Review of  1/72 Scale YF-21 With FAST Packs
Yamato's Purple People Eater













Yamato's long-awaited YF-21 with FAST packs is due for a mid-to-late April 2003 release. However, Macrossworld has managed to secure a 'final approval' sample for review a few weeks before the actual release date.
The toy comes packed in Yamato's standard black card window box, although this time the toy is displayed in fighter mode, unlike previous Macross Plus toys, which were displayed in battroid mode.
Stickers & Markings
The YF-21 with FAST packs features a new sticker sheet different to the one which came with the original YF-21. Nothing very exciting though. Unfortunately, the stickers for the cockpit edge, featuring Guld and Isamu's names are still spelt incorrectly.....Grrrrr!
One point that makes me very happy is that the UN Spacy 'Kite' emblems on the wing and nose are now Tampo printed on instead of using stickers like on the original toy.
Paint Job
The YF-21 with FAST Pack, features an all new paint scheme consisting primarily of an overall purplish-blue finish with pale blue trim. I'm not sure the reason why this new color scheme was adopted, but perhaps Yamato and/or Big West were worried that if they released the toy in an identical color scheme to the original YF-21 it would not sell well(?). Anyway, the paint job on the YF-21 with FAST packs is expertly applied, but then again, the YF-21 did always have the best paint job of any Yamato Macross toy in my opinion.
One negative point I did notice about the YF-21's paint job is that after 5-6 transformations, paint started to wear off on the die-cast part where the engine intakes attach and slide.
The YF-21 with FAST Packs features the same die-cast content of the original version, although some of the ABS plastic parts have now been changed to PVC to increase durability.
The YF-21 with FAST Packs comes with the following accessories: -
  • 2 x gunpods with collapsible shoulder stocks and folding pistol grips. These can be stored either in the ventral FAST packs or held in the optional hands. I should also point out that the sculpt of the central section and pistol grip of the gunpod is not that accurate to the official lineart.
  • 2 x detachable ventral FAST Packs, which plug onto leg-bay covers and are capable of storing the gunpods.
  • 2 x detachable plug-in rear landing gear for use with the ventral FAST packs attached.
  • 1 x Guld Goa Bowman Pilot Figure (very small and lacking in detail).
  • 2 x detachable optional hands with extended trigger fingers for holding the gun pods.
  • 2 x detachable FAST pack fuel tanks, mountable on the tail fins.
FAST Packs
The FAST packs are molded in a grey color plastic with black panel lines. The FAST packs attach to the YF-21 by means of relatively thick pins, which plug into corresponding holes on the YF-21. Removing and attaching the FAST packs is easy and the FAST packs stay securely attached to the toy once installed.
The two gunpods can be stored in the ventral FAST packs, located on the leg bay cover panels. The gunpods click securely in place for a nice snug fit, but are easily removable when needed. Unfortunately, to remove the gunpods from the FAST Packs, it is necessary to first remove the FAST packs from the leg bay doors and then remove the gunpod from the rear.
As the ventral FAST packs cover the YF-21's rear landing gear (meaning the rear landing gear cannot be used with the FAST packs in place), Yamato has supplied a supplemental pair of rear landing gear which plug into holes in the FAST packs when the YF-21 is in fighter mode with the FAST packs attached. Unfortunately, with the supplemental landing gear installed, the YF-21 assumes a somewhat drag-racer-ish look as the extra height of the FAST packs means the rear of the fighter sits higher than the nose.
One note of warning about the supplemental landing gear. Although they are fairly sturdy, I did manage to break one of mine, but it was my fault. I had the toy parked in fighter mode on my coffee table and was pushing down on it from above quite hard to try to get the head cowling to lock in place, when 'SNAP' one of the rear landing gear broke in two at the mid-strut point. Luckily I was able to repair the damage with some super glue.
Transformation is pretty much the same as the original YF-21 apart from the way the legs fold in fighter mode. If you own that toy, you should have no problems transforming the new version. Note, after several transformations, I did encounter some problems getting the toy into fighter mode. See details below in the 'Problems' section of this review.
Also, I did have a great deal of trouble getting the new YF-21 to balance in Gerwalk mode.  Maybe, I'm just out of practice with the YF-21 as I haven't played with my original YF-21 for a long time, but getting this new version to stand up Gerwalk mode seemed far more difficult than I remember. In fact, for the photos in this review, once I got the YF-21 to balance in Gerwalk mode, I just left it in that one pose and just took photos from different angles, as I didn't want to get even more frustrated by spending ages trying to get it to stay in another pose.
Design Changes
Besides the obvious addition of FAST packs, gunpods and a pilot figure, Yamato have made a number of subtle but significant changes to the basic YF-21 design, as follows:-
  • The panel lines have been made thinner than on the original YF-21. This was done as Yamato thought the panel lines on the original YF-21 were too thick.
  • The ankle joint has been changed from a ratchet joint to a ball joint. This was done to improve stability and poseability by give the foot a few degrees of side-to-side movement, thus allowing the foot to remain flat on the ground even when the legs are spread. Luckily the ankle joints are very tight, so there is no worry about having loose ankles. In fact, the joints were initially too tight and I was worried about snapping them the first time I had to rotate the feet when transforming from fighter mode to battroid mode.
  • The legs now fold flat (sideways) in fighter mode, which is anime and lineart accurate and gives the fighter a more sleeker look when viewed from the side or front.
  • The hip joints have also been totally redesigned. I can't see any benefit to this change, unless it is to help the legs to fold sideways in fighter mode.
  • The shoulder sliders, which were constructed of ABS plastic on the original YF-21 and were very prone to stress cracking  have now been changed to PVC. So far after multiple transformations and some fairy rough handling by me, they have shown no signs of cracking or stress.
In a perfect world, toys would be without fault. However,  the YF-21, like is not perfect and I have found a number of problems with the sample reviewed here: -
  • The head laser on the sample was slightly bent. This is not really a big problem, but was the first time I've encountered this on a YF-21.
  • The first couple of times I transformed to fighter mode, everything locked together without problems. However, from the third transformation onwards it became increasingly difficult to get the head section to lock down flat in fighter mode. Every time I tried to lock the head cowling down flat, it would just pop back up again. I  have not been able to determine the cause of this yet.
  • The optional hands for holding the gunpods are incredibly difficult to attach to the wrist pegs. It is a real exercise in frustration getting them to attach as the angled rear of the wrist is overly large and the wrist cavity is partially blocked by one of the screws and a locating pin inside the forearm. The trick to attach the hand is to push the hand straight back onto the peg, rather than trying to push it on at an angle. However, even then it is not a sure thing and can take several frustrating minutes to attach the gunpod hands. In the end, I found it far easier to disassemble the outer forearm cover, pop on the hand and then re-attach the outer forearm cover, which is held on by two screws.
  • The trigger finger on the gunpod hands is not well designed and when the gunpod is placed in the hand, the trigger finger needs to be forced up at an angle in order to fit it into the trigger guard. I can fore see this causing the trigger finger to snap off after a while.
Overall Impressions
I must say, I'm not really overly impressed with this toy. The problems I've encountered with getting it to balance in Gerwalk mode, the trouble with the head cowling not staying locked in fighter mode and the difficulty in attaching the optional hands have left me with a somewhat negative impression. Also, I prefer the blue color scheme of the original version.
Please note though that this is a pre-production sample and the final production toy might be somewhat smoother and less troublesome than my review sample.
I usually buy at least 2-4 multiples of each Yamato Macross toys, but I don't think I will be buying multiples of this one. And this sample is going to stay permanently in battroid mode (the most trouble free mode).