Miracle Combination Ideon
Review by The Enthusiast
Space Runaway Ideon was, and remains, a cult property. While critically lauded, controversial, and enormously influential, Yoshiyuki Tomino’s ambitious follow-up to Mobile Suit Gundam failed to capture the popular imagination. It wasn’t for lack of trying. In addition to forty episodes and two feature films, Sunrise gave Ideon the full early-eighties merchandising treatment: a large variety of model kits, toys, books, posters, etc.
Tomy, previously untested in the super robot or gokin arenas, was given the toy license. While the company would later enjoy some minor success with its Dunbine and Lensman merchandise, Tomy was ultimately better suited to developing its own designs with in-house creations like the ZOIDS and Omnibots.
The Miracle Combination Ideon was a bold debut: a big, complex, heavy playset too awesome for the DX designation (‘DX’ was used for a smaller Ideon similar to Popy’s ST offerings). Its massive, Popy-aping package throws down the gauntlet. A beautifully illustrated outer box, complete with luscious mechanical cutaway shot; a handsome window cover; a black plastic handle!
The contents are spare. Though the Ideon uses an array of elaborate weapons throughout his adventures (as evidenced by the bounty of accessories included in Bandai's SOC release), the MC includes a few sprues of missiles, firing fists, and a sword. Two removeable cockpits for the vehicle modes are included as well.. All respectable enough, but Popy would have absolutely packed that giant slab of styrofoam.
The presentation is beautiful and decadent. The original price tag is 7200 yen.
Three vehicles combine to form the Ideon.
The Sol Amber mode is a compact armored truck. The tank treads roll on concealed metal wheels.
The Ideo Delta mode is a jet fighter. The yellow switches at the sides of the truck unfold the rear wing/gun pods. Ideon’s gimmicks rely heavily upon springs, and the age of the piece shows in the tentative sluggishness of the action. The nose folds up as well.
With the flip of a sturdy yellow switch at the underside, the ship separates to form the head, shoulders, and arms of the Ideon.
The Sol Vainer mode is another blocky truck. You need to plug in the plastic front cockpit. The need for supplemental cockpits is an obvious weakness of the set. The SOC was able to eliminate these, but even then the engineering required to do so was forced. There’s just a flaw in the underlying design logic. It doesn’t bother me too much.
By pressing the white button at the rear, the back of the vehicle unfolds to become the Ideo Nova mode, in theory a flying gunship. The gimmick is fun, and the chrome bits really pop, but this is the least successful mode of the least successful component.
The Sol Conver mode is the armored truck mode of the C mecha. This mode also requires the addition of a cockpit, an underwhelming blue plastic block.
When the yellow button on top is depressed, the rear sections extend and rotate outwards. Wings unfold. The heavy springs required for all of this are still surprisingly robust, but will likely deteriorate.
The Jet Mode, Ideo Buster, is probably the best of all the vehicles. It holds together as a plausible space ship. The proportions are nice.
I like how the truck wheels fit together on the underside.
The combination into Ideon is very Popy-like in its assured, solid clicky jointwork.
Everything locks together very sturdily and unlocks with big yellow switches. Like the individual gimmicks, the engineering relies too heavily upon springs, though. The legs are only held up by springs, and will inevitably compress.
The result is a thing of beauty. I find Ideon’s design very appealing. The proportions are unique, the mainly monochromatic color scheme sets Ideon apart from his peers. I can’t put my finger on the specifics, but the design cues are unmistakably late-70’s in a way which references pop culture at large as much as contemporary mecha styling. I get the same disco vibe from Yuichi Higuchi’s other designs, Acrobunch and Braiger.
The arms are terrific, extending above the shoulders for a unique profile. The elbows aren’t articulated per se, but the spring joint which serves the truck mode adds some subtle implied movement.
Check out those distinctive foot blades.
The back features some nice sculpted flourishes.
Articulation is par for the time, which is to say woeful. The arms rotate, that’s it.
There’s a sword. It’s fine.
Diecast content is hefty but not up to the insane excesses of contemporary Popy releases: the front of the upper arms, the front of the torso, the front of the waist.
In size and workmanship, the Ideon compares favorably with some of the finest examples of the form.
Bandai corrected many of the more ungainly engineering and proportional issues with its successful SOC version, but it failed to replicate the funk.
Ideon excels above all in this unparalleled funk. Ideon stands as Tomy’s lone gokin masterpiece, a surprisingly competitive entry in the golden age of modern super robot toys. I’m surprised at how relatively affordable these remain. The MC Ideon is an essential part of any super robot collection.
|Posted 22 June, 2014 - 14:34 by The Enthusiast|
Comments4 comments posted
I'm surprised this piece hasn't had a review on the site yet, but this did it justice.
Out of curiosity, do you know what the current market is like for these? The last time I was paying attention these were going around 300 for a really nice specimen, which I guess is affordable compared to other Popy DX's, but still a hefty chunk of change.
Yeah, 250-300 for MIB (virtually no loose specimens around), but not a lot of these changing hands anymore. It's common to see some for a buy it now of 500 that just sit there forever, but hardly any trading at market value.
Great review! I've seen these in the usual places in Japan (Mandarake etc) and they don't seem to be too uncommon, so I guess they do tend to sit around. I've always wanted one but its just too darn big! I *think* the prices hover around the 40,000 yen mark, which at the current exchange rates would tie up with the estimates above.
I decided to pass on this at the last minute on that particular night. I'm glad one of the boys got it.
I would love to see this in person someday. It's a toy I am really still on the fence about. All the ideon toys have a lot of charm but they are quirky somewhere along the line. I also thought this had a lot of diecast for some reason.
Anyways, thanks for the review. Was hoping someone would do a write-up for a long time.