Searching for a perfect Arcadia (posted on behalf of SteveH)
So, thanks to a friend I got ahold of the Blue Arcadia from the TV series Space Pirate Captain Harlock, made by Taito as a game center prize. It’s pretty cool and I like it.
Ohhh, you think that’s all I’m going to say? Oh no, because I must write more. It;s expected of me.
If you think Capt. Harlock and the Arcadia (and sadly that’s not too many of you) you’re likely thinking of the ‘Green’ Arcadia, or Ol’ Skullnose, because that’s the one seen in most of the Harlock anime that’s made it over to American shores. Maybe you caught the Viz release of the Galaxy Express 999 movies, or the more recent Geneon release of the ‘Outside Legend’ OAV series, or *shudder* Harlock Saga from CPM (and if this DVD is your ONLY exposure to Capt. Harlock, well, I apologize.). But there is another Arcadia, the Real one in many fan’s eyes, the Arcadia as seen in 1978’s Space Pirate Captain Harlock.
1978 was a watershed year, with Star Wars erupting like a volcano and making everyone scramble to find something, ANYTHING to cash in on ‘space opera’. In Japan that burning need was answered by Space Battleship Yamato, reborn from it’s failure to capture mainstream hearts and minds back in ’74. Toei rose to the challenge and quickly whipped out Dangard A (robot in space), Starzinger (Journey to the West in space), Captain Future (um, a guy in space), Galaxy Express 999 (a train in space) and Space Pirate Captain Harlock (he’s a pirate. in space.) (note that 4 of those 5 shows were done by Leiji Matsumoto, while Captain Future only LOOKED like his stuff, kinda.)…the airwaves were thick with the sounds of SPAAACCE!
But the toy and model kit makers were also in transition. Yamato showed that realistic models of the ships from the show could be big sellers (for which Bandai should be more grateful), and the old style ‘play model’ build-your-own-toy was no longer the way to go. Realism was now a selling point.
Pity nobody told the two main sponsors of Capt. Harlock, Takara and Takatoku Toys. There’s no real clear defining of the role of those two companies, if pressed I’d say that Takatoku was doing mainly die-cast while Takara did mostly plastic items, and geared to the younger side of the age range. Takara also did plastic kits, hoping to cash in on the Yamato boom at the time.
It all never really went much of anywhere, because for all the hard work Studio Nue put into designing the Arcadia, it almost seems like nobody at Takara or Takatoku bothered to do more than glance at the establishment sheets!
Look at this thing! It’s the first Arcadia I bought, thru a friend, way back in 1982. Oh, it’s got a lovely funk to it, it’s chunky and heavy as all hell being I think 98% zinc. But it’s sooooo off model! And at that, it’s the BEST of the lot, looks-wise! This is all we had and we LIKED it!
Well, these things and over in Italy a company called ‘Atlantic’ whipped out some soft not-vinyl not-styrene soft squishy snap-kit tied to the Europe ‘Albator’ localization, but I’ve NEVER seen a pic of it, am not sure if it actually exists, and even if it does it’s probably horrible.
Forward to the late ’90s, and there’s some tiny interest in Captain Harlock again, with Jesnet releasing a polystone display model (under Matsumoto’s retcon idea of calling it ‘Deathshadow II) while Bandai’s game arm Banpresto whipped out a pair of deformed Arcadias, the Blue and Green, with wind-up motors for bathtub fun.
Later in the 2ks Aoshima cashed in by making a die-cast and ABS version of the Bandai 1/1000 scale Green Arcadia model kit, re-popped it under the ‘Outside Legend’ OAV branding, and then….decided to make the Blue Arcadia! I was STOKED! But I feared they would take the easy way and just use the Green Arcadia as a base, which they proceeded to do. And it’s not so good, to my eyes.
And then, in 2007, something odd and wonderful happened. arcade game manufacturer Taito decided to whip out some Space Pirate Captain Harlock toys as prizes for their game centers. Having had success with Galaxy Express 999 and Yamato items, it seemed a natural, and boy oh boy they pretty much hit it out of the park!
It’s almost 16 inches long, it’s made from styrene plastic and some PVC so if you want to take it apart and repaint it or modify it you CAN, but more than anything else, it’s got the look. Oh, I can nitpick, the body is a bit to ‘square’ and they used one of the more ‘off model’ establishment drawings for proportions and placements, but overall I give it a solid 95%, and it’s CHEAP, even now you can score it on Yahoo Japan auctions for under 3000 Yen on a regular basis.
Since I know Takara won’t suddenly decide to whip out a new model kit that’s more accurate, and Bandai won’t touch it at all, I’m content to finally have found the Arcadia of my youth….
(Steve-O also wanted to mention that Funimation has all of Space Pirate Captain Harlock subtitled and available for streaming and everyone needs to go there and WATCH IT.)