Kit review: HG 1/100 YF-29 Durandal Valkyrie (Saotome Alto Use)

The YF-29 Durandal is a variable fighter developed from the YF-24 Evolution to counter the mysterious cosmic entities known as the Vajra. Its development was handled by engineers from organizations such as L.A.I. and the Macross Frontier Fleet, and it is equipped with four high-power reaction turbine engines and epoch-making maneuverability thanks to its high thrust.

With the use of innovative devices such as the Fold Wave System that functions as a nearly infinite energy source, the unit achieved overwhelming combat capabilities despite the difficulty in obtaining the Fold Quartz, a crucial component of the YF-29. Its main wings have forward-swept designs that offer excellent maneuverability within the atmosphere, and the engine pods on the outer wings capable of output as powerful as the main engine, can be rotated to perform complex maneuvers with immense thrust. By taking in the power of the Fold Quartz relined within the Vajra, the YF-29 also gains mystical powers.

– Info: 
HG 1/100 YF-29 Durandal Valkyrie (Saotome Alto Use)
Series: Macross Frontier: ~Sayonara no Tsubasa~
Price: 4400 yen
Release date: Aug 26, 2023

– Design: The YF-29 is one of the best fighter designs of designer Kawamori Shōji with the base being the VF-25. This 1/100 HG model kit version is modeled quite closely to the CG model in the anime in all 3 forms. Using the quick change parts-forming mechanism, its proportions are almost perfect in all forms

The primary color tones of this first version of YF-29 are red and white (Alto’s signature colors). Its mechanical structure is similar to the VF-25 and YF-27. The most obvious difference is that the wings are in forward-swept style (like the YF-19 and VF-9) and there are additional twin MDE beam cannons under the fuselage. In addition, it has 4 fold quartz on the fuselage (a unique feature only found in the YF-29). 

– Build quality: The HG YF-29 uses Ecopla plastic material (Bandai’s new recycled plastic). All parts are easy to handle nubs, even the exposed red parts. This kit has relatively good parts separation, especially in Battroid mode. The clear parts in the position of sensor eyes, cockpit, and 4 fold quartz on the fuselage are metallic clear parts. In particular, the 2 fold quartz parts on the upper body have all the details visible inside.

However, this kit still needs to use a lot of stickers/decals to look like an actual aircraft, especially in Fighter mode. The decals available with the kit are thin decals that adhere to the plastic surface like the HG YF-19. However, in some parts, a single piece of decal that hugs many surfaces is needed and is very prone to peeling off (for example, the black borders on both sides of the fuselage or the white borders on the two small wings).

– Articulation: The flexibility of the HG YF-29’s articulation is most clearly shown in Battroid Mode. It’s a lot better than the DX Chogokin version. The neck can rotate and fold quite well. The shoulder joint uses a double joint mechanism that allows the arm to move up more than 90 degrees and can be pushed forward and back to help it create more accurate gunpod-holding positions (They even still work well even in Gerwalk mode). The joint between the upper body, cockpit, and groin can rotate and fold quite deeply, which is also an advantage to help it pose better. 

The hip joints are two flexed joints that can be pushed out to increase the range of leg extension. The knee joints can rotate and move side to side to help it stand better (this is also the support point to expand the leg range of Gerwalk mode). The feet are the two main thrusters of the aircraft that can open and close at will. The articulation in Gerwalk mode is pretty much the arms and legs which is the same as Battroid. The articulation of the YF-29 is very nice, able to replicate all poses from the anime (granted it didn’t do any crazy poses either) and since the it is a plastic model kit, the Durandal is able to hold those poses without drooping like the DX Chogokin.

– Gimmicks:
1. Similar to the model kit of the previous Macross series – HG YF-19, HG YF-29 also has 3 modes: Fighter Mode, Gerwalk Mode, and Fighter Mode that can be transformed by a part-forming mechanism with separating and changing parts. YF-29 is separated into main parts: upper body (cockpit and head), arms, wings, and lower body with two legs. Additional parts include the top of the fuselage and core fuselage.

2. A special feature of the YF-29 is that the twin MDE beam cannon in the lower fuselage can be pulled up and the hidden gun barrel opened while in all three modes. In addition, it can also rotate comfortably even backward.

3. The 2 shoulder armor and 2 leg side armor parts have an open hatch mechanism that can open up and reveal missile details inside. However, to be able to see these details clearly, you need to paint them.

4. The 2 auxiliary thrusters on both sides of the wings can be swiveled to many angles. The stabilizers are on the main thruster side and both sides of the secondary thruster and they can move up and down. 

5. Bandai gives us two types of cockpit covers, a closed type and an open type that can open the cover to reveal the cockpit and pilot figure inside.

– Accessories: Since this is a state-of-the-art VF machine, the YF-29 has many equipment and weapons mounted all over the body:
+ X1 Heavy Quantum Beam Gunpod: Mounted on the bottom of the aircraft in Fighter Mode and a handheld weapon in Gerwalk Mode and Fighter Mode. When holding the hand, the barrel of the gun can be expanded and lengthened.
+ X2 High-speed Machine Gun: Mounted on both sides of the head. However, they cannot be rotated due to the fixed mounting pin.
+ X1 Twin MDE Beam Cannon: mounted on the lower fuselage. Can be used in all modes.
+ X1 Heavy Armored Shield: In Fighter form, it is mounted on the tail of the fuselage. In Gerwalk Mode and Fighter Mode, it is mounted on the left arm.
+ X1 Assault Knife: When not in use, it is mounted on the inside of the Armored Shield.
+ X12 Micro-missile Launcher: stored in pods on the shoulders and legs.

In addition, we also get a small Alto pilot figure, 3 aircraft landing gear parts, and 3 pairs of replacement hands. The most special ones are Alto’s iconic greeting hand and Ranka’s idol hand (I can’t understand why it’s here lmao). 

–> Overall: HG 1/100 Macross series gave us a great YF-29 model kit after 12 years debuting on the Macross Frontier: ~Sayonara no Tsubasa~  screen. With a cool design from designer Kawamori Shōji, the “Shorcut Change” transformation mechanism has helped create the most accurate proportions with the CG model in the movie in this kit. In addition to the articulation and many interesting gimmicks, this will be a model kit not to be missed for fans of the Macross series and Alto-hime. Most especially, you can pose as Ranka’s idol with it (just wanna ask why… ¯\(°_o)/¯). In addition, you can buy a super pack set for it (P-bandai of course) or buy the Full Set version of Max in the Macross Delta movie to experience this kit in the most perfect way.