2.7.01: Paradise Lost
We'll never know all the wonderful thoughts that have passed thru the heads of toy designers over the years, or have suffered brutal rejection at the hands of management. But from time to time we get a glimpse of what might have been. Here are just a few ideas that never saw the light of day.
- Drill Spazer and Marine Spazer were rumored accessories for SoC Grendizer that never left the drawing table. The concepts looked great: rubber treads, retracting drills, and articulating outrigger arms. Was the TFO a consolation prize?
- Poor Battle Tank is always bumming a ride from Battle Marine. SoC Combattra ended up with plastic snap-on arms to haul the flightless tank, but some early concepts showed retractable arms integrated within Combattra's legs. Also considered were SRiA-like Chodenji Yo-Yo beams, and rocket punch action with a variety of fist weapons. Too much to stuff into one tiny package?
- Remember the once ubiquitous Big Scale sentai transport toys? Plex, the company that designs a lot of Bandai's merchandize, developed a transport vehicle for the American incarnation of Kakuranger. Shaped like a whale, concepts were generated to carry Kakure Dai Shougun both as component mecha and assembled robot. Bad sales that season, Bandai?
- Yet unreleased SoC Daiku Maryu has a flip-up lid to contain the robotic payload in his belly, but an early design shows a retracting, three-shelf tray that drops down from below. When open, it looks like the jaw of Daiku's lower mouth has hit the ground in cartoony way. Great mechanicals, but it sure would be tough to get to your miniature Nessar.
Material adapted from Roman Album Hyper Mook #10.
2.6.01: Practically Perfect In Every Way
Looks like Bandai has pushed back the release date of Gundam FIX #0002 : Perfect Gundam to April. Like the previous Full Armor Gundam released on January 25th, the Perfect Gundam will feature removable armor, incredible detailing and ABS plastic + PVC composition. The price will be 2980 yen. What's neat about this one is that the base toy will be a standard colored Katoki version Gundam....
[Note: Terry also tells us that FIX #0003 and #0004 are rumored to be a Gundam Blue Destiny and the Superior Gundam from Gundam Sentinel, respectively. ]
-- Terry Horikiri
2.5.01: Color CONFUSION!
There's dissent in the ranks! An employee post on Yamato's BBS stated that the upcoming "fastpack" versions of the Valkyries would be produced in colors based on the VF-XII videogame.
However, the CURRENT official take on the situation is that the "fastpack" versions of the Valkyries will appear in their official Macross Plus colors FIRST, with other color-schemes to potentially follow later. Stay tuned for ever-changing updates. :)
2.5.01: Original Sin
Nothing's cooler than having a fresh, new, high-quality Hero Robot design to lust over. These days, fan produced "original robots" are popping up on Japanese web sites that could've easily emerged from the graphite-stained sweatshops of Sunrise studios.
Whether they're created to fuel online RPG's, doujinshi (homebrew manga), or simple papercraft, some of this stuff is fantastic, and shouldn't sit in the shadows.
Of particular interest is Yanagi-san's Super Maneuverable Robo GLIVER-V, a Combattra / Voltes-V concept homage with a modernized design and a few tricks of its own. Like its robotic inspiration, it splits into five components, but those components have individual robot forms.
And, don't miss Gliver's paper counterpart, available in both ST and DX versions.
While you're out shopping, check out some of Y-SYstem's original robot designs and other eye-candy. Gaileon is especially nice. See his gallery of character updates, too.
[Yappy: Gaileon is a fusion of Getta three-way transformation and Eldoran animal robot funkiness! Brillant!]
2.4.01: Final Fusion!
Medicom has released final prototype pictures of their upcoming Gaogaigar and Gaofaigar Kubrick sets. As we mentioned a couple of months back, each Super Robot will disassemble into its respective core robot (Gaigar and Gaifar) and component Gao-Machines. Both sets will include extra-large Goldion Hammer accessories. These are due in April for Y2480 each. Darren's already giddy as a school-girl...
2.4.01: Action Go-Nagai-Kin
I have finally consigned my ridiculous Gucci Mazinger to the back of the shelf. This week I was fortunate enough to FINALLY obtain an Action GoKin Great Mazinger in the PROPER colors. So I thought, well, I might as well do something to commemorate this occasion. Action GoKin Hero Robot Retrospective, ON!
The AGs, well, they're articulated, but they really can't be posed. Leg articulation on these fellers is pretty much limited to plane articulation at the hips and knees, save for Getter 3, who's got, well, he's got that chic beggar-accessory wheelcart action going on. They all have shoulders and elbows, and hands pop off to be replaced by other pop-off hands. Wheeee!
Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger have removable Pilder and Brain Condor, and G-M has his Scramble Dash, but no Scrander for the venerable Z. Mazinger Z looks a wee bit skinny, actually, but Great Maz is proportioned very nicely. The bros are somewhat in scale, with G-M a wee bit taller.
The Getters (all 6, er, 5- Original and G's) are really nice...except for the notable absence of Poseidon. Getter One is fun, mainly because he needs to lose a little bit of weight round the waist.
The coolest thing, i think, about the A-G super robots, are the colors. Spectacular. And the diecast content is, in my own words from a rumble many months ago, SATISFYING. I sure hope Banpresto continues this series, and makes them EASIER TO GET. They sure look great on the shelf. More high-quality toy crack is always welcomed by this Analyst.
2.3.01: We See Your True Colors
It's official! Yamato Toys has announced that ALL of the upcoming "fastpack" versions of their transforming Valkyrie toys (the YF-19, YF-21, and VF-11, for those keeping score) will be released in color schemes based on their appearance in the VF-XII videogame -- and not as they appeared in the Macross Plus animated series.
Unfortunately, the "fastpack" Super Armor parts aren't backwards-compatible with previous versions of the toys, so it's unclear as to when (or if) we'll ever see "fastpack" versions of the Valkyries in their Macross Plus color schemes. Oh, the humanity.
Look for the trio to be released sometime this fall.
2.2.01: AFFE 2001
Heads-up! A time and place has been announced for the next Asian Fantasy Film Expo. What does this have to do with toys, you ask? Well, here's what last year's AFFE had to offer:
1) A big dealers room stocked with loads of Japanese robot and kaiju toys.
2) A presentation from Nobuhiro Arai of Bandai Japan's Character Toy Division, who not only gave us the scoop on the upcoming SOC Gaiking but also provided a glimpse of the 2000 Ultraman line for the first time.
3) The American premiere of Dark Soldier D, soon to have its own toy line from Kaiyodo and recently picked up by Bandai Entertainment for a domestic release.
4) The first and (so far) only exclusive toy manufactured for an American event by Bandai Japan: the Crystal Gamera, limited to 1000 pieces.
5) Fun, fun, fun!
AFFE 2001 promises to be even bigger and deffer than last year's show, and buzz has it that multiple toy exclusives are being planned. So check out the AFFE web site and mark your calendars!
2.2.01: The King Cometh
A little pic of GaoKing from the 2001 Bandai New Character Exhibition.
2.1.01: But What's Its I.P.O.?
Forget all the rumors, mis-translations, and speculation you might've heard before...
His name is Gradion. He is a WebKnight. He is Takara's "New Hero". Cross the magical gate into the world of the WEB DIVERS and join him. (Not "wave riders," no siree... that's a misnomer) All you have to do is plug Gradion into your TV's "Video In" jack, and you're there.
You see, Gradion is a video game. Gradion, the toy robot, is the game, a console... all in one. There's even a built-in control pad on its back. You simply supply the TV. When you transform Gradion into a locomotive, you watch him transform on-screen, through wonderful 3D CG graphics. In the game, he'll fight as whatever mode the toy is currently transformed. Yes. You can fight as a laser-blasting train.
Stand Gradion in front of one of his ally robots ... that robot's stat card will come up on the TV screen via a wireless infrared connection. Transform the robot into a weapon and attach it to Gradion ... Gradion will gain use of that weapon in the video game.
It's bringing the virtual reality integration of video media and toys to the next level. Moreso than even "My Interactive Pooh." It's Sasuraiger's great-grandchild. It's everything Dendoh wanted to be. It's everything Laserion and Gridman prophesized. Well, almost... but it's a genuine revolution.
Gradion will be here in late April, but his four friends will arrive first in March. And of course, a cartoon will debut with the toy line's release. Now it's clear why this simple, transforming train is priced over $100.
-- Darren & Yappy
Since Slime Molds has spilled the beans, it's clear the information has gotten to the public at large. Thus, it is safe to announce ...
The next major Unifive Cho Shin Gokin toy will be none other than the original Gatchaman God Phoenix.
There. We said it. Happy now?
1.31.01: Deus ex Machina
We all remember the hundreds of little cheap-crack Machine Robo toys from the 80's, don't we? [Yappy: psst...Gobots...psst] Look for a mini-revival on Feburary 28 when five items from the Machine Robo GP line are released.
Why not? Everything else is seeing second life. These will be sold as gashapon toys for 200 yen apiece.
1.31.01: Takara's New Big Wave
Wow! There's a lot more to Takara's new line than just four toys! They are really taking their new franchise seriously. We have plenty of new henkei and gattai toys, vinyls, game electronics integration, and some will interact with each other and your TV like Captain Power (if you remember that show).
It looks like Gradion is the "King Cheese" of the new series. Some of the smaller toys may combine with him or act as his weapons a la Dendoh. The "Dendoh Formula" is getting to be quite popular in Japanese toydom, especially in light of the way GaoRanger is developing.
Strong rumor is that these toys will see a US release, and might comprise (or might have been the basis of the rumors surrounding) the speculated TransTech toy line.
If you want to see the latest, pop on over to Image Anime for a smorgasboard of pics! (Look for Wave Rider.)
They may just be glorified PVC prize toys, but god help me, I can't stop playing with Banpresto's Magnet Robo SD Gundam set. Check out the Yappy Variations: Gundam Triple Lambda, Gundam MD40-40, and AMC Pacer Gundam! Yes, they feature interchangeable magnetic parts with roughly Magnemo-8-sized ball bearings.... Whee!
Unfortunately, these "premium" prize toys aren't being distributed along with the usual plethora of Banpresto goods. Check for them in your local Chinatown (if you have one), or hit places that stock other Banpresto premiums, like Action Gokins... WHEE!
1.30.01: Wave Rider Hero
Takara's "New Hero"? Will it be a new Transformer line? A new Brave line? Most likely, it will be a new direction all together.
All questions will be answered soon -- at the Tokyo Toy Fair, if not sooner. In early April, look for four new Takara "WAVE RIDER" toys ... Garuen, Sharkeon, Jaguar, and Griffion. Each are three-way transforming toys, and can convert between a weapon, vehicle, and animal mode. Pictures soon!
Actually, we're not certain the name is "Wave Rider", due to Japanese phoneticization. It could be "Web Rider", or "Wave Driver", etc. Anyway, you'll figure it out.
Wave Rider #01: Jaguar -> Weapon -> Race Car
Wave Rider #02: Shark -> Weapon -> Hovercraft
Wave Rider #03: Griffon -> Weapon -> Jet Aircraft
Wave Rider #04: Dragon -> Weapon -> Pirate Ship(?)
1.30.01: 100% Faux Excalibur
In case you missed the addendum below, here's a TBDX-powered, hypothetical mock-up of the VF-19 Excalibur repaint. And since Matt begged and begged for it, here it is in fighter mode.
-- Yax and Yappiria
1.30.01: Flight Delays
Yamato sez that the upcoming "improved versions" of their bestselling YF-19, YF-21, and VF-11B with "fastpack" armor won't start hitting shelves 'till this fall at the earliest. (And don't worry -- the release of the standard edition of the VF-11B is still scheduled for spring.)
Additionally, the new-and-improved YF-19 will "put priority on the Fighter mode," according to Yamato's staff. Planned revisions include a new paint-scheme based on the YF-19 seen in the Digital Mission VF-X videogame, re-designed front landing gear, and the inclusion of a small hinged cover-unit inside the shoulder-armor.
[Yappy: It'll probably be repainted as the VF-19 Excalibur. Here's an advanced tactical exosensory Toybox simulation.]
-- Linn Min-Matt
1.29.01: Generic King
Even the most diehard Super Sentai fan will admit that the twenty year old genre is running out (or has long run out) of fresh ideas. An interview with Bandai executives on Asahi's website reveals the main robot from 2001's Gaoranger and the fact that Bandai has taken recycling to an art form.
Gaoking, formed from five "Power Animals," is a near-postmodern composite of elements from Gingaman's Chousoukou Gingaioh, Ohranger's Ohranger Robo, Kakuranger's Kakure Daishogun, and Liveman's Live Robo. Since Sentai's target audience is between ages four to six, those viewers probably won't even remember robots from as recently as 1998. Insidious!
-- Yappy & Matt