Review by VF5SS
The original Macross series was seen as a major innovation in Japanese robot shows. As it successfully blended the ideas laid down by previous shows like Mobile Suit Gundam and Space Battleship Yamato, it also pioneered several new avenues that are still with us today. Most importantly, the use of pop music as sung by pretty girls who wear numerous outfits from scene to scene has done so much to shape anime in how it allowed all kinds of shows to profit from record sales of songs from the series. This lead to the use of mainstream artists contracted to sing the opening and ending theme songs to just about every show thereafter. The use of handsome men who rivaled the three times more charming gravitas of Char Aznable also made everyone swoon over the romance between strapping young pilots and their beautiful love interests.
The robots were pretty cool, too.
The VF-1 Valkyrie was like a godsend to sponsors. Its design blended the real life sensibilities of contemporary combat aircraft with a toyetic functionality that could be designed and built by the master craftsmen of the Japanese toy industry. It was flashy enough to excite young boys, and practical enough to convince the discerning SF fans that maybe this is legitimate science fiction. Its nod to actual airplanes also meant that the only apparent outward differences between the various VF-1s was only the head and paint scheme. Toy and model kit manufacturers were eager to churn out the same toy that was connected to many different characters in the series with only the minimal amount of changes.
Probably the biggest innovation was taking the idea of upgrades like the G-Fighter from Gundam or the Dougram's Turbo Pack and turning it into a practical upgrade for the already versatile three-form Valkyrie. In the episode "Miss Macross", which not only allowed us to see Lynn Minmay in a bathing suit, Hikaru equipped his machine with its own never before seen suit of armor. This allowed him to get bitched at by Misa while hunting down an enemy recon ship. During the battle, we see that the armor is, of course, filled to the brim with missiles. After all the ammunition was spent, Hikaru ejected the armor from his Valkyrie and continued to fight. This awesomely dramatic act of purging extra armor has become very much ingrained in not only the collective conscience of Macross, but almost every area of Japanese media. From Kamen Riders to risque PVC statues, casting off one's restrictive outerwear is just so very cool.
As a young lad, my knowledge of Macross consisted entirely of what I could understand from my VHS copy of Clash of the Bionoids. This rather infamous edited release of Do You Remember Love had the strange English dub that used some recognizable Australian dub actors from Godzilla movies, and removed most of the graphic violence and graphically foreign singing so it could be released under Celebrity Entertainment's "Just for Kids" video line. There was also an uncut release in the "Best Film and Video" collection. You can even get this dub on Laser Disc! So, as I grew up coveting my neighbor's Jetfire, I also bought (well, asked nicely for) many Macross model kits from the local comic book shop. Most of them did not survive playtime intact, but one model managed to stand the test of time and received some tender loving care.
ARII worked alongside IMAI to produce numerous model kits for the original Macross TV series. As Gundam demonstrated, model kits were now a big moneymaker for robot shows, and IMAI and ARII attempted to get in on the Gunpla craze with kits for every skill level and price range. Both companies produced their own small 1/170 scale kits, but presumably due to IMAI's numerous financial troubles only the ARII kits survived to be re-issued numerous times.
ARII's small Armored Valkyrie VF-1A is a microcosm of just how Macross merchandise was sold. As the armor parts for the VF-1 were presumed to be modular to all of them despite only Hikaru's VF-1J having used them prominently, ARII did the old head swap gimmick and packaged a variation not seen in the show. Like most model kits, the buyer's interest is captured by a (theoretically) well drawn illustration on the box. Sadly, most of the non-show variations did not get a painting by the legendary Yoshiyuki Takanai, so we're left with this picture which is simultaneously ugly andbeautiful. With an explosion of panel lines that would make Katoki blush, this particular Valkyrie is a mass production type VF-1A. These are the brown and white Valkyries that were piloted by the schmucks we were never meant to care about. This rather novel idea of teams of VF-1 Valkyries getting equipped with armor has permeated numerous Macross sequels, games, and side stories. Extra kudos to the illustrator for including a pin-up on the leg armor that has the text "NEXT OBJECTIVE" written underneath the image of a sexy lady.
One side of the box contains artwork advertising for other kits in the 1/170 series. Oddly enough, includes the Armored Valkyrie VF-1A itself. I'm going to assume they simply just reused a set arrangement of elements for the packaging than tried advertising the model kit you just bought.
The other side contains an interesting set of retouched Armored Valkyrie artwork with the coloring and head changed to represent a VF-1A. These images appear to be unique to these kits and do not appear in any art books.
Underneath the pictures is a brief description of the PROTECTOR WEAPON SYSTEM (GBP-1S). Now I have asked other fans who speak the language of Macross (i.e. Japanese) if that designation stood for anything and they told me there is nothing official and anything you see saying so is a filthy, dirty lie. There's also a nice image of the ARII logo and the Safety Toy mark that means this model kit passed Japanese safety standards.
The top and bottom have the same arrangement of images and text. This also has the kit's official number, as stacks of these models would be arranged with this side facing out. The MSRP was only 100 Yen, which was very enticing for the little kids who couldn't afford a bigger model or even one of Takatoku's toys. The modern equivalent would be those questionable airplane kits you can find at the dollar store.
I once bought this SR-71 from Dollar Tree. It didn't last long.
Note that nowhere on the package is a picture of the finished model. Now, I don't recall if these were wrapped in plastic, but if you could open them up you'd see the runners as well as the single sheet of paper with a photo on one side and instructions on the other. As you can see, the armor is not removable, nor do any of the missile hatches open. I'm sure some enterprising fans tried to add these features at some point in this kit's nearly 30 year history.
Over the years I decided to make this guy a little bed for safe keeping.
Fortunately, even most cheap Japanese model kits are fairly high quality. This little guy is a fairly solid model with snap-fit construction. Unlike some old Gundam kits, this model is actually molded in white plastic rather than that mint green that would offend your eyes if you dare leave it unpainted. No, the Armored Valkyrie is a pleasing white that takes to paint very well. It did come with a basic decal sheet, but those water slide decals confounded me as a child. Note that the head laser cannon had to be rebuilt after it snapped off the first time.
I do appreciate the attention to detail for such an inexpensive kit. While some of the proportions are kind of off, every part of the design is replicated in 1/170 scale. I especially like the VF-1's characteristic wings folded on the back and the three verniers on the backpack.
There is a small amount of articulation in the Armored Valkyrie. Not that you could get anything terribly subtle or dynamic, but doing the splits is always a triumph for any Valkyrie, no matter the size. Also check out how the feet have no way of hiding the hollow legs.
My Armored Valkyrie is like a trusted ambassador to other toys.
As I said before, only Hikaru's Armored Valkyrie is featured prominently in the original series, although you may have seen one in the background. It is because of efforts by sponsors like Takatoku who pushed the ability to mount their standalone armor parts set on any of their 1/55 scale toys and who also released a bundle that represented something that did not happen in the series that gave young fans the idea of dressing up their Valkyries just like the dolls they truly are. Likewise, both IMAI and ARII always set up the runners of their kits so that the head of the Valkyrie could be easily swapped with another. Both they and Nichimo created several combinations not found in the series or movie. This lead to some interesting gaffes where the two-seat VF-1D, with its unique chest plate that the armor parts cannot fit on, would get its own Armored Valkyrie release. This gave many fans young and old false hopes when it came time for the modern toys. For myself, I always preferred the purity of the VF-1A head (and the weaponized coolness of the VF-1S) over the VF-1J's more traditional hero type head. As such, I always play dress up with Max's VF-1A or Roy's VF-1S. Some of this comes from the charm imparted by that little ARII kit I built long ago.
The Armored Valkyrie you see in this review was built by me with help from my father, who bought the kit for me and helped me paint it. We had fun trying to match and mix cheap Testors paint to the color guide on a kit made for some probably long forgotten model paint set. When the head laser cannon broke he fixed it for me. While most of my old Macross models now rest in pieces in a box somewhere, the Armored Valkyrie remains intact and a fond memory for my shelves.
|Posted 25 November, 2011 - 12:56 by VF5SS|