I recently re-watched the entire Macross saga, or Robotech generation one as it’s known in North America. I have slowly been introducing my pal Andy (who recently assisted me in my She-Ra review) to Robotech which he had never seen before. I grew up on Robotech and always wished that more toys based on the series had been released. There was a total of 23 figures and a handful of vehicles that all hit retail in one fell swoop in 1985. At least that’s what the Consumers Distributing catalogue lead us to believe. For those of you not familiar with Consumers it worked like this, they sent out massive catalogues in the mail similar to the big fat Sears Wish Book that still arrives around the Holidays every year. Every item in the catalogue had an identification number. The catalogue had everything from clothes to dishwashers to toys; just like you’d see in the other big department store chains at the time like K-Mart and Zellers. This predates Walmart’s arrival in Canada. I remember one year the Consumer’s catalogue had all the Robotech toys listed. I had never seen most of these toys before. Robotech as a property kinda got buried under the weight of massive properties like G.I. Joe and Transformers so most retailers ignored the line. Doug and I were giddy with excitement at the thought of finally being able to stock our toy-boxes with Veritechs and Invid Shock Troopers. Dad brought us down to our local Consumer’s Distributing store which was in Bedford at the time. What was unique about Consumers was that you couldn’t just walk in and run to the toy aisle. When you walked in it was more like a bank with a queue marked by velvet ropes and a few podiums. The podiums each had a copy of the catalogue sitting on top. People could walk in and browse the catalogue right in the store as opposed to doing at home if they wanted to. Once you had the identification number of the item you wanted you waited in line until you got to the counter. You were then greeted by a sales rep who took the number and then went to the massive staff only stock room in the back to fetch your item. It was all rather odd and obviously not a model that caught on because I haven’t seen a Consumers in a couple of decades. I remember this particular visit when the rep came back and told us that the items we wanted were out of stock. We provided our second choices and still no luck. I think we tore out the page and just told her to bring us anything at all…nothing. I felt so slighted. I’m not sure why I held Consumers to a higher standard, like if it was in their catalogue it had better damn well be back there as I don’t recall ever cursing K-Mart to hell in the same manner as I cursed Consumers that day. Come to think of it maybe it’s my curse that put them out of business. Feeling guilty now.
Basically what I’m saying is that Robotech toys were not easy to find. To this day two of the toys that I never owned as a kid which has left a hole in my soul yet to be filled were Rook Bartley and the Invid Shock Trooper from Robotech. Somehow though Doug and I did manage to acquire a few Robotech figures each over time, many of the most important characters. Doug had Roy, Scott, and Dana; key characters from all 3 generations. While I had Rick, Max and Zor; also important characters, Rick being probably the most important and well-recognized character of the series. Robotech starts out with Rick as a young teenager who’s an aspiring stunt pilot. An intergalactic war lasting years and leaving Earth mostly in ruins transforms him into the most respected fighter pilot in the Robotech Defense Force. His boyhood dreams are pushed aside so that he can mature into the brave soldier that the citizens of Macross city need him to be. The series is full of cheesy elements and some dated animation not to mention horrible but catchy songs. Despite all that I can still enjoy it now that I’m in my 30s, much more so than I can enjoy old Joe or Transformers cartoons. Robotech dealt with mature themes like life and death and love. Characters had to make hard choices and sacrifices. Most didn’t survive to see the end of the war with the alien Zentradi. Spoiler Alert! Rick survived! He eventually becomes the admiral of his own space fortress and finally seals the deal with Lisa Hayes. Yay Rick!
So onto the figure. The Robotech figures were made by Matchbox who never produced any other toys that I cared about. It was kind of an odd property for them. Hasbro, Mattel and Kenner really dominated the action figure market in those days. This probably has a lot to do with the lack of product available. A lot of action figures back in the early 80s were still pretty stiff, coping the Star Wars model. Luckliy Matchbox opted to copy the design pioneered by G.I. Joe, making Robotech figures some of the better quality figures available at the time. They all had lots of articulation allowing for lots of movement and in the 3 ¾ scale they could fit into any Joe vehicle. The paint aps were well done on these figures and the costumes looked as they did on screen. The white plastic used for the bulk of Rick’s body really popped and the bright red and blues used made him very crisp and clean looking. I like the head sculpt but unfortunately it doesn’t really look like Rick. The face is okay but Ricks crazy big pointy brown “do” from the cartoon is represented here by a rather flat jet black haircut instead. Obviously the choice was made to flatten his hair so the helmet could fit on his head but the change in color is a pretty big faux-pas. The removable helmet is actually awesome and light years better than most of the Joe helmets we were getting at the time. It has great sculpting, a variety of paint aps and it was made of a softer more pliable plastic which had some give to it, making it easier to slide on and off. My one gripe about it is that the helmet doesn’t really line up properly when worn and tends to fall over his eyes. Overall I think this is a pretty awesome figure but I’ve been hoping for years that a toy company would scoop up the rights to these characters and release nice cartoon accurate figures of the entire cast…maybe someday. 8 out of 10.