Review: Walking anti-aircraft never looked so good
Packaging & Extras: (2.5/5)
I am a huge fan of efficient packaging and this toy’s box certainly fits that bill. It’s small. The artwork is nice and wraps around the top. There’s no collector’s flip-top lid and the cardboard is very thin. Inside you’ll find the toy in a plastic clamshell with the following accessories:
1) 2x pairs of magazines (small and large)
2) Display stand adapter
That’s a fairly sparse list. I like the inclusion of a display stand adapter but dislike the lack of a display stand. Yamato included little soldier figures which were a very nice touch but much less feasible in the Hi-Metal R scale. The most notable absence here is the lack of a pilot figure. The toy has an opening door and a nice seat for someone to sit at but no one to put in there. Since there’s nothing transparent that would let you see the pilot you may shrug at this but since the toy features detail for empty magazine bays which can only be for diorama purposes, a pilot figure would seem similarly appropriate.
Charm & Collectability: (2.5/5)
The Destroid Defender is the third destroid entry in Bandai’s Hi-Metal R line following the awesome MacII Monster and the Spartan. With each destroid released the destroids become more collectable. If Bandai can see their way through the release of the Tomahawk and the Phalanx (and nearly 50% of the work is done since the legs are common amongst those two and the Defender) then collectors of old school Macross toys will realize a dream that seemed unachievable only a couple years ago. That said, there is a wide swath of collectors who will never consider owning a destroid toy no matter how excellent they are… they don’t transform and they were never portrayed as particularly heroic. There’s some metal here, confined to the joints (where it does the most good) but it’s hard to say if that will be enough to convince people looking for something with the feel of Takatoku’s 1/144 toys. Will we get any repaints like Matchbox did for their Robotech license back in the 80s? We can only hope. So far, we have one release:
Destroid Defender, August 2017, 6,800 Yen
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9.5/10)
This is the Destroid Defender as it was intended to be. Bandai managed to make their much smaller Hi-Metal R Defender even more attractive than Yamato did with their 1/60 line thanks to the addition of Tampo-painted details that match the iconic line art. Like the Yamato toy, you get lots of clear plastic detail pieces rather than stickers or paint to simulate lights. The back of the toy also looks amazing in comparison to all previous Defender toys. The one weakness, it could be argued, is that the HMR doesn’t have a transparent cover over its ‘eye’ sensor. This, of course, allowed Bandai to employ a much simpler eye moving gimmick than employed by Yamato and the end result doesn’t look bad to me and doesn’t seem to conflict overtly with any existing line art I’ve seen. It’s hard to find anything to complain about from a sculpt perspective. While I do enjoy Yamato’s more yellow take on the mecha, the beige of the Bandai toy feels appropriately militaristic. Of course, Yamato made their Tomahawk a nice beige color and differentiated the Defender with yellow so we’ll have to see what Bandai does now that they’ve made the Defender a color that also looks well-suited to the Tomahawk. The Tomahawk prototypes have looked lavender so we’ll hope that changes before release.
There may not be a ton you would expect from a Defender toy but I was pleasantly surprised by all the thought/love put into this design and it’s only the fact that the Defender is fairly simple in its nature (non-transformable) that it doesn’t score higher here. Things of note:
1) Opening cockpit
2) Sliding ‘eye’ sensor
3) Extending arms to allow for a tighter, line art accurate look OR a dynamic look
4) Waist heat syncs (I think that’s what they are) that pivot upward to allow the hips more free range of movement
5) Hips that can be lowered to allow far greater articulation.
6) Spinning top sensor array (though all Defender toys have at least nailed that part)
The opening cockpit doesn’t have a matching pilot figure but it does reveal some slight cockpit detail. You can put a TV pilot figure in there from one of your HMR VF-1 toys which may be one more reason to buy yourself a cannon fodder VF-1 since it comes with two pilot figures (one TV, one DYRL). The sliding eye eschews the clear track cover, as discussed above in the details section, but still looks very good and is more user friendly than the equivalent Yamato gimmick.
Durability & Build: (9/10)
Almost every joint is metal and feels the appropriate level of stiff. Shoulders, waist, hips, and ankles all feature beefy metal joints. It’s a lot of fun to handle this toy and there’s no obvious areas of concern. I’m giving it very high marks but it’s early and I’ll revisit this score if a common problem area develops.
I’m not scoring this toy higher because it doesn’t have arms or hands so it will never be the most dynamic figure in your collection. That said, all the joints it does have are very well thought out and implemented with very impressive ranges of movement. The ability to pivot up the heat syncs allows for good wide stances with minimal effort. You get both a swivel and a pivot at the waist. The further ability to then extend the legs downward enables an incredibly athletic lower body. Though the Defender may not look like a sprinter, the knee joints have a far enough range where you may be encouraged to try some real running poses. The foot features the articulation you need to take advantage of those hips and knees by pivoting, rocking left/right and toe up/down with an adjustable heel. Hopefully this level of thought reflects the likelihood of Phalanx and Tomahawk toys since they share the same legs (more-or-less).
Total Score: (39.5/50)
For a destroid toy, anything approaching 40 points is phenomenal and this toy earns it (as did Bandai’s HMR Spartan and Monster toys). With each expansion of the HMR line going full “collect ’em all!” becomes more attractive. Bandai is doing a beautiful job filling out the SDF Macross universe in toy form and I think everyone should be supporting them by buying these excellent renditions. It’s beyond cool that they’re making these toys at all… let alone that they’re making them so good! So, if SDF Macross is your cup of tea, do yourself a favor and start putting together a destroid squad… and don’t forget to buy a small horde of bad guys for them to do battle with. You’re going to like the results.