VF-27β Lucifer Valkyrie New Head Plus (General Use / Grace Use)
Review by VF5SS
The second Macross Frontier film, The Wings of Goodbye, was a turning point for Bandai, as from there on out its DX Chogokin Valkyrie toys became some of the most sought-after products to come out of the series. This change was spearheaded by their YF-29 Durandal figure, which was the brand new transforming fighter introduced in the film. After that, Bandai began double-dipping on all the previous main character Valkyries with the new and improved VF-25 Renewal Version toys, which incorporated many of the improvements seen in the aforementioned Durandal.
And while the protagonists' mecha sorely needed a toy upgrade, the original VF-27 Lucifer Valkyrie toys were themselves a welcome improvement over the original VF-25s, and were fine toys in their own right. When Bandai announced they would be redoing Brera's VF-27 as a new movie version, there was some apprehension as to what they could possibly improve, aside from adding the spiffy new Super Packs. Since I had two versions of the old DX VF-27 toys by that point, I opted to skip out on the redo, and it seems I was not alone in that sentiment, as the second version of Brera's maroon-colored bird sat around at stores long enough to get slapped with the shame of clearance prices. It would be a while before Bandai touched this mold again, but as they geared up for more video game based Valkyrie repaints, a new version of the obligatory green VF-27 folded in from Tamashii Nations as a web exclusive.
Please check out my video review!
Like the review title and packaging say, the full moniker for this figure is "VF-27β Lucifer Valkyrie New Head Plus (General Use / Grace Use)", which is making me painfully aware of how inane some of these Macross toy names are getting...
While this fact has little importance to the toy itself, I just wanted our dear readers to see documented evidence of this monstrous name.
The latest version of the VF-27 arrives with little fanfare, as the toy delivers the typical modern Valkyrie toy experience. That is to say, it features (literally) sharp molding, diecast landing gear, and a slew of tampographed markings. Please note that while this release does NOT include the Super Parts that come with Brera's version, the toy can still mount them.
And while this toy isn't immediately doing anything I haven't seen (or reviewed) before, I do like the VF-27 design, and it is nice to have another solid representation of the rarely-seen green version. The newer Lucifer Valkyrie retains all the diecast metal of its predecessor, and gimmicks like the movable jet nozzles on its outboard engines.
When placed alongside its predecessor from five years prior, the most striking thing about the new VF-27 (on the left) is its much darker green coloring. In fact, it makes the old toy (right) look pea green in comparison. The new toy also features a smattering of extra markings, but they can be hard to notice.
The biggest addition is some extra markings along the dorsal side designating this fighter as part of the ANTARES squadron. Note that the words don't quite line up, as the toy comes with a sticker sheet full of numbers to mark it as either Grace O'Connor's machine or some no-name cyborg soldier's craft.
While fighter mode has the least dramatic changes, it still looks quite good with its protective armored canopy.
Underneath the hinged canopy is the same two-seat cockpit seen on the previous VF-27. If you look close though, you may notice something different about the pilot figure...
To better represent that brief moment Grace flew a VF-27, Bandai included a much more obviously female pilot with this release (oh those 1/60 scale curves). You still get a standard cyborg person figure, who is either male or a much less busty female. Sadly, neither figure can fit in the rear seat, as that is reserved for smaller passengers like Ranka (from the VF-25S) or Klan Klan (from the VF-25G).
One neat gimmick added for this VF-27 is the ability to swap out the canopy for a more conventional clear green one. Simply pop out the panel directly behind the hinge to change parts. This is meant to represent the canopy after its armored cover has been jettisoned, and adds a more down-to-earth touch to the otherwise exotic airplane.
And like the previous version, you can still remove the intake covers and gaze into a black abyss with no detailing.
Why even make that piece removable?
Unlike the first DX VF-27, the large beam gun pod mounts to the underside through a claw-shaped clip that attaches to the Battroid mode groin. The instructions say to use this additional arm mount piece for support, but I've found the gun's built-in clip works fine on its own.
And like all other DX Bandai Valkyries, this VF-27 includes a set of stand parts. The base is the same hexagon-shaped space hatch that was included with the VF-171 toys. I guess only the SMS Valkyries get a cool emblem for their figures...
The base can be arranged with the main arm in a vertical position as well.
When using my trusty Flight Pose stand, I find that the VF-27 can be difficult to deal with it, as its massive gun pod makes it hard to support the front of the plane directly.
But with a bit of patience, the exotic green bird can show off with the best of them.
Going to Gerwalk mode is where some of the new VF-27's improvements begin to manifest. First off, the large back plate is now supported by a fold-out strut that connects the rear fuselage to the groin. Unfortunately, the new VF-27 has also inherited the loose crotch plate issue from the YF-29 and VF-25 Renewal figures, so be aware when manipulating this part of the toy during transformation. Nothing is breaking when this happens, stuff is just coming unpegged.
The toy retains the knee swivels from the original DX VF-27, which allow it to achieve a proper A-stance. It's interesting that Bandai initially omitted this feature from their first large Macross Frontier Valkyrie toys, but quickly saw the error of their ways and added it to all subsequent designs.
And as a nice bit of engineering, the support strut on the back does not interfere with mounting the beam gun pod between the VF-27's legs.
As I mentioned before, the instructions say to use this additional mounting piece to help secure the VF-27's main gun in fighter mode, but honestly, the built-in connector works well enough. Since this extra piece plugs into where the shield attaches to the arm, and has no place to store on the toy otherwise, this feels like a last-minute addition to the figure. Using it only makes fighter mode gun storage a bit more secure, but it's too clunky to really bother with for so little gain.
The newer VF-27's shoulders are designed with small pegs that tab into the body, which makes the whole arm assembly feel much sturdier. Still, the toy's ball-joints are only so tight out of the box, so it is best to have the Valkyrie hold its massive weapon with two hands. The VF-27 comes with Bandai's usual assortment of manipulators, which consist of two fists, two saluting hands, two gun-holding hands, and articulated hands. Each hand plugs into the wrists via a ball-joint connection.
And, as expected, the display stand comes with an adapter for Gerwalk mode. While up in the air, the Lucifer Valkyrie can brandish its (literally) sharp talons, and show off the diecast internals for its ankle/engine assembly.
Continuing on to Battroid is surprisingly similar to the original VF-27, right down to having to lift up the base of the neck to give the cockpit block enough room to slide underneath it. And weirdly enough, the crotch block still does not lock forward, which requires the use of this extra black piece to be shoved into the Battroid's nether regions. I can't fathom what prevented Bandai from engineering this toy like the YF-29 and VF-25, so I am left a little disappointed by this weird stopgap solution.
This VF-27 toy comes with the beetle-horned commander's type head installed by default. It's a great looking rendition of this evil Valkyrie's monitor turret, and features a movable head laser.
Before talking about the rest of the figure, I'd like to touch on the whole "New Head Plus" part of its name. As you may have inferred from the name, this VF-27 comes with an additional noggin that represents a "grunt" type VF-27. Swapping the heads around is simple in concept, but difficult in execution. There are a lot of joints in the neck assembly, which makes trying to get one of the heads on or off the sliding ball-joint connection hard to do. I would recommend picking the head you want to display and sticking to it.
So here is the VF-27 equivalent of the plucky VF-1A Valkyrie (or the VF-25A, which shared the mass-production VF-27's lack of screen time). While it lacks the big horns of leadership, the head retains the very evil-looking face plate and double clear green visors.
It also omits the small sensor moles around the "mouth" area, so it's a more extensive retool than you might think.
This head first showed up in Bandai's 1/72 scale transformable VF-27 model kit, and since then has appeared in ancillary media, such as the video games. I really like its design, as it is a cool variation on an already stellar antagonist mecha visage.
As a whole, the newer DX Chogokin VF-27 takes what was already a pretty good Battroid figure and brings it (nearly) up to the standards set down by the YF-29 Durandal of the same line. That said, it's still just as pointy as the original, so pose it with care.
The Lucifer Valkyrie's sizable backpack still folds up quite neatly on the newer toy. Although the tiny tabs meant to hold the wings upright are a bit off on mine, with one wing being looser than the other.
Still, it stands up nicely, even with the built-in Super Pack style boosters.
Here is DX Chogokin GE-74 (left) next to its predecessor, GE-49B. The most striking change is the corrected position for the hips, which is achieved with the same diecast swing bar mechanism seen on the YF-29 and VF-25 Renewals. Also, the shoulders use a much sturdier joint design, so the arms won't sag like they did on the old VF-27.
Also, please not that GE-74's box features full-color photos, while GE-49B's has gray scale ones.
This much needed improvement comes with a weird caveat, as this small black filler piece is needed to lock the whole groin assembly forward. I'm not sure why Bandai couldn't fully duplicate the mechanism from the other DX Valkyries (or design another built-in solution), so what they did with this VF-27 toy just leaves me scratching my head. Honestly, I wouldn't mind this extra piece as much if it had a place to store on the toy while it's in fighter and Gerwalk mode.
All that said, I think a minor reduction in "perfect transformation" is acceptable when the toy gains a more aggressive look thanks to the revised proportions.
And the toy retains the shield blade gimmick for when knife-gun fails you in close quarters combat.
The revised VF-27 also does a decent job of holding its massive beam gun pod.
Plus, the beam grenade launcher mode is still pretty cool lookin'.
And as with the other forms, the Lucifer Valkyrie can be mounted on the display stand. Like I've said many (many) times before, Bandai's stands are ugly but functional. At least it lets me get that nice high-angle shot of the VF-27, as if it were flying through space.
The VF-25 and VF-27 share a common ancestor in the briefly seen YF-24 Evolution.
They both love their mother, why can't they love each other?
Bandai's second go-around with the VF-27 has produced a pretty good toy that falls just a bit short of being a full 2.0 style revision. This mold in general has struggled to catch buyers, as even the Super Parts equipped Brera Sterne version found itself in the bargain bin. Whereas most modern Macross toys manage to sell out quite fast, the VF-27 serves as a weird anomaly. And even though this version is a Tamashii Web exclusive, the toy seems to be fairly accessible at places like Nippon Yasan or Jungle. And honestly, I'll be the first to admit that while this is a terrific piece, it is not essential.
It's like they say, it ain't easy being green...
|Posted 26 October, 2015 - 14:42 by VF5SS|