||Motorized Mobile Suit
A nearly 13-inch tall Gundam toy with light up-eyes, light-up beam sabre, and motorized movement and sound, planned by a Japanese company, produced by an American company, manufactured in China that comes in a box with light-up pictures that talk to you about the features of the toy inside. And what exactly am I smoking, you ask?
Nothing. But this toy is smoking. The Thinkway Interactive Gundam and Interactive Zaku both really exist, and can be found at Toys R Us for roughly $70.
As the U.S. Gundam train chugs on, all kinds of stuff is flooding the shelves. And many toys are, surprise, not completely Americanized. Some bear the strong mark of Japanese design sensibilities.
Thinkway Toys made its first strong shelf showing with the original large electronic Buzz Lightyear toy. Although Mattel acquired the Pixar licenses years later, Thinkway's rendition of Buzz set the tone for all Toy Story toys to follow. Their interactive sets, from the Star Wars Episode 1 dueling Jedis (hyped, but clearly great) to the Toy Story interactive Buzz & Woody set (HIGHLY underrated), each of their subsequent sets shows technical improvement.
The packaging is really something. All of Thinkway's interactives up to this point have been packaged in window boxes with toy demo access. Since this toy can't be demo'd in the box, they wired the box. A press of the demo button starts music and voice describing what the toy can do. A film strip of photos down the side lights up in the order of the narration. This is hella cool.
Now, with such a cool box, you certainly won't just be ripping it apart and tossing it out, right? Well, curse you collector, because this toy is packed in such a way as to make removal a trip through the inner circles.
You know twist ties? Well, you ain't seen nothin. Double the gauge of regular twisties, these are coated with extra thick plastic. And not twisted, but tied. Into knots. And the loops of the knots are then twisted. All I can say is, whoever is sitting in the factory doing this should immediately be placed on China's Olympic team doing men's gymnastic rings, cause they must have forearms of steel.
Further, the toy is sandwiched between two layers of plastic tray. With a second set of twist ties. Additionally, the toy and the base are wired to the box by tiny plug-in interfaces that must be unplugged before the twist ties are untwisted. What's the best way to get it out? Meditate until you don't care about the box, and rip it to shreds. Otherwise, come armed with wire cutters.
It's a nice looking toy with a lot of presence. no decals or paint detail (except the face) but very good coloring. Bright anime colors and proportions. The planning by Japanese company Megahouse is obvious, and no doubt accounts for the better-than-average (though hardly Gunpra-level) sculpt. A Japanese release, which sells for about double, might appeal to diehards who want to hear Amuro speak his native tongue.
The toy is also a very poseable figure, considering there are motors and lights inside. VERY articulated. The two most noticeable limitations are:
1) The shoulder swing - pretty much loose since that's where they actuate. But, they do twist, and can be extended out.
2) The hip: every degree of motion (twist, splay, knee, ball-jointed ankle, etc) is there on the leg except hip swing. Looking closely, I can see what appears to be a swing joint. But there's a small peg of plastic extending upwards into the torso that restrains that joint. I'll probably go ahead and remove it once I'm sure it won't affect the animation. I'm guessing that the forcefulness of the sabre-swinging motion must knock over the toy, resulting in this design retrofit.
And it does move with some speed. The toy comes with numerous warning labels all over it saying the same thing: "Don't hold close to your face." I'll assume the Japanese version comes with the same warning, on the instructions page perhaps, but not brightly colored labels plastered all over the toy. First order of business: remove them.
But even with the hip and shoulder limitations, it's remarkably poseable for a motorized toy. The leg issue is softened by the fact that the rest of the leg is so jointed. Just look at that dynamic pose, with no hand support. Same with the arms. The motorized Daitetsujin 17 should be so limber.
Standing alone, the eyes light up, the beam sabre (permanently attached to the right hand) lights up, and the head, waist, and arms go through pre-programmed routines, and some Amuro dialogue is spoken. Technically it's the left arm that's actuated, so you'd put the sabre through both hands to get that slashing motion. A huge shield is included and can be held, attached to arm, or attached to back. A small button on the backpack starts the motions. Holding the button down for a few seconds launches an extended routine.
The toy can be attached to the base, which adds more sound effects and motion routines, and swivels around to simulate changing stance.
And, if you have the Zaku, the bases can be connected and the toys will go through preprogrammed routines that complement each other.
The RX78 is hard to find, but Zakus are plentiful. I initially passed on the Zaku, since I thought the axe and rifle were permanently affixed to its hands. But according to the guide, they are removable. In fact, I had no intention of getting the Gundam, until I saw the size of it, and saw that it was a very poseable figure that comes off of its base, but remains motorized. At roughly 12.5 inches it stands well above the large GP01 & GP02. And yes, that's a *1/48* V Gundam in the background. It's big, folks.
Since I've pretty much given up on R/C Zaku, I guess this'll have to be my motorized Gundam. A least take a look at this item, I think it's pretty cool.