02.08.12

Matchbox Playmates Veritech Hover Tank

Posted in 1/18, Matchbox, Southern Cross/Robotech Masters at 5:21 am by micronian

Review: Robotech: The Masters did too have merchandise!

Packaging & Extras: (2/5)
There are two versions of this toy; one released by Matchbox in the mid 1980s as part of the original Robotech line of toys and a second one released by Playmates as part of the ExoSquad/Robotech cross-branded reissues of the original Matchbox toys.  Both toys come in large boxes devoid of flip-top collector’s lids with cut cardboard reinforcements, instructions, and stickers.  You do not get the Dana Sterling action figure meant to go with the toy or really any other extras/accessories for that matter.  The main cannon from the Guardian mode (aka Flea-hopper mode) separates to become a handheld gun in battloid mode.  For the Playmates reissue the instructions got an updating and show off how ExoSquad figures can use the hover tank.

Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
It may not have diecast metal, it may not achieve all three modes of transformation, but this toy still represents the pinnacle of Robotech: The Masters merchandise (it was never sold under the Southern Cross name).  Masters fans have it tough and word has gotten out that this is the best Hover Tank they’ll ever see so they’re still willing to spend a pretty penny for them on the secondary market.  Had this toy actually transformed into tank mode it might have really been something.  The sheer size of this toy also makes it a sought after collectible for classic Robotech fans as any classic collection seems like it has a big hole without this behemoth.

Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (6/10)
Color me generous, you should, but since no other toy has come along to show us just how much better a Hover Tank toy can really be I’ve decided to leave this score just a bit shy of average.  It’s not pretty but it’s a fair likeness.  The Playmates release has a speckled black finish that was meant to simulate weathering and battle damage but it’s very ‘meh’.  Much of the trim is included as stickers which don’t have the speckle effect  so you can imagine the conflict that would cause on a fully decaled toy.  There are faint panel lines on some parts of the toy and some molded in detail but by today’s standards it looks very large and plain. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen line art of a hover tank in battloid from behind so I’m not sure how egregious the giant low-hanging diaper effect is.

Design: (4/10)
It’s a genuine shame that Matchbox couldn’t figure out a way to get a toy they were selling as a “Hover Tank” into the TANK mode.  I was a bit impressed at how well the toy managed the two mode transformation but that’s mostly because of my ground-level low expectations.  The swapping out of the main cannon into a hand gun probably deserves a demerit but it’s hard to say it wasn’t a conscious decision by the way it was implemented.  You can fit Dana into the toy in battloid mode but it seems that’s a happy happenstance rather than a feature by design;  Dana doesn’t even fit in her flea-hopper chair very well.    Some of the transformation mechanisms are reasonably hidden and while the toy leaves a lot to be desired there are just enough hints at how good of a toy it could have been if someone had cared just a little more.

Durability & Build: (7/10)
The main problem I have with this toy is a problem I have with numerous toys of the era: things just don’t fit together as well as they should.  You’ll probably notice in my Guardian mode pictures that parts aren’t lined up perfectly but believe me, it wasn’t for lack of trying.  From my experience handling it, the toy felt really solid with nice clicky joints (although not enough clicks between natural positions).  Had I not seen a Robotech promotional video where a man accidentally snapped his Hover Tank in two I might be led to believe this toy has above average durability.  As it is, I’d advise you exercise a little bit of patience but otherwise you should be fine.  When buying these toys second-hand, be on the look out for yellowing and missing cannon/gun parts.


Articulation: (4/10)
You might say I’m spoiled these days as there were a lot of other toys released around the same time as this toy was that had even worse articulation.  You get articulated toes, knees, hips, and shoulders as well as a pivot point at the elbow.  You don’t get a truly functional elbow, rotating head, twists in the legs, ball-jointed hips, a swivel at the waist, a swivel at the wrist, articulated hands, or articulated ankles.  You can strike a decent ‘running and shooting with the arm straight out’ pose or a standing stationary pose but that’s about it.

Total Score: (27/50)
I’ve made fun of the Southern Cross mecha designs in the past and I’m still not a huge fan.   That said, handling this toy has convinced me that a really cool Hover Tank could have been made by someone at some point… although this isn’t it.  At 31CM tall in battloid this toy is 1/20 scale, nearly perfect for the 1/18 scale figures.  That’s a far cry from the very warped scales Matchbox employed with the mecha made for the 1/18 scale figures from Macross (which feature 1/60-1/70 scale mecha for 1/18 scale pilots).   If you’re a huge Southern Cross or Robotech: The Masters fan there’s no doubt these toys have a lot of charm and you have no options so you should get one.  If you’re a casual Robotech fan I’m sure you already know you could do better.

9 Comments »

  1. ae_productions said,

    February 11, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Worth the wait! Excellent review, as always!

  2. ae_productions said,

    February 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Oh, did you mention how you have to remove Dana Sterling (or any pilot you choose to operate the “guardian mode”) to transform this into battleoid? Annoying.

    But the sheer fact that this could easily have turned into the tank mode with a little more effort is really frustrating.

    For it’s time, it was a great toy…but it could have been so much cooler.

  3. TheLoneWolf said,

    February 29, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Good review. I still find it amusing that the US had the fortune (or misfortune?) of getting a Hovertank/Sparta toy, while no one in Japan was even willing to release a cheapy model kit.

    Though I disagree that this toy is any way fragile. I’ve manhandled mine and dropped it a few times, but it’s still going strong. I think the Robotech PR guy might’ve been handling a wooden or resin prototype, which is why it would’ve been fragile.

  4. James said,

    April 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Hey, was the exo squad remake of the hover tank made the same way as match box?

  5. micronian said,

    April 12, 2012 at 6:02 am

    I don’t own the original version so unfortunately I can’t compare them. I think they’re built the same but I know there are differences in how the original Matchbox Veritech Fighter and the reissue ExoSquad Veritech fighter were made. The Playmates Veritech fighter saved on costs by eliminating unused parts intended to make the original Matchbox toy transformable (a plan Matchbox ultimately decided against). Since both the original Matchbox Hovertank and ExoSquad version are transformable I suspect the ExoSquad one is made the same with the exception of the odd “weathering” paint scheme.

  6. Boyd said,

    April 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Hey, first congratulations on your site!

    I wanted to share this link:

    http://disciplesofzor.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=190

    There you can see how someone took apart one of these old Matchbox toys and actually created the Hovertank mode! While it certainly would need a little more tweaking, they did great with the material they had at hand.

    Now, if someone just did the same with the Matchbox Veritech fighter…

  7. sir_miggs said,

    December 13, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Hello!!! Great review!! I have my mixed feelings about this toy. It is the only one us fans have to choose from, so I’m grateful for that… but the lacking Tank mode is a bit annoying. I hope to one day customize mine to do so.

    *Also, I wanted to ask if the toes on your Playmates version retract at all?? I ask because I have the Matchbox release and those do… I noticed this in your photos as well as on your video.

    Thanks!!

  8. Kaiser said,

    February 22, 2016 at 12:10 am

    Weren’t there any Southern Cross toys made in Japan?
    Did their models transform at least?
    Was the unmade final 13 episodes ever released as manga/comics?

  9. micronian said,

    February 22, 2016 at 1:21 am

    All very good questions that I hope a Southern Cross expert can answer more definitively for you some day. Here are what I think are the correct answers:
    1) No, no toy company took the dive on Southern Cross so no toys made it into production
    2) I don’t recall seeing any transforming Southern Cross models
    3) I don’t recall ever seeing a Manga of the show or any sort of serialized or graphic novel continuation.
    It was kind of a crash and burn so it didn’t make much of an impression from a merchandising standpoint.

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