Yamato Model Kits By Bandai

Part 2: the Comeback

Although the excitement had begun to build well ahead of the Space Battleship Yamato movie’s premiere on August 6, 1977, licensors maintained a wait-and-see-attitude. But when the boom sounded, they were quick to react. It took Bandai three months to release their first movie-related kit, but it was just as revolutionary as Yamato‘s comeback.

Space Battleship Yamato “Deform Display Model” (Nov 1977)

Deciding that the poster image was the most universal, they matched it in 3D with a forced-perspective design that tapered off in the back. All you had to do was view it from the front and you had the illusion of something much bigger. It would be almost another year before fans got the authentic Yamato model they were hoping for, but this was a welcome stop along the way. It would also have the benefit of keeping Bandai afloat at a time when its competitors were still far ahead.


A month after Bandai captured new attention with the Deform Display Yamato model, they brought back their Cosmo Zero and Black Tiger kits from exactly three years previously (December ’74) with all-new box art.

On the other hand, the newness stopped at the packaging. They came with the same spring motors and wheels that would roll them across a tabletop. Because that’s way better than flying, right? Doubtless most fans just left that part in the box.

Bandai came up with an interesting promotional piece for all three of their 1977 models, a lenticular image card showing the Deform Yamato in its own version of the movie poster. This may have been offered as an incentive item in hobby shops.

Space Battleship Yamato gold version (March 1978)

After all this time, there were still only two Yamato model kits available: the windup motor version from December 1974 and the “Deform Display” version from November 1977.

This followup was substantially resculpted to replace the much-despised windup motor with a proper third bridge and the plastic was coated in a golden-bronze finish. It also included a tiny Analyzer and two fighters, like those in the 1974 model.

It was definitely a step up, but still only a prelude to what would become a wildly successful breakout year for Bandai.

Continue to part 3

2 thoughts on “Yamato Model Kits By Bandai

  1. Any chance anyone there would have a copy of the instructions for the Yamato Deformed display kit? It looks like there were several boxings with different numbers. Any help would be appreciated!

    • I suggest posting that question at our Facebook page, or one of the other Yamato Facebook pages. Lots of model collectors out there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *