[Alen Yen's ToyboxDX]

  March 26, 2002

first fell in love with Irongear as a kid, hooked by the almost unspeakably cheap knockoffs available in the toy aisles of any local drugstore in the mid-Eighties. I wanted a bigger version more than anything, but alas, there just weren't any to be found in my area. Over the next few years, I realized that there wasn't just one, but several larger versions of my transforming space battleship friend. One of them was large, nearly a foot tall, and 99% plastic. The other was smaller, roughly eight inches, but made up for the size deficit through sheer use of diecast metal parts.

This earth-shattering division of the Irongear toy world has tended to throw collectors into one of two camps. Realism-loving mech-heads gravitate towards the detail and proportions of bigger plastic version. Weight-craving diecast maniacs are drawn towards the chrome and metal content of the smaller one. And never the twain shall meet. Hey, wars have started over less. Well, feuds, maybe. Pouting matches? Whatever.

Irongear may represent lot of things to different collectors, but one thing it definitely isn't is a wussy. Even the tiniest, cheapest versions bristle with heavy weaponry. The decks are littered with "Battle of Midway"-style anti-aircraft turrets and multi-barreled heavy cannons. You can almost hear the salty deckhands shouting for supplies and medics as Irongear valiantly withstands a broadside of withering gunfire from the enemy.

Whatever form they might take. The sad fact is, I don't have a clue about Irongear's enemies. Hell, I don't have much of a clue about Irongear's friends. I know it involves something having to do with giant robots called "Walker Machines." But I've never seen so much as a single episode of the show Irongear hails from, an animated TV series called "Walker Machine Xabungle." So it remains a mystery to me as to why a futuristic flying battleship needs to defend itself with World War II style deck weapons, or what would require it to transform into one of the clunkiest robots in the history of Japanese anime. (In robot form, the woefully un-articulated Irongear not only lacks any sort of knees, but elbows. Or ankles, wrists, waist, neck.... you take the point.) In any event, none of these sordid details really matter, because the true fan is more than prepared to take the enigma that is Walker Machine Irongear at face value. It is an iron-plated badass with guns on the cuffs of its bellbottoms. Oh, the thought of Irongear raining yet another fusillade of richly deserved cannon-fire death on a screaming enemy batallion. . . It's the stuff robot-collector dreams are made of.

But enough of that. Let's take a look at what makes these two scales of Irongear tick.

With the single exception of metal content, the "DX Henkei Gattai Irongear" has everything an aspiring Irongear fetishist could possibly need. In fact, there's so much attention to detail that it's kinda hard to believe it's an actual Clover toy. Guess they were finally figuring things out. Just in time to go out of business.

It's got the rotating, elevating gun turrets. Aw, yeah. LOOK at those things! They're what Irongear is all about.

It's got the huge hangar for Xabungle in the chest. Check out that bay window, perfect for watching the stars on romantic moonlit nights. Break out the brandy snifters, Xabungle!

And it's got the smooth moves, slickly transforming into a surprisingly large "landship" (as the spacecraft mode is officially called). Apparently, it's more of an enormous hovercraft than airborne battleship. Or something.

And this is the single significant piece of metal in the whole shebang, which is apparently enough to get certain metal-loving collectors panties in a collective twist.

On the other hand, if you're looking for funk, the smaller-sized "Irongear Set's" got it in spades. A little lacking on the proportion front, but nice heft. The box is positively accessory packed, like a mini-Godaikin or something. And you've gotta love the giant sword, axe, and rifle, none of which Irongear ever seems to have actually used in the show. Ah, Clover...

Oh, no! Non-elevating foot cannons! What's an aspiring landship captain to do?

But check out the "Visible Man" style chest, allowing full view of Xabungle's hangar of love. Now THIS is a fiesta deck. Bust out the shuffleboard set! Too bad the damned door never stays closed.

Note the screw-driven elevator of death. I'm pretty sure the crewmembers hang out in Irongear's head to drive the ship, so I'm not sure why one would want to crush them by elevating Xabungle's entire torso through the floor. But it's a cool effect.

Waitasec, here's a trick the DX version can't handle! The seldom-seen "tank" mode.

And there you have it. Big-ass plastic or disco-tized diecast? You make the call. And in the meantime... You'll find me kicking back on Irongear's fiesta deck, balancing an umbrella drink on one of those ack-ack cannon emplacements.


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