For over 30 years, Macross along with Evangelion and Gundam franchises rules as one of the best mecha powerhouses of all time. Debuting in 1982 to critical acclaim, the series hit international shores as Robotech and gained everlasting popularity. However, many overseas viewers wouldn't recognize it as Japanese animation nearly a decade later. Along with its catchy tunes, captivating stories, and relatable characters, its unique action sequences with its transforming mecha would be its greatest appeal.
Some could argue that it helped paved way for the everlasting Transformers franchise. Though it would not have as many sequels and spin-offs as Gundam, Macross still maintains a huge fan base and has produced two new installments in the last decade, Frontier and Delta. For today’s list, we will cover the Top 10 Macross Mecha from the franchise.
10. VF-0 Phoenix (Macross Zero)
Macross Zero Ep 5
In this prequel series taking place a year before the events of the first Macross series (despite being released 20 years after its debut), we have the prototype to the Valkyries, the VF-0 Phoenix models. Only 4 were produced and they were meant for the elite of the elite. Just like its successors, it contains many of the same features of having the base fighter jet mode, battroid mode, and GERWalk mode. Returning from this prequel is the iconic Roy Fokker and his skills as a pilot once again highlights all the great features to this mecha.
However, due to the events of this series, the only feature it lacks is functionality for space combat. Regardless, it’s capabilities were a great contributor to winning the UN Wars taking place prior to the series with its unique all round features.
9. Reguld Battle Pod (Original Series)
Macross Ep 2
Rivaling the Valkyrie’s from the original series are the Reguld Battle Pods of the Zentradi army. Though not as slick looking as the Valkyrie’s, they get the job done. The design is basic but its core being a sphere-like weapon with chicken legs and can be used in both gravitational conditions and in outer space. It moves with enough agility and speed to accommodate the heavy frames of the giant Zentradi’s.
It is equipped with lasers to show a superior force of technology that shows how fearsome they truly are. Along with the generic battle pod design for all around combat purposes, there are other models carrying missiles for long distance and intense combat zones, and scout models carrying mostly radars for reconnaissance purposes.
8. YF-29 Durandal (Macross Frontier Sayounara no Tsubasa)
Macross Frontier Sayounara no Tsubasa
In order to combat the Vajra threat in the events of Macross Frontier, the UN Spacy government creates the YF-29, the update to the YF-24 model, which was featured throughout most of the series. The model’s frame is slicker and skinnier compared to other models allowing for less resistance. It can move at speeds at Mach 5.5 and travel beyond Mach 10 for brief periods of time thanks to its inclusion of being equipped with four thermonuclear engines.
Next, it is packed with super missiles, a laser and an assault knife for all ranged combat. Last, it also utilizes a special and rare fold quartz stone (which produces the energy necessary hyperspace travel) for energy.
7. VF-171 Nightmare Plus (Macross Frontier)
Macross F Ep 14
The VF-171 Nightmare Plus is the main choice of mecha for the UN Spacy during the events of Macross Frontier. In its fighter jet mode (which can travel Mach 20+), its design shares some resemblance to the F-22 Raptor. Due to this base design, when in battroid mode, it tends to look a stockier than other mecha.
In addition, its cockpit has also been expanded for effective views. Its design also allows it to have stealth features like real life bombers and also contains other effective defense capabilities such as a pinpoint barrier system. But with a good defense, there must also be a good offense with beat cannons, gun pods, bombs, and missiles. So if you want to do the maximum amount of damage to your enemy with the least amount of damage to your own forces, this is your choice.
6. Av-262Hs Draken III (Macross Delta)
Macross Delta Ep 4
Draken, meaning dragon in Swedish is meant to be the rival to the Siegfried models of the Delta Squad. Under the jurisdiction of the Windemerians’ Aerial Knights elite squadron, the foundational design of this mecha is more or less in conjunction with the mecha from the franchise. Due to the Windemerians formally being part of the UN Spacy Alliance and having contracts with other organizations that have access to the same technology, the Windemerians can rebel on equal terms and aim.
However, the Drakens have more of an appropriate majestic design with its gold like color schemes and decorations to show that they are under the direct command of the royal family. Thanks to the top skills of the Aerial Knights, the Draken III model is fast, fierce and contains heavy firepower. However, due to the Windemerians religious-like devotion to the wind, they mostly tend to pilot their Draken’s in fighter jet mode and tend to refrain from using the GERwalk and battroid modes.
5. VF-19 Custom (Macross 7)
If mecha anime could have its own version to pimped up mecha, the VF-19 custom piloted by Nekki Basara from Macross 7 would certainly be it. If transforming mecha are the way of the future, then this mecha has the sound system and control panel you’re looking for. Due to the nature of Basara’s being a musician, as opposed to being used as an offensive weapon, it is a weapon just for Basara to express his music with a kick ass sound system. Granted it has grenades and missiles for defense capabilities, but Basara feels it goes against his principals to use them even in self-defense. What also makes this mecha totally awesome is that its control panels are in the shape of a guitar.
Due to the unique nature of this mecha, it would have to take a unique set of skills to pilot it. Not just regular piloting skills, but unbelievable coordination to be able to perform and dodge enemy attacks at once. Due to Basara never using his mecha for attacking, if he did have any sense of offense, he would probably be one of the best pilots ever. But the fact that he uses this mecha to change the world through his music shows that even mecha don't have to be used as tools for war.
4. VF-31 Siegfried (Macross Delta)
Macross Delta Ep 1
Rivaling the Draken units piloted by the Aerial Knights are the titled Delta Squadrons Siegfried units. With Draken meaning dragon, for those of you who don't know, Siegfried is a figure from Norse Mythology that slays a dragon. Its heavy frame from the back side tends to share some qualities of the United States Air Force’s SR-71 Blackbird, especially with how its wings are pointed and tends to have a bulkier look from its predecessors from previous installments of Macross.
As per the rule of thumb, the Siegfried has a fighter jet mode, a GERWalk mode, and a battroid mode for all combat purposes. Regardless, thanks to the crew of Delta consisting of Hayate and Mirage, their performances are reached to its full potential in combat.
3. VF-1S Valkyrie (original series)
Macross Do You Remember Love
At number three, we have the mecha that contributes to the identity of this series, the granddaddy, the Valkyrie model. It was one of the first mecha that could transform on its own (though the original Gundam needed the G-Fighter to transform). Due to the discovery by scientists that the SDF-1 Macross was meant to accommodate giant beings, the mecha mode of the Valkyrie gave our heroes some equal ground in hand-to-hand combat.
In addition to its fighter plane mode, it could transform into a robot, and also coined the term and transformation, GERwalk, where the upper body was still in fighter jet mode (and have arms exposed) but had the legs of a mecha (and the legs aren't just for show). This transformation allows excellent mobility and effective coordination in crowded conditions such as cities. In addition, this mecha also serves as the basis for Skyfire/Jetfire, a character from the legendary Transformers franchise.
Thanks to special nuclear engineering, it can also be used for space conditions. Though other mecha anime like to emphasize on laser, this mecha emphasizes more on realistic high caliber weaponry and misses.
2. YF-21 (Macross Plus)
Macross Plus the movie
Arguably the most powerful and consequently the most dangerous mecha from the Macross franchise is the prototypical YF-21, code named the Omega One. Its test pilot was Guld Goa Bowman, one of the very few pilots physically and mentally capable of handling the features of this mecha and he was barely able to handle it in the end. What makes this mecha most unique is its piloting system is more neutral as opposed to manual with the expectations for better reaction time and reflexes. It also contains stealth and great defensive capabilities. Along with that, it allows for a maximum offensive in sneak attacks.
Unfortunately, its piloting system would serve to be counter intuitive and affect the brain chemistry of the pilot and the reverse. Despite its potential, the UN Spacy Unit knew that the consequences outweighed the benefits of this system and decided to scrap it (in addition that it would cost too much money).
1. SDF-1 Macross (Original Series)
Macross Do You Remember Love
The number one has to go the granddaddy of them all, the original SDF-1 Macross. It serves as a battleship that can transform to a mecha (which has a frightening mega cannon), and inside it contains a military base and a regular city. Originally crashing in the South Pacific in 1999, numerous researchers spent 10 years studying it and reverse engineering it for potential re-use. It took 10 years, but they got the job done.
Unfortunately, the Zentradi compromises its maiden voyage. It also contains a special warp drive known as “space folding” in which it can travel in the space between spaces for space travel going beyond the speed of light. Unfortunately, its first attempt landed the Macross and its crew on the opposite side of the solar system. But after the events of the series, it was severely damaged but repairable.
Upon what could be repaired, it stayed on Earth in a display with enough operation to serve for Earth’s defenses. Thanks to the technology of the Macross, it paves for the other mecha such as the Valkyrie’s and demonstrates that maybe space travel for both exploration and defense is possible.
Maybe in the future, the mecha of the Macross series will serve as tools for the military and/or productive civilian use. Wouldn't it be cool to apply this unique type of engineering in real life? Of course, nobody wants war, but we’re talking about the use of such technology for space travel.
Maybe some hit rock band will use such mecha for awesome shows like with Fire Bomber from Macross 7, or maybe music will be the “weapon” of the future and these mecha will serve as a supporting squad. Who knows what the future truly holds? But if anything, Honey feels confident that this list may be the best for what is to come. So what do you readers and Macross fans think? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.