YF-19 with FAST Packs
Review by Prometheum5
From the ashes of the venerable Yamato rose Arcadia, a new Japanese toy firm that took over where Yamato left off, ensuring that there would continue to be new Macross releases. Arcadia has shown that Macross toys are in good hands, with numerous rereleases of hard to find VF-1 toys with new accessories, and their first full new toy, the venerable YF-19 with FAST Pack from Macross Plus.
Macross Plus tells the story of two test pilots competing in Project Supernova to determine what the next U.N. variable fighter will be. Hotheaded Isamu Dyson pilots Shinsei Industries’ YF-19, a tan monster of a jet that has already claimed a few pilots. Macross Plus came out in 1995 and is very much a product of its time, with stunning hand-drawn animation and some serviceable 3D animation, terrific music, and gorgeous mecha design. It’s my favorite entry in the Macross franchise, and the YF-19 is my favorite variable fighter design, so I was ecstatic to learn Arcadia was going to take a fresh swing at it in the ubiquitous 1/60 scale. JoshB previously reviewed the Macross Plus release of Yamato’s 1/60 YF-19 here, with the FAST Packs here, and VF5SS covered the Double Nuts version here, and the 25th Anniversary version here.
Even if Arcadia never made another improvement over what Yamato did I’d just be happy that they finally started to shrink the boxes down from the lavish Yamato years. The new YF-19 comes in a surprisingly compact box that snugly fits the fighter at a diagonal with an additional tray of weapons and accessories underneath.
Out of the box, the YF-19 in fighter mode is sublime, capturing the menacing angles and fine grace of this unique bird. There are a few gappy spots, especially around the intakes, that can be minimized with some fiddling. Arcadia’s new YF-19 toy is based on Yamato’s VF-19 design used for their Macross 7 releases, so if you have any of those, you already know what to expect. The transformation is exactly the same, as are most of the joints, and excellent built quality. If you liked the VF-19 series, you’ll like this. If not, there’s nothing about Arcadia’s YF-19 that will change your mind.
From the top, the YF-19’s nose seems to go on forever. The shield and shoulder areas on the back of the fighter have always been a tough spot for the mode modern variable fighter designs, but Arcadia managed to get everything snug and secure in there.
The bottom reveals some great landing gear and a few neat gimmicks. The YF-19 has some pretty crazy landing gear doors, but Arcadia made sure to leave a spot on each for you to get your fingernail to open them, and the actual gear deploy much more easily than on some Yamato birds I’ve owned. Also visible here are the black fairings that slide up around the knees to cover the gap left during transformation, and the underwing hardpoints, a new trick for -19 toys. Also also visible are the manufacturing marks tampo-printed on the wings. One of the first things I am going to do is take a Q-tip with some rubbing alcohol and try to remove those.
The cockpit is jam-packed with detail. I found it a little more difficult than usual to get the canopies open, and I can’t seem to open the front canopy without removing it and adjusting it, since the hinge slides up and out to get past the leading edge. There are two options included for the cockpit and three figures. You can display the single-seat setup with Isamu in his flight suit and helmet, or the two-seat mode with a helmetless Isamu and Yang from the end of the OVA. The figures are fantastically detailed and the cockpit looks good.
One additional gimmick the YF-19 has in fighter mode is the deployable leg-mounted missiles. The big panel on the legs swing up and out on a diecast metal hinge, revealing a nice big missile.
I would be remiss if I covered the new YF-19 toy without discussing its predecessors, so I dug out some uh… golden oldies for comparison. On the left, Arcadia’s new toy, in the middle is the original diecast 1/72 scale YF-19 from Yamato, and on the right is Yamato’s previous 1/60 YF-19 effort.
An underside comparison tells the story of how far we’ve come as a species in terms of variable fighter toy design. On the right, the original diecast YF-19 is chunky and ugly, barely held together, but functional and groundbreaking at the time of its release. In the middle, Yamato’s more modern effort heads in the right direction, but ends up chubby and clunky in the middle. The new Arcadia 19 is on the left, with clean and swooping curves.
Next up we’ll mount the FAST Packs, since that’s how I intend to display for the rest of its life. The YF-19’s FAST Packs consist of leg armor and shoulder mounted booster modules. The leg armor mounts via three tabs that clip into the leg, and I found the mounting a bit wobbly. The tabs are not particularly secure, and the armor came off quite frequently while transforming and posing the toy. The shoulder units have a hinged par that pegs into the vernier on the end of the shoulder armor. Also visible on the back of the leg is a gray filler piece with some booster detail that fills in between the back of the leg and the shoulder armor when using the FAST Packs.
Everything clips back together nicely in fighter mode with the armor installed. The filler pieces for the legs clip snugly into the shoulder armor, and the wing roots tab into a groove on the leg armor.
Also included in the package are a wide array of ordinance, new for the -19 family of toys. There are four each of five different kinds of armament, with a modular hardpoint system for added flexibility. The weapons are based on the illustration on the cover of This is Animation Special Macross Plus, and book on the OVA. Also shown here is the detail of the leg armor filler part on the left, the Fold Booster mounting struts in the back, and the helmeted Isamu fig on the right. I don’t have the Fold Booster from the Yamato Macross Plus toys, but I wonder if Arcadia has any plans to re-release it on its own. Yamato released the booster as part of the standalone FAST Pack sets for the YF-19 and YF-21 and they sat around for a while, but now they are not so easy to find.
The hardpoints under the wings are really well done, with snug tolerances that mean your bird’s heavy weapons are going to stay securely mounted during intense aerial maneuvers, something that Yamato was hit-or-miss on with the VF-1 line. I was initially not really interested in all the included ordinance, since the YF-19 did not use any of it in the OVA, but the modular mounting system turned out to be a really neat addition, allowing for some flexibility and customization to your setup. The individual weapons are also flawlessly finished and look great all loaded up. Here’s a real heavy load of reaction missiles, rocket pods, and what I assume are some sort of heavy anti-ship torpedoes.
Here’s a lighter loadout focused more on air superiority.
One last gimmick in fighter mode is the variable wing geometry, allowing the wings to swing back on diecast arms for high-speed mode. Arcadia’s is the first -19 toy to be able to do this.
High speed mode works as advertised. The metal swing arms are very thin but feel plenty durable, and the motion is smooth.
We’ll transform to GERWALK mode in two stages. Most of the joints on the toy are nicely ratcheted, but the ankles feature a metal and plastic ball joint. On the VF-19 toys from Yamato that use the same design, the ball joints tend to loosen up a bit over time, but can easily be fixed with a little clear nail polish or superglue on the ball. I expect the same thing will happen here, but the resulting articulation at the ankle is so good I think it’s worth the tradeoff.
With just the legs deployed, everything else stays firmly tabbed together at the back of the fuselage. There is even an additional fold-down part on the shoulder FAST Pack units to keep them from sagging in this mode.
Full GERWALK mode is rock solid and just as ungainly as ever. The YF-19 GERWALK is an acquired taste, but I love it. The trick is that the wing fairings tab into the torso in the GERWALK position to hold the body of this mode together.
Fully loaded with underwing weapons, the armored GERWALK mode is a dreadnaught, capable of sinking a capital ship while outmaneuvering every other fighter in the sky.
Comparing GERWALK modes with the older toys is not pretty. The diecast YF-19 barely holds together, with no tabs to secure anything and limited leg articulation. The Yamato YF-19 also barely holds together thanks to a lack of tabs and those stupid pull-out hips that flop all around.
Arcadia’s YF-19 looks much more at home next to Yamato’s VF-19, two of the best GERWALK toys in the business.
The rest of the transformation to battroid mode is clean enough, with no surprises. Even after owning multiple VF-19s, the way the gullet panel folds up under the nose trips me up every time, requiring a quick check of the instructions or a viewing of the excellent transformation videos in VF5SS’s reviews of the Macross 7 releases, the VF-19 Kai and VF-19S Emerald Force. I love how tight and solid the diecast spine and hinges of this toy are, meaning that nothing ever flops around or feels fragile in the slightest.
There are filler parts included for the backs of the thighs where the wing hinges are, but those are for suckers.
Arcadia’s is the first YF-19 toy that can stow its gunpod under its shield. The handle is hinged and folds in for storage. The shield stays on the arm and the gunpod stays on the shield very securely.
The ammunition clip that makes up the stock of the gunpod is removable. Also visible here is how the grip area at the front of the gunpod depresses so the gun sits more level against the belly of the plane in fighter mode.
The forehead armor and visor are removable so you can reenact that one maintenance scene. This shot also shows off how the torso and belly areas fold up and the canards tuck in. I always forget that the YF-19 has those chest guns, but they are nicely rendered here.
As I mentioned earlier, Arcadia’s new YF-19 is retooled from Yamato’s VF-19 mold, so the articulation is just as good here as it was on those Mac7 releases. The ball jointed ankles can be a little wobbly while finding the toy’s balance, but then it’s smooth sailing. Most of the joints are ratcheted, and those that aren’t are nice and snug. Yamato valks always had a tendency to whiff one key joint in final execution, but Arcadia’s got that on lock.
Arcadia’s YF-19 comes with the usual selection of stand parts for use with the Yamato/Arcadia stands, but I don’t currently own any of their stands. Instead, I balanced by YF-19 on the Gerwalk-mode stand from Bandai’s Macross Frontier VF-171. The YF-19’s joints are good enough that it holds some great flight poses supported only by the crotch.
One neat trick new to this rendition of the YF-19 is how the tailfins fold up. On Yamato’s original diecast toy they simply folded flat against the leg and could interfere with the foot motion. On Yamato’s 1/60 scale attempt, the tail fins folded over and then slid up on a sliding panel to get them out of the way of the foot, but the sliding panel was typically loose and floppy. Arcadia decided to make the tail fins fold up instead with an additional hinge so as to avoid getting in the way of foot articulation. It’s a clever solution that works nicely.
Arcadia’s YF-19 in Battroid mode is chunky and aggressive, the way the machine was portrayed in the OVA. It cuts a heroic pose without much effort.
The new YF-19 toy shows just how much Yamato/Arcadia learned from their previous attempts. The original diecast toy (right) was chunky and primitive, but it did work for the time. Articulation aside, I still think it had a better Battroid mode than the 1/60 scale toy (left), with its stretched out and lanky frame that tried to prioritize fighter mode, but still did not nail that either. The new one in the middle splits the difference, using smarted engineering to make a more compact and dynamic robot that feels more like anime magic than any of the previous attempts. Not that I had to get out my blue VF-X version VF-19 because my slightly customized YF-19 had pretty much stopped being able to stand by the end of the photo shoot. Time has not been kind to that toy.
Arcadia’s toy cleans up in the articulation department, too. It’s the first version of the YF-19 that does not look like it has a rod up its butt.
The new YF-19 is based on Yamato’s Mac7 VF-19 design without sharing too many actual parts that I could tell. Much of the internal and transformation bits looked the same, but the exterior of the toy is mostly new.
The YF-19 looks great alongside Isamu’s next ride, the YF-29. Those tan and red colors just work so well, I’m surprised it’s taken us this long to see a new Isamu style bird.
One last full shebang comparison shot. As you’ve probably figured out by now, I like variable fighters whose model number ends in ‘9’. Standing proudly in the middle, Arcadia’s YF-19 with FAST Packs continues and exceeds the high standards that the last days of Yamato brought to the Macross toy franchise. That quality doesn’t come cheaply, though, with a retail price of 32,800Y, which amounts to around $330. Yamato’s 1/60 YF-19 originally cost 18,800Y, with an additional 4800Y for the FAST Packs and Fold Booster. Arcadia’s toy is significantly more expensive, but it also represents the current pinnacle of jet with arm toy technology. The improved engineering is great, and the weapon accessories turned out to be much more fun than I was expecting. It’s probably not going to happen, but if Arcadia released the blue and gray VF-X version, I’d buy that, too.
|Posted 17 April, 2014 - 14:38 by Prometheum5|