text: Robert Duban & Matt Alt
Like a movie that is premiered, then makes its way to a second-run theater, then to video, then to cable, then finally to network television where you find yourself watching it because "Riptide" isn't on in prime-time any more, Japanese toys occasionally have extended lives beyond their original releases. The "Big Bear" toys are a case in point. They are modified versions of the Popy ST Dairugger XV toy, the very same one that U.S. company Matchbox sold in America as merchandising for the "Voltron" animated series. What isn't widely known is that this Dairugger toy received a second lease on life in its home country as well.
Whether due to overstock, or simply a managerial decision to move more toys, this version of the toy (which featured disabled rocket-punch launchers) was repackaged and sold under the unusual brand name of "Big Bear". Oddly enough, there are at least two distinct packaging variations for this otherwise totally obscure re-release.
Although the toys packaged therein are obviously "ST," the box copy screams "DX Gokin" and "DX Chogokin." Just to run the point home a bit further, it also trumpets that the toys are "himitsu heiki" -- "secret weapons" -- which is even more amusing, considering that they're something that had been on the shelves before. Intriguingly, the "P" logo found on Popy's Victora and Robin outings also appears on the boxes.
The packages featured (somewhat ill-conceived) additional accessories. One featured a toy gun, while the other contained what appears to be a kid-sized police notebook.
It isn't exactly clear what Bandai intended to do with the "Big Bear" brand name, as it doesn't appear to extend to any other toys in their oeuvre. In any event, it would appear that the 'Big Bear' went into permanent hibernation after these two toys were released.