to replicate the look of the pieces in the anime. Each VF-25 in the show has custom color matched highlights, which means each toy has to have its own corresponding set of Super Parts. To keep the parts as simple as possible, the Renewal Version Super Parts do not have any kind of interchangeable pieces for the color highlights. While it is true that doing so would mean character specific markings could not be tampo printed, I would have liked the option of a set of "generic" Super Parts like what was done with the Bandai 1/72 scale VF-25 model kits.
Each piece in the set is made from solid ABS plastic and has just about every appropriate panel line and surface detail molded in. The lack of technical detail on the underside of each part makes the whole set feel a little barebones. As the VF-25's Super Parts lack any removable covers like the VF-1's Super Parts, there isn't much else that can be done with a physical representation other than going all out on surface detail.
Despite all this, the whole set still looks the part as some very spacy military equipment.
My only complaint with the plastic quality is that smooth plastic tends to be more scratch-prone with tampo markings. Thankfully, only the intake armor has suffered some paint scratching and that is more due to an engineering issue rather than one of placement.
Can we even show the goods like this on CDX?
To prep the VF-25 Renewal Version toy for the armor, you must remove the existing codpiece to expose some dirty looking internals. Two sets of tabs secure both the original and replacement codpiece with either part being easy to swap out for the other. You must also pop the hip guns off their ball-joints and replace them with the appropriate armored up part. I find Bandai's new take on engineering armor attachment points to far better than their previous attempts. Simply replacing parts with their armored equivalents allows the stock toy to have fewer visible mounting points and allows the smaller pieces to be securely attached.
Before I continue, I do want to point out that the way the extra intake armor attaches to the hips is downright awful. Two small clips halfheartedly latch onto the edge just below the pivot point for the hip guns and the outer rim of the hip socket. There also appears to be a barely functioning magnet on the hinged flap of the intake armor. None of these things work very well. I speculated in my review of the base toy that removing the intake covers reveals not only the fans of the jet engines, but also an open slot on the upper part of the thigh and that this is how the hip armor would be attached. For some reason that escapes me, Bandai choose to ignore their own design and go for the most irritatingly basic way to attach extra bits to an area which is usually moving or being handled by the toy's owner. As such, these parts constantly fall off during posing or transformation.
What baffles me about this is I can see someone thinking that "well if they take that part off, then the intake covers on the base toy should still be there so you won't see the fan detail because the jet might still be in space." Yet here in the terrifying real world, covering the fans with the Super Parts' hip armor still hides them from the world.
It's a real shame because everything else is so well executed.
To mount the additional missile pods, simply remove a layer off the "collar" area. The missile pods are attached to their own armored up collar pieces that simply plug over the raised "circle slash" vernier. It's a very simple solution that removes any nasty looking holes from the stock toy and eschews the need to constantly plug in and pull out a tiny (potentially fragile) ball-joint from a small hole. This is how it was done in the original VF-25 toys and was a potential break point.
Through the use of the aforementioned swappable parts and numerous unobtrusive slots on the stock toy, the VF-25 Renewal Version goes from a lithe Battroid to a bulked up Varja-battling brute. While Ozma used the Super Parts for his VF-25S only one time, seeing my toy all decked out makes me appreciate the design on its own.
I must point out that in Bandai's fine tradition of randomly mis-coloring things, the codpiece lacks the black outer band around the main rectangular detail. Much like the gray gunpod with the stock toy, it's an odd choice that almost makes me wonder if Bandai will be issuing color corrected parts as they have done so with entire Robot Damshii GM Sniper II toys (White Dingo use) in the past.
For the most part, the Super Parts do not overwhelm any of the joints on the base toy. You are at the mercy of how tight the ball-joints in the hips are when it comes time to pose the figure. The metal ball-joint tucked inside the diecast hip intakes can easily be accessed by just removing one screw. From there you can apply the usual tightening methods for ball-joints such as clear coat, nail polish, or glue. I am generally forgiving of loose joints on a figure if they can be easily accessed for a quick fix.
Despite the weight of the two main boosters, the fully equipped VF-25 retains all of its articulation and most of its ability to balance on two feet.
Both collar mounted missile pods can be opened for a little Itano Circus action.
"Don't mess with me, Strikey! I'm a blade man, man!"
"You're a thousand years too early to challenge me."
"Mission accomplished with style!"
One of the extra display stand adapters is a reinforced Battroid mount that gently cups the groin of the VF-25 as you turn its head to cough.
As the stand included with the stock VF-25 is rather basic, the new adapter pieces do nothing to add any dynamic display options, but is still perfectly adequate.
You can attempt to replicate that darn Bandai box art pose.
The Super Parts for the VF-25 allow it to stand proudly with its forefathers. The VF-25's equipment blurs the line between the different equipment packs as it has additional armor over its chest and waist area that is more akin to what Armor Parts (often called Full Armor) provide.
The fully equipped VF-25S can still transform between all three modes without removing any of the extra equipment.
The fold up strut that connects the back plate to the groin allows the VF-25 to remain strong and stable even with the weight of the main boosters on the wings. Previous iterations of this design (such as the model kits) usually require additional reinforcement from extra parts. Here, the Renewal Version VF-25 shows how it was designed from the ground up to accommodate the full range of equipment seen in Macross Frontier. Having everything integrated into the toy maintains the allure of "perfect transformation."
Some very solid engineering allows the fully equipped Gerwalk to achieve the classic A-stance.
The whole figure exudes a combination of style and power, especially in Gerwalk mode.
By utilizing the reinforced fighter mode mount in addition to a wider set brace for the back plate, the additional stand adapter parts create a stable cradle to rest the toy on.
Again, it's not the most dynamic setup, but it is perfectly functional.
We're having a Gerwalk party in here.
Just a little taste of what the full scale VF-25 Gerwalk display in Osaka will be like come August 2012. Of course, I don't think they'll have any Chevy Chevilles or Scopedogs at the event.
Again, the fully equipped figure is very solidly held together even in fighter mode. Additional holes in the leg packs allow the wings to tab in so the VF-25 stays locked tight.
The VF-25's Super Parts add just enough bulk to create a very aggressive looking craft. It reminds me of an old 90's shoot 'em up.
The properly sized landing gear on the VF-25 Renewal Version gives the toy all the necessary clearance to keep any gun mounted underneath from hitting the ground. Also note that the leg parts have hinged flaps to allow the landing gear room to deploy.
The five additional engine nozzles effectively communicate the added power and speed given by the Super Parts.
Both the main boosters and the leg packs have little details picked out to depict the sliding doors over the missile launcher ports. All the appropriate squadron markings and SMS logos are done with tampo printing.
The chest plate has some crisp paintwork and tampo printing for all the little details. Ozma's signature bull skull logo looks especially sharp.
The missiles within the collar mounted pods are adequately detailed. I do wish they had some white painted in for the body of the missiles just to distinguish them more from the bare gray plastic. The hinge for the yellow doors extends upward a bit and can pop out as you attempt to get your gaijin fingernails underneath. They do pop back in just as easily though.
All of the thruster nozzles from the main boosters to the little verniers can be posed to some degree. The main booster nozzles have the greatest range of motion.
All the white markings on the extra shield and back plate armor are painted or tampo printed on. Take extra caution around the antenna that is part of the back plate armor as it is, like we say in the business, "bleedin' sharp." While that antenna isn't exactly fragile, I would try to avoid bringing the entire weight of the toy down on it. Not even in revenge for a pricking.
You use the same reinforced gullet cradle in addition to a redesigned rear adapter to put the fully equipped fighter on the display stand. The new rear adapter plugs in to slots on the VF-25's forearms while the gullet cradle is supposed to clip around the diecast hip joints.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get the hips to clip in to the adapter. I'd seen some reports that you can't have the gun pod attached if you want to mount the super fighter onto the stand, but other pictorial reviews showed the opposite. I didn't want to force the toy in to the stand parts so I just left it gently cradled by the stand. As the new rear adapter piece still tabbed into the forearm slots, the toy was still fairly secure even without the front part doing its job. The whole setup is your basic "gate guard" style display with the VF-25 being titled up at a slight angle.
Even with a heavier toy, my trusty FlightPose stand is still capable of showing the VF-25 in some beauty shots.
In the end we have some jets with arms with stuff on them.
Despite my earlier griping about the terrible connection method for the thigh armor, the Super Parts for the VF-25 Renewal Version are a great example of how a Valkyrie toy can be properly planned around future add-on parts in a way that compliments the base toy and enhances the overall experience through these accessories. I do wish that Bandai would stop relegating memorable extra parts sets for their toys to the land of web exclusives, but entrepreneurs in Japan have been able to alleviate some of the problems with getting stuff limited to Japanese buyers.
I would say that, given the added cost of getting these parts sets, one should consider how much he or she wants to have a "complete" VF-25 toy with all of its accessories. This particular set may not be worth it to fans of Ozma Lee's custom VF-25S as he barely used the Super Parts. As this set is identical to the concurrently released Alto use Super Parts, however, you can still get a sense of how they work with the VF-25 Renewal Versions. Bandai made great strides in making the Renewal Versions into the definitive VF-25 toys and the Super Parts set only reinforces just what Bandai can do when they bring their A-game to the table. Because of this, I am genuinely excited to receive the Armor Parts set which will be released in a few months from the time of this review.
|Posted 19 May, 2012 - 18:11 by VF5SS|