Space Battleship Yamato
Review by Atom
If you where a child of the late 70's/early 80's you are most likely familiar with Space Battleship Yamato. In Japan it is to their culture what Star Trek is to ours, a pop culture icon. If you grew up here in North America, Australia, or Italy you probably knew it as the cult classic, Star Blazers . For those of us that saw it back in the day, it made a pretty big impact on our childhoods. It certainly is a part of the "Nerd DNA" that makes me the fella I am today.
The plot of the show was pretty straightforward. From Wikipedia:
"Set in the year 2199, an alien race known as the "Gamilas" ("Gamilons" in the English Star Blazers dub) unleash radioactive meteorite bombs on Earth, rendering the planet's surface uninhabitable. Humanity has retreated into deep underground cities, but the radioactivity is slowly affecting them as well, with mankind's extinction estimated in one year. Earth's space fleet is hopelessly outclassed by the Gamilas and all seems lost until a message capsule from a mysterious crashed spaceship is retrieved on Mars. The capsule yields blueprints for a faster-than-light engine and an offering of help from Queen Starsha of the planet Iscandar in the Large Magellanic Cloud. She says that her planet has a device, the Cosmo-Cleaner D (Cosmo DNA), which can cleanse Earth of its radiation damage."
The first season began airing in late 1974 in Japan. The US wouldn't see the English adapted version, Star Blazers, until 1979. While some violence, references to alcohol, brief nudity, and sexual humor were edited or changed, the show remained relatively intact and unaltered for its US airing. For the most part, no matter where in the world you saw the show, we all grew up with the same characters and beloved tale. We just called them by different names.
The history and saga of the Space Battleship Yamato franchise is fairly long and complex. For a complete breakdown of it all I would suggest hitting the fantastic website Starblazers.com. It is a complete and thorough site dedicated to both the Japanese and English language version of this time-honored series.
In December 2010 a live-action version of the first season of Space Battleship Yamato has been made into a live-action feature film. As of the time of this review the film has been cleaning up at the box office and is already slated for international release in France, Germany, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesiam and Thailand. No word of a US distribution...yet. I am 100% certain we will see it here stateside before 2011 ends.
With all the frenzy over a live-action movie of Space Battleship Yamato Bandai decided now was the time to release a new toy of the legendary spaceship. Except this time it gets the Soul of Chogokin treatment. The SOC line (for those unfamiliar) is Bandai's premium line of high quality robot toys... Yes I said "robot toys." You see, with the 57th release in the SOC line they have broken the trend of "robots only" and released their first spaceship in the line. It's unusual but it certainly seems appropriate to give the Yamato the SOC treatment given its venerable history in Japan.
The Yamato ships in the usual 4-color, photoshopped imaged box that most SOCs do. Nothing fancy, just bright, clean images of the toy and it's features decorate the box. Bandai will usually re-issue sold out SOC releases again a few years. To make the first release a little bit more special they included a bonus accessory, Deslock's drill-missile, and a foil sticker is on the front of the box to let you know it.
Inside, the ship itself and the (unattached) deck guns are packed in a styrofoam coffin with the stand and extra parts stored in vacuum-formed trays. The bonus drill-missile is packed into a plastic bag and stored in a plain white cardboard box.
A complete breakdown of contents is...
- Yamato (fully assembled)
- 2x Metal anchor with die-cast metal chains
- 2x Atmospheric Flight Wings
- Stand base
- Horizontal stand arms
- Angled stand arms
- 2x Black Tigers
- Cosmo Zero
- 3x Varying styles of Cosmo Tigers
- Medical shuttle
- Expedition ship
The first thing I did is assemble the stand so I had somewhere to safely rest the Yamato. The base just needs the arm attached and it's ready to go. A dock for the included remote control is in the rear-center of the base.
Two sets of arms are included for the base. One set allows you to display the Yamato level and the second allows you to display it at an angle as if it's taking off. The arms attach securely and hold the ship up well without fear of it taking a fall from the shelf.
The eight included fighters and space craft are beautifully detailed and make a nice bonus to the set, but there are no connection points to hold these little, tiny, tiny guys securely to the base or the ship (other than the fighter catapult on the stern of the ship.)
You basically just lay them on the little runners and they sit there, which is fine until you try to get the remote out of the base...
To get the remote out you either have to push the remote out back through the gap in the arms (my preferred method), reach over and in back to pull it out, or physically pick up and rotate the stand to get clear access to it. Any one of these options will most likely cause you to jostle or bump the ships off their risers and most likely ending up lost in the carpet. After shooting this review all of mine ended up packed back up in the box which is too bad as they are all really nicely detailed but I don't want to run the risk of losing them.
I only own one other SOC release, Godmars, and that came with a stand that cradled its enormous sword and had plug points to securely hold all of the spare hands, so I am surprised at the inconstancy. It just seems so obvious to me, this release could really use it for this stand.
Once freed from its styrofoam coffin all you have to do is attach the five deck guns and slap in two AAA batteries (two more are required for the remote control) and it's good to go. All the other parts and pieces are already assembled and attached to the ship.
The first thing I noticed was the sheer weight and size of this thing. It measures exactly 17 inches long from the tip of the bow to the back of the thruster and weighs just over 1 pound.
Sculpted detail is very good. Paint details are sparse but what is painted is all neat and clean. You will notice in the close up photos in the review a lot of sprue marks. While these show in close-up magnification they do not really stand out under normal handling. I didn't notice them until after I had processed my images.
The Yamato has a nice amount of die-cast metal but not as much as I had initially thought. In the picture above, the red part of the hull from the first seem down the ship all the way back to the end of the thruster is all metal. The rest is the main ship is a high quality ABS plastic. The thinner antenna and gun barrels seem to be softer PVC.
So it looks pretty. What does it do? Lots, it turns out. First are the swappable rocket anchors. Included in the box is a pair of anchors with metal chains so you can recreate sling-shotting around a moon or pulling enemy ships closer to you.
The deck guns are all moveable. Moving any one of the front three guns will move the other two in unison. Same goes for the rear deck guns. The barrels are individually moveable and made of plastic. The bases of the guns are made of die-cast metal.
The pulse cannons on the left side (port) of the bridge can be moved side to side with a knob located on the right side (starboard) of the bridge. The starboard pulse cannons do not move.
The smoke stack missile launcher is also featured. Use the lever on the starboard side of the smoke stack to raise or lower the painted and detailed missile bank.
You can indeed mount your Cosmo Zero or Cosmo Tigers to the fighter catapult on the rear decks. This is the only place on the ship or stand that you can actually "attach" a ship securely for display. However if you pick it up to play with it you will most likely send your fighters flying intentionally or not.
When the Yamato would enter atmospheric flight they would deploy a pair of wings. Previous versions of the Yamato toy make these spring loaded. This time Bandai decided to make them removable. you just push in the "hatch" with the wing clips and push back then forward and they will sit securely to the ship.
This 'hatch" hides the gap for the wings leaving you with a nice smooth, clean hull when you are not using the wings. I don't mind this, but your mileage may vary.
An opening hatch is located on the side that allows you access to the hanger bay...
... and the landing ramp. Without any way to "attach" the fighters to the hanger bay the ships will just bounce around in there when you pick it up to fiddle with it. You are starting to see why I am annoyed there is no way to attach these to anything.
The third bridge, located on the very bottom of the ship, is made of ABS plastic. It features another loading ramp that opens but really doesn’t have enough room to house anything in there.
All of these bells and whistles are very nicem but that is only the start of the fun. The thing that really makes this release really stand out is the lights and sounds...
Remove the remote from the base, turn the power switch to the on position (on both the remote and the Yamato,) be sure the IR sensor on the remote has an unobstructed view of the sensor on the side of the ship (the green/aqua bulb on the side of the ship,) and go to town!
Starting with the large button in the lower middle and going around clock-wise the remote sound controls are as follows:
1.Wave Motion Fun powering up. The barrel will throb a bright red. Press it again (within 58 seconds) to "fire" the Wave Motion gun. The firing effect will make the main gun barrel glow and blink from red, to yellow, and then a blueish white.
2.Sound of deck guns firing.
3.Sound of side laser pulse cannons firing.
4.Sound of the engines powering up and flying away. Lights in the engine will glow a red, then yellow then go bluish white.
5.Sound of Main Bridge powering up. Green windows will blink with green LED's.
But wait, there’s more! Holding multiple buttons at the same time plays clips of the soundtrack.
1 + 2 Opening theme.
1 + 3 Infinite Universe (ballad.)
1 + 4 Black Tiger Battle theme.
1 + 5 Cosmo Tiger battle theme (I think?)
What is really great about all these high quality sound effects is that you can play multiple clips at the same time. Yep, you can pretty much recreate any imaginary battle you want, except everyone around you can hear the music in your head.
Fire up the battle music and warm up the wave motion gun. When it's ready fire away, pick off the stray bad guys with the deck guns or side turrets. All the while, the music plays in the background. You know, text isn't doing this justice so now is a good time to watch the video above.
Last but certainly not least, we have Deslock's drill-missile. The drill-missile served two purposes when it was used in the show: to slowly bore its way through the ship, tearing it apart from the inside, and it also prevented the crew from using the main gun in defense.
As you can see it is a nice piece with a lot of features, however, it's pretty pricy. Suggested retail price on this bad boy is 23,100 Yen. That's definitely in the high end for SOC releases and while the sounds are clear and loud and the lights bright and vivid I am having a hard time justifying the cost on this one. Usually for this price tag you get something like Godmars from Bandai which features very advanced transformation engineering, which can get expensive to develop and execute. I get that, but the Yamato is basically one long hunk of metal and plastic with no real complex engineering involved.
The Soul of Chogokin line is supposed to capture the ‘Spirit’ or ‘Soul’ of the character and with their 57th entry in the line they have succeed. Bandai has certainly captured the ‘Soul’ of the Yamato with this release. It's just a little more expensive than it should be.
Just for fun I embedded a clip of the actual first two minutes of the live-action movie. :)
|Posted 4 January, 2011 - 14:28 by Atom|