Review: Finally a modern Spartan toy!
Packaging & Extras: (3/5)
Like the other Hi-Metal R releases, this toy comes in a box adorned with nice Tenjin art. Of all the boxes so far, this is my least favorite piece of art, but it’s still a step above many other toy boxes out there. Also like previous Hi-Metal R releases, there is no flip-top collectors lid, the box is made of a very thin cardboard, and the goods inside are stored in a plastic tray. Here’s what you get besides the toy:
1) Club for beating bad guys
2) 4x fixed-posed hands (L/R open, L/R club grip)
The instructions are matte paper and feel pretty cheap. The club is a cool touch. A set of articulated hands would have been cool. All said, there’s not a lot beyond the actual toy here to get you excited about your purchase. Bandai should have encouraged army building by including replacement red doors with the numbers ‘1’ and ‘3’ on them… unless that big 2 is a reference to MKII.
Charm & Collectability: (2.5/5)
This score is low based on the fact that the destroids are decidedly unsexy… even when someone makes a really good toy out of them. Is this bound to be a hot collector’s item some day? Maybe, but doubtful. It took Yamato going out of business and some years before their 1/60 destroid toys were collector’s items and even so they don’t collect the same premium as the valkyries. Destroids don’t transform but this one does have loads of fun features and internal metal mechanisms that give it nice heft and play value. Will we see a blue or red repaint? I doubt it but obviously I’d like to see it happen. Fun fact, in Battletech the Spartan is known as the “Archer” and in Robotech the Spartan was called the “Gladiator”. The one release we have so far hit shelves in May 2017 with an MSRP of 6,800Yen.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
There are a couple items here that I would expect to be translucent plastic on a larger version of the toy. That said, the fact that most details are tampo printed on the toy is really cool. The detail work throughout is phenomenal and the toy does a great job balancing the thin schematic drawings with the chunkier animation renderings. There are no pilot areas so there’s no cockpit detail to discuss but the doors are molded in the right places.
Given the scale, this toy is truly impressive in the gimmicks department, some of which I’ll cover here and more in the articulation section. The most obvious and cool gimmicks are the doors that open to reveal more weapons. You get the shoulder doors that open to reveal missiles and the center red door opens to reveal a huge gun. In both cases, opening the door also slides the weapon forward which is a very cool touch. The one controversial aspect to is probably better covered in the articulation section but it involves the waist. On some previous models and toys, the waist pivot was located at the black line near the center of the toy. This meant that the round area on top of that black line would spin with the torso. On this toy, the round areas above the black line are stationary and the pivot point is above them. Given the shape of the torso, it seems like maybe this is accurate, but I can’t say for sure. The fixed posed hands pop off and attach well and do a good job holding the club. What don’t you get? There is no pilot or pilot compartment and no opening doors on top or from behind for said department.
Durability & Build: (8/10)
From a build perspective this toy feels fantastic. The metal looks to be in all the right places and if we go a while without word of failures I might raise the score here. I did find the lack of a place to pop open the red door combined with the fact the door is actually painted black plastic to be a recipe for scratches. I already have a little paint coming off my door. It doesn’t help that the paint didn’t seem to be perfectly smooth there to begin with. I didn’t encounter any other reasons for durability concern and it’s easy to see all that quality metal in the joints you might otherwise be worried about.
I never knew a Spartan toy could be this much fun. It doesn’t score higher because there are plenty of awkward areas. That might not be entirely fair though since the nature of the destroid probably meant it wasn’t intended to be super dynamic. There are a few gimmick bits of articulation worth noting. The little sensor under the ‘nose’ rotates and the guns on the back of the ‘head’ rotate and pivot. All the weapon bay doors open/close. The arms rotate all the way around though range of motion, particularly at the elbows could have been better. Articulated hands would have also been a plus. There’s an extension gimmick in the torso that is a bit gratuitous but I’d always rather see too much than not enough. The waist rotates and the hips have an extension gimmick that gets you past the waist for rotating the legs and getting some running positions. You’ll still find yourself needing to fiddle with those hips and angle them on their ball joints for numerous poses. The knees have an extension that provides for additional range of movement. The foot is on a hinged ball joint that swings down and forward. The ball joint connects at the heel and there’s a hinge allowing the toe to move up and down independently of the heel. A better solution, perhaps on a bigger toy, would have also been to provide a rotation point at the connecting hinge so the toe could be angled a bit separately from the heel. At the end of the day, you can and will have a lot of fun posing this toy which is pretty cool for something that has always seemed so rigid in toy and model form.
Total Score: (39.5/50)
It’s toys like these that make me love the HMR line, in fact, this toy scores just as high or higher than the VF-1 toys. The Spartan isn’t a design I have a lot of love for so it’s more impressive to me that I enjoyed it this much. My biggest complaint was that red paint scratching on the door that conceals the cannon… seems that door could have been a lot easier to open or made of red plastic. For those of you concerned about scale, like many other toys in the HMR line, the Spartan is a little over-sized at about 13.5CM tall when in its smallest form (nothing extended). This puts it at 1/84 scale which is “close enough” with the 1/89 scale of the VF-1. The HMR line currently spans from 1/80 to 1/100 scale depending on the vehicle. Most of these discrepancies in the toy sizes can be explained away as trying to compromise between officially listed sizes and the depiction in the anime. If you haven’t hopped on the HMR boat yet, you’re missing out. If you’re not outright opposed to the Spartan design for some reason, definitely consider picking one up.