DX DenLiner Gouka
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Ryoutarou Nogami is perhaps the most unlucky person in the world. Everywhere he goes, he unintentionally gets into trouble, or bad things always happen to him. He seems fated to a life of despair and constant injuries regardless of how he tries to push through with a good heart. But when he picks up a lost Rider Pass off the ground- the key to summoning the time-traveling train DenLiner- his life becomes even more confusing! He learns that monsters from the future, called Imagin, have traveled to the present in order to change the past and conquer everything afterwards. The only one who can match and stop them is a Singularity Point- a being that can exist outside of time itself, and can resist the temptations of the Imagin. With support of the tomboyish-but-lost Hana-chan, and the impulsive and aggressive turncoat Imagin Momotaros to help him, Ryoutarou reluctantly uses his Rider Pass to become the defender of our present and past- Kamen Rider Den-O!
“The train of time, DenLiner. Will the next station be in the past? The future?”
--opening narration from “Kamen Rider Den-O” (2007)
The DenLiner is a passenger train that travels through the great desert of time, operated by the mysterious, time-knowledgeable Owner. Only with a Rider Pass can someone board it, and they can reach the DenLiner when they step through any door at the matching hour, minute, & second in a day (ex: 12:12:12). Although in Ryoutarou’s case, as a Singularity Point he was also given special access to the Den-O System so that he could henshin (“transform”) into Kamen Rider Den-O. After determining the time in the past that the Imagin has flown to, Den-O sets a new destination of the DenLiner for that specific time and place. But sometimes, after Den-O has already destroyed an Imagin, it will go out of control- losing its perspective and forgetting its mission to destroy time- and will dramatically change and grow into a much larger Gigandeath monster, which average the size of a large office building. When this happens, Den-O takes direct control of the DenLiner using the Machine DenBird motorcycle as a control interface, separating it from the main passenger cars so that their occupants are not injured, and taking it directly into battle. Then, DenLiner Gouka is activated- the four forward segments (including the train engine) opening up to become large artillery platforms to destroy the Gigandeath.
The DenLiner is styled after a modern-day bullet train. Though in the series it is well over 10 cars in length (not including the more-streamlined engine at the front), only the first four cars are represented in the DX DenLiner Gouka set; the others just being standard passenger cars. Indeed, the Gouka cars (as is Kamen Rider Den-O’s Sword Form) are centered around the Japanese legend of Momotaro.
GouCannon (back)- This is the train engine that drives the DenLiner through both time and three-dimensional space. The large red sensors on the front of it resemble the eyes of the Sword Form of Kamen Rider Den-O. When pressed into battle, a quad-cannon turret pops out of the middle of the engine and fires lasers at Gigandeath monsters. It serves as the cockpit where Den-O and his Machine DenBird rest in battle. The GouCannon, in particular, represents Momotaro himself.
Doggy Launcher (back)- This car is pulled directly behind the GouCannon. When pressed into battle, nearly two-thirds of the car’s structure shifts left to form a large dog’s head, which can fire tongue-shaped Doggy Bark missiles from its mouth. The Doggy Launcher, in particular, represents the talking dog that Momotaro befriends on his journey.
Monkey Bomber (back)- This car is pulled directly behind the Doggy Launcher. When pressed into battle, the top and left sides of the car flip up to reveal a monkey’s head and large hands, which lob multiple Monkey Bombs. The Monkey Bomber, in particular, represents the talking monkey that Momotaro befriends on his journey.
[Car #4] (back)- This car is pulled directly behind the Monkey Bomber. When pressed into battle, the top of the car flips up & backwards to reveal a missile launcher that fires Birdie Missile(s). [The fourth car]- well, more specifically the Birdie Missile within- represents the pheasant that Momotaro befriends on his journey. (I should note that the fourth car is the best example of what the non-transforming passenger cars look like.)
[You just know that there have to be a few jokes out there that start, “A dog, a monkey, and a pheasant walk into a bar...”]
The Kamen Rider™ franchise in Japan is well-known for being dark, moody, and more plot-oriented that its more-colorful and clichéd cousin, the long-running Super Sentai™ saga, which caters to the younger audience. However, the slowly-but-steadily-declining ratings of the last five Kamen Rider series, perhaps influenced Bandai, PLEX, and Toei Co., LTD. to reach for that younger demographic with their most recent series, “...Den-O”. And it shows in the Action Liner Series.
The four cars of the DenLiner Gouka set are simple in detail, but the reward is in the special feature found in each car. The train cars each have four small dark gray ABS wheels. They are each connected to the next by the same type of joint system (more on that later). However, the range that each car can pivot side-to-side is severely limited to, perhaps, 2-degrees either way from center! Thus, you can’t really turn it around on the floor, and you more-like have to take it apart in order to turn it around. Obviously, real bullet trains can’t flex too much when they’re moving at speeds over 60mph, but this is ridiculous! Fortunately, this is the only really low point in the set. In the series, Den-O [Sword Form] rides his DenBird into a compartment between the two long red ‘sensor’ eyes. There is a narrow black panel that folds up to admit a very tiny transparent-red PVC figure of Den-O Sword Form riding on the DenBird. It inevitably slides around inside, but at least it fits!
Underneath the fairly-well detailed bottom of the GouCannon engine [“gou” is a rumbling sound like thunder] is the On/Off switch for the Light-&-Sound feature. And when the white antenna on top is pressed, it makes four sounds taken directly from the show:
- DenLiner passing by normally
- DenLiner roaring by at high speed
- A single electronic bell rings once (it sounds more like brakes squeaking to me...)
- The same electronic bell sound, but played faster and repeated two more times
I may be wrong about the last two, though; I can’t quite place them from the show. The second and fourth sounds are basically a repeat of the first and third sounds, but sped up a bit to make them go faster and change their pitch. The sensor eyes have one red light each and they flash in various patterns when activated. I’ll say this much, though- that speaker on the left side is loud!
In Episode 2- “Ride On Time”, the DenLiner is instructed by Kamen Rider Den-O Sword Form (the red-colored possessive mode for the Imagin Momotaros) to go to December 24th, 2004. After finding the Bat Imagin, Den-O uses his modular DenGasher weapon to slice and dice the Imagin (which Momotaros calls his “Hissatsu Attack, Part 2!”). But moments later, the Imagin rebuilds itself as the Gigandeath Heaven- a large white bird/wasp creature that fires explosive thorns. Den-O Sword Form quickly gets on the DenBird and docks it with the DenLiner. Then he separates the Gouka section from the passenger cars and deploys the weapons, which quickly batter and destroy the Gigandeath Heaven.
The special feature of the Action Liner Series is the ability to deploy each car’s weapon form. While each car can be activated separately, the [more fun] way to do it is when they’re all connected together. When the button just above the cockpit panel is depressed, an amazing change takes place within just two seconds... and DenLiner does it all by itself!
- When the GouCannon is activated, two doors up top fly open and a spring-loaded turret pops-up from inside.
- When the Doggy Launcher is activated, the mid-section of the car spring-shifts left and flips its mouth open.
- When the Monkey Bomber is activated, the top and left side of the car spring upwards in one motion
- When the fourth car is activated, the roof flips up, and a second panel springs up and into position.
The key to the transformation is in the attachment joints between the cars- when all are connected together, and one is activated, a domino effect retracts the joint which in-turn presses the front car against a trigger on the next car, and activating its own feature.
The cannon turret on the GouCannon can snap-twist every 45-degrees, but the two cannons on either side free-rotate up and down. The transparent-red Doggy Bark missile looks like a tongue inside the Doggy Launcher, and is launched by depressing a trigger behind the head. While the mouth is always held open by a spring inside, the Doggy Bark missile has the best range at 1’. The two transparent-red Monkey Bombs sit on small hand-shaped catapults, and are launched when separate trigger buttons are pressed on either side. Their range, however, is quite pitiful, and they only go about 3” before they land! The transparent-red Birdie Missile scarcely does any better. When the trigger directly behind the missile is squeezed, it actually shoots upwards rather than just straight ahead, which gets it out to 1’ in range. Putting the Birdie Missile back in is a bit tricky- requiring that you squeeze the trigger when you replace it atop its perch. With the sole exception of the poseable GouCannon turret, the other three cars’ weapons systems only orient to the left side of the train; just like in the series.
“Kamen Rider Den-O” marks the first time in the franchise’s 36-year history that a large mecha has been used, or the concept of monsters enlarging themselves after having been destroyed the first time. I can see that even though this was designed by the famous Toei/PLEX/Bandai cooperative that makes the Super Sentai franchise, it also shows that this is a first step in expanding the reach of Kamen Rider. It is very simple to use and looks simple. It was the auto-change feature that really grabbed my attention. And since there’s a tab on the front of the GouCannon, and another joint behind the [fourth car], then you just know that there will be more collectible cars coming in the Action Liner Series that can auto-change. Things I would have changed? Perhaps increased the power of those spring launchers, particularly on the hilarious Monkey Bomber; and I would have turned the volume on the speaker down just a hair. This is a good start to the Series. I recommend getting the DenLiner Gouka set.
All of the deluxe-sized DenLiner car sets from the Action Liner Series can be purchased online from HobbyLink Japan.
|Posted 18 September, 2007 - 20:45 by EVA_Unit_4A|