VF-25S Messiah Valkyrie Ozma Custom Renewal Version
Review by VF5SS
In the world of Macross, few things are more striking or memorable than a commander's Valkyrie. These machines used by people who are Roy (or are like Roy) always look the coolest and have an air of superiority that the main protagonist will aspire to. An "S Type" Valkyrie asserts its dominance through the greater number of laser cannons on its Monitor Turret. Usually they will have at least four, but the VF-0S was able to get away with two simply because everyone else just had one laser cannon like an unwashed commoner. Yellow stripes are usually also a sign of leadership because the manliest of men don't care how much they attract the enemy's attention. A real man fights tooth and nail and does not need subtlety. As a lover of classically modern cars and ardent Fire Bomber fan, Ozma Lee certainly fits the Macross ideal of a squadron commander, and his customized VF-25S Messiah Valkyrie reflects his role.
Titan of the toy industry, Bandai, had taken a fairly large absence from the Macross license for about a decade. Their last new deluxe Valkyries were the quartet of Macross 7 toys circa 1995. This was a time when the dedication and abilities of Garage Kit manufactures were outstripping the toy makers' desire to fill the gaps, so I can't wholly fault Bandai for taking a break. With the announcement of Macross Frontier, they decided to get in on the ground level and leap back into the fray while utilizing the skills they had honed as the forerunners of the collector's market.
Too bad they seemed to do so with both Gerwalk joints retracted.
While some lament Bandai's inability to create a successful line of smaller and more affordable transforming Valkyrie toys, I feel that some of that can be attributed to the desire to own more sizable "deluxe" Valkyries toys. Fans never seem to go crazy for the smaller toys. Everyone talks about the large Takatoku 1/55 scale VF-1 more than they ever did the scaled down 1/100 version. There's a kind of prestige with having a jet with arms that's nearly a foot long. For Yamato Toy's, their 1/60 perfect transformation line aims to combine the presence of large toys with the flexibility of a set scale that emphasizes the bigger Valkyries. Bandai followed suit with their bevy of DX Chogokin Macross Frontier Valkyries by making them the same scale. When it came to capturing the slick modern design of the VF-25, their first entry was rather confusingly mediocre.
You may recall my review of the VF-25S Armored Messiah and how my general opinion of it was "it'll do." Over time I found myself playing with every Valkyrie toy on my shelf but that one. Compared to every other product on the market (especially other Bandai toys), I found it frustrating to handle and generally no fun to play with. I thought about selling it several times, but circumstances seemed to prevent that. For this review of the brand new VF-25S Renewal Version, I wanted to use the nearly three year old predecessor as a basis for comparison. Unfortunately...
I had noticed that each of the four hinges within the chest area cracked merely due to the toy existing within reality, but I was somewhat surprised to learn that one hinge had broken completely. I removed the upper body in order to prevent further damage, and now the toy is practically useless to me. From what I gathered listening to panicky fans, this type of damage is most prevalent on the Ozma type and its questionable shiny gray plastic. One of the doors for the front landing gear also broke as a bit of icing on the cake.
This review, however, is not about negativity or disappointment. I'm here to ring the bells of excitement as Bandai has crossed over into a new frontier.
Oh boy is it purdy.
Bandai's newest rendition of the VF-25S is approximately the same size as the previous one while being an entirely new toy. While it is slightly more expensive and noticeably lighter, I am thoroughly satisfied with the look and feel of this toy. This is the VF-25S I wanted the first time around. Using the 1/72nd scale transformable plastic model kit as a base, Bandai put their full effort in not only slimming down the ungainly appearance of the last toy, but even went so far as to position the engines in their proper place with no unsightly gaps like on the plastic model.
I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate proper looking landing gear. The whole set flip in and out nice and smoothly and feature diecast struts with rubbery tires. We've even got the tow bar this time.
Like most modern toys, the VF-25S has lots of tampo printed markings and extensive paint applications to emulate the look of the Valkyrie's on screen appearance. The Ozma pilot figure is well painted for its size and fits snugly inside the cockpit. To match the animated machine, the toy has a slightly purple tinted canopy.
You can remove the panel behind Ozma's seat to reveal a passenger compartment. This toy includes a tiny Rrrrrrraaaaaaaaaankaaaaaaaa who you can place in either the front or rear seat.
Both Ozma and his little sister are complete figures without any truncated body parts.
The new VF-25S has a much improved ankle and foot design. It retains the diecast panels inside the feet and adds a Yamato style diecast nozzle in the middle. Overall I find the new toy uses diecast far more effectively than the old one, which used it in places that were a major detriment to balance and aesthetics.
I was ready to go into this review hating the included display stand because of how lacking the previous one was, but Bandai managed to make the new stand very functional. While it is still ugly as sin, everything has been simplified to just three different adapter pieces and two main base pieces. Placing the Valkyrie on the stand and taking it off again is very smooth and easy.
Thanks to much more forgiving plastic tolerances, changing the position of the main display arm can be done in a snap. The same adapter pieces can be moved to the top of the stand for some extra height for displaying the toy.
Still, the Flex-display stand is just as handy as ever and oh my~
I love looking at them like this.
I know Josh loves a smooth ventral side. Please note that the gun pod now mounts snugly between the arms with no additional part required.
Now that's a Gerwalk.
Despite what some curmudgeonly old fans may think, the VF-25S has a very simple transformation. Using a much more streamlined design philosophy, the new VF-25S accentuates the rugged grace of the design into a toy that is both fun to transform and very sturdy.
The crux of the improvements lies within the use a Yamato-esque locking swing bar that extends from the backplate and plugs into the groin area. The knees now feature extending swivel joints as introduced on Bandai's DX Chogokin VF-27 and almost every Yamato Valkyrie ever!
I apologize, this review is about happy thoughts.
The locking bar for Gerwalk mode also features an attached gun pod mount to emulate the times this happened in the show. It's a great little touch.
To alleviate the need to swap hands for the transformation, the new VF-25S has a pair of articulated hands attached by default. These feature the familiar separate trigger finger and a ball-jointed thumb. There is a tab in the palm to help secure the Valkyrie's weapons in the hand. The wrist features a much larger and sturdier ball-joint.
Also included is a pair of weapon holding hands. While Yamato has been slacking on the optional fixed-posed hands, Bandai knows sometimes you want a simple way of putting a gun into place. The new gun pod is made of stronger plastic and uses its handle to lock the sliding gun barrel in place.
I have no idea why it's gunmetal gray instead of show accurate light purple. They didn't change it for the movie, that's for sure.
Ozma is armed and ready to save some falling idol singers.
By changing one part, the display stand can show off the awesome sight of the VF-25S in Gerwalk mode.
Most of the toy's improvements over the previous version are in the main body. The shoulders that were once attached to unreliable ball-joints are now in a pair of simple swivel joints. All the chest hinges use smaller pins with much thicker plastic joints. The intakes now lock into the chest area via much stronger clips, rather than the weaker peg and hole system.
Well there was some grumbling from the aforementioned curmudgeons, the VF-25S is pure Valkyrie to the core brook. Gone are the hiked-up ankles and embarrassing hip placement, as the new VF-25S uses the extra swing bar design from the model kits to produce a very satisfying figure. Some may have defended the first toy as a Takatoku-esque take on the design, but let me assure you this is a far sturdier piece.
One of my favorite aspects of Ozma's VF-25S is the head. This Kawamori'd out design takes cues from classic and modern Valkyries and adds a touch of Aquarion to create an aggressive noggin that commands respect from tsundere princesses and blond guys with glasses. While the first toy's head was probably its best feature, it was severely hamstrung by the lack of a neck. The new VF-25S has improved both the sculpt and functionality of the whole head area by adding an extending neck and clear plastic parts for the green eyes and red head sensor.
Check of those diecast bits in the shoulders. Pretty slick.
As an option to the toy's owner, you are given both soft PVC and harder ABS laser cannons. The left set is PVC while the right is ABS. The ABS set has more pronounced gun barrels, but I find them to be a bit too loose so I am sticking with the PVC set.
The VF-25's infamous thrusting crotch can now be locked into place to give the hips an extra range of motion in Battroid mode. The shoulders have a much greater range of motion as well.
Each elbow features an extending double-joint that is stiff enough to enable the arms to carry a 1977 Chevy Chevelle with no problems.
True to the TV series and movies, the VF-25S can draw its anti-armor knife from its shield.
In a world where giant robots (that were once airplanes) rocket kick each other through buildings, Ozma knows he needs no excuse to not need the gun!
In addition to a pair of closed fists, the VF-25S has the infamous saluting hands that the previous toy needed for fighter mode. These are a neat set of accessories for some basic private military protocol, but I know their true potential...
While I do enjoy the wing's default position in Battroid Mode, as it's a very Zeta Plus-style detail, leaving them in fighter mode position calls back to the classic Valkyrie silhouette. I've always seen the wings of a Valkyrie as forming a kind of cape for the Battroid mode. Ozma’s itasha-style Skull Team emblem solidifies his position as head honcho for the Skull gang.
To accommodate the web-exclusive Super and Armor parts sets, the tops of the inner shoulder and a piece of the back plate can be removed. The upcoming accessory sets will snap in and replace these areas with their fully-equipped equivalents. The whole body features many more subtle holes and slots to accommodate Super and Armor packs, which is something I appreciate since the previous toy wasn't designed to accommodate anything!
The intake covers can also be removed to reveal the inner turbine blade. Normally I'm not too big on this feature, as the toys can't reconcile the nebulous Valkyrie hip joints with a properly deep intake, but I think this may be where the extra intake covers for the Super and Armored parts attach.
With the final adapter piece, the VF-25S can be perched high up in that new default box art pose.
As a former VF-171 pilot, Ozma greatly respects the exploits of Diamond Force.
Nobody respects Emerald Force.
Ozma is a huge fan.
VF-17S! VF-19S! VF-22S! ZENKI! TOTSUGEKI!
While I may have some lingering resentment for how the first DX Chogokin VF-25S toy turned out, I have nothing but praise for this new toy. Despite being known as a dirty Yamato lover, I have a lot of respect for Bandai as a toy company. Everything about the new toy excites me for the future, while also puzzling me as to why the first VF-25 toys were so half-assed. The VF-27 toys were better, and by all accounts the YF-29 (which is incredibly difficult to find if you didn't pre-order it) is the real prototype for all the improvements seen in the new VF-25 toys. Granted, some of these improvements are the things Yamato had been implementing as far back as their 1/48 scale VF-1 Valkyrie line, but I don't begrudge Bandai for doing the smart thing and taking cues from a (largely) successful line of Macross toys. I think my enjoyment of the GFF Metal Composite Zeta Plus might have raised my expectations, as it is a similarly sized transforming robot toy that has just as much potential play value as a well executed Valkyrie toy. In the end I want to move past the sports team level company loyalty and embrace a brighter tomorrow that is dedicated to the pioneers of Valkyrie toys.
Although I'm sure you'll allow me the odd smarmy remark now and again.
|Posted 25 January, 2012 - 16:30 by VF5SS|