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Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Robot invaders continued - Robotech Defenders & BattleTech

Revell tried to wrap a story around these unconnected lines of model kits with DC Comics release of a pilot comic book (to test the water) running 3 issues, entitled “Robotech Defenders” to boost sales, but it had such a poor reception (and sales) after the first issue that the second issue included the third and final part of the story and even boasted 32 pages with NO ADS!

An other cohort in this reconnaissance force that came from America was in the from of the FASA Corporation's table-top wargame “BattleTech”, it too repackaged Japanese model kits from Dougram, Crusher Joe, and Macross to sell under its franchise. The game itself took many Japanese mecha designs to fill its universe of 32nd century combat, and by 1986 had successfully released the first “BattleTech” novel, (and to date there are over 100 novels published). [more on BattleTech at a later date]

[I recall scrutinising these transfers (semi transparent stickers, that added detail to a finished model) that came with this model kits that had Japanese writing, and the odd cartoon like characters pictures!]
As a fan of Science Fiction I used to subscribe to a British magazine from my local newsagent called “Space Voyager”, about 1984 – 1986, (dates need checking as I cannot find my old issues)  [Now see update below], the magazine was devoted to science fiction and science fact (the space program), including movies, and TV shows, and their Special effects that were mostly scratch built models, also games and art. There were lots of photos and art, even some in colour.
I can vividly remember a back cover of one of these magazines having a colour photograph of one of these giant robotic war machines with cannons instead of arms, and inside was a full page advert from a company callled 'Taylor & McKenna' importing Japanese robot (Mecha) kits made by Imai & Ban Dai, my eyes widened looking at something so cool (now a bit geeky), with wonderful names like Destroid Tomahawk, Tactical Pod Glaug, Nousjadeul Ger, and Armored Valkyrie these kits all had the Logo of “Macross” my curiosity was now peaked!

[Update, it is now 25\07\2017 and I have managed to buy 4 issues of 'Space Voyager' from a nice chap in Dublin, numbers 6,7,8, and 17 (these were just on the off chance that they had photos of Robot model kits within their pages, as I had only seen the front covers). I can now add some dates and photographs\scans.]

Space Voyager magazine looks to have started in 1982 and was a quarterly for the first 4 to 5 issues, until 1983 when it went to a bimonthly (6 issues a year), by the middle of November (1983) issue 6 (December 1983\January 1984) was on sale, With soon to be well known shop that to this day, still specializing in Science Fiction & Fantasy ephemera! Other prominent adverts that are of interest are a full page ad. From Taylor & McKenna, Jones Models (of Chiswick, London), HARROW The model Shop, and importers AMERANG (Sussex). 1983\1984 was indeed a year of Japanese Giant Robots....
Issue 6 of the British magazine 'Space Voyager' 1983.

The Sheffield Space Centre Ad. 1983.

Taylor and McKenna Ad. 1983

Model shops Ads. (sadly closed down many years ago).

AMERANG Ad. 1983

Issue 7 of the British magazine 'Space Voyager' (February\march 1984).

Now with issue 7, you had a full colour back cover of the 'Destroid Tomahawk' from Macross a Japanese cartoon, built and photographed by Steve Archibald and what a joy it was to find this magazine again! As with many niche magazines sales and costs kept most of its pages Black & White, and in the small print of the Contents Page “new range of Macross robot models from Japan, - See p57 for more details”.

What you would not fail to miss is a double page spread (Pages 10-11) entitled 'MACROSS – We look at the latest plastic kit craze from japan'.

The article states that “Macross is currently a big cartoon series in Japan. Set in the future the adversaries battle it out for control of the World using a wide variety of machines.” - This is not the case, the 40 foot plus tall mechanical robots are with their pilots to fight against Alien Invaders called Zentradi, and the conflict would soon move to space for most of the series.
I do agree that “As these are War machines, the technique used should be the same as painting something like a WW2 tank.”, and I could image a gritty future for these bipedal War machines, as these models were a Science Fiction breakthrough at the time, nothing quite like them had been seen in the UK, but as model kits the article also states that “These kits could also prove extremely useful when scratch-building space craft models.” and with regards the Macross Factory kit (1/100th. scale) “ There is a wealth of bits and pieces in this kit alone and scratchbuilders will have no difficulty in incorporating them into other even more exotic creations.” so I do not (in retrospect) see the enthusiasm for these NEW SF models kits?! 

Beatties hobby& model shops across the UK in the early 1980's

Another advert that featured the the magazine Space Voyager in the early 80's issues, was for the chain of hobby and model shops 'Beatties', such was the enjoyment of model making at the time.

I was on the lookout for toys, model kits, and Video tapes from these new cartoons.

[Having this weekend (30\06\2013) just found a despatch latter from 'Taylor & McKenna' dated 2nd. July 1984 informing me that my 'Armoured Valkyrie and Macross figure character set is on its way!]

 [NOTE: Crusher Joe Mecha as Battletech Kits:- the “Galleon” Tank  (kept its name for Battletech); the robot scout walker “Ostall” (scaled-up and renamed the Locust for Battletech); the “Harpy” space fighter(Battletech Samurai aerospace fighter ); and the “Siren” space fighter (Battletech Corsair Aerospace Fighter).]

[NOTE: In issue 17 of Space Voyager that was on sale in September of 1985, there were NO advertisements of Robot model kits, nor model shops selling SF models, how odd..!]

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