Friday, October 30, 2015


So I got lucky and scored a Robotech Factory at an antique store here in the middle of nowhere for dirt cheap. And like the first time I saw Minmay's butt in the fourth episode of the original Macross cartoon, my life has been constant anxiety and excitement ever since. It's like getting kissed or married or having a kid or all those other crazy life changing things that define new eras of your time. There was my life before the coming of Robotech Factory and now I live in the post Robtoech Factory excitement period. I am obsessed. Every minute I am away from Robotech Factory seems like wasted time. Whatever I am doing I constantly weigh against what fun I could be having just staring at Robotech Factory's box. I can't stop thinking about this gift, this huge honor bestowed upon me by the Robotech Fairy for only 26 bucks. Why was I chosen? And more importantly, just what is the Robotech Factory anyway?


This model and other Macross dioramas was originally released by Japanese modelmaker Imai before bankruptcy forced them to sell off their tooling to Bandai. Its original release called the Macross Factory included one hangar, fifteen crew members, three trucks and no robots. Then Imai released a super deluxe version with twice the same parts plus two robots-the armored VF-1A and a Destroid Tomahawk. This double hangar version was called the Armored Factory in Japan and the Robotech Factory when released in North America by Revell. (The 1985 Revell Product Catalog actually calls it 'Robot Factory' but the packaging drops 'robot' and implies the name is 'Robotech Factory'.)

'Robot Factory' from page 100 of the 1985 Revell Product Catalog


The Robotech Factory is a straight up repackaging of the Armored Factory down to the IMAI stampings on the rear of the hangar walls. Bandai rereleased the set thirty years later in 2012 but with Bandai stampings on the bases and slightly different colored plastic . The Revell release could be had cheap because it went clearance shortly after release (see the comment section of this post). Both the Imai and Revell version became quite expensive on the secondary market before the Bandai reissue, with sellers usually asking in the range of $200+ as late as 2009 according to some message boards I've seen. (This guy wants $400 for his built one.) After the reissue, prices came down a bit and some sellers have them even today for as little as 50 bucks plus shipping. Still, for me to find the Robotech version for under 30 dollars was pretty unusual.


The Robotech Factory kit is intimidating in its size and parts count. It's a little over 430 pieces in six different colors plus a bag of chains. I say 'a little over' because after counting 430 parts I began getting confused as to what exactly constitutes an individual part. But if you realize that this is actually several distinct robots, people, vehicles and pieces of equipment it begins to become a little less overwhelming. Since most of it is actually the same hangar twice, it's actually easier to process than if all the parts were unique and part of one singular whole. I'd say this is just as easy as building one 200 piece model plus a robot, and then doing that twice. Except at the same time. Well you know what I mean.


With an idea of what it was and where it came form in real life, I wanted to figure out where the Factory fit in the Macross fiction. Was it supposed to depict a place on earth where Destroids and Valkyries were made before the Macross was completed? Was it somewhere inside the SDF-1? Were there any scenes during the show where this specific backdrop appeared? Well I looked and couldn't find any. There are a couple of shots with general elements of the Factory like hangars, multi level staircases, overhead cranes, robots on roller platforms, and boom lift trucks but the entire diorama doesn't show up exactly with all of the elements together at once anywhere in Macross. The only illustration where it all comes together in colors close to what the parts are molded in or what the instructions say to paint them as is on the cover of the Armored Factory box. This lack of specific canonical reference is good because it gives modelers artistic license to do whatever they want in terms of colors. But it's also bad because it gives modelers artistic license to do whatever they want in terms of colors. Not having a solid reference drives me crazy!


In the absence of canon fictional reference I went looking online for existing builds of the Factory to see what other people have done with it. The build showcased for the 2012 reissue was painted quite impressively, but what did the actual hobbyists do? Would they leave it unpainted? Stick to the recommended colors as outlined in the instructions? Would they try to do something show specific? Or would they try to recreate the industrial waste factory at the end of Robocop? You can play along using your favorite image search engine with the katakana for Macross "マクロス", Armored "アーマード", and Factory "ファクトリー". (I don't think they make katakana for 'Robotech'.)

Super clean paint on this one and some really nice photography.
My favorite. I especially love his trucks.
They went with green hangar doors on this one plus there's a 1/100 painted as Jetfire! (scroll down till you see Minmay)
Sort of a minimalist build of the reissue, but nice.


GT said...

I was really pleased to find this post as I've been on vary similar "Macross Factory" journey to you. I lusted after the Revell Robotech Factory as a kid and had to wait ages for it to be discounted enough to get a set for Christmas. Naturally my modelling skills as a kid were rubbish and my factory was covered in glue and thick paint. My old set is still living in a cupboard at my Dad's house, I hope to resurrect one day. In recent years I found a Revell Robotech Factory for £10 at a toy fair here in the UK and I've since bought the Bandai re-release, so I can have up to 4 bays (or 6 if I can restore my childhood one).

In terms of what the set is based on, I agree it's loosely inspired by the repair bay scene in Macross, and if you see the original sketch for that scene in the "Perfect Memory" book, you can seen a few more details that were carried over. Another point of inspiration is that little door at the top of the stairs... the design for that appears in the scene where Hikaru goes out of the airlock to catch the tuna, only the door is giant size!

I've started my build, but it's going slowly. I'm going for the original IMAI colour scheme with a fair bit of weathering and rust washes as it appears on the original box art, but 'm going with the yellow gantry crane of the Revell paint-scheme, as I feel that makes them stand out more and give a greater sense of depth to the diorama. I'm also extending the deck a bit and adding a ceiling.

What about those hangar doors... how do they open? The model clearly suggest they split, and the box art of the second release shows them opening outward on hinges. Yet most people assume they should open "Star Trek" style, which makes sense to me for a while until I decided I was going to drill out one of the doors at the top of the stairs and I realised the main gate would be covering the hole! I don't like the hinged gate as suggested on the box art, so instead I'm going to stick both hangar doors into one and having the whole thing sliding to the left.

I'm amazed that there haven't been more build-ups on the web since the re-release - maybe it's too space-hungry for many Japanese modeler's to make room for? The only other one I've seen built-up was in a Japanese model magazine, but they used really funky colours and it looked rubbish.

Best of luck with your build, and I'll send you pictures if and when mine is done!

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Four bays would be an incredible accomplishment! Just one bay is a gigantic undertaking. I cannot imagine how amazing four of them together would look. How are the decals on the old one you got for £10? My decals are going to be a problem. They are super yellowed and I'll have to reprint them. That's not a problem on the reissues.

I have been going through my Macross videos for references and I have found a ton of scenes with giant gates. It is funny how many giant gates were shown throughout the series.

I know what you mean about it being slow going-I have gotten pretty far but I have to wait for days when it isn't so humid so I can spray primer. Otherwise the primer comes out all gunky. So my big delays are due to weather. Good luck cutting all those parts off the sprues! With over 400 parts just getting them off the trees can take hours.

When it comes to the hangar doors I go with the vertical split. I do not have the patience to engineer hinges!

I found a few Japanese builds that I linked to at the end of the post but you're right-you don't see many completed factories online Japanese or otherwise. I think it may be that 1/100 scale modeling isn't very popular with Macross fans in Japan. The bigger question for me is why aren't there many builds from the english speaking parts of the world?!

Wow! That's the most unprofessional, personal attack filled response I've ever seen an artist write to a critical comic fan! I love it! I need to track that guy down at a convention and get him to sign my copy with 'To Steve: Don't ever stop eating dicks!'

GT said...

The decals on my old set are not too bad, a bit yellow, but I think the age might show when I start getting them in water. We'll see if they break up. I might spray a layer of Micro Krystal Clear on first to give them some extra strength.

Doing everything x4 is a challenge, but I'm doing it all in batches, so it's not too bad. I know what you mean about gunky primer... I learned that lesson the hard way and spent hours with wire wool getting stuff flat again :(

I've posted a couple of progress shots for you on flickr:

Even with Robotech, I wonder how popular Macross is nowadays in English speaking part of the world? Before Macross Frontier, it seemed pretty dead even in Japan with little or no toys or models being produced, in a market with endless Gundam.


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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.