Spartas / Veritech Hover Tank
Review by Showapop
Although not completely without fault, Matchbox’s Spartas / Veritech Hover Tank
vehicle accessory for their Robotech 3 3/4 action figure line unintentionally created a classic toy that previously had not been made in Japan.
I say “unintentionally” as didn’t anybody at Matchbox know that the Robotech Masters portion of Robotech is considered the most unpopular portion of the series? At the time if you were to ask the kids what vehicles from Robotech would they have liked to seen manufactured, I am sure the Spartas would not even make the top ten list, being in the queue behind Valkyries, Alphas, Cyclones, Ajax’s, Betas, Monsters, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I will never forget the day when it switched over from Macross to Southern Cross and how upset I was about it. But as I watched it I learned to appreciate Robotech Masters for its colorful ensemble cast of characters, noble armor designs and unique vehicles that are quite unlike anything in any other anime.
I really do not have the “Hate Robotech” paranoia that most people have these days as Robotech was life-shaping event for me in my youth that led me to appreciate foreign films and led to my own filmmaking goals. Although today I suggest people watch the originals versions first, I personally like both versions very much for their own reasons. But in 1985 there was nothing more exciting than running home from elementary school and barely catching the opening credits at 3:00pm on KCOP Channel 13.
What deeply fascinated me about Southern Cross was the lead vehicle known as the Veritech Hover Tank in Robotech Masters and The Spartas in the original anime Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross. For some reason I always felt at the time there was never a clear shot of the Spartas in the anime. The open cockpit hover tank reminded me of some fantasy Roman chariot, the siege gun Gerwalk mode seems to be one of the most practical Gerwalk modes ever and the cyclops eyed Battle Sniper robot mode always appeared to hold their own against the invading Zor army. The personal armor of the pilot also added an extra dimension to the Spartas system itself and some of the most moving images in Southern Cross is Jeanne / Dana driving her Spartas with her winged helmet on.
When Matchbox decided to release a scaled variable version of the Veritech Hover Tank for their 3 ¾ action figure line, I asked and received one for Christmas. I always thought that the transformation of the Sparta was mysterious and one of the main contributing factors for wanting this when I did was just so I can see how the Spartas transformed.
The Matchbox Veritech Hover Tank includes: 1x Tank, 1x sticker sheet, 1x cannon, 1x instructions, 1x fan club information. It is suggested to purchase the Dana Sterling figure, which was sold separately to complete the set.
The Spartas was the only Matchbox made 3 ¾ vehicles that actually transformed. Unfortunately, it only transforms into two modes, the Battle Sniper robot mode to the Walking Cannon Gerwalk mode. What is so frustrating is that it is so close to turning into the Sniping Clapper Hover Tank mode. I am sure some customizer has already remanufactured a full transforming version as it would not be too difficult if one had the right skills: Redesign the waist to completely revolve the legs under the body, make the feet snap closed and cut off and scratch build the hover jets themselves. The seat would also need to rotate.
A new scratch built cannon would also need to be made, as the correct rifle is not included. Matchbox has one disconnecting the main cannon from the arm and inserting it with a flip out peg in the Spartas’ hand. I do like the three-barrel machine gun on the other arm fairing that comes out in the Gerwalk mode.
Transforming the tank is quite easy, flip out the arms and slide them into the grooves in the body, flip back the back half of the body and allow the head to move through the door. Straighten out the legs a flip out the hands. The main gun disconnects and with a flip out latch pegs into the hand, although that is the wrong type of gun and not anime correct.
The articulation has begun to show its age compared to what is being made today as it is very bulky and has very basic movements. The weakest point being the elbows that only pivot in, meaning if you would like to aim the gun forward, the entire arm needs to be raised. The head does not rotate.
The Jeanne / Dana figure is a must own accessory for the Sparta. The figure sits in the seat in Gerwalk mode and there is a flip up computer screen that is the figure's control panel although the more anime correct motorcycle style control handles would have been much better.
Not only is this the only toy likeness manufactured of the Spartas but it is also a huge sized vehicle that really stands out on the shelf, about 13 inches tall. Matchbox did design these toys for rough kid play and accordingly is a very solid made toy unlike many of the other poorly made Robotech toys that Matchbox manufactured.
Years later it is still one of Matchbox’s stand out pieces in the line that was filled with so many misfires and bad quality control. Unless somebody like Revoltech releases some items from Southern Cross this Spartas is the only item available of the main vehicle from the series and a must own if you are a fan of Southern Cross. This is one item I am glad that Matchbox accidentally got right.
©2009 article and photos by Leonardo Flores & CollectionDX.
|Posted 27 January, 2009 - 13:36 by Showapop|