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Review – Macross Armor Plus Alto Saotome

I am a diehard Macross fan. I watched Robotech as a kid, and it started there, but since I first found out that Macross was pretty different and got to see it, I have loved these shows and universe. And I have a lot of the toys, mainly the stuff done by Yamato toys, but recently a few things by Bandai. This week it’s the 1st Armor Plus figure released, and the second one I own; Alto Saotome with EX-Gear from Macross: Frontier. And he’s…. OK.


To summarize for those who haven’t seen it: In 1999 a giant spaceship crashes onto an island in the Pacific. The Earth governments unite (For the most part) and rebuild the ship for their own use, naming it the Super Dimensional fortress Macross (SDF-1). 10 years later, on the day of its launch, The ship is attacked by giant aliens called Zentradi who want the ship for themselves. Humanity fights them off with the Macross herself and the main thing for which Macross is known: the VF-1 Valkyrie, a fighter that transforms into a robot (The same size as a Zentradi, designed to fight them on their own terms).A movie condensation of the series followed (Macross; Do You Remember Love?), A second series set on another planet (Macross Plus), a 3rd series set on a colony fleet (Macross 7 and its follow up films), a 4th series set before the original (Macross Zero) and in 2008, on the 25th anniversary of the original series, we got the latest series Macross Frontier. Set on the 25th Colony fleet to leave Earth, it centers around a group of pilots and 2 pop singers who protect the fleet from giant bug aliens called the Vajra.

Jinkies that’s a lot to summarize….but on with the show:



The toy is Alto Saotome, the lead character from Frontier. A 17yr old pilot and former Kabuki dancer, Alto is a vaguely emo and angry young man who gradually has 2 hot pop singers fall for him. The toy shows him in his flight suit, which sports the SMS (Strategic Military Service) logo on the front and back, tampoed on perfectly; mine are both straight and clean. Like all Bandai figures this size, he has a huge amount of articulation; the only real limitation is the head. There is SOME range of motion up and down, but not a lot, hampered by the collar on the flight suit. It isn’t a huge deal, and most all the poses u will try are still possible. The joints in the hips are little loose, but for posing on his own it’s fine. Less so when the EX Gear is on, but we’ll get to that.


He comes with 2 Alternate heads and 3 sets of hands; Fists, gripping and relaxed. The 2 heads are pretty good; the normal one has a separate piece for his long hair which can swing around when displaying. The eyes are straight and the paint looks good. The second head is the helmeted one. I thought at first it was a separate helmet u put over the main head, but it actually has Altos head inside already, so u just swap them out. It’s hard to see in the pictures I took, but it’s in there, trust me. Both heads swap out easily as do the hands though again; be gentle with the pegs on the hands, they’re pretty small.


Alto comes with his EX-Gear, a flight capable exo-skeleton and ejection system. In the show we see Alto and his friends flying Ex-Gears at their flight school, but all the units have a different function. When put into the cockpit of the main fighter in the series (The VF-25 Messiah) they become the controls and inner cockpit of the fighter. The toy replicates this, setting the gear in its cockpit mode on a clear stand, which is included. Alto locks in securely, though the crotch piece doesn’t lock very well(More on that later). In this mode the toy is pretty much a display piece; locked in Alto can really only turn his head. It’s neat they included this mode, and if we get any other Ex-Gears in the line I’d get one to display like this, but for the most part u will be using the flight mode to display.


Flight mode is a lot better. The stand used for the chair changes some pieces and becomes a flight stand for the toy. The arm and leg armor closes, the chest armor locks in place, and that’s about it for the conversion. The leg armor is great, it all locks in perfectly and still gives a pretty decent range of motion. The armor has articulated ankles so you can get some dynamic poses, and even has small wheels on the feet (In the show, they uses these on take offs and landings and just rolling around like roller blades). The arms are also good, and the alternate hands for it are easy to swap out. He has fists, relaxed hands, a right gun hand and a set of hands you won’t understand unless you know Macross; you can see it in the pics below showing Alto making plane motions in the sky. There is a long history to this in Macross, so just trust me when I say it’s a cool addition!


BUT we now come to some of the problems. The backpack and chest amour all lock into place fine, though be careful with the chest straps, I can see them coming under strain if you force them. There is a sensor unit that wraps over the head to provide extra targeting data which works fine, but stops the head from turning. The wings and engine section attach via a tab on a slider, so it can move depending on how the person is flying. On mine, the left wing hinge was REALLY loose. I couldn’t get the wings to stay up at all. I put some clear nail polish around the joint, which tightened it enough for these pics, but left overnight the wing droops again. I know some people who haven’t had this problem, so it’s not universal, but it’s REALLY frustrating to me. The second annoying part is the crotch armor. It attaches at a point underneath the groin to the main pack…but only at one small peg point. And on mine, it isn’t a tight fit. There’s a magnet and a small hook that supposedly attaches to Alto, but they do next to nothing considering how loose the hip area is. The thing falls off if you glance at it sideways. I ended up blutakking mine in place, which cut down the number of times it fell off by half.

And lastly this has WAY less die cast. Parts of the legs and chest are, but that’s it. This is probably one of the reasons this toy is cheaper than Blade.


Overall…It’s OK. The figure is nice, as are the tampo prints and colors across the board. I had no paint issues at all, and for the most part the toy has good articulation and poses fine. But the loose wing and hip joints, combined with the REALLY annoying crotch armor seriously drove me nuts. And the figure just isn’t as exciting as Blade. The gun is neat, and I’m sure if u could pose Alto flying he’d be cooler but…meh. He’s just average. Now, thankfully, he’s cheaper than blade at about $50 USD shipped. But unless you are a big Macross fan I wouldn’t grab this, because there are much better toys out there.


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