It’s a common maxim that science fiction doesn’t talk about the future, but rather the time it was made. Star Trek is defined by that 60’s utopianism (even when they spent an episode or two bashing hippies), cyberpunk was a reflection of the advent of late-stage capitalism in the 80s, and the creators of Macross were 20-something military aviation nerds (amongst other things)
And so, today’s Macross toy. In the real world, the FAST Pack (short for Fuel and Sensor Tactical) was an optional mounting developed for the F-15C. The idea was that these were fuel tanks that could be mounted on the plane, but flush with the engines to maintain the aerodynamic shape in a way that standard external fuel tanks don’t. The sensor part of the name came from a plan to add a laser designator for bombd to the front of the pack, but that was dropped in favour of a standalone unit mounted on a hard point.
By comparison in Macross, FAST Packs, frequently called Super Packs or Super Parts are generally add-on gear that makes a Valkyrie more capable of space combat - extra fuel tanks, more main engines, additional manoeuvring jets, and more weapons. There are exceptions - the VF-0 in Macross Zero, and the YF-19 and YF-21 in Macross Plus all mount FAST Packs that are closer to the original military concept of fuel tanks, sensors and because this is Macross, missile launchers) FAST Packs first appeared in a couple of episodes of the original TV series before showing up in every space combat scene in Do You Remember Love, and consistently thereafter in subsequent shows. And because we’re talking expensive Macross toys, If you don’t get FAST Packs with your Valkyrie, there’s usually an expensive add-on set, and of course I forked out too much money on FAST Packs for my VF-31.
Unlike the DX Chogokin Macross Delta toys, the FAST Packs are a Tamashii Web Shop exclusive, so technically it’s only available to people in Japan who order it direct from Bandai (and their web shop does not ship internationally), but you know, the secondary market is a wonderful thing once you know how to access it. And on that note, DO NOT USE EBAY TO BUY EXPENSIVE JAPANESE EXCLUSIVE TOYS. You will pay through the nose for the “privilege”. I have done this and have learned from my mistake. Anyway, as a Tamashii exclusive, this comes in far more subdued packaging than the main line. A brown cardboard box stamped with the Tamashii nation logo, and inside it a blue and white box with a similar design to the VF-31’s box, and then inside is a plastic tray containing the parts and a baggie with the instruciton sheet. It’s worth noting that this tray is the same length and width as the tray in the VF-31 box with the display stand, so there is the potential for a set that either swaps out the stand for FAST Packs, or includes both in a taller box. (I’m hoping they do this for Chuck’s VF-31E, as it’s the only other VF-31 I really really want)
Part count is kinda light, there’s two big boosters that fit on the wings, armoured paldrons for the arms/underwing, two torso pieces (one for the chest/dorsal hull, and one for the waist/ventral hull), and then a whole bunch of leg pieces - single parts to cover the hip and thigh, and 3 parts that clip together around the lower leg. There’s also an adaptor to mount the fully upgraded Valk on the display stand in fighter mode (the original GERWALK and Battroid adaptors still fit with the FAST Packs on) .
So when you actually start clipping bits onto the Valkyrie, there’s a lot of cool stuff going on. When I first got my VF-31, I spotted a small square hole in the space revealed when each tailfin folded down and assumed that it would be where the wing boosters connected. And it turns out that that space is just a guide point - there’s this big section that folds down, slides out, clamps around the wing and then folds in, which creates an incredibly solid connection. The thigh parts have a cool feature - the tabs that fit onto the thighs slide, allowing the armour to move up and down to allow the GERWALK mode’s reversed leg joints to move freely.
Cool engineering features aside, there’s not much physically happening with the packs. There’s a minimum of poseability - missile hatches on the chest armour open, the main engines and some verniers on the boosters as well as verniers on the rear leg armour are all poseable to some degree. There’s no removable panels or extra weapons in the set.
There’s a few downsides - the hip and thigh armour falls off a fair bit while posing, especially if trying to transform the mech while the armour is on. But you can’t do a perfect transform anyway because you need to remove the arm shields to open the hatches that hide the hand. But these are minor things.
Overall, this is a great accessory set for a great toy. It’s not the best set of FAST packs - Arcadia’s VF-1 set has the same level of solidity and a ton of cool features, but they’re much better than Bandai’s earlier efforts, like the original VF-25 sets.
And some more photos: