Misadventure of a Skull Leader
It is in my interest that I must get a proper figure of a Valkyrie especially the ones from Macross Frontier (I got one Plamo version of Saotome Alto’s VF-25F Armoured Messiah Valkyrie as well as a Revoltech VF-1S before), ever since I laid my eyes on the franchise, but has always put my wish on hold due to their steep price.
Back when it was announced, Bandai’s incredible transformable DX Chogokin figure rendition of Macross Frontier’s Ozma Lee’s custom YF-29 Durandal Valkyrie from the PS3 game Macross 30: Ginga wo Tsunagu Utagoe!! (To coincide with Macross’s 30th anniversary), caught my attention immediately due to its impressive mould as well as an eye-catching colour scheme.
Unfortunately, it would seem that every time I try to get any figures from any Chogokin line, my luck (Or unluck if you will…) would suffer from a steep penalty from my by now a definite trait of Otaku Jinx™…
Ozma’s YF-29 is a standard release retailed at 17,000 yen, meaning I could get it on my usual channel(s) of online stores. But as per the usual trend in the Macross figure collectors’ scene, pre-orders for it immediately went out and closed upon minutes on its opening due to extreme “supply < demand” situation. Unable to secure my cache amongst any of them online stores, I had to resort to a local physical store of which the employee an acquaintance of mine.
That’s just the tip of a series of unfortunate tumbles in my quest to secure the Valk…
Close to release date, I received the bad news from the store: they’d failed to secure one for me. According to my acquaintance, his boss PO’d one for himself too but were totally devastated at the news. I’ve even tried to enlist the help of a fellow PSO2 ARKS currently resides in Japan to search for it in Akiba but so far no positive report(s) from her…
With nowhere else to turn to and the stocks depleting everywhere especially eBay and some hobby sites that sells for twice (Or more than) its original retail price, I’ve almost given up on my quest when I noticed many Valks popping up on the notorious Y!JA in successions.
Monitoring the lists for a few weeks, I’ve noticed an average price range of 25,000 yen on sale/auction for each Valk, many of them seemingly coming from several of the very same individual sellers. How the bloody hell did those scalpers managed to secure such quantities of this (Now extremely) rare figure at all? =_=
Resigned over fate, I’ve managed to win an auction on Y!JA without contest, securing a Valk at 22,800 yen using Buyee (A subsidiary of Tenso proxy service that offers direct auction bidding). Upon paying the proxy’s 10% fees as well as the hefty shipping (Due to Chogokin’s heavy weight that inflates the fees), my acquisition eventually totalled up to 30,434 yen, just a few thousand yen shy from twice the Valk’s original retail price.
Thanks to Buyee’s cheat sheet, I’ve managed to under-declare the price of this “Gift”, essentially waived myself further headaches by bypassing the Custom Terrorists’ hostage situation and their extra 10% (Of the package’s declared price) tax ransom on the shipment.
Reaching the domestic relay station however, another mess of a situation arises… The Postal Dude that’s supposed to deliver the package directly to my doorsteps never show up for roughly a week, even though in tracking they processed it as “Unsuccessful delivery; Addressee not available”… Such lies, my den is always occupied with at least a couple of living, breathing subjects constantly available to receive it.
After a week of painful wait, I’ve given up and went directly to the office for collection before going for my RL job in the morning, and still I couldn’t get my hands on the package because they are currently “sorting” it, according to the clerk. Such blasphemy! I told the clerk to make sure to deliver the package later the day since I need to head back to work soon after and left the premise in a hurry.
Checking with my den and the online tracking a few hours later on the same day spelled my horror in caps: the clerk seems to have made a mistake and had my package withheld in waiting for direct collection by me personally. orz Oh well, headed back to finally retrieve my long overdue shipment after I went off work, braving through heavy traffic jams along the way as a bonus since it’s Friday, not to mention my boiling raeg…
Anyway, putting those rantings aside, let’s have a look at the holy grail itself. :3c First things first, the obligatory box shots from all sides…
As you can view from the piccies above all those wall of text (XDc) and below, the box art is fully printed with beautiful shots of the YF-29 in all its triple forms, from Fighter to Gerwalk to Battroid modes. I especially taken a liking to the print atop of the box, featuring triple strips of cropped shots of the triple-changing modes coupled with brief description (albeit much Engrishy, sasuga Japan) on each variables.
As for the contents, it comes in two layers: a plastic tray containing the display stand and a Styrofoam layer securing the main figure itself safely in place.
And of course the package comes with a bag of fully coloured instruction manual along with an advert sheet of the upcoming web-limited Super Pack for the YF-29 and a piece of paper requesting you to do a survey online…
While many collectors despise the standard bulky black display stand of Bandai’s, which while I do agree it’s an eyesore, it serves its purpose brilliantly.
The base itself consists of a triple hexagon logo of SMS (Strategic Military Service), the private military company of which Ozma Lee’s Skull Squadron is affiliated to, and features several interchangeable parts of which you can configure into base for all three modes of the Valk.
If only the connecting pieces are moulded in transparent clear material instead of in stark black hue…
Accessories wise, aside from the standard Gunpla type hands with adjustable fingers on the main figure, this Chogokin comes with three pairs of fix-posed hands: Open-palm karate-chop/salute hands, weapon-holding hands and close fists.
In the same sealed sachet holds another accessory: an Assault Knife that can be stored within the Valk’s Armoured Shield in its Gerwalk/Battroid mode.
The included Gun Pod needs to be deployed from its usual storage mode underneath the Fighter’s body, revealing the chrome inner body, split twin rails for a muzzle and an extended targeting scope.
The scope itself can be swivelled to either side of the main body.
And here’s the main course: YF-29 Durandal Valkyrie (Ozma Lee Custom) in its majestic Fighter Mode, clad in Ozma Lee’s custom greyish-black paint job with yellowish stripes.
Overall the Valk resembles that of its predecessor the VF-25 in terms of look, but instead of the normal variable-sweep wings design, the former sports forward-swept wings similar to that of the YF-19, incorporated with attached engine pods.
The bluish clear canopy housed the pilot himself in the Fighter’s cockpit.
Just like its earlier variations (Saotome Alto Custom, Isamu Alva Dyson Custom and 30th Anniversary), there’s a second seat for passengers (For example: his adopted imouto Ranka Lee, the Super Dimensional Cinderella) that can be deployed by removing the attached cover.
Ozma Lee’s signature Skull emblem adorns the Fighter’s top aside from his personal greyish colour scheme, which looks quite menacing and stays true to the design as seen in the game.
Further down the rear side of the cockpit area and before the Skull is the part which will become the Battroid’s head, including its quad of laser/machine guns (Not really sure about that since no technical specification sheet available to me… orz) that double up as makeshift antennas for its Battroid head, at least aesthetically.
Like VF-25, YF-29 has a couple of air intake covers for both sides, allowing you to portray the Fighter propelling through space or cruising along an atmosphere of a planet.
The twin concealed MDE Beam Cannon Unit can be popped outta its socket at the rear of the Fighter, fully extended to form the powerful weapon as seen in the movie and game.
The swivel joint is kinda tight on mine though (And many collectors complained of the same problem as well), coupled with a rather weak-and-fragile-look(Feel)ing connector, one must be really, really careful when trying to pose the Cannon at various angles…
Both engine pods at both sides of the main wings can be rotated at will, showing off the Fighter’s V-TOL ability.
Even the nozzles on the engine pods are movable at certain range since they are on a ball joint or sort.
The main wings are fully extended normally, but you could retract them via a series of hinges inside the main body as part of the transformation.
The upcoming Super Parts will require the main wings fully retracted in order to install the said parts…
The wings at far end of each side of the engine pods can be adjusted at three designated angles as well.
The tail wings as well, also a part of the transformation…
The landing gears are made of die-cast parts, providing a balanced stability and weight to the whole Fighter.
There are a total of three landing gears on YF-29, one just beneath the Fighter’s nose and a couple on each side of the Battroid legs/Fighter main engine. Each of the landing gears can be retracted into storage and covered up by the hatches.
Using the given stand, you can easily place the Valk on display.
I will cover YF-29’s Gerwalk mode as well as Battroid mode in my next posting. Stay tuned!