Valkyrie: The Origin

Posted by MattAlt 
MattAlt (Admin)


This month's issue of Figure Oh magazine features a really solid series of articles about the Takatoku Macross toys. It's written by Koji Igarashi, who authored the Green Arrow Graffiti guide to Chogokin and Popinika (among others). He managed to track down the guy who built that beautifully primitive-looking prototype Valkyrie that you see in early advertisements for the toy. (And before the more aggressive toy-hunters out there get their panties in a knot over this revelation, sorry: the prototype doesn't exist anymore.)

This very first Valkyrie wasn't actually created in-house at Takatoku Toys. The design was outsourced to a company called Watanabe Giken that handled prototyping for a variety of companies, including Takara and Popy. (They're still around but out of the prototyping biz now.)

The man who oversaw the project, Tetsu Watanabe, describes using hand-carved ABS plastic for "load bearing" portions, combined with carved resin for details. His company's experience working with Popy paid off on the Valkyrie prototype, which incorporated similar "click-joint" design as used in DX Popy pieces. (Watanabe Giken also prototyped the DX Sun Vulcan, Golion, and Dacougar, among others). Watanabe also prototyped the HCM Valkyries.

Another article deals with the transition of the Takatoku molds to Bandai via Matsushiro. Igarashi begins:

"In May of 1984, Takatoku Toys declared bankruptcy. As luck would have it, they were in the verge of releasing toys for the 'Macross: Do You Remember Love' theatrical feature. After Takatoku's bankruptcy, the molds for the 1/55 Valkyries were placed under the stewardship of the contracted manufacturer, Matsushiro. Matsushiro began manufacturing 1/55 Valkryies for the export market, but gradually slid into financial hardship themselves. Matsushiro sought to be acquired by a major toy company, and this became the connection between Bandai and the Macross series."

The article goes on to interview a Mr. Takayuki Morishima, who was at Popy at the time Bandai came to control the Macross stuff via the Matsushiro acquisition. At the time, the Macross stuff was only really selling abroad, via Matsushiro's exports. When Popy got ahold of the assets, however, they decided to revitalize the Macross series for the domestic market. Morishima says of the first release (the "Hi-Metal" Strike Valkyrie):

"Takatoku had already created blueprints and even a partial prototype of the Strike Valkyrie. We at Bandai used those as references to make the molds. At first there was talk of simply reissuing the Takatoku molds as-is, but as the movie was just about to open, it was decided to properly revamp the design. It was already so well designed I didn't want to add anything to the basic toy itself, but one area I did insist on was adding missiles to the wings... Another thing I did was to come up with a new canopy cover design. Even the Takatoku Super Valkyrie left the canopy as-is in Battroid mode, and I wanted to do something about that. That's how I came up with the idea of an insert that would be slid under the chest from below. We finished it just as the Strike went on sale and offered it in a giveaway campaign. It proved so popular that we actually included it with the VF-1A. As a side note, when we started discussing putting out the Hi-Metal version of the toy, it turned out that Matsushiro had a lot of leftover stock on hand. So some of the Strike Valkyries were shipped with Bandai stickers covering the Takatoku inscriptions. [That's really unthinkable now.] I break into a cold sweat just thinking about it."



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/30/2009 10:36PM by MattAlt.
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Wow, thanks for posting, and the translated highlights Matt!
Awsome info.
Thanks, Matt... I'm eagerly awaiting this issue to arrive in Singapore. :-)
Erik Sjoen (Admin)
Mine's waiting at Kinokuniya. Can't wait, this looks awesome!!
Wow, that proto Valkyrie is just amazingly crude yet sexy. I wonder how different things would be if that represented the actual toy? Would it have gotten as much love as it has over the years?

Nicely done, Matt, for bringing that to us. THAT is the kind of thing we need more of, that history. I really wish one of the key guys from Nomura Toy could be found, and discuss his conpany, the success and the failure and why the heck they seemed to have the Space Battleship Yamato license for under a year...
I took out my 2003 reissue of VF-1J and VF-1A (both Hikaru) and I still enjoy the heck out of them.

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I asked if I have "Time For L-Gaim" but I got "No Reply From The Wind".
Matt: Thanks for the article. There needs to be more coverage of this toy... by far the best transforming toy ever made, in my not so humble opinion.
It has to be the most bootlegged mecha toy, too.
No that's the Constructicon set. You ain't got game unless you can be found in an easter basket.
Rainbot: I couldn't agree more...I would go so far as to say that the Takatoku Valk is the BEST toy ever made...well it and all of it's Bandai bretheren...It looks great in all modes, is easy to transform, durable as hell, and strikes the right balance between funk and realism...So in other words...PURE LOVE!

And, oh yeah, thanks Matt for the great post...much love to you as well... okay I'll admit it I'm a little drunk...but who cares....



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/02/2009 05:36PM by fel9.
Yeah, it looks great in GERWALK mode when the arms are just sorta draped over the intake bulges because they can't fit normally.
MattAlt (Admin)
I actually kinda LIKE that approach! You know: let's make a TOY. Remember those? Products designed to be played with without breaking? DO YOU REMEMBER, LOVE?!
Anonymous User
SH1T Yeah! Takatoku, outta the park with the first try!

We don't need no steenking 2-point-ohs! Anything extra's just icing on the cake...
MattAlt Wrote:
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> I actually kinda LIKE that approach! You know:
> let's make a TOY. Remember those? Products
> designed to be played with without breaking? DO
> YOU REMEMBER, LOVE?!

Gamu would say it's really half-assed. And it is. Try to pose the arm like that and the whole thing gets unhinged.
Anonymous User
None of mine have had any issues with the shoulder assembly in GERWALK mode. I've had 5 or 6 various ones over the years, including Jetfire - and I also had a Joons knockoff - and none of 'em ever gave me any shoulder troubles in that regard.

I think the designers used the appropriate materials, thicknesses and tolerances. Maybe if you dropped it pretty hard in your family drive way, or the back patio, or on the concrete playground it might break. But that's the risk all kids take when they play with their really nice toys out on the playground!
What still impresses me is that Takatoku got that toy from cocktail napkin sketch to market in a matter of months, and you can hammer nails with it. Yamato has been making Valkyries for ten years and they still have problems.
Sanjeev (Admin)
I've definitely heard of early-generation 1/55 Valks having shoulder problems...and my Jetfire did as well. Bummed me the hell out when I was a kid. Anyway, I was told that, as of the ~2003 Bandai reissues, the internal mechanisms in the shoulders were redesigned to eliminate the problem.

I've got two of those era of reissues and I love the hell out of 'em. Now...any word on whether Bandai will reissue the VE-1 or VT-1...or make a VF-1D???
Sanjeev Wrote:
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>
> I've got two of those era of reissues and I love
> the hell out of 'em. Now...any word on whether
> Bandai will reissue the VE-1 or VT-1...or make a
> VF-1D???

And the whole congregation said, "Amen!" Hey, I'd settle for a reissue strike, but I really want the two seaters....I was very excited by the deal with Toynami, but Big West seems to be gumming up the works again...Now that I think about it I think it my brain wants to say Roger mentioned it somewhere...
>Yamato has been making Valkyries for ten years and they still have problems.


Cause Yamato ain't got no GAME. (unlike Takatoku which, conversely, did have game).
I want Bandai to reissue the Takatoku SDF-1.

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I asked if I have "Time For L-Gaim" but I got "No Reply From The Wind".
Anonymous User
Speaking of the Takatoku 1/3000 SDF-1 Macross:

Matt's translation of the article notes Watanabe's company's Popy work coming into play with some of the design elements of the Takatoku 1/55 Valk. I wonder if they were involved in the 1/3000's design as well? I think the ship is much more like a big DX/Godaikin toy - with its added landing wheels, missle launchers in opening compartments, tiny accessory ships, etc - than it is like Takatoku's other mecha toys.

Does anyone else see that similarity of style?
MattAlt (Admin)
The article mentions that Watanabe Giken also designed the Conversion Kit, 1/144 diecasts, some of the Arii kits. No mention of the SDF-1, but the prototype is posed next to the production model several pages later, which would seem to indicate it's still around. Takatoku execs intended for the SDF-1 to be the flagship item so it's entirely possible that one was handled in-house.

Another interesting detail involves package variations for the VF-1J. It proved so popular that Takatoku produced something like 200,000 of them in just two months, which put such wear and tear on the dies used to cut the cardboard windows on the box. You can tell what part of the process your toy was manufactured by looking at the shape of the cellophane window. This page has some clear shots of the variants.

Version one has a strip of cardboard extending between the legs and individual cut-outs for the head lasers:



Version two loses the strip between the legs, but retains the individual laser cut-outs. (No shot, sorry.)

Version three fills in the bit above the head lasers.



Version four has a little cut out above the head-lasers. This is basically the form all of the other boxes take.


Anonymous User
Matt, are you going to do a full translation of the article? It would really be appreciated...
MattAlt (Admin)
I don't think so -- there are a whole series of articles in there and besides the copyright issues (theoretically you can't run a full translation of something without the author/publisher's express permission), I'm busy with other projects. Happy to keep paraphrasing, though.
Anonymous User
MattAlt Wrote:
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> Happy
> to keep paraphrasing, though.

Please do! :-)
Freakin' awesome find Matt.

I sold a version 3 two years ago and I have a version 4.

Poor Robert. He's gonna go apeshit trying to find a version 1...

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Check out my website: www.zormaster.com
>He's gonna go apeshit trying to find a version 1...

Yes. But now I need all four variations... ; )
>I've definitely heard of early-generation 1/55 Valks having shoulder problems...

News to me. What are you referring to specifically? I have many TT and early Bandai 1/55's and none of them have shoulder problems. Well, one of them has a chip on its shoulder, but that's about it. (har har)
Sanjeev (Admin)
^ Whatever generation the Jetfire pieces came from.

Many kids who played with TFs back then (including myself) experienced the same kind of problem. It wasn't a defect...just a poor design that lead to the same sort of breakage: I forget the details, but the shoulder would come split apart and the parts making up the racheting mechanism would get all boogered up. Eventually, the arm would just fall off, leaving only the hinged shoulder plate with the long boss on which the shoulder would rotate.

I was told that whatever bad design lead to that problem was fixed in later releases. Now, I don't know if "later" refers to the later Bandai DYRL Valks from the 80's, or the 2000's Bandai reissues...
exploding shoulders in Valkyries? Who knew.
Bah, no. It's just the screw that holds in the ratcheting mechanism that unscrews itself after a while. The result is that the shoulder falls apart progressively.

From that point of view, Bandai really nailed the 'chunky' with the VF-25 and its broken shoulder screws...

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SilhouetteFormula.Net
Turns out the extra one I have been trying to sell is a version 1 that I picked up on eBay 7 years ago. Who knew?

I'll start the bidding at 1,000 hamburgers.

Robert? You can pay me next Tuesday if you want.

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Check out my website: www.zormaster.com
AcroRay Wrote:
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> None of mine have had any issues with the shoulder
> assembly in GERWALK mode. I've had 5 or 6 various
> ones over the years, including Jetfire - and I
> also had a Joons knockoff - and none of 'em ever
> gave me any shoulder troubles in that regard.

I think the key here is that you need to play the hell out of the toy for this to happen :)

Sure none of my TT's has ever had an arm fall off, but then again none of them had epic earth-shattering robo-battles with Shockwave like my Jetfire did when I was 13. And then his arm fell off.

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Check out my website: www.zormaster.com
Don't lie. That wasn't when you were 13...it was really just last week, wasn't it?

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[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
hillsy Wrote:
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> Don't lie. That wasn't when you were 13...it was
> really just last week, wasn't it?

Okay it was...

And it wasn't Shockwave it was really my cat, Megatron.

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Check out my website: www.zormaster.com
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