Toy

YF-19 1:72 Ver. 1

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It was hyped for a long time.

The YF-19 hails from the world of "Macross Plus" (1994), worthy successor to the original "Macross" (1982) dynasty. The three modes of the original Valkyrie: Battroid, Gerwalk, and Fighter, also shared by the Macross Plus YF-19.

The YF-19's styling has certainly been updated for the modern generation. Where the original Valkyrie's fighter design could be based on the United States Air Force F-14 Tomcat or F-15 Eagle, both popular at the time, the YF-19's concept is a modern, long-nose fighter with a critical, forward-swept wing, canards, and tailerons.

The original's "Battroid" mode (humanoid robot mode) was an original design for the time, and the YF-19's Battroid is just as unique. One can't help but wonder if the Evangelon team's work, released on video just one year later, was somewhat influenced by the YF-19's emaciated visage, or vice-versa.

The toy begs to be let out of the box ...

The initial experience with the toy was disenchanting. Immediately, the Battroid-mode toy flopped over backwards in my hand yielding a formless mess. Paint chips were noted around some action-areas, and some lumpy paint was discovered on the shoulder. Soon after, one of the tailerons fell off onto the floor.

Undaunted, I began to carefully restore the toy to proper Battroid mode, and stood him up for display. While the left knee had strong clicking detents, the right knee was weak imparing the robot's ability to stand. On closer inspection, I found the right lower leg was improperly assembled, with large gaps between many internal joints that should be closed.

I dis-assembled and re-assembled the leg, restoring proper strong detents to both knees. This adventure allowed me to find a paint wear mark on the lower leg where the wing had rubbed against it in the box. The tailerons were hopeless. They will not stay on the legs, and will only stay in place where posed with great care.

Eager to see the fighter mode, I began to decipher the toy's complex transformation. The original Valkyrie's transformation was non-trival but fairly straightforward. The YF-19 is much more difficult. It feels so uncool to stop three times during transformation to try to regain your bearings, but eventually, a fighter began to take shape.

More problems followed. The final step of transformation is to mate together the several large components of the fuselage. The pelvis (air intakes), central fuselage, and wing units simply would not come together tightly. I carefully examined the mechanism, and determined that it was not possible to put the toy together properly without over-stressing the fragile joints in the pelvis. The best I could do without risking damage to the toy is demonstrated in the pictures.

The transformation exercise also demonstrated where many of my paint chips originated. Trying to merge those three difficult pieces will yield you plenty of new bare metal even after the first attempt.

After all was said and done, a fighter was produced.

The landing gear is retractable, and the tires turn, but they are plastic tires, and are no taller than their axle joints. Therefore, your YF-19 will not be able to roll to a taxi. Also, the main gear does not lock in the "up" position, thus sagging downward. The nose gear retracts backward, so any forward motion will collapse the gear.

Gerwalk is a hybrid mode of the Valkyrie series, half aircraft and half robot. Gerwalk is an acronym, some say, standing for "Ground Effective Reinforcement of Winged Armament with Locomotive Knee-joint". The YF-19 can assume gerwalk mode, either "wings out & arms in" or "wings in & arms out".

The gerwalk variant is straightforward and came with no new surprises. It is remarkably balanced, considering the awkward nature of the toy.

Have I thrown too much cold water on the hype engine?

This is a highly complex toy. That it exists at all is somewhat miraculous. All of the problems I uncovered are easily fixed in production with a few minor changes. Quality control may be improved. A tighter joint will fix the tailerons. Locks may be put in the landing gear, or the joint may be made tighter. A tiny extra bit of play in the pelvis would allow the fuselage to come together without damage.

These are bugs the manufacturer will fix. It is also quite possible that I merely received a somewhat defective toy. The only problem that has no easy solution is the one of paint chips. A metal tab in a metal slot will shed paint.

After getting over some initial troubles, the toy begins to grow on you. Once the toy is given several transformations, the tighter joints loosen, and the YF-19's awesome design begins to shine on its own.

There is quite a bit of die-cast metal in the toy. The lower legs, main fuselage, shoulders, and wing unit parts are metal. The nose, arms, head, and pelvis parts are plastic.

The rifle's gunpod mount, for use in fighter mode, retracts when the rifle is used by the Battroid hand-held. All over, the detail, contour-wise and paint-wise, is excellent. There is even detail on the bottom-side of the shield that almost went un-noticed.

The backs of the knees, rather than left hollow, open, and exposed, are treated with a three-stage expanding shroud that do nothing but help conceal the internals of the knee. That's a nice touch.

Nearly every rotational joint is detented. The fists stow in the arms when unused. Provided in the box are an extra fist (trigger finger readied) and the gunpod rifle. Although the toy is pictured here "bare," a rich selection of decals is available in the box.

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