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Spartas / Veritech Hover Tank

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24 comments posted
Awesome Leonardo!

This was one of those toys from my childhood that I have many fond memories of. I absolutely loved it and thought that Matchbox did a great job capturing the spirit of this mech. Too bad they didn't make a actual transforming 3 3/4" scale VF-1S in the Matchbox line.

-Dan
CollectionDX LLC
Vice President/Co-Owner
"the other fat bearded guy at CDX"

Shogundan's picture
Posted by Shogundan on 27 January, 2009 - 15:26
Other Toys

Well, it might be that they just re-sold the existing Macross toys; I know that I had a bunch of little 1/100-scale die-cast Destroids, and I think there were Valkyries in that scale (although I never had one, and I'm not sure whether they were transformable or fixed-pose.) And of course Matchbox did

As for Invid Invasion, I know that there were big-scale Legioss and Cyclone toys available (a friend of mine had one of each, although the jerk never let me play with them!) And I think that they made an Invid Pincer Command toy. The other mechs probably weren't interesting enough to reproduce--no guns and no transformations.

RobotBastard's picture
Posted by RobotBastard on 27 January, 2009 - 16:51
RB

RB,

I think Dan and myself were referring to that Matchbox didn't make any transforming toys for the 3 3/4 1:18 action figure line except for this one toy. The Invid and Battle pods sets were great but they didn't transform and the Veritech VF-1S fighter didn't leave much to desire.

Dankon!
Leonardo Flores
CollectionDX Staff Writer-West Coast Bureau

Modcineaste's picture
Posted by Modcineaste on 27 January, 2009 - 17:08
Transforming Veritech

I agree that one of life's great mysteries is "why didn't Matchbox make their VF-1S transformable?", but I think that they might have been worried about lawsuits from Hasbro; remember that you had the Takatoku 1/55 showing up as "Jetfire" around the same time. Hasbro might have gotten shirty about someone producing what was basically a transformable VF-1S toy!

RobotBastard's picture
Posted by RobotBastard on 27 January, 2009 - 17:40
2+2

Good point! I never put that together before but I can see Hasbro doing that at the time. What a mess selling Macross Toys in the USA!

Cheers!
LF

Leonardo Flores
CollectionDX Staff Writer-West Coast Bureau

Modcineaste's picture
Posted by Modcineaste on 27 January, 2009 - 18:18
Might have to look into this

Might have to look into this one.

"Dinobots, destroy Devestator!"-Optimus Prime TFTM

Goldenage's picture
Posted by Goldenage on 27 January, 2009 - 20:52
hey

if you check out your own Matchbox VF fighter, you'll see that Matchbox tried (and failed!) to make one that transforms. The legs are designed to spin down into robot mode, and it looks like they couldn't figure out where to go from there. There have been a few folks over the years who have tried to mod it into a transformable vehicle...

The Big R's picture
Posted by The Big R on 28 January, 2009 - 07:21
I've never seen one in

I've never seen one in person but even in pictures it sure seemed to have features that could make it usable as a transforming aircraft but they didn't go through with it. Which is typical of the Matchbox Robotech line, not completing an idea through. I recall that the feet open up the backpack folds up and the head moves and rotates. Somebody should do a review of one. Thanks for the info!

Leonardo Flores
CollectionDX Staff Writer-West Coast Bureau

Modcineaste's picture
Posted by Modcineaste on 28 January, 2009 - 11:40
On one of the DVD's of the

On one of the DVD's of the robotech collection there is a special feature that has a reel from an old matchbox toy presentation, in which they show prototypes of the matchbox toys. I think the veritech does transform in prototype mode. I'll have to check.

------------------------------
CollectionDX Admin

JoshB's picture
Posted by JoshB on 28 January, 2009 - 12:29
a new appreciation for the Hover Tank

At the time, I was sure this thing was a tragic mistake. Clunky and uninteresting. The thing is these Matchbox toys seem to age well, especially the U.S. stuff. If you read "Robotech: The Sentinels" you get a better sense of how far out on a limb they went with these. The new mech for that aborted series were, by comparison, much more simplified and boring, to better enable Matchbox to create more accurate likenesses.

Materialist Zen's picture
Posted by Materialist Zen on 28 January, 2009 - 12:33
I'd have liked to see the "armored Alpha", though

It's mentioned in the books, but I don't know if a design was ever done for it.

RobotBastard's picture
Posted by RobotBastard on 28 January, 2009 - 14:42
Robotech Matchbox toys

Cool review! I went on a kick collecting the matchbox action figure mecha late last year and did some blog posts, reviews and partial reviews (some have embedded Flickr slideshows). I only more recently switched to a more full review format and was planning to go back and do the Hovertank properly soon, myself. Still need to blog the Zentraedi "Regult" Battle Pod, which I got more recently...

Hovertank

"Veritech" Figther (Valkyrie)

"Officer's Battle Pod" (Glaug)

Invid Shocktrooper (Inbit "Grab")

microbry's picture
Posted by microbry on 30 January, 2009 - 18:43
Matchbox Reviews

Great reviews. The Invid and battlepod toys are just great, I really need to pick up an Invid for the collection. But the Valkyrie is too much to wrap my mind around. That hybrid VF-1J/VF-1S is just too much. And the fact that you don't get all the Super Armor.

Dankon!
Leonardo

Leonardo Flores
CollectionDX Staff Writer-West Coast Bureau

Modcineaste's picture
Posted by Modcineaste on 1 February, 2009 - 11:54
Matchbox Valkyrie

Yeah, if I wanted it as a proper Valkyrie toy, I'd be pretty put out still...I really had to change my view of the toy before I could justify picking one up. Since I'm used to toys cheated proportionally for action figures, I can see it as part of that "legacy" in my collection, along with the knock-off-like cheese factor (why couldn't they at least get the head right...?). But it's a tough toy to appreciate for much beyond that novelty factor. If it had at least had a partial Gerwalk mode, though, I'd like it a *lot* more. But yeah, the Hovertank on the other hand is almost everthing this toy is not. :) The Invids and pods are fun too, even if they had to cheat the proportions some on the pods...while most like the Regult for posing with their 1/55 Valkyries and such, I think the Glaug is much nicer overall out of the two and worth owning.

Now, when I was at WonderFestival in '99, I saw a wonderful 1/20 scale Valkyrie (will have to see if I have a photo of it somewhere) garage kit. It was enormous, but not outrageously so. As a teen, I dreamt of someday building a proper scratchbuilt 1/18 scale one that could transform. I suppose I still do, deep in my heart... :D

microbry's picture
Posted by microbry on 2 February, 2009 - 20:13
On Accident?

I don't know if I like the comments about how Matchbox "accidentally got [it] right". That suggests they were trying to make bad toys on purpose and someone screwed up and actually made a good toy. Come on now.

-Jeremy

Destroy All Podcasts DX's picture
Posted by Destroy All Pod... on 2 February, 2009 - 14:35
I won't speak for Leo, but

I won't speak for Leo, but I'm guessing that the suggestion is more that Matchbox's intent was not to make an extremely cartoon-accurate toy...and the fact that they did get some details spot-on was more chance than intent. That's how I read it, anyway.

All in all, I actually like these larger-scale ("DX", if you will) Matchbox Robotech toys. The bottom line is that for all their inaccuracy, they're damn fun and sturdy as hell...even after all these years (except for the figures!). It's hard to say that about a lot of toy lines.

Microbry, if you end up scratch-building that variable 1/18 Valk, let us know! That's toy history, right there! ;)

--
Sanjeev

Sanjeev's picture
Posted by Sanjeev on 3 February, 2009 - 10:10
"accidently got it right"

Hello Jeremy,

Matchbox didn't have to try to make the Robotech toys bad, they did it naturally. My biggest criticism of the line is that some of the designers of the line were not familiar with Robotech/Macross/Mospeada/Southern Cross at all and just didn't get what it was all about and it shows in the many poor products they released. I give them major thumbs up on a few pieces such as the Hover Tank, Invid and battle pods but generally most of the line, especially the figures, were not designed well and were of low quality.

I say "accidently got it right" based on the facts that if one was to ask what Robotech toys would one love to have made, the Hovertank would most likely not make the top 10 list, perhaps not even the top 20 list. I love Southern Cross but Mospeada and Macross were more popular than Southern Cross. The truth is that Hovetank toy shouldn't and wouldn't have been made if the marketing department at Matchbox knew what every kid in America knew. The lack of any new Southern Cross toys and the hundreds of new Macross and Mospeada toys nearly 25 years later reflects this as well. Matchbox's mistake was our gain.

I really wish we could locate the people who designed the line and ask them directly about why the line was designed the way it was. Who knows what happened and perhaps a couple of the designers were huge fans but upper management screwed it up. The nameless engineer who designed the Hover Tank toy did a great job and captured the spirit of the toy excellent.

Although specific designers captured certain Robotech vehicles well, on the whole Matchbox as a company could have done a better job with the line.

Thanks for the comment!
LF

Leonardo Flores
CollectionDX Staff Writer-West Coast Bureau

Modcineaste's picture
Posted by Modcineaste on 3 February, 2009 - 12:47
All right, now I'm going to

All right, now I'm going to have to disagree here. Leonardo, I think you're coming at this from too acute a fanboy angle, and less from a toy collector angle. First, you're trying to tell us that "some of the designers of the line were not familiar with Robotech/Macross/Mospeada/Southern Cross at all and just didn't get what it was all about". I'm just not sure where you're getting this information. I mean, really? Are you positive the designers weren't familiar with the show? Perhaps they were totally familiar with it, but they wanted to design toys for a younger age range. Perhaps making the toys too complex for fanboys would have resulted in an undesirable pricepoint. There are many possibilities here that you have failed to explore. Instead, you have presented your theory as the truth.

Your next comments about how the Hovertank wouldn't make the top 10 list of popular Robotech designs (to be made into toys) is simply irrelevant. First of all, there simply aren't that many mecha in Robotech. The top ten list would consist of--what?--a VF-1 series Veritech, a couple Zentraedi designs, an Alpha, a Cyclone, a couple Invid...and nothing from Southern Cross? Southern Cross wasn't that unpopular, and if there were to be *any* toys made from it, it'd be the Hovertank since it's the star hero mecha. Anyway, that's neither here nor there.

I think the real problem with this argument is that popularity among children has little to do with cross-promotional media. The cartoon depends just as much on the toy as the other way around. I think it's safe to say that Harmony Gold tasked Matchbox to create at least one DX toy from Southern Cross to entice kids to watch the show...thus boosting ad revenue. We can't know this for sure, but it's a common business model for such media properties. Remember, all too often, toy and cartoon companies tell kids what they want.

Lastly, you seem to backtrack on what you said about the designers not being familiar with the cartoon. You theorize that perhaps upper management "screwed it up". Again, I'm not sure why you think these toys are "screwed up" from the perspective of a business entity cross-promoting a television cartoon series with a toyline. I think they did just fine. Over 20 years later, both Harmony Gold and Matchbox are still around.

This is obviously nothing personal, Leo--I love the review! I just think that it's a far too common mistake to project one's fanboy dreams onto the reality of media and collectibles. Remember, they didn't make these toys for us.

--
Sanjeev

Sanjeev's picture
Posted by Sanjeev on 3 February, 2009 - 15:13
Lesney

Sanjeev,

As always your points are well taken and I simply can't argue with them. ha ha I've never been called a fanboy before and I'm so far from one!

"some of the designers of the line were not familiar with Robotech/Macross/Mospeada/Southern Cross at all and just didn't get what it was all about". All you have to do is just look at the Scott Bernard Figure just see how off they were!

The point of toy companies is to stay in business and the Matchbox of the 80's is not under the same ownership as the Matchbox of today. Matchbox of the 1980's killed most everything they manufactured including their flagship line their 1:64 cars. Look at a Lesney manufactured UK "Matchbox" made 1:64 scale car and compare it to the toy cars Matchbox made in the 1980's. Lesney cars are masterpieces in design and the 80's cars are just junk. Going back to your collector remark Lesney Matchbox cars go for hundreds even thousands of dollars while 80's Matchbox cars you can buy by the bag at the thrift store. This has nothing to do with fanboy-ism but what toy collectors are drawn to.

Why are the 80's Matchbox cars not as popular? The detail is little to desire and the metal and plastic was cheap. This echos many of the problems with Matchbox's Robotech action figures. As a whole 80's Matchbox was not the best toy manufacture and accordingly Matchbox was bought out by Mattel as the brand name was more valuable than the product being produced. Only recently has "Matchbox" embraced their past but they now owned by Mattel and have no relationship to the management of 80's Matchbox. The "Matchbox" of the 80's ceased to exist just like the 60's Lesney Matchbox ceased to exist. That is not a good business model if you ask me!

Honestly it would be great to interview somebody that worked at Matchbox so all the hearsay can end. I remember when those Matchbox toys came out and compared to my Godaikins, Transformers, GI Joe and Star wars toys the quality was below par. I'm not looking for the perfect anime accurate toys It is just my opinion of how I feel about Matchbox in general during the 80's and how I'm critical of how they handled many of their properties. The Matchbox Robotech line has grown on my over the years for their charming qualities but I think most everyone can agree that they could of done so much more in terms of quality.

"This is obviously nothing personal, Leo--I love the review! I just think that it's a far too common mistake to project one's fanboy dreams onto the reality of media and collectibles. Remember, they didn't make these toys for us." this has nothing to do with my Fanboy dreams. I work with manufacturing with one of the biggest name brands in the world and I see how difficult it is nurture a product line on daily basis, and how much effort it takes to keep a brand viable and I am usually the last person to put down any company accordingly. But if any manufacture doesn't continue to improve their products they could quickly go out of business. We are the customers with the cash and the products are made for us. 1/4 of the Robotech Matchbox toys couldn't even be found in stores!

Finally I love Southern Cross. I must have build nearly all the model kits and I bought the Hovertank when it was originally released back in the 1980's. Regardless of my personal opinions as a writer I do listen to the fact that many people hate Southern Cross for whatever silly reason. But when I write my reviews sometimes I take into consideration the criticisms of other points of view. I guess it is the Libra in me.

Regardless, The Hovertank is a great toy and you should pick one up!

LF

Leonardo Flores
CollectionDX Staff Writer-West Coast Bureau

Modcineaste's picture
Posted by Modcineaste on 3 February, 2009 - 17:54
Gotcha. It's good that your

Gotcha. It's good that your perspectives come from real industry experience, along with a firm base of knowledge of toy companies in the 80's. I'd definitely state that stuff clearly when you present your theories about how toys in the past were produced. Anyway, I still don't think it's particularly fair to insinuate that the designers had no connection to the cartoon. I've been very close to the production of a number of collector toys over the years, and I'm well aware of the shortcuts and compromises that are necessary to productize an idea.

My guess is that limitations due to licensing and deliverable pricepoint were a big part of why many of the Robotech toys weren't as good as they could've been...rather than the designers lack of knowledge of the source material. Granted, many of the figures indeed sucked, but we'll probably never know the inner workings without some face-time with the actual production people involved.

By the way, I don't consider "fanboy" as an insult...to me, it just describes someone's relationship with the hobby. Macrossworlders are generally fanboys because they generally like everything to be precise, accurate to lineart, and realistic down to the last detail. They're true fans who want what they consider "perfection". And that's fine. I'm not a fanboy--I'm a toy collector. Toys are my priority. And it sounds like a fanboy conceit to say that Matchbox "accidentally got [it] right".

If you're not actually a fanboy, it's all good--doesn't matter to me either way. That perspective just sounded fanboyish to me. Like, just because one or more designers at Matchbox made a few of the action figures totally ugly doesn't actually imply that none of them cared about making a good product. Or an accurate one...within financial bounds. It's all just a bit too much of a stretch for me...

Great discussion, though!

--
Sanjeev

Sanjeev's picture
Posted by Sanjeev on 4 February, 2009 - 12:43
Heh, I'd argue the majority

Heh, I'd argue the majority of the action figures they made were ugly and clearly demonstrated that the sculpt and paint ops approved for the figures made very little effort to convey an accurate likeness of the characters...if anything they might have made a deliberate effort to Americanize the designs (perhaps they thought the Japanese character designs were too alien for US shelves--an attitude common in marketing at the time). That said, there were some reasonable exceptions, and they did a nice job on some of the original mid-sized mecha product (later also rereleased by Playmates with ExoSquad), particularly the Zentraedi Nousjoudel-Ger (or however you spell it) powered armor figure which was rather nice.

I wish Matchbox had made their Parasites toyline with at least a smidgeon more effort towards higher quality manufacturing. :( Great figure designs, crappy construction.

microbry's picture
Posted by microbry on 4 February, 2009 - 19:17
Parasites!

I just looked them up, I had forgotten about them, there was just so many toy lines in the 1980's!
Thanks for the reminder!

Leonardo Flores
CollectionDX Staff Writer-West Coast Bureau

Modcineaste's picture
Posted by Modcineaste on 5 February, 2009 - 12:46
In closing...

Sanjeev,

Thanks for the reply. You made a great knock me down point with:

"I think it's safe to say that Harmony Gold tasked Matchbox to create at least one DX toy from Southern Cross to entice kids to watch the show...thus boosting ad revenue. "

It is a perspective that I didn't perceive and it was well said.

I'm know you have read many of my reviews and I always have a balanced and realistic point of view. Take my Clover Gundam review, sure it isn't anime accurate and they missed the mark but I did factor in changing robot art design from Go Nagi style to real Robot and I still gave the toy and clover high marks. Clover on the whole put out some great toys across the board. 80's Matchbox on the other hand couldn't even put out a simple 3-inch 1/63 scale diecast car, something they've have been doing already for nearly 20 years.

"accidentally got [it] right" was a bit tongue and cheek to close out the review and I now realize it was resonating in a way I didn't intend. The facts are until we personally talk with people who worked at Matchbox and worked on the Robotech line both of what we say is just hearsay and educated guesses. Having interviewed many recording artist, producers and musicians from the 1960's it's amazing how much the perceived story completely changes when you talk to people who were actually there.

I tend to use "fanboy"as a highly derogatory term for the trench coat wearing-mullet haired-bad unkept bearded-long belted-basement living-baggie panted-combat booted- Xena comic book reading person who just complains-complains-complains-complains-complains-complains-complains-complains-complains about everything and yet has no talent or drive to actually make the world a better place artistically or otherwise. Your definition is a bit different from mine! Ha ha

Leonardo Flores
CollectionDX Staff Writer-West Coast Bureau

Modcineaste's picture
Posted by Modcineaste on 5 February, 2009 - 12:29
Hahaha...okay, clearly, our

Hahaha...okay, clearly, our "fanboy" definitions are different. Or, maybe, I've got the denotation and you've got the connotation!

Anyway, I think having this discussion, publicly, and attached to your review, is perfect. The questions that still exist about these toys are aired out, along with folks sentiments and theories about what happened in the past. Very cool!

If only we could get discussions this lively with all our reviews! ;)

--
Sanjeev

Sanjeev's picture
Posted by Sanjeev on 6 February, 2009 - 11:06
 
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