SDF-1 Battle Fortress
Review by Sanjeev
First off, if you want to check out more super-dimensional action, be sure to check out Atom's great review of Wave's 1/5000 DYRL-version Macross! Afterall, we have him to thank--at least in part--for this review. The recent release of Wave's Macross and Atom's subsequent review actually inspired me to pick up this 1985 US release of Matchbox's "Robotech SDF-1 Battle Fortress", a modding/repackaging of the 1984 Japanese release of Takatoku's 1/3000 "Storm Attacker Construction" Macross toy.
Funny how toy collecting works sometimes. Toys, even vintage ones, that are extremely ubiquitous tend to fly right under my radar, no matter how cool they really are. ...For instance, it took me forever to get a Zinclon Mekanda Robo, any one of the umpteen releases of the diecast Lion Voltron, and even a Matchbox Vehicle Voltron. For me, Matchbox's fully-transformable SDF-1 had been the same way.
...Until I read Atom's review and the desire kicked in! ;)
Okay, let me just start by saying that I'm not going to go into gory detail about how big a Robotech nerd I am because of how the early '90's Eternity Robotech comics got me into anime. I'm not going to go into "which one's better": Robotech or Macross (or even Macross TV versus DYRL). I'm not going to go into why Carl Macek should or shouldn't be lynched. We've all been there... And no one should care.
Let's stick to the toy, shall we?
First off, the outer packaging was clearly redesigned by Matchbox, who distributed the toy in the States under the "Robotech" monicker [and check out this cool robot-japan thread for pics of the Takatoku version, including its box]. It's neat to notice that Revell, Inc. is recognized as the "Robotech" trademark owner on the box, as well as Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko being mentioned as copyright holders. The box measures 17" x 9" x 4" and features a door/lid that opens to reveals the toy inside. Under the door, cellophane-covered holes show the toy in "Battle" mode.
Though the outer cardboard box is obviously very different from the Takatoku release, the styrofoam tray within is identical.
Once you break out the toy, it's all play from there! This toy is simple, rugged, and fun. It takes less than a minute to transform and you sure won't need to consult the "Operating Manual" (which consists of a lone double-sided sheet!), you won't need any tools, and you don't have to be ginger with it. This is a children's toy, folks.
First, let's take a look at "Cruiser" mode. The craft measures 15" long. It's gorgeous.
Now, one of the first things you may notice is that there seem to be two holes at the tips of the Main Gun. Unfortunately, I've never handled the original Takatoku version, but I assume that these are for firing missiles--though I can't seem to find where the buttons would be. In fact, there are no spring-loaded mechanisms found in the Matchbox release at all, and the toy doesn't come with any missiles. I assume these features were gutted to conform to US toy safety standards. Further, there seem to be flip-up launchers near the aft of the ship. Similarly, there are no actual firing mechanisms present in the Matchbox version--though they're cruelly mentioned on the back of the "Operating Manual".
There seems to be some storage spaces in cruiser mode, as well. There is a very tiny one just aft of the bridge (though I forgot to photograph this!) and a larger one in front of the bridge. I just assume they're for storing extra missiles. Or drugs.
Next is the landing gear. Wait...what??? "Landing gear"? Really? For a gigantic spaceship that holds a city in its belly? Well, this is just for convenience. Without the gear, you wouldn't really be able to put the thing down in Cruiser mode!
Other than that, there's not a whole lot else to Cruiser mode. It just looks great and is fun to fly around the room (hmmm...this is a recurring theme for me, isn't it? maybe we should add "fly-ability around the room" as a toy category...)
One thing to be aware of on these older toys is the elbow joints. They can tend to sag a bit. This is most apparent in Cruiser mode when looking from the side. The super carriers, Prometheus and Daedalus, tend to droop a tiny bit, as you can see here:
...Honestly, I wish I could tell ya more about the history of this toy. I'm aware that Bandai bought the molds for the Matsushiro/Takatoku 1/55 Valk, but I wasn't aware they'd done so with this 1/3000 Macross toy until I just recently saw the stamp. So what's the deal? Did Bandai ever release their own transformable Macross? If anyone has any knowledge about this, please post a comment (Ginrai, I'm looking at you).
[*EDIT*: Ginrai did update us with a little history lesson! Check out the comments below. Also, while we're at it, for more history on the 1/55 Valkyrie, see Ginrai's Missing Link article reposted by yours truly on TBDX]
So, anyway, on to "Battle" mode. Again, very simple transformation. This is the classic SDF-1, with the impressive Main Gun elevated vertically and the inhabitants of Macross City safely tucked away inside.
Yep, not a whole lot going on here other than big, plasticy robot action. The figure is pretty great. It looks good, has nice surface detail (molded and from the numerous decals), and has good-nuff poseability.
One thing that's kinda neat is the ability to remove the super carriers. They simply pop on and off pegs at the elbows. This adds some neat play value and helps fire up the ol' imagination--giving you some sense of how truly enormous this thing's supposed to be.
Lastly, we have "Attack" mode. All it really is is the Main Gun elevated onto the shoulders and pointed forward, and a curious step I never noticed in the cartoon when they fired the Main Gun: the thrusters on either side of the upper chest splay outward a tiny bit. This, in turn, makes the Main Gun's pylons appear angled outward. Who knows if it's "canon" or not...but it looks cool!
Again, that's pretty much all there is to it! Simple. Fun. Rugged. That equals a classic toy to me. I'm not going to debate which Macross toy is better: this or the Wave. Everybody collects for different reasons, and these two offerings appeal to very different collecting aethetics. Just be happy we have a choice!
|Posted 7 April, 2007 - 15:43 by Sanjeev|