Protocultural Artifacts: Sterling Family Reunion
Three facts about this photograph:
1) Thanks to SHADOW CHRONICLES, you’ve got three members of one family piloting mecha originally designed for three separate 1980s mecha shows. It almost makes me wish you could tack a fourth 1980s mecha show on beyond MOSPEADA/New Generation so you could call one of its female protagonists the third Sterling daughter and keep the chain going. I will say, putting Max and Miriya’s daughter from “Catastrophe” in the new animation was one of the few inspired moves the SHADOW CHRONICLES team made, and almost makes the Robotech.com-era official flip from Early Return to Late Return worth it. (Almost. Exiling Spangler & Eldred’s INVID WAR comics to “secondary continuity” hell is a blow that still stings over a decade later.)
2) The scale in this image is hilariously backwards. Based on the animation and model sheets, the Veritech Hovertank is a little less than half the height of the Valkyrie, while the Alpha’s supposed to be two thirds the height of its Variable Fighter predecessor. Of course, what we’re looking at here is an overpriced highly poseable action figure of the largest of the three and a transforming vehicle for a 3 3/4″ action figure of the smallest, with the GI Joe-style pilot chilling out on top; in a perfect world, I’d have scale collector’s figures of the two extremes to flank the Shadow Alpha, but one’s outside of my price range at the moment and the other is never going to be made in any of our lifetimes, ever, despite endless pestering of toy companies and internet petitions.
3) The chunky, clunky Matchbox-engineered and Playmates-produced Hovertank naturally gave me the least problems in posing for the camera, though it’s also the least posable overall, with jointing designed primarily for the transformation and lots of widely-spaced ratcheting joints that prevent subtle poses. I’m fairly certain I’ve documented the problems with Maia’s Shadow Fighter before. The head doesn’t settle into the neck groove well at all, making it a bit of a bobblehead. The Shadow Fighter gun is made for the original Shadow Fighter’s claw hand and doesn’t attach to its standard Alpha-style hand well at all. The elbow joint on the right arm doesn’t hold the extra weight of the gun very well either. Also, the legs simply don’t pose very well due to the way they’re constructed for transformation. Meanwhile, the GN-U Dou Valkyrie explodes at the slightest provocation; the body isn’t glued together at all and relies solely on friction to remain in one piece. I understand why it’s built that way; there’s jointing everywhere, and adding glue to the mix on the assembly line could very easily fuse one joint or another. However, it makes the toy frustrating to pose, since one tug too far causes Max’s blue VF-1A to crumble like one of the generic brown & whites. The two halves of the body just don’t hold together very well. This is why I hate toys-as-adult-collectables; they’re like anti-toys, designed to look like toys but not made to actually be handled and played with.
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