wouldn’t they be made of resin?
This is very cool:
You know what else is made of resin?
Your stupid Lorcan face with its stupid Lorcan body attached.
Bandai have a history with Macross toys going back almost to the beginning of the franchise, when they bought up newly bankrupt Takatoku Toys in 1984 (promptly licensing the Macross VF-1S along with some toys from Dorvack and Beetras to Hasbro to use as Jetfire and the Deluxe Autobots and Decepticons), with their first outing being the use of the Takatoku molds for Do You Remember Love tie-in toys, expanding the line to include Strike, ELINTseeker and Ostritch Valkyries. In the 90s they did a short-lived set of toys based on the VF-19 and VF-17 from Macross 7 (which got bootlegged heavily and you can still find them on eBay if you want a cheap and not awful valkyrie toy), but then they kinda exited the Macross scene right before Yamato started work on their original Macross toys, happy just to reissue some Takatoku VF-1s in the early 2000s
When Macross Frontier came along, Bandai were producers/sponsors, and acquired the rights to do 1/60 scale toys of the mecha - this lead to much wailing and gnashing of fan teeth because Yamato wouldn’t be doing them, but their DX Chogokin VF-25 line was pretty well recieved in the end, and they continued release 1/60 toys to tie in with the Macross Frontier movies and the Macross 30 computer game, including revised versions of their VF-25 and VF-27 toys to improve detail and poseability.
And continuing this trend, Bandai are now doing toys from Macross Delta, and the first release is Delta 5 - Hayate Immelman’s VF-31J which he flies for most of the series. The VF-31 is based on the YF-30 from the Macross 30 game, and while Bandai made a YF-30 toy, the new VF-31 is an almost entirely new design, improving on the flaws of its predecessor.
To begin, the box is the nicest I’ve ever gotten with a Bandai Chogokin toy. Usually the box is a thin piece of cardboard, opening at the side to reveal a slab of styrofoam containing the toy and sometimes a plastic tray with accessories. Here, the box art is nicer than usual, and it lifts open form the top to reveal a blue card sheet bisected with a red stripe that says REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT. Beneath this is the styrofoam slab with the valkyrie in fighter mode, secure with a clear plastic lid, but even here the baggies containing the main accessories have a space in the styrofoam, covered by a piece of card with VF-31 written on it and a checklist of the contents. Beneath the styrofoam is a plastic tray with the display stand and then the instruction manual at the bottom.
Fighter mode is a big old pile of sexy swept-forward wing goodness. Features include removable intake covers (something Bandai only started to do after their initial valkyrie toys) deployable landing gear with a tow bar, but while the detail is much improved over Bandai’s earlier efforts, they’re still unpainted metal, while Arcadia’s valks have painted white ones to better match real-world aircraft. Opening cockpit with a removable panel to reveal a backseat:
Opening hatches to reveal banks of non-deployable multidrones
And 4 underwing hard points, though no external ordnance is included in the set. This is a Bandai standard, unfortunately - the only Macross Chogokin to include compatible weapons is an upgrade set for the VF-171, and if you do have that set, you have to share the missiles out amongst all your Bandai valks. Or you’re SOL. I tested various Yamato/Arcadia underwing weapons and none fit well. Boo
The design work here is exceptional. Like all Macross toys it take its cues on the overall transformation from the line art, and there’s some amazing work here. Here’s the 31’s undercarraige in fighter mode:
See those blue triangles? Those are the hands. Here’s a shot with the hatches that hide them opened up:
The panel just in front of the hand becomes a shield on the arm, and the gun and its mount point become the forearm. The white piece in front of the gun barrel is the arm’s bicep
GERWALK mode is quite impressive. It continues some of Kawamori’s more recent design elements, where the wing assembly is quite large and stretches backwards, giving the valkyrie more of a feeling of a plane with arms and legs, as opposed to a transition form between fighter and battroid mode. This is also the first point where the weapons pod is really noticeable. The YF-30 has this huge bar-shaped missile launcher thing, but the VF-31 swaps that out for a paired system that has a cannon on one side and a charger for the multridrones on the other. A huge improvement over the YF-30 is that the VF-31 locks together extremely tightly in GERWALK mode, while the 30 needed an external piece added to stop the back half from flopping downward
Transformation to Battroid mode is quite complicated - it took me a lot of fiddling to get the neck into the correct position, and the head pops off a lot. Again following on from Kawamori’s recent designs, the engine intake/hips remain in place and the rest of the nose folds up to form the chest, and there’s some very impressive bits flipping around to make it happen. That neck assembly is frustrating, but it works really well to provide the head a lot of clearance in Battroid mode, but have it flush with the hull in GERWALK and fighter mode.
Clips extend out fom sections that are hidden in each mode, work to keep parts in place. Remember when I said the back half of GERWALK mode remains solidly in place? turns out it’s a pair of spars that do it, and you flip them downwards during transformation to unlock the back and flip it down to make the back pack. It’s such a nice little touch.
The hands are kinda cool - the thumb, index finger and middle/ring/little fingers are poseable, though the index finger is pointing (or keeping off a trigger if you prefer) and has no knuckle joint like the other fingers do, meaning your posing options are a flat palm, pointing, a slightly curled fist, or holding a weapon. The Arcadia standard poseable hand has a little less range of motion, but in this case it means it looks a bit better than Bandai’s effort here.
“Who’s got two thumbs and an advanced variable fighter? Hayate Immelman!”
"I want YOU! For Chaos Ragna"
Accessory wise, there’s not much in the box, A display stand (the same basic stand that’s been included with Chogokin valkyries for about a decade) with connectors for all three modes (with no posing options like my fancy Yamato and Arcadia bases), six(!) pairs of fixed-pose hands, a pair of knives that fold up to be stowed internally, pilot figures of Hayate (not wearing a helmet, as was his wont in the show) and Frejya (wearing a space suit and helmet), and a pair of multidrones - one folded up, one deployed (but there’s no way to actually use these with the toy or mount them on a display stand, so they’re just little bits of plastic). The cannon on the weapons pod is removable and mountable as a rifle, and while you can grip it with the poseable hand, the fixed-pose hands designed to hold the gun (and knives!) work better. Oh well.
Overall this is an amazing toy. I don’t know if it’s my favourite valkyrie toy, but it’s well up there. The best Bandai have done (though to be fair, I only own one other Bandai valk) Solid as all hell, some amazing things happening in the transformation, highly poseable and incredible details. There are minor flaws here too, but nothing that detracts too much from the overall package
More photos? More Photos:
“Hora ubatte! Shibatte! Madamada!”
With these transforming things like your Macross fighters, do they design the toys first to make sure they can physically work before they use them in the film? Because obviously you can animate things transforming that are literally impossible in the real world, and I would think that causes major headaches if they’re putting something cool in the film that they then have to figure out how to make a toy.
It’s a question that presumably has a fundamental affect on the philosophy of what they’re doing – is the film there because of the toy franchise or vice versa?
In anime, it’s usually done at the same time, especially for ‘real robot’ shows. What we call mecha anime is generally called robot anime in Japan, divided into real robot, where the mecha are depicted as common machinery (such as Macross, Gundam or Patlabor); and super robot, where they’re basically metal superheroes (like Gigantor/Tetsujin 28, Mazinger, or if you want to go live action, Power Rangers/Super Sentai). So when a transforming Gundam is being designed, it’s usually with an eye towards the toy and model kit being able to replicate what happens on the show. Bear in mind though that most anime mecha aren’t disguising themselves like Transformers, and so they can get away with having visible robot parts and the like. The Zeta Gundam is one of the most popular transforming mecha in Japan, and its waverider mode is quite clearly a scrunched-up robot with wings:
Shoji Kawamori, who designed most of the Macross mechs is all about making things work in real-life as well, to the point that after he works out the general shape of a new design, he builds it in lego to make sure it can transform the way he wants, and then he traces over photos of the lego version to create the more detailed art.
This video shows the lego model for the YF-30, for example:
Even before he started using lego, he was very much about working everything out. Here’s part of the production art for the VF-1 from the original Macross, showing how the arms move out for GERWALK mode. Almost every VF-1 toy has used a variation of this mechanism:
Kawamori is also a toy designer as well as a mechanical artist, which helps. In the 80s, he was responsible for many of the early fan favourite Transformers, including Optimus Prime, Prowl/Bluestreak/Smokescreen, Ratchet/Ironhide and Starscream/Skywarp/Thundercracker. In fact, when he returned to Transformer design in the early 2000s, the two figures he designed (Hybrid Style Optimus Prime and Masterpiece Starscream) were specifically advertised as being his work, down to photos of him and lineart appearing in their instruction booklets.
For Transformers, I’m not sure of how the process works. The Generations toys aren’t tied to a particular cartoon or movie, and as such the designers are pretty much free to do whatever they want within the toyline’s remit of do old toys with new engineering and asthethics. The toys that are based on TV and movie characters seem to go for a methodology of make it look like the robot and the vehicle, but the exact transformation method doesn’t have to match what is seen on the screen. Though amusingly the original Transformer animation designers loosely based the transformation animation on what the toys did to transform (because of course the original Transformers were repackaged Japanese toys)
Designing transforming robots seems like on of the most difficult things imaginable. I’ve got decent spatial reasoning skills, but I would still breakdown trying to design one of those things from scratch.
I am so jealous of his Lego-Transformer skills. I’ve tried a few times but I’m terrible at it and can only manage the most rudimentary transformations.
Yeah, I first saw his lego models in the instruction booklet for the DX Chogokin Aquarion toy, and was somewhat blown away!
(OK, that’s an ad rather than the booklet photos, but it illustrates the transition form lego to toys)
Speaking of LEGO:
That is fucking cool.
Can I stick it to the side of Lego?
It’s shown In the pic with the boat.
You can’t expect me to have actually followed the link! Jeez, you and your high standards, Mark!