Yamato's 1/60 Scale YF-19
(7th December 2006)
It's been 7 years since Yamato released their original 1/72 scale YF-19 toy from Macross Plus. This was Yamato's first transforming Macross toy. In fact, it was the first toy Yamato ever manufactured, a huge step for a company with no previous toy manufacturing experience. Things have moved on since then, from the early days of the hand-sculpted 1/72 scale Macross Plus and 1/60 DYRL toys with asymmetrical and poorly fitting parts to the present day where all of Yamato's Macross toys are designed and manufactured using the latest CAD/CAM techniques.
Yamato was never really happy with their first 1/72 scale YF-19 toy and always knew they could do better, but first they had to gain more experience. The new YF-19 has been in development for several years and has gone through and rejected at least three previous designs from different sculptors/designs that I know about. It's lucky they were rejected, as two out of the three prototype designs were pretty hideous, with serious issues with the proportions and the third design while nice looking would have been too delicate. Finally, they arrived at a design that was up to their standard as well as acceptable to both Big West & Kawamori-san.
Two YF-19 toys were used in this review. Both are production standard, not pre-production versions. YF-19 # 1 was used for the Battroid mode photos and I applied some of the stickers. YF-19 # 2 was used for the Fighter & GERWALK photos and has no stickers applied at the time.
I apologize for the lousy photo quality. One of these days I will get around to taking some photography lessons and/or constructing a proper light box.
The YF-19 toy and box has the following dimensions:
The sticker sheet that comes with the YF-19 is fairly small, with a limited number of stickers. The small quantity of stickers is not the fault of Yamato, rather just that the YF-19 is never shown with many markings in either the anime or the various Macross Plus art books.
One improvement over the older 1/72 scale toy is that this time Yamato has spelled Isamu's name correctly as "Isamu Dyson". Unfortunately, they have spelled New Edwards Test Flight Center incorrectly as ""NEWEDWARS T.F.C.". This is the same error that Hasegawa made on their YF-19 decal sheet and comes from an animation error in the anime, specifically, the scene where Guld is looking at Isamu's data record on the computer.
One nice touch is that the stickers for the UN Spacy Kite emblems for the nose, are pre-cut about a quarter of the way up from the bottom of the sticker, as the area of the foreward fuselage where the sticker is located (just aft of and below the canopy) needs to split in Battroid mode.
INSTRUCTION MANUAL & STICKER SHEET
The YF-19 comes with the following Tampo printed markings:
To be honest, I would have liked to see a bit more Tampo printing on the YF-19, such as at least the white triangle on the chest and the pilots name on cockpit.
ACCESSORIES & REMOVABLE PARTS
The YF-19 comes with the following accessories and detachable parts:
As I've mentioned on the Macrossworld forums, the reason for the two spare ABS canards is because although the POM canards on the toy are more durable than ABS, they cannot be painted easily. Yamato decided to include the two spare ABS canards (which can be painted easily), for customizes who want to paint the toy in a custom paint scheme.
The YF-19 has always been one of the most difficult variable fighters to design as a transforming toy while still remaining faithful to Kawamori's line-art in all three modes. The problem with the YF-19 is that Kawamori used an extreme amount of 'anime magic' to depict the 3 modes, with many parts magically shrinking or growing in size. Prime examples of this phenomenon are the lower legs, which are often depicted as fat and bulging in Battroid mode, but relatively slender in fighter mode. Another error incorporating 'anime magic' is the engine intakes, which completely change shape between rhomboids in Battroid mode being rectangular in Fighter mode.
A third difficulty when designing a transforming YF-19 toy has always been the matter of the back of the lower legs. In Fighter mode, the arms and shoulders need to sit low down to give the YF-19 its characteristic sleek look. The problem is that the space where the arms should be is occupied by the back half of the lower legs. Different manufacturers have got around this in different ways. Bandai solved the problem in their proportionally-challenged 1/65 scale VF-19 toys by simply removing most of the back of the lower leg. Studio Half Eye (SHE) used a unique, but fragile 'origami style' system of multiple hinged panels that folded out of the way to make space for the arms. However the SHE kit lacked landing gear.
Basically, what this all boils down to, is that no transforming YF-19 toy or model is ever going to be 100% accurate to the line-art in all 3 modes, unless many removable and/or swappable parts are used (different size legs, removable landing gear etc). However, removable and or swappable parts are against Yamato's philosophy of 'Perfect Transformation' toys.
In my opinion, Yamato have done a very good job of getting the 1/60 YF-19 looking good in all three modes. No, it's not completely accurate to Kawamori's line-art, but I think it's the best looking transforming YF-19 made so far. My only real complaint with the design is that the tail fins and ventral leg fins are a little too small.
Some Macrossworld members have complained that the belly or what they refer to as "the gullet" is too large, spoiling the slender look of the line-art. Unfortunately, the gullet had to be made this large in order to accommodate the front landing gear bay. Whether the toy's gulley is too large is also debatable as some of Kawamori's line-art also shows a pronounced slopping gullet. Many fans have also been spoiled by the anorexic Hasegawa YF-19 plastic model kit, which has a neck far more slender than Kawamori ever envisioned it.
The 1/60 scale YF-19 is constructed mostly of ABS plastic with small quantities of POM plastic parts used and a very small amount of die-cast metal.
The main POM plastic parts are the canards. POM was chosen for the moving canards as it is far more durable than ABS, with much greater resistance to being twisted, pulled and flexed. One downside of POM is that it is a difficult material to paint. This is why Yamato kindly supplied a spare pair of canards made of ABS plastic, in consideration of those customizes who would like to paint their YF-19 in a custom paint scheme.
The only die-cast metal parts on the toy are the left and right hip bars, which can be pulled to angle out a few degrees from the main body for obtaining a spread leg pose in Battroid mode. And of course the front and rear landing gear struts are also die cast metal.
The paint job on the YF-19 is very good on both my samples, with no overspray or runs. The edges of the red and black trim is crisp & sharp with no fuzziness.
To be honest, there's not a great deal of painted area on the toy, as most of it is molded in the correct color plastic and the painted areas mostly consist of the aforementioned trim and also head and engine detail.
One nice realistic touch is that the inside of the landing gear bays and bay doors are painted white. Yamto could have very easily just left these as tan plastic.
Overall, the paint job and plastic colors are faithful to the anime. The only areas that are not 100% accurate are the canopy frame, which should be gray instead of black (although this can be debated, depending on source material).
The other area not accurate to the anime color wise is the neck cover in Fighter mode, which is gray on the toy instead of black as depicted in the source material. There is a reason for this however. On the new Yamato 1/60 YF-19 toy, the Battroid's neck column actually pivots to become the Fighter mode neck cover, whereas on the older 1/72 scale YF-19 the neck cover was a separate piece. It would look odd if the new 1/60 YF-19 Battroid had a black neck, hence the Fighter mode neck cover has to be the same as the Battroid's neck, as it is the same piece.
The Yamato 1/60 scale YF-19 features numerous features and gimmicks such as:
The YF-19 head is nicely sculpted and comes with a removable front top head cover and detachable translucent green visor. Once removed, molded on and painted mechanical detailing is revealed on the head. This is a feature that was shown in the OVA when the YF-19 was undergoing maintenance. The head cover and visor are attached very firmly. The head cover attaches by two long pegs that plug into holes in the head. The cover also keeps the visor in place. These will not fall of even if the toy is held upside down and shaken vigorously.
From pointing straight up, the YF-19's REB-30G head laser is capable of approximately 80 degrees of rearward movement and about 30 degrees of forward tilt.
The YF-19's head can be tilted forward about 20 degrees and tilted back about 40 degrees. Actually when tilting back, i.e. the battroid is looking up, the whole head and neck tilt together.
Another feature is that on the back of the head, there is a small sliding neck cover (about 3mm long), which should be pulled down for Fighter & GERWALK mode and pushed up to be stored in the back of the head in Battroid mode. The cover has a small indentation on it for using your finger nail to pull it down. Originally, pulling the head laser all the way to the rear was supposed to lower the neck cover, but that feature doesn't work very well. Doing so may lower the neck cover by 1mm, but it's best to use your finger nail to pull it down.
The Isamu Dyson Pilot figure is made of some type of rubber or PVC, similar to the VF-0 pilots. The pilot is nicely sculpted, but due to the cramped cockpit is missing his feet. I expect that the upcoming Yang Newman figure to be supplied with the FAST Pack/Fold Booster set will also be missing at least part of his limbs in order to be able to squeeze into the cramped cockpit.
The cockpit features an anime-accurate, two-piece opening canopy, hinged at the front and rear. To open the front canopy, the black anti-glare section in front of the canopy must be pushed down first, the canopy can then be hinged open. The front canopy can also easily be removed if desired by simply pulling it straight up as the front hinge retaining peg slides easily out of it's slot.
The rear canopy also hinges open. To close the canopies, do it in reverse order, i.e. the rear canopy should be closed first, followed by the front. Lastly, the anti-glare section is pushed up using the gray peg sticking out from the underside of the nose.
A further feature is that both the pilot seat and the section behind the pilot seat can be removed. An optional rear seat and Yang Newman figure is planned for sale later with the Fold Booster/FAST Pack set.
Another nice touch, that started with the 1/60 VF-0S, is the inclusion of a Tampo printed instrument panel.
One detail missing from the cockpit is the green protrusion located on top of the ejector seat. Many fans have theorised that this is the projector for the holographic Heads Up Display (HUD) but this has never been confirmed.
The Howard HU-19 gunpod comes with a detachable 'anime-accurate' magazine, which is actually the gunpod's stock. To remove the magazine, simply pull it to the rear and it slides off easily. The pistol grip of the gunpod has two holes in it. The lower hole is for attachment in fighter mode. The upper hole is for attachment in Battroid mode.
Unfortunately, when attached in fighter mode, the gunpod points off at an angle of about 10-20 degrees to the side instead of pointing straight ahead. The cause of this appears to be that the two arm pegs are slightly misaligned when the arms are joined together in fighter mode. This is the only real probblem that slipped passed QC in my opinion. A little tweaking can probably solve this. I've been told that this problem will be fixed in later runs and that a possible home remedy may also be announced to cure this (keep watching this space).
Some Macrossworld members have commented that the gunpod looks too small. However, Kawamori's line-art shows the muzzle of the gunpod being about level with the top of the knee armor in Fighter mode. On the 1/60 YF-19 toy the gunpod comes nearly to the top of the knee amour in fighter mode. I would say Yamato's gunpod is perhaps only about 5mm too short. Pretty close really.
Not much to say about the feet. They can be extended and have a strong locking mechanism. They can be also positioned to simulate thrust vectoring. The ankle joints are nice and stable and there is no fear about the toy loosing its balance and toppling over accidentally.
The foot thruster is present, but not as detailed as the one on the VF-0, but then Kawamori-san has never provided detailed line-art for this area.
The two metal hip bars can be pulled out at an angle a short distance from the main body, to allow a spread leg pose in Battroid mode. For Fighter & GERWALK modes the metal hip bars must be pushed back into the main body. Yamato deliberately made the legs fairly easy to remove from the toy, so that owners wanting to get an extreme spread leg pose can pull the legs out slightly from the gray plastic hip joint sheaths to get a better pose.
The toy has a good level of detail, but not quite so many panel lines and other small details as say the 1/60 VF-0 series. I think this is because, although Yamato copied some panel lines from Hasegawa, they did not want to go the whole-hog and just make up a whole bunch of non-canon detail and panel lines like Hasegawa does. Instead, they choose to stay more faithful to the level of detail that Kawamori has portrayed in his line-art. Unfortunately Kawamori has never drawn a highly-detailed sketch of the YF-19 showing all the fine detail, although he did for the later VF-19Kai Fire Valkyrie.
Both hands have a peg on the palm, which slots into the corresponding hole on the gunpod's pistol grip. This helps to ensure the YF-19 can hold its gunpod quite securely. Happily the wrist hinge is quite tight and so is the wrist peg that plugs into the wrist. There's no way the hands are going to fall off the wrists accidentally.
Transformation of the YF-19 is relatively straightforward with only one tricky part, which is getting the upper arms and elbow joints in the correct position when transforming to fighter mode. While not particularly difficult, it can be time consuming as it is possible to get the pivoting "unlocked" elbow joint upside down.
I've included some photos below, which show the correct way that the upper arms and elbows should be positioned in fighter mode. Just follow the photos and you should be good. Oh, and remember to push up the bicep covers when transforming to fighter mode.
I would say that out of all Yamato's toys, the YF-19 probably has the sturdiest fighter mode, as it locks together extremely well.
One other point to note is that when opening the front canopy, or when transforming to Battroid mode, ensure that the black anti-glare section located in front of the canopy is pushed down.
The backpack of the YF-19 is a two piece sliding unit, which extends longer for Battroid mode and collapses shorter for Fighter & GERWALK modes. The larger upper backpack section has long rectangular pegs on both sides which slide up and down in plastic slots on the smaller lower backpack section. Sometimes during transformation, especially if you are transforming too quickly or roughly, the upper and lower backpack halves may separate. DON'T WORRY! The toy is NOT broken. Given the tolerances of ABS, Yamato could only make the side walls of the "U" shaped lower backpack section so tight. When your backpack does come apart (and it will), simply slot the upper backpack back into the tracks in the lower backpack and carry on. Nothing to worry about!
TRANSFORMATION NOTES & COMMENTS
After the fan complaints that arose with the 1/60 VF-0S of floppy joints (since solved on the VF-0A), Yamato spent a great deal of time on the joint design and QC of the YF-19 to make sure all the joints are sufficiently tight that the toy can hold nearly any pose.
All the arm and leg joints on both my production YF-19's are nice and tight, including the swivel joints. The arms on my two YF-19's will hold and keep any pose that you put them in. Locks are also present on the extendable ankle and knee joints. I should also point out that the elbow joints have more than 90 degrees bend to them.
In fact if anything I would say that some joints or hinges are too tight, specifically the sliding bases of the tail fins and the hinged section under the nose that pulls down to allow the nose to hinge for battroid mode.
The knee cap armor is a separate piece as on the 1/60 VF-0 series and 1/48 VF-1 series. However, unlike those toys, it does not hinge down.
The only joint that I would have liked to see a little tighter is the wing pivot point where the wing connects to wing hinge, as in Battroid mode, the right wing on sample # 1 won't always hold position at all angles. This is probably a very easy fix though, although I haven't had time to look into it yet.
The front and rear landing gear doors are tight enough that they will not hang down by themselves. It's probably better to let your fingernails grow a bit in order to pry the doors open, although Yamato have thoughtfully included small cut-outs in the rear landing gear doors to help with opening them.
The front landing gear can be opened by pulling on the grey plastic launch bar, which just like on the VF-0 toy is secure enough that it will no come off easily when pulled. On my 2 production YF-19 toys the launch bar was a bit droopy though and would not stay horizontal when the gear was down.
Unless you have slim fingers you will probably have difficulty pulling out the rear landing gear. I usually use the intake covers as a crow-bar to help get the landing gear out.
One nice touch is that the landing gear doors have sawtooth edges.
In Fighter mode, the toy locks together very well and is extremely rigid. It probably has the sturdiest Fighter mode locking of any Yamato Macross toy. When I hold the toy in Fighter mode and fly it around the house I've found the best place to hold it it is with your hand cupped under the toy and your fingers and thumb holding the lower legs just behind the knees.
In Battroid mode the toys locks together better than the older 1/72 scale Yamato YF-19 and is very sturdy and stable due to it's tight joints, good balance and light weight. Like the older 1/72 toy it still cannot be held upside down as the chest will unlock and hang down. When handling the Battroid the best places I've found to hold the toy are on the mid-to-upper leg, the groin or the backpack.
In GERWALK mode, the toy has the least amount of locking parts. In fact the chest is not locked at all and neither are the wings really. The toy will stand and balance just fine as can be seen from the photos, but be careful when picking it up. The best thing is to either hold both lower legs in two hands or cup your hand under the center fuselage area when holding the toy in GERWALK mode.
COMPARISON WITH OTHER YAMATO VF TOYS
COMPARISON WITH BANDAI MACROSS 7 TOYS
BATTROID & FIGHTER MODE
The YF-19 should be a very durable toy. There seem to be no fragile parts that are susceptible to breakage. There is no fragile "Tab-B" on this toy, unlike on the older 1/72 ver.1 YF-19 toy. I've transformed my 2 toys many times and so far nothing has broken or cracked.
My only concern with the YF-19 is that my both my production versions have a small quarter-circular to semi-circular white stress mark on the top surface of the left wing, where the mid-wing pivot screw is located. This stress mark was there when I got the toys, but luckily hasn't gotten any worse even after many transformations, despite the fact that forward swept wings have no 'stop' tab and can be pushed forward far enough to leave a space between the wing and leg (see this pic). Doing this is not recomended as it can put stress on the leading edge seam of the wing glove.
While the QC on the YF-19 is generally very good, at least on my two production samples, it is not without a few minor issues, as follows:
Overall I'm very happy with the toy. It's sturdy, transforms without too much fuss once you get the hang of the pivoting elbow gimmick. It looks beautiful in all three modes, it has nice tight joints, so can hold a pose and comes loaded with lots of features.
It's not without its little idiosyncrasies, but thankfully they are minor, although the wonky gunpod is annoying as the early preproduction sample didn't have that problem.
At a MSRP of ¥18,800, it's hardly a cheap toy, but I'm informed by Yamato that it has more parts and requires more steel molds than even the VF-0 series. Plus I know for a fact that development of this toy has taken several years so development costs must be pretty high.
12 years after Macross Plus first debuted we finally have the great looking, durable transforming YF-19 toy we've all been waiting for!
Go out and buy one (or several), I doubt you'll regret it.
(6th November 2006, Hong Kong)
P.S. One final note, the photos with pink tiles in the background were taken on my balcony, NOT in my bathroom, so no comments about having a dirty bathroom please (yes, you know who I'm talking about). Criticism that my balcony is dirty is fair game though.