What can I say? I'm a sucker for miniatures and replicas of characters and vehicles from my favorite TV shows and movies. So when Toynami started releasing Robotech mecha as part of their "Masterpiece Collection", beginning with mecha from the Macross Saga, I knew I had to pick up at least one of these items regardless of their high prices. Fortunately, I caught a break when I saw on sale the only vehicle in Toynami's Robotech line that came straight from a video game and not the original anime series--namely, Jack Archer's YF-1R Veritech from the 2002 Robotech: Battlecry game. Read on for my complete review of this unique bit of Robotech merchandise.
Before I get to my review, here's some background on my experience with Robotech merchandise. Robotech first appeared in the U.S. not as an anime series, but as a series of model kits distributed by Revell. The transforming robots that would later become known as Veritechs were part of this kit series, which I'm assuming is one of the reasons why "Robotech" was chosen for the U.S. anime series. Production history aside, Robotech shared a commonality with Star Wars in the sense that if you wanted a vehicle replica to play with, you'd end up with a toy that mostly looked like the vehicle but was not completely accurate in detail; on the other hand, if you wanted an exact replica of the vehicle, you'd have to purchase and assemble the model kit version.
In the case of Robotech, if you wanted to play with a fully transformable Veritech during the mid-80s, you'd have to pick up the Jetfire figure from the Transformers toy line. (How a Veritech ended up in the Transformers line is a long, convoluted story.) Jetfire was the most accurate toy replica of a Veritech at that time--much more accurate than the squat, "super deformed" Veritech toys that Matchbox distributed under its official Robotech line--but even that lacked many details that were seen in the anime TV show. In contrast, the Revell model kit versions of the Veritech captured every detail from the anime series, with an even greater range of articulation than the Jetfire toy.
The Transformers Jetfire toy ...
... a Revell Robotech model kit ...
... and a Matchbox Veritech toy.
Toynami's Masterpiece Collection Veritech replicas began to appear almost fifteen years after Robotech went off the air. If I had to summarize the Veritech replica that I purchased in a nutshell, it would be as if someone built a Veritech model kit with more durable materials and then released it for sale as an assembled, painted product. I tried to assemble Revell's Veritech kits twice and while my efforts were far less than average, I'm familiar enough with the kits to know that the Toynami Veritech took most--if not all--of its details from the model kits.
The box that the Masterpiece Collection Veritech came in looks like a huge, hardcover book, complete with a volume number; the Jack Archer Veritech is Volume 6. I suppose that this box design was chosen to add an aura of style and sophistication to the "Masterpiece Collection" name, even though all the box contains is just an expensive toy. The spine of the "book" features a picture of Jack Archer, a picture that when lined up with the other five volumes in sequence will look like a Macross cast photo (note the elbow sticking out in front of Archer in the picture below). The box also included a signed certificate of authenticity, which tells you the official number of the item produced within the limited edition toy line.
Out of the box, the Veritech is an impressive thing to behold. As you can see from the pictures of the Veritech in Fighter mode below, everything is proportionate to everything else: the length of the wings, the shape and length of the nose cone and the overall length of the fighter all match how a Veritech is supposed to appear. (Just looking at this toy in Fighter mode makes the Robotech opening theme song start playing in my head!) The Veritech also came with missile clusters to attach to the wings, retractable landing gear, an opening cockpit and a pilot ladder for extra details. Even the Veritech's gun pod fits neatly to the underside of the Veritech when it is in fighter mode.
The same level of detail holds up when transforming the Veritech into Guardian and Battloid modes. Toynami placed a few hinges within the Veritech's hands, so that it can grip the gun pod in either hand. The toy also comes with a heat shield to place over the cockpit for when it is in Battloid mode.
Finally, the Veritech comes with batteries and a small switch located on the underside the nose cone. When you flip the switch, the Battloid's eye lights up. This is a nifty extra feature that I didn't expect and it is included in all of their Masterpiece Collection Veritech replicas, although Toynami didn't think to add this to their subsequent series of Masterpiece Collection Alpha Fighter replicas.
As a display piece, I'm very satisfied with this Veritech--it looks great in any mode. The only drawback is that the joints of the toy are very loose. While it will remain upright in Guardian and Battloid modes, you have to position the legs very carefully so it will remain standing. For this reason, I hesitate to transform my Veritech often, lest the joints become too loose.
I've heard that better quality Veritech replicas of similar size and detail can be purchased straight from Japan, but from what I've seen so far those are usually more expensive than the Toynami Veritechs. Then again, the price of this particular Veritech replica wasn't an issue for me--I found it on sale for $29.99. Whether this discounted price is due to Jack Archer's obscurity even among Robotech fans, I cannot say.
If you haven't played Robotech: Battlecry, Jack Archer's one and only appearance in the Robotech franchise, you might want to give it a try if you can find a copy. You play as Archer, one of the pilots who was on Macross Island when the Zentraedi first attack, but he is left behind when the SDF-1 performs the notorious spacefold that sends it to Pluto. Hence, there are only three parts of the game--the Macross Island attack, the disastrous battle in the skies over Toronto, and the Zentraedis' orbital assault against Earth--that overlap with the Macross Saga; the rest of the game's missions take place on Earth during what is known as the "Malcontent Uprisings", a series of smaller conflicts that took place before the launch of the SDF-3 and the Second Robotech War.
Some Robotech fans may be disappointed by the game's lack of direct connection to most of the Macross episodes; you don't get to play any missions that take place during the SDF-1's voyage back to Earth and you don't get to explore the SDF-1 at all, either on the inside or the outside. Yet the game retains the feel of Robotech by playing clips from the series' memorable soundtrack during each of the missions, and several original voice cast members return to reprise their Macross Saga roles--as well as to portray some new roles, both human and Zentraedi alike. Furthermore, the game's unlockable extras include video clips of enjoyable and insightful interviews with the returning cast members about their time with the Robotech series. Overall, Robotech: Battlecry is a decent game where you get to fly a transforming Veritech--what's not to like?