Review: Regular Release and Midnight Smoke Clear Versions
Packaging & Extras: (3/5)
The regular release box does a great job of capturing the nostalgia of Takatoku’s efforts from yesteryear. You won’t get textured cardboard but the plastic windows, colors, and prominent position of the SDF-1 will all feel familiar. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse when you open the box and realize it’s comically over-sized for what you get. The base of the display stand is inexplicably placed in the box horizontally as an excuse to make the box much deeper than it has any reason being. I was surprised to see the “Midnight smoke clear vers” was given a unique box in blue and green hues that help invoke the glow-in-dark nature of the toy. It’s nice that MegaHouse didn’t just go cheap and slap a sticker on the original box for the smoke/clear release. Here’s what you get beside the toy:
1) Instructions (black & white on matte paper)
2) Additional torso/head for attack mode
3) 4x antennae on a sprue (left & right for both cruiser and attack modes)
4) 4x shoulder filler pieces (2x for cruiser, 2x for attack mode)
5) Display stand (1 base and 1 arm)
6) 2x Sticker sheets (Midnight smoke clear version only, 1x regular stickers, 1x glow in the dark stickers)
I would have preferred the antennae to be already removed from the sprue in a separate baggy and some extra “just in case” antennae seem warranted.
Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
This toy has no metal (no heft at all), is not perfect transformation, and it’s of a capital ship which generally isn’t the most desired product. Despite these disadvantages, it appears to have been made in just enough quantities to sell briskly to those folks who have been waiting for a new SDF-1 toy for years. While the price may seem egregious at 7,000 Yen, it’s worth noting that Wave’s WHAM SDF-1 which (though not a perfect comparison since it’s a DYRL type, has metal, and perfect transformation) cost more than double the MSRP of this toy (it was 14,800 Yen). The smoke/clear release was an exclusive but the colors are much less appealing so it doesn’t net out to being any more of a collectible than the regular release. There have been two releases:
TV SDF-1, March 2016, 7,000 Yen
Midnight TV SDF-1, January 2017, 7,000 Yen (before tax) MegaHobby Expo Exclusive
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (7.5/10)
For the scale this is a very good representation of the line art though there are a few glaring inadequacies. The most obvious problem is the length of the aircraft carriers. It really looks like someone took correctly sized aircraft carriers and then stretched them out making them too long and thin. This is particularly irksome in cruiser mode where the Prometheus can extend well beyond the rear of the craft. Some details also get lost at this scale. While the hulls of both aircraft carriers look very nice, it’s a shame their bridges are missing from the top. There’s some nice wash effect to make some of the panel lines pop out and some touches of painted on detail but it’s not hard to imagine there being more. Being so small, you may notice some missing details while the toy is in your hand but would be irrelevant once it were tucked away in a display case. The Midnight Smoke Clear drowns out many of the details by using clear plastic. The silver accent touches are nice and the scheme feels much more like a cross between TV and DYRL versions of the SDF-1.
Transformation works by way of disassembly, replacement of the core, and then reassembling on the new core with some actual transformation gimmicks in the main guns and arms. Parts-forming is lame and this score reflects that. When you actually have to go to the box and pull out mode-specific parts that’s even worse than just disassembling and reassembling in the new mode. Unfortunately, the way the head antenna attach isn’t very secure and when you bring the booms down in attack mode you’re likely to knock your antennae off which can be very frustrating (and God forbid you lose the antenna). While simple, the display stand with its base pivot and combination of ratcheting and friction joints works very well for what it is. At this scale there’s some details you shouldn’t expect and there are no surprises here;there are no moving gun turrets (other than the main rail guns on the shoulders), there’s no opening front door on the Daedalus, nor is there a removable leg piece that exposes the city.
Durability & Build: (6.5/10)
Just because this toy feels light and insubstantial doesn’t mean it’s prone to breaking. Indeed, the lack of weight may go a long way to increasing the longevity of the toy since nothing supports the arms in cruiser mode. This will become an attack mode only toy if the arms get sloppy on you at some point but, as of now, that doesn’t seem like a huge concern. The antennae, and the likelihood of losing them is a far more scary issue. You may feel inclined to glue them into position but then you’ll never be able to store the toy in the tray it came in again. The clear version makes it much more likely you’ll lose a piece.
The SDF-1 isn’t a particularly dynamic craft but this toy does a very good job in engineering the arms to allow quite a nice range of movement. The rail guns on the shoulders pivot. The legs can move forward and back. The feet have the ability to rock left and right so you can adopt a pose with the legs angled outward and have the feet lie flat on the ground. The feet don’t angle forward or back so you won’t get natural walking or punching poses. The main guns on the back can drop forward into the firing position. You won’t get those things you’re pretty sure the toy shouldn’t have anyway like knees or the ability to rotate the head.
Total Score: (31.5/50)
The low score here really should be considered in context with the scale. At a little over 20CM in each mode the toy is roughly 1/5800 scale so it’s very small. Many of those cool things you would want from a top notch SDF-1 toy simply do not work at this size. Given how rare a TV version SDF-1 is, collectors were hungry for this toy and it’s been well received thanks to its good looks. So, if you’re really looking for a TV SDF-1 your choices are between this and very old Takatoku toys that make much larger compromises than MegaHouse made. If you’re out shopping for the most fun toy you can get for your money, this is definitely not it. Below is a series of marketing photos.
Original Post: February 5th, 2017
Updated April 27, 2017, added Midnight Smoke Clear pictures.
Updated May 7, 2017, added Midnight Smoke Clear HD Video Review and content