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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Better than EXpected... ...

is the latest offering from the Macross Frontier line of toys from Bandai. The Alto Saotome's EX Gear. I had always wanted to own a fully 'articulatable' or poseable character from Macross and this is what I have wanted it to be and even better. I shall give a full review on this fantastic toy.

The box art in my opinion is a tad too old school for something that is of the year 2059.

The back of the box sets the clock back back to the 80s. Then it occurred to me that Macross Frontier is after all celebrating 25 years of Macross.

The packaging comes with a flap that opens to give a glimpse of the content and on the flap shows you what you can expect when you unpack it. Let's do just that.

The question of whether a display stand is provided bothered me quite a while until I opened it. Was indeed delighted to see the crystal clear display stand with the S.M.S base.

This is the basic figure of Alto Saotome, an accidental protagonist who became the pilot of Valkyrie Messiah VF-25F after the pilot was KIA right before Alto's eyes.

Alto Saotome (早乙女 アルト), a high school student in the Mihoshi Academy Pilot Training course. As a result of his fine features and long hair he is often mistaken for a girl at first glance, even receiving the nickname 'Hime' (Princess).

The helmet actually has Alto's head in it. Looks a bit freaky when you can look inside when it is detached from the head.

Articulation on this figure is pretty solid or do I mean liquid as it allows an array of combination of moves and poses.

Another pose to show how poseable this figure is. There is basically ball joints everywhere.

The figure is very well made and all details are not spared from making this toy as anime accurate as possible.

Snapping on the EX Gear. Fantastic engineering here and there is no need to remove any limps or head while putting on the EX Gear.

Fully armed and ready to take flight! The figure stand well without any stand.

The standard weapon issue is the machine gun with grenade launcher and the survival knife is missing in the packaging (but who needs it anyway?) in fact, there's no need for the machine gun either.
Take flight and the stand comes in handy to display the flight mode.

No, Alto is not getting his hair permed. It's the EX Gear headgear that mounts over the head. Guess it provides all the HUD and again, makes one to wonder.....isn't it 2059 and the helmet Alto is wearing doesn't come with HUD?

So, let's do without the headgear and display stand and do some shooting!!

Flight mode (back view) the wings can be folded and position adjustable.

Front view. A pity the head cannot be tilted more to look up.

This figure has this appeal that allows many poses and it just look good with whatever pose one can think of.

The classic salute pose while holding the helmet which is on the box art. A must pose for all macross figures.

Ok, the best feature of this toy which is also the reason why I really want this so much. The EX Gear is in fact part of the cockpit and is a built-in feature in the Messiah type valkyries.

When in the cockpit mode, everything just fold and hide away nicely to ensure the pilot has full control of the valkyrie. Check out the controls on the hands and feet.

A close up of Alto's face in cockpit mode.

Actually, they must have gotten the idea from the dentist chair.

Ok, that is my review on the Alto Saotome's EX Gear and Alto here deserves a break.
The Good
1. Lots of fun factor with 3 modes available
2. Detailed and Poseable
3. Display stand provided for all modes
The Bad
1. Price
2. Parts can fall apart when fixing it up
3. Hands provided are not really useful
Overall, it is a good piece of toy to own and if you are into Macross Frontier, it is not to be missed and perhaps, owning this one piece is good enough. However, I shall not make a commitment so soon, as I am anticipating Ozma's version or even Mikhail's.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sense of Nostalgia......

rushed out of the Godmars packaging produced under Bandai's Soul of Chogokin line. Had this for quite a while and not sure what came over me.

Anyway, here they are; the 6 gods that will combine to become Godmars. Actually, I do not remember watching this cartoon at all which was aired between 1981 and 1982. Bought it 2 years ago because I basically like combiners and the Soul of Chogokin line uses mainly Diecast material which makes this a collectible.

Good old school packaging. It is like the 80s or early 90s and I was not so fortunate to own toys like this back then.

All 6. Standing in front is Gaia piloted by Takeru Myoujin and then in the 2nd row, on the left, we have Uranus and Titan that forms the arms. 3rd row, Shin and Ra forming the legs and lastly Sphinx which is the torso.

During combination, Gaia enters into Sphinx to form the main body.

Main body of Godmars complete. Waiting for Uranus and Titan to combine.

Next, the Uranus and Titan form the arms. Now, Shin and Ra to form legs.

Lastly the leg is formed by Shin and Ra. Godmars is complete.

The all mighty Mars Flash Sword that always deliver the final blow in every episode.

The sword is sure flashy! Hopefully it does not tarnish.

Ok, that's about all that is of Godmars but in the packaging includes 3 jets and since I did not watch the series. I know them only by their names but do not know in what way they were utilised in the series.

From left, Cosmo Crusher 1, Cosmo Crusher 3 and Cosmo Crusher 2. All three combine to form..........COSMO CRUSHER!! Not very creative....perhaps it is the 80s.

I would say the combined mode of all 3 jets do look good but it will stay in the box even if I get to display Godmars.

VF-25G Michael Custom ......

is another valkyrie from the SMS skull Squadron. I do not think I have explain what SMS stands for.

S.M.S. (Strategic Military Services) is a Civilian Military Provider owned and operated by the mysterious Zendradi named Richard Bilrer. Mr. Bilrer originally created the S.M.S. as private security service to protect his transportation corporation. The SMS (for short) organization has been contracted as outsourced military protection for the Macross Frontier Fleet and supplements the fleet's military assets. The organization consists of former N.U.N.S. veterans and talented soldiers. The organization's assets include more two squadrons of the new VF-25 Messiah variable fighters, a VB-6 König Monster variable bomber, a small compliment of Meltlandi Queadlunn-Rea power-armors, small company of Cheyenne II Destroids and a transformable warship named the SMS Macross Quarter, like the SDF-1. The S.M.S. maintains its headquarters on Island 1 (the primary colony ship of the Macross Frontier Fleet) with additional port facilities where the Macross Quarter is docked.

The second preferred Valkyrie after Ozma's VF25S is this, perhaps it is the color scheme that appeals to me. Michael Blanc is parallel to Maximillian Jenius of the original Macross series which explains the color of the valk.

Like all other Messiah valkyries, the design is the same and difference is only in color and head design of the valks.

There is a another difference as Michael is a sniper and thus, the VF-25G is a variant of the standard VF-25 Messiah equipped with an electromagnetic rail sniper gun pod and an enhanced optical package in the specially designed head unit.

The most valuable capabilty of the "G" variant Messiah was by far it's ability to field heavy weapons in support of friendly units. The heavy firepower of the VF-25G was gained via the SSL-9B Dragunov Anti-Armor Sniper Rifle, a powerful rail gun that was already in service with the VF-171 Nightmare Plus. The SSL-9B fired a super polymerized gold cartridge covered in super-hard metal not at the low end rail gun velocity of 3,500 meters per second, but at an impressive 6,200 meters per second (the linear driver increased initial velocity to 7,490 m/s in space).
The cool factor of this is the long electromagnetic rail sniper gun pod and its head. It is indeed a formidable opponent in the battlefield.

The sniper rifle is about 3/4 the height of the valk, as such, the VF-25G provides support in the beginning of the battle. It joins in close combat only when it used up all its sniper rounds or the fight intensifies.

The VF-25G's SSL-9B sniper rifle remained one of the few reliable weapons capable of routinely penetrating the Vajra's incredibly powerful energy converting armor in spite of their adaptive defenses. To improve the accuracy of the SSL-9B rifle, the VF-25G Messiah included a specially designed head unit adjusted for sniping and an FCF-21b FCS precision fire-control booster located in front avionics bay.

Nothing gets missed when the VF-25G locks his eyes on (none more to say about my shooting skills).

Again, like the RVF-25, the pix here are off focus; same reasons (excuses) applies. Anyway, discovered a new mode while transforming it back to fighter mode.

Berserk mode!! As in the Evangelion series when EVA 01 Test type went berserk.

RVF-25 Luca Custom......

from Macross Frontier is the toy that I have decided to feature (yes, I finally decided to open up all the SMS valkyries from the series).

The RVF-25 is an Electronic warfare variant, with a dorsally-mounted rotodome and featuring a different head design.

Piloted by Luca Angelloni throughout the series. He is one of the youngest member of the SMS team and most probably the brainiest. He is a totally new character from the Macross series, however, the valkyrie is not.

This is similar to the Elintseeker (which I have already pre-ordered). RVF-25 is still an enhancement compared to its predecessor as it carries armament and is fully capable of battle.

It can also be fitted with Super Parts to enhance speed and additional missiles pods are fitted on the shoulder with the Super Parts.

The slight difference in the fighter mode other than the rotodome is the ventral ELINT fin (detects targets via fold waves with a maximum detection range of one light-day in space) which is seen at the back of the valkyrie.

Gerwalk with Super Parts on and rotodome activated. Had a hard time getting this right as the parts did not exactly stay put and the handling can be tricky.

Side view

Batteroid for this valkyrie is my favourite and if I were to ever display it, this mode it will be. I mentioned that Luca is one of the youngest members and so the head sculpt is pretty apt as it looks happy (just a personal opinion).
Target locked and open fire!

Reminds me of a grasshopper
Well, I am impressed with Bandai's offering of the valkyries from Macross Frontier as I was a sceptic before my purchase and even so when I bought my first VF-25F. However, it is only until I finally opened one and fiddled with it to realise Bandai do make good Macross valks; in fact, they were the first to do so in the 80s.
It took me about 1 hour plus to get the valkyrie transformed, fitted with Super Parts and taking photos. The pictures are a little off focus; as it was after a long day of work and struggling with a flat battery in the camera.