REVIEW (updated): Not to be confused with its bigger brothers
Packaging & Extras (3.5/5)TT, (3/5)MB
There are LOTS of differences between the original Takatoku Toys mini SDF-1 and the Matchbox version that eventually found its way to American shores under the Robotech name. The box is an excellent place to start. Takatoku’s box is the usual quality treatment with textured cardboard, a styrofoam tray, and also a styrofoam blanket to keep the goods sheathed (I love that blanket). Matchbox comes in a box that closely resembles the box for the larger 1/3000 SDF-1 which has caused many an eBayer to accidentally spend way too much money on this product because they weren’t aware which one they were bidding on. Otherwise, the inside of the box is the same except no styrofoam blanket is included. Neither version of the toy comes with any extras. Loose guns and antennae are included but are pretty necessary for the toy to resemble the SDF-1 it is supposed to be.
Charm & Collectibility (3/5)TT, (2/5)MB
As you might expect, the Japanese original is always going to have a higher degree of charm & collectibility just because it’s harder to find, has more features, and comes with more detail in the form of pre-applied stickers. This toy also benefits from the fact that the original is clearly a superior product. Truthfully, there really isn’t much demand for either of these products and they can usually be found pretty cheaply. SDF-1 fans have it tough, the larger 1/3000 toys have a lot of draw to them and can go for quite a bit of money, these smaller ones are pretty universally shunned. These toys do have some metal to them but they do not transform which severely limits their appeal. Unfortunately, while Yamato has filled the need for a premium modern DYRL version of the SDF-1, and WAVE filled the need for a smaller and cheaper version, no one has come to the table with a modern TV SDF-1 or a more modestly priced transformable modern toy. If you have any confusion as to which version of this toy you own on a shelf in your room, the manufacturer stamp is located on the back of the legs as pictured below.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint (6/10)TT, (5/10)MB
There’s a lot more paintwork that went into the original Takatoku toy and it looks loads better because of that. Even with that said, neither one of these toys look like great versions of the SDF-1 but at a scale so small that’s pretty much an impossible task anyway. As you can see in the picture above, the original Takatoku is gray instead of white and features more blue paint as well. The shoulder guns and antennae on the pictured Takatoku are dark gray but they were also available in black. The decals do do a lot to dress up both versions of the toy. So while the detail and paint leave quite a bit to be desired it’s clear from the line art comparison below that Takatoku did a pretty good job emulating the art with this toy… obviously not including transformation mechanisms made this easier to do.
Design (4.5/10)TT, (4/10)MB
The only real difference in the design between the two is that the original Takatoku version comes with spring-loaded launching booms. These booms are just about the only exciting aspect of the toy so you can draw your own conclusion as to what that means for the Matchbox version. There really is almost nothing to this toy which is pretty sad when you consider other SDF-1 toys were made that did more in similar sizes. The Prometheus and Daedalus are removable but this is one of the more annoying features of the toy as the two carriers constantly want to fall off. The carriers also feature wheels so, once off, you can roll them, but who would ever want to play with two tiny aircraft carriers? It’s not like they spent much time off of the SDF-1 in the show and they’re NEVER shown off the SDF-1 once it has transformed into storm-attacker mode.
Durability & Build (7/10)
These toys themselves are sturdy enough but they’re small and have lots of parts that can be easily lost and have a tendency to pop off pretty easily. Obviously the little carriers are the biggest problem as far as falling off the toy is concerned. I had one carrier that was missing a set of wheels likely because it fell off the toy and the wheels came free when the carrier struck the ground. The little rubber guns and antennae all fit pretty snugly but lord forbid you ever manage to knock one off because finding it could be a ridiculous challenge.
This toy is pretty odd when it comes to articulation. It’s missing one serious “no-brainer” joint… elbows! The SDF-1 is known for standing in a couple positions and elbows are crucial for accomplishing many of them. Sure, a waist joint, swiveling head (even if just slightly), and far more functional shoulders would have been very nice (if not entirely anime accurate), but elbows are a necessity. The toy’s legs really aren’t that bad. The feet have adjustable heels, there are slight knees (and that’s all that is really needed), and the hips are ball joints (limited by the waist structures). The big gun booms can be brought lower to simulate firing the main gun but again, this position should also include the arms raised flat as carriers. Too bad they couldn’t go that extra mile.
Total Score (28/50)TT, (25/10)MB
I’m a big fan of the SDF-1 so, despite the scores and the negative comments, I do really enjoy these toys. A display of SDF-1s is always cool and these two (or just one of them) are necessary ingredients for that. I do highly recommend spending the extra money and getting the Japanese version if you feel you absolutely have to own one of these.
Note: This review has been updated with all new pictures, line art comparison, size comparison, and video review. Original post date: July 3rd, 2006