The High Grade 1/100 scale YF-19 is the first of a new line of Macross kits that Bandai have added to their extensive range of plamo, bringing the user friendliness that has characterized the High Grade Gundam kits of the last decade or so.
And honestly it's a helluva way to kick the line off; not only is the YF-19 a particularly beloved design, its place as the primary "hero" fighter in Macross Plus makes it arguably the most recognisable Valkyrie/Veritech outside of the original SDF Macross YF-1 series fighters in territories outside of Japan. (Plus I’ve been a sucker for forward-swept wing fighters ever since I first saw the old X-29 prototype)
Presentation-wise this is a nice package: the box art is immediately evocative, the 8 sprues are up to Bandai's usual standard in terms of layout & how they are bagged up within, and the instruction manual is superb, using the same landscape-format that prior Macross kits I've handled made use of. A touch that helps give this line is own signature style separate from the Gundam lines. It's also exceptionally clear in how to build the various components, which order, and with lots of technical details crammed in. Instructions are presented in both Kanji & English, a touch I don’t expect from a Japanese model kit, but is much appreciated.
In terms of the build, it was a dream. The manual takes you through building the Battroid, then the Gerwalk, then finally the Valkyrie, running you through the steps required for the transformation and which parts to remove & add for the respective modes. Somewhat refreshingly, it doesn't overwhelm you at this stage with where to put decals: the YF-19 comes with a fairly comprehensive selection but it only worries about the essentials to start with - there's a final page that runs you through the full application, most of which to be fair go on the fighter fuselage. And it gives you options, which is nice (Bandai also have sheets of waterslide decals available separately for the various fighters for those who prefer that effect).
The completed kit is really nice. The decision to make use of parts-forming (or as Bandai are calling it for this line, the “Shortcut Change System”) means that the various modes are not constrained by the mechanical restrictions of designs, so - for example - they don’t have to compromise on the dimensions of the cockpit assembly for Gerwalk & Fighter modes to be able to have just the nose cone poking out the front of the Battroid, nor make the arms needlessly fragile to fold to form the rear of the Fighter. And shout out for the perleascent effect on the canopy piece - it’s a really nice touch that gives the nose section a bit of extra pop. The result is an extremely clean & sleek Fighter, a Gerwalk that’s just the right side of how goofy that mode can end up looking, and a Battroid that is just awesomely expressive.
As for accessories, you get clenched & open left & right hands, an open right fist for holding the rifle, transluscent green effect part for the Pinpoint Barrier punch, shield for the left arm, removable covers for the intake vents on the legs for use in Battroid mode, removable landing gear for the Fighter and a base adaptor.
Now, is this a perfect package? Not entirely. The sticker for the canopy framework had me sweating bullets lining it up right, and I can understand how the Shortcut Change System might turn some folks off. However for this price point and as a means of bringing an iconic range to a broader audience, I think Bandai know they are onto a winning formula, what with two YF-29 variants already out and the YF-19’s competitor the YF-21 releasing in the new year.
I’ll be watching with interest to see what comes next.