VF-25A Messiah Valkyrie General Use Type
Review by VF5SS
The original Macross television series pioneered many of the now familiar tropes in mecha anime. One such concept was the idea of having all the good guys pilot the same machines with only minor differences to distinguish one from another. As such you had the named heroes flying into battle in personalized VF-1 Valkyries with the rest of the schmucks sortied stuck in slightly less cool brown and white jobbers. Over time the Macross sequels were able to have more than one type of Variable Fighter in a given series so that the hapless "cannon fodder" could be more easily separated from the main characters.
Macross Frontier presented viewers with a more definitive split between the core cast and the rest of the military by having the New UN Spacy forces fight alongside the private military contractors of SMS. While the NUNS fielded the older VF-171 Nightmare Plus, SMS would burst onto the scene with the state-of-the-art VF-25 Messiah Valkyrie. Backing up SMS Captain Ozma Lee and his boy band of pilots is a squadron of brown and white VF-25A fighters. Despite the VF-25A being an obvious callback to those old brown and white VF-1A "cannon-fodder" Valkyries, the former was never seen being destroyed on screen as the role of "red shirt" was already taken by the VF-171. In fact, princess Alto Saotome wrecked his personal VF-25F more times than any no-name SMS pilot ever did. In essence we were blessed with a cannon-fodder that is not actually a cannon-fodder.
A number of VF-25A Valkyries in various livery (including one Mirage Knight) sit inside the Macross Quarter's hangar. This scene is important because it shows Alto getting a new Valkyrie to replace the one he recently wrecked.
Following the four renewal VF-25 toys comes Bandai's DX Chogokin of the VF-25A Messiah Valkyrie. Not having a named character attached to it means this figure is often referred to as a "General Use" or "Production type Valkyrie. This figure is largely the same as the VF-25S Ozma Lee Type Renewal Version I reviewed many moons ago. This particular color variation was not in the original set of VF-25 toys and is exclusive to the renewal versions. So far the newest iteration feels a lot tighter out of the box so it's good to know that after four releases Bandai is still keeping the tooling in good condition.
While this is the fifth variation of the VF-25, it's only the second one I sought out to purchase so I feel like this gives me a good chance to see how these figures have held up over time. So far the renewal series has lasted about as long as it took Bandai to finish their terrible first run of VF-25 toys and start backpedaling with subsequent releases.
In fighter mode the DX Chogokin VF-25A is about a foot long which makes it approximately 1/60 scale so it is cleared to party with other modern Valkyrie toys. It sits atop a set of diecast landing gear with rubberized plastic for the tires. While the figure is mostly plastic, the strategic use of metal in places like the intakes, feet, and transformation mechanisms give it a good heft.
It comes with a pilot figure who can sit inside the cockpit.
This is a full figure and not a weird half measure like on some previous toys. The pilot's flight suit even has all the wrist and ankle paint apps which were sometimes missing on earlier Bandai toys.
Removing a panel behind the pilot reveals an extra seat for a passenger. The seat back even flips up and down for storage. Only smaller sized pilot figures like the Ranka Lee that comes with her brother Ozma or the Klan Klan that comes with Mikhail's Valkyrie can fit in the back seat.
The air intakes feature removable covers that expose the inner fan blades. For whatever reason the gray paint inside seems a bit thick as the detailing looks less sharp than on my Ozma type.
Also included is three pairs of extra hands in addition to the fully articulated ones attached by default. They all plug into the wrists with a hardy ball-joint connection. You get fists, saluting hands, and a set for holding the weapons. The articulated hands are perfectly fine though so I don't often swap in the extra ones.
All of Bandai's deluxe Macross Frontier toys all come packed with a display stand. These are very basic affairs that are functional but generally unattractive. You get three types of adapters for fighter, Gerwalk, and Battroid mode.
The main armature can be slid into the base either horizontally or vertically. Other than that it is completely static.
The old Flight Pose base lets me show off the VF-25A's gorgeous curves. This future fighter jet takes a lot of cues from Russian aircraft but adds the familiar F-14 Tomcat style swing wings to good effect.
The wings softly click into one of four positions with three being for flight and one for Battroid mode storage.
You know this is a Shoji Kawamori design because the underside is incredibly clean. The gun pod wedges between the arms into a set of tabs for storage in fighter mode.
After a simple conversion, the VF-25A achieves the iconic bird walker form of a Gerwalk.
Swivel joints in the upper legs allow it to pose in the classic A-stance.
Bandai's second take on the VF-25 features a fold out support arm that braces the back of the Gerwalk against the underside.
It also has a swing out c-clamp that allows you to store the gun pod between the legs just as naturally as can be.
Again the stand can be configured for displaying the VF-25A while in Gerwalk mode. Without any kind of articulation in the stand itself the figure can look a little "stiff."
Going to Battroid mode is a fairly straightforward process that nicely captures the VF-25's simple transformation. My only issue with Bandai's toy is getting the base of the neck to slide out can sometimes be difficult. The YF-29 had this problem to a much more severe degree.
The VF-25A is quite a handsome machine in Battroid mode. It's a very tall robot with a very lithe frame It manages to combine the styling of both Macross 7 and later video game Valkyries like the VF-14 from Macross M3 with a little bit of Armored Core thrown in for good measure.
While Bandai's second take on a VF-25 toy is an excellent rendition of the design, I feel like it is a little too bare bones. Parts like the entire back plate lack any kind of locking mechanism and instead relies on gravity to keep it down. Shoji Kawamori typically designs his Valkyries in a such a way so that everything just naturally falls into place so this isn't a huge issue but I feel like the toy could have gone a little farther to lock everything together as tightly as possible. It's the same thing with the wings as they could click into place but simply stay there with friction (or with a piece of paper wedged into the joint).
One thing to be aware of with any of Bandai's VF-25 renewal figures is the very fine tips at the end of the inner shins. These are very easy to damage and on my example one was bent right out of the box. They can clip the ends of the thighs and break if you're not careful.
The VF-25A shares a head with the Mikhail's VF-25G. The single head laser look proudly displays the grunt Valkyrie lineage. It even features the ever important "enemies this way" arrow on the side. You get two different head lasers: one soft PVC (installed by default) and one hard ABS. I found the ABS laser gun moved better so I immediately switched to that one. The head itself moves somewhat stiffly on a double ball-joint. The clear orange eye parts are very bright and eye-catching.
Speaking of grunts, the VF-25A looks right at home next to its most immediate predecessor, the VF-11.
While I don't own the standard version of the Nightmare Plus, Alto's VF-171EX makes a good stand in for a grunt considering how it was shot down within the span of two episodes. I must say Bandai's VF-25 is in many ways a much better toy than than the overly complex VF-171.
Just don't let the former get too cocky about it.
"Hey, princess! Whose the cannon-fodder now? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"Ahhhhhhh! Save me, Rrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaankaaaaaaaaaa!"
One reason the VF-17 was chosen as the basis for Frontier's cannon-fodder is due to how the VF-19 is more of a heroic design and is clearly too awesome to be shot down constantly.
The VF-19S respects the VF-25A because even he couldn't get through a series without getting shot down once.
"Listen up! We have to make up for the fact that Princess Alto keeps getting shot down! I know I can count on you guys to shore up our defenses!"
"SIR! YES SIR!"
The DX Chogokin is definitely no slouch in the articulation department. The very clean configuration of this Battroid lets it look appropriately dynamic.
You can get a good wide legged stance with the VF-25A.
The knees bend about ninety degrees and are ratcheted for durability.
It can easily get two hands on the gun pod.
Or it can shoot it sidearm style.
And bring up the shield for extra defense.
The shield still has the hidden compartment that holds the VF-25's favorite CQC weapon.
This pinpoint barrier enhanced knife is pretty cool in the show, but I find most toy renditions fail to capture the aggressive Ka-bar style it should have.
The tabs on the arms used for storing the gun pod in fighter mode do a decent job of holding the weapon in Battroid mode. You may have to jam it on there and not jostle the gun around too much though.
I hate to belabored the point this this bare bones stand is just not very impressive. Still you can have the VF-25A floating in Battroid mode with a really ugly black plastic armature shoved up its nether regions.
All of the renewal VF-25's are capable of mounting both the Super Parts and Armor Parts. To prep the figure, a couple of bits have to be removed like a pair of panels on either side of the collar as well as the front of the codpiece.
Additionally the small hip guns need to be popped off their ball-jointed hinges. With the codpiece removed it's easy to see the bare metal innards used in the hip joints.
The VF-25A is getting its own color matched set as a Tamashii Web Exclusive. For this review I am using the Ozma Lee color Super Parts I previously reviewed to demonstrate this feature. Ozma's yellow highlighted parts actually work quite well with the tan Valkyrie.
While the VF-25's unique Super Parts are a bit more elaborate than classic fare, they are still a recognizable in-between step from a stock Valkyrie and the fully armored version. Unfortunately those large rocket boosters can cause the wings to drop down over time as there is no way to lock the whole assembly into position. Right now my VF-25A is fresh enough that it doesn't need my patented "stick a little bit of card stock in the joint" solution. I'm also using the Gerwalk gun pod mounting arm to prop up the back plate. Again the Bandai toy's minimalist approach sorely lacks a few extra bits of engineering that would better prepare their VF-25 toys to get fully equipped.
The real test for any Valkyrie pilot is how well they handle the Armor Parts. Using theOzma Lee Type set, this relatively new VF-25A figure is able to heft this heavy equipment quite admirably.
It's an impressive feat that the figure can stand unaided although you will probably need to use the extra support accessory to keep the crotch thrust forward (ahem) because for some reason Bandai could not just build that into the figure. Again I am using the gun pod mounting arm to keep the back plate upright.
Standing up is about the only pose a fully armored VF-25 can accomplish without completely loosening the hip joints.
Granted when your choice of wardrobe is packed with missiles you probably don't need to do a lot of dynamic action.
Now that I have two Messiah Valkyries, I can finally display both types of equipment at the same time. It's a lot easier to see the differences when they're side-by-side. Honestly though both of these accessory sets can be hazardous to the longevity of VF-25's joints. I find the full armor is a case of "tough love" because I really love the look of the decked out Valkyrie but the tough time I have getting the figure in and out of the armor to be a big minus.
I'd advise against transforming the figure while fully armored even though it is technically doable. The armor itself is even more bare bones than the main figure in terms of construction with big chunks of plastic being secured with simple pegs and tabs. After the sublime experience of Arcadia's (nee. Yamato's) 1/60 scale GBP-1S armor set, Bandai's attempt seems rather lackluster.
Although there is something to be said about being able to display this impossible beast bird in such a manner. I just wish everything was more polished. Armored Gerwalk is where the greatest number of parts collide in tight spaces and it is also where the basic friction tabs tend to give way in this kanzen henkei calamity.
The full armored fighter mode is probably the best way to display the VF-25 with all this equipment as it doesn't have to do much posing. Still the armor's built in rear landing wheels do collapse inward too easily requiring you to secure them into place using the gear doors.
Putting the beefed up VF-25A in flight really drives home the idea this is a Super Dreadnought Fighter.
For all my griping this does look impressive.
And I'm a sucker for any space fighter that looks like it stepped straight out of a game like BATSUGUN.
oh hey a Scopedog
In the end while I am glad to revisit the DX Chogokin VF-25 Renewal version figures, my feelings on them have somewhat soured over time. While on the one hand these are the definitive toys of Macross Frontier's main Valkyrie, I feel they they haven't held up as well as the best of Yamato's offerings. A lot of it has to do with the very straightforward adaptation of the on screen design and while the toy benefited greatly from having a 3D model as a source, Bandai's second iteration of it is workmanlike but doesn't go above and beyond what's expected. I think the main reason why Bandai's Valkyrie toys are as a whole cheaper than the nearest Yamato equivalent is partially due to their comparative lack of polish.
Don't get me wrong though, the VF-25 is a good toy but not quite a great one. Honestly, it's too minimalist and does not take extra care to ensure equipping the figure doesn't result in things like scratched paint and loose joints. I think I would have preferred the toy cost more if it meant allowing for such amenities like magnetically attached armor parts or a more beefed up transformation system. Even the plastic while nowhere near terrible doesn't feel quite as high quality as a Yamato figure. However, some issues like the loose joints can be fixed as all of the metal ball-joint connections are easily accessible with a screwdriver and take to the floor or nail polish methoid quite well. If the VF-25 existed without the extra equipment I could gladly take Bandai's DX Chogokin as it is but knowing there is more to the Valkyrie than what you get in the box makes the core product feel somewhat lacking. Again it's not a sentiment of hatred but more of a mild disappointment given the amazing heights Bandai has taken collector's toys as of late. If Bandai decides to once again remake the VF-25 I may check it out but for now I am happy enough with two good looking if flawed renditions of this gorgeous Valkyrie.
I want to end this review on a positive note as a quick look around Japanese online retailers like Mandarake show that the high demand for these toys has started to wane and various kinds of DX Chogokin VF-25 Renewal toys can be had for under MSRP. Keep checking places like Jungle, Mandarake, Yahoo Japan Auctions, and Rakuten for good prices on these toys. Seems like the major rush is finally over.
|Posted 13 January, 2014 - 21:46 by VF5SS|