Starship Troopers Rodger Young
Review by Ginrai
"Come on, you apes! You wanta live forever?" -Unknown platoon sergeant, 1918 The Rodger Young arrives courtesy of Yamato USA. A Controversial Novel Robert A. Heinlein's 1959 novel, Starship Troopers, had a big effect on me at age 13. I was living in the frozen wastes of Michigan, in a town so small it boasted a bank, a grocery store, a hardware store, a laundromat, a school, and not much else. There was also not much access to science fiction for me, beyond the old '50s and '60s era books our library stocked. But there was something very different about Starship Troopers. Reading about dying in some crazy power armored space war was a far cry from Asimov's laws of robotics and Arthur C. Clarke's monoliths. In retrospect, it makes since that a boy who grew up with Robotech would be interested in Starship Troopers as a teenager, but all I knew is that this brutal space war was a great escape from the confusion and tedium of teenage life in a tiny town in northeastern Michigan.
An Action Movie Satire
By the time Paul Verhoeven's film adaptation came out, I was living in relatively sunny California, an hour out of San Francisco, and a thousand times more aware of the influence Starship Troopers had on the Japanese cartoons I was into. I actually saw Starship Troopers with my stepdad and his father. Both men had been in the military and they treated the movie as a war film. For me it was quite different, because I loved the novel and grew up with Star Trek. The original novel has always been a lightning rod for criticism. People have said it glorifies the military and glorifies fascism, but I've always thought the book was more about promoting a meritocracy. While you have to earn the right to vote with military service, the book makes it clear not everyone is suited to combat and many people earn their vote through clerical or other work. At the same time, the book goes into quite a lot of gruesome detail about people dying horribly or living the rest their lives missing limbs. If it glorifies the military, it doesn't glamorize it.
It must be said that the movie does not adapt the novel well. Its satirical bent (to be expected from the creators of Robocop) clashes with the novel's serious "Hey, I'm just a jarhead, but this is what the military's like" attitude. The many, "Would you like to know more?" clips are of course reminiscent of World War II propaganda films, but the over the top gore and ludicrous dialogue are pure Robocop. While I think the movie is quite fun, it's no good as adaptation of the book. Another thing the movie has going for it is extremely good design work and special effects that hold up today, over ten years later. While I may not like the way the armored suits were left out of the film, I've got to admit that the aliens and the spaceships the humans use all look great.
A Spaceship with Guts
That brings us to the Rodger Young. This spacecraft is a real touchstone for the novel, representing the long military heritage behind the Mobile Infantry that our hero, Juan "Johnny" Rico is part of. The real world Rodger Young the spaceship was named after was member of the US infantry who died in World War II serving his country. Not only did he win the medal of honor, he was immortalized in "The Ballad of Rodger Young", written by Frank Loesser (Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition, Guys & Dolls). It's no accident that Heinlein uses the troop transport Rodger Young in a scene where the infantrymen risk their lives to rescue a mortally wounded soldier. A great thing about the ship itself is that while it would be easy to give it the smooth lines of a Star Trek vessel, the spaceship in the movie is blocky, tough-looking, and appears very used, rather like the spaceships in Alien. I really like the utilitarian, battered feel the equipment has and it really fits will with what I always imagined when reading the book.
A Model, Not A Toy
How does Yamato do at creating a physical version of the model from the film that you can own? Quite well indeed. You can't really call this a toy (the back of the box actually says "This is not a toy. Unsuitable for anyone under the age of 15"), but it is a very nice statue about 9 inches long and absolutely loaded with detail. The Starship Troopers film was one of the last big sci-fi movies to use actual physical models for spaceships instead of CG and it's really nice being able to own a relatively affordable rendition of the ship that's already detailed up and gorgeous. Did I mention the construction? This figure is a solid chunk of pewter and comes cocooned in styrofoam. I know people like to talk about how you could club someone over the head with a Chogokin, but this is nice inches of metal with a few tiny plastic pieces you stick on top. That actually brings up one of the few criticisms I have for the Rodger Young: the little plastic pieces you stick on top are just resting in little slits in the base. The instructions helpfully suggest you glue them in, but this feels like kind of a cop out to me.
I guess I could complain that this has no action features, includes no accessories (unless you count the tiny plastic radar and other chunks you stick on), and is not actually a toy at all, but really that's missing the point. Every inch of this ship is covered in excruciating detail and while you may glance at it and think it's one featureless gray blob, it's actually got many tiny paint applications all over it. There's a bunch of shades of gray, but there's also tiny lights painted everywhere. This is less a toy and more like one of those fancy models of cars or jets that old people have on their desks, but instead of a '57 Chevy or something, it's a spaceship. How much you will like this depends on what you are looking for. If you want a toy, go elsewhere, but if you want a nice (completely immobile) model of the Rodger Young, you don't want to put it together, and you have 130 dollars to spend on a pewter spaceship, Yamato's got you covered.
(C) 2010 Jeremy W. Kaufmann & CollectionDX
|Posted 28 February, 2010 - 02:26 by Ginrai|