Monday, May 26, 2008

Would you rather have been there when it was new, or would you rather be here now that it's good? OR: Great balls of Jetfire


Back in 1982 there was this Japanese cartoon called Macross. It got adapted for the US and showed up here in 1985 as the first third or so of the syndicated cartoon Robotech and pretty much everybody who reads toy robots blogs knows this already so why am I writing it. Well in the latest cartoon series sequel to Macross they're modernizing and retelling the story and it's awesome. I've been watching this latest Macross cartoon, Macross Frontier, on my TV thanks to the fansub group Shinsen Subs and the playback capabilities of my PS3. Instead of waiting three years and watching the show over a crappy, staticy UHF signal like I did with Robotech when I was a kid, I can watch the latest episode of Macross Frontier cleanly and crisply within a couple weeks of when it airs in Japan. What a difference 25 years makes! The original Macross/Robotech had CRAZY stuff in it like cartoons with interracial relationships that liked pineapple salad and weird talking soda machines that humped people and most of all, badass transforming robot jets. Which brings me to my next point-

Forget the military guys with the bizarre haircuts, the big stars of any Macross cartoon have always been the transforming robot jets. Thanks to some sneaky corporate maneuvering on the part of Hasbro, back in 1985 the Robotech toyline by Matchbox never released the star of the show-the transforming F-14 looking VF-1. This toy robot ended up as part of the Transformers line as Jetfire, and again, anybody who was over 5 years old in '85 knows this so why am I writing it here. Hasbro's stealing the star of the Macross toys effectively doomed the Robotech toyline in the US. Imagine if Matchbox secured the distribution rights to the robot that eventually became Optimus Prime and instead named it TruckyTron.



If I were working for Bandai back in '84 I would have ensured that Jetfire would not have existed. If Matchbox could have used the Bandai 1/55 Valkyrie as it was intended to be used-in a Macross related toyline-maybe we would have gotten all sorts of different VFs from the different head variations to the various Super Valkyries with the big phallic fast packs here in America. Unfortunately there were some short-sighted dumbasses working at Bandai and the Hasbro wolves took advantage. The whole Jetfire debacle derailed the proper course of toy robots history. As kids we should have all grown up with a 1/55 scale Valkyrie air force in our closets. Who gives a crap if the entire toyline would have been composed of essentially the same robot airplane over and over just in different colors with weird heads? They were cool heads. Jetfire may have its fans, but that toy sold out a generation and we all missed out on owning what may have been the greatest toys of our lives (which were really just the same doll AWESOME TOY ROBOT over and over wearing different clothes AWESOME ROBOT PAINT APPLICATIONS).

Thankfully, a great wrong is being righted and this summer an American toy company will be distributing the newly reissued Bandai 1/55s like we should have gotten in the first place 25 years ago. This is wonderful but there's two little problems I have: a) another company called Yamato is doing a better toy of this robot at about the same scale, and b) holy crap I'm 34 years old. Personally I think it's nice that the ancient old versions are going to be made available but the Yamato perfect transformation 1/60s are so pretty that if I were to buy anything it'd be those. It all boils down to the question of which is best-an 80's childhood with no Jetfire but where the Bandai 1/55s got released in the states as Robotech toys OR the current situation where great stuff with fantastic toynology is being made but we never got the Bandai toys in our youts? I guess if I could choose I'd still stick with my current reality, but I'd really like to know what Hasbro would have done without their precious TruckyTron.


Heavyarms said...

I never had a Jetfire when I was a kid, which led me to the inevitable conclusion that my parents did not love me.

I guess the Bandai re-release is going to be just-as-if-not-more expensive.

By the way, I am holding something in my hand. I am playing with it. It is about 6 1/2 inches long.


Evil King Macrocranios said...

You should have reported your parents to the Child Protective Services! Then again, they spared you the agony of watching your Jetfire slowly turn yellow over the next twenty years. It was tough love.

I've been Regult-rolled! Yeah I've been checking out the pictures of the Regult at one of my favorite blogs and also the Revoltech VF-1J Max. The ball joints on that Max's shoulders and elbows look so much more subdued than the Revoltech VF-1S. If I were into Revoltechs, the Regult and the Max would be the ones I'd get.

Sean said...

Thing is, they DID have a transformable VF-1 in the Matchbox series. Swear to God. It was really huge though and it's proportions were all off making it look like those Super Deformed Star Wars figures. I think they called it a "transformable playset" or something like that. They pop up from time to time on eBay.

Also, it seems like comic stores and/or hobby stores had transformable VF figures as well because I remember owning a five or six inch VF that had the Pirate Skulls like the one Roy Fokker flew. I don't know if it was made from the actual toy company that made the Japanese versions or if it was a knock-off but I remember that it was really awesome and really articulated for the time. It didn't take me that long to break his arms off though.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Oh you're killing me, man. I swear the only Veritech Matchbox made was the one I pictured with the disproportionately big canopy/fuselage in VF-1S colors with a VF-1J head. A transforming Matchbox VF to me is in the same category as Gloria Baker's Shark from M.A.S.K., a Mighty Orbots figure and the blue Bluestreak from Transformers. Stuff people think they saw but wasn't really there.

Sean said...

Dude, if you search long enough one will pop up on eBay. Swear to God. Now, I might be wrong about it being from Matchbox, I will concede that, but I swear that someone made what I was describing in my last comment. It was a really huge toy like the one you pictured and you could put a small figure in the cockpit but it actually transformed. I remember it pretty well because I remember seeing the small picture (the one you see before you open an auction) and thinking "wow," that's really awesome" and then actually opening the auction page on eBay and seeing the hideous figure/playset and thinking "that has to be one of the worst things I've ever seen."
If I find another one somewhere I will DEFINITELY post the pics on your site or mine. :) Heck, I already have the "hall of shame" category on my site so that thing would be there.
I just wish I knew who made the six or seven inch bootleg I had as a kid. That thing was the shit.
Hey, how much is that Yamato figure you linked to anyway? I'd be down for picking one up sometime down the line from an online store if it's not like $200 or something ridiculous like that.

Sean said...

and by "be there" I meant fit in well in the "HOS" category. :)

Sean said...

Okay, so here's what I'm talking about:

And that is, as the box states, fully transformable. I, as I said in one of my previous comments, saw one of those on eBay last summer with the Fokker colors and designs and thought it was one of the worst things I've ever seen.

Sean said...

and here's a pic of the Fokker one I was talking about:

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Oh yeah! Now I see what you mean. The superdeformed ones. I thought those were really small, though. I didn't know figures fit in them! Boy, I never even considered those as serious Valkyries/Veritechs. Thanks for setting me straight. I guess I have to count these as Matchbox transformable veritechs even though they're so awful. I thought the absence of a 1/55 was what killed Robotech when it looks like these monstrosities are what killed Robotech. I just never knew they made those in a big scale.

What I'm finding out in terms of price is that the new Yamato 1/60 VF-1S strike valks are going to retail at 12,800 yen and a version without the armor will also be available for 10,290 yen. So they'll be a little over $100 America money.

Sean said...

Sweet, $100 isn't too bad, all things considered. I might pick one of those up myself even though I just spent about $89 preordering Sideshow Indy. As I was saying in my own blog, I actually really want to bid on the SD Fokker/Hunter toy, as awful as it is. It definitely fits into the "so bad it's good" category and I think it would make a good conversation piece for my friends who are collectors because most people forget these things existed.


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