Phalanx / Spartan
Review by Showapop
Although the Matchbox produced Robotech Defense Force line of 3 ¾ action figures and accessories series of toys was generally a huge let down for kids and collectors, I do have to hand it to Matchbox for importing and repackaging original Japanese Takatoku toys to markets outside Japan. I mean, how cool was it to walk into a Target, Toys R Us or K-Mart and buy a die-cast Takatoku Macross toy right off the shelf for less than $8.00? It was fantastic!
Without Matchbox’s involvement, we would not have had domestic versions of Destroid Monster, various Destroid Battloids, and a beautiful transforming SDF-1 Macross and various other Macross related toys. Most of these toys were released under the banner “Robotech Collector Series Die cast” even though some of the products released under that banner had little, if not any, die-cast in the product, such as the transforming Macross SDF-1.
I received my Matchbox Spartan Destroid for Christmas sometime around 1987. Life has given me Phalanx figures and I am quite happy to have received them throughout the years, as I quite like the little guy. Often seen as cannon fodder in Super Dimensional Space Fortress Macross, the Phalanx always put up a brave and heroic fight throughout the series.
C’mon now, how many of you have shed a tear when in episode 27 “Love Drifts Away” when a unit of modified blue Phalanx’s peek out of the Macross and coordinate their missile launcher hatches and launch a gazillion missile salvo attack and proceed to take out Boddole Zer’s Dimensional Fortress from the inside while Minmei is singing her little heart out. That was perhaps one of the finest dramatic and tensioned filled moments in all of Macross. Not only that I always thought the huge "M"s were cool.
One aspect I did not like that Matchbox did was changing the names of the Destroids around. I think this was more Harmony Gold’s doing rather than Matchbox. Other than unknown legal trademark and copyright reasons I did not see any reason for Harmony Gold to change the names around as it was confusing to memorize all the different names from Macross to Robotech as a kid. For the rest of the review I will refer to this figure in the original Japanese Macross name of Phalanx, although it was marketed by Matchbox as Spartan here in the USA.
Matchbox’s Spartan contains: 1X Phalanx body, 2X missile launchers, 1x Sticker sheet, 1x Sticker instructions. There are no options. Some of these figures come packaged in Styrofoam trays while others come in vacuform trays.
Matchbox released two versions of each Battloid, one set in the original and correct to anime Takatoku colors and another set recolored in new fantasy colors. I believe that the Phalanx was the best recolor of the set as the colors hint at Episode 27 “Love Drifts Away” Phalanx’s in deep dark blue. The color choices compliment each other and looks quite good even though the scheme was never seen in the anime. The other three Destroids were not so lucky, two being produced in white and the Spartan painted in a dreadful day-glow orange.
Die-cast includes body and legs, with the “arms” and head molded in plastic. The Phalanx is a small size but has a quite a hefty weight for its size due to the 75% die cast content of the figure. Articulation is limited, the missile launchers can be adjusted and the head searchlights and waist can be turned left and right. My only complaint is the four exposed screws on the top of the missile launchers which detract from the overall look of the figure.
One aspect of these Matchbox figures I did like was the very dramatic oil painting on the packaging of the Phalanx in action heroically defending a large city from its inevitable destruction. I wish I could view the uncropped original art without the lettering as it is a well-executed work of art. Whoever the unnamed artist is, you captured the passion and drama of Macross/Robotech beautifully. Thank you!
I am not sure how much these are selling for on the market these days but it is a great little pick up for the Macross/Robotech collection and a nice recolor of a classic Takatoku figure that was never available in the original Japanese market.
©2010 pictures and article by Leonardo Flores & CollectionDX
|Posted 3 February, 2010 - 18:03 by Showapop|