Review by NekroDave
December 1st 2006 and I'm on a flight to Tokyo. Normally this would be the sort of thing that would consume all your thoughts. How's the weather there? Did I bring enough money? I wonder what the convention will be like? What am I gonna find in the shops? Where can I find Pepsi? Will eating McDonald's for a week straight kill you? Will this flight ever end??
But not this time. This time my mind is somewhere else entirely. There's this auction, y'see. And it ends while I'm in the air. And if I win it, I'm not gonna have a dime to spend on this whole dang trip. Which means traveling to the other side of the world to sit in an apartment for 10 days and then go home again. But I hope like heck that I do because that means I will have won only the 3rd specimen of the Gundam Jumbo Machinder known to exist. Before leaving home, I placed a bid with a sniping company and I would just have to let the chips fall where they may, not being able to watch the auction close like I normally would. Granted, that is probably for the best at this stage in my life. I was at the point where too many times I found myself sitting at my computer, sweat dripping, heart racing, feeling like I'm about to drop over from stress. You know, the stress of a toy auction. Ridiculous, isn't it? I could just hear the coroner saying "Cause of death....machinders."
Anyway. I arrive at my destination, greet my hosts and as quick as proper etiquette will allow, I'm on the computer to check the results.
And I suddenly really, really hope I find a nice toy in a shop in the coming week because Gundam was not to be. Although I bid over $2500 more than the guy behind me, the guy in front bid just a little more and I had to settle for second place. Second place sucks. Especially since I had no idea who had outbid me. I'd never seen the name before. You know how it is. If you stick around long enough, you usually get to know the competition and there's a certain solace in knowing that the prize at least went to someone in the community. And although I didn't know it then, it turns out it did. In fact, the winner turned out to be a friend of mine bidding with another ID and I'd just cost him a pretty penny with my last second snipe! Oooops!
Unfortunately, the rest of the trip would yield no Jumbos for me either and in fact ended up being the most disappointing trip there I've had. But all's well that end's well, as they say, and just about a month ago, Gundam specimen number 4 surfaced and this time I was able to close the deal (with a little help from selling all of my die-cast robots, mind you). The condition wasn't as good as the previous one, which was absolutely dead-stock, but beggars can't be choosers. I'll take it. Interestingly, both the 3rd and 4th known examples of this toy were found in the UK, not Italy where it originated.
Gundam is a pretty amazing toy, both in terms of it's appearance, play value and place in history. There is a mystique to this toy that few others can claim. Despite the enormous popularity of the character in Japan today, apparently it sort of tanked when it came out and only got really popular years after the initial series. By the time that happened though, most Japanese toy companies had come to realize that these large sized Jumbo Machinder toys were not profitable enough to continue producing them. For many years, it was believed that a Jumbo sized Gundam was never made.
The first clue that perhaps something was out there came in the form of a knockoff Jumbo called Titan. The Titan toy used legs that were clearly based on the Gundam toys made by Clover before they sold the license to Bandai (and before they made toys that actually looked like how Gundam looked in the show). It also used the head of Groizer X, which was never made as a Jumbo either. Were these original sculpts by the Ceppi Ratti, the Italian company that released the toy? Or did they get their hands on some unproduced prototypes from Japan? More importantly, were there complete Jumbos of Gundam and Groizer X out there, waiting to be found?
While there is still no more evidence of a full Groizer X Jumbo, not too long after Titan appeared, images of a full sized Gundam Jumbo turned up, but they were clearly of a knockoff toy. The hands were from the Popy Gordian Jumbo and it used the Robot Factory method of assembly employed by Popy near the end of their Jumbo Machinder run. When the first boxed specimen surfaced, it was confirmed that the toy was made in Italy by the same company that made Titan, Ceppi Ratti. Furthermore, even though I consider it a "knockoff" since it re-uses parts from existing toys, it is indeed licensed. But the theory that the toy was really from an un-made Clover toy only seemed to be re-enforced by close examination of the toy since it's quality was so far in advance of any other known Italian Jumbos, even the Titan by Ceppi Ratti. This thing is just head and shoulders above any of it's peers. I mean, does it seem likely that the same company made these two toys, of the same character, at roughly the same time?
Personally, I find it hard to believe that Ceppi Ratti did this one on their own. Especially when you start to factor in all the bells and whistles that this toy has, which would rival, or even surpass, the best that Popy ever did.
Gundam comes with a variety of great weapons. It has an axe that comes molded in four parts; a big yellow blade with a supplemental blade on the back, a long yellow handle and two red attachments. One of the attachments is where the two yellow pieces connect and the other is mostly ornamental on the bottom.
There is a sword that can be stored over it's left shoulder, but unfortunately it does not fit in it's hand. More on that in a second.
If melee weapons aren't your thing, it also comes with a nice red gun that you can put in either hand. Personally, I prefer the axe.
Now, I know you noticed that GIANT awesome shield, right? It looks absolutely beautiful and has a handle that can be inserted into either fist. Unfortunately, mine is a bit yellowed with age.
Do you like projectiles? Well, besides both fists firing like most Machinders, Gundam also has a big removable cannon sitting on it's right shoulder with a firing missile! It even had a cool scope on the side and if you wanted to, you could even store the tightening tool for the nuts on the back of it.
Now about that sword. Well, what is the point of having a sword that doesn't fit in the hand? I know, I know, I feel your pain. But what if the trade-off was that it could fire out of the arm!?!?!
Yes, once the fist has been launched, it's not out of ammo yet. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only Jumbo out there that has a weapon that can be fired in place of it's hand. I had no idea about this until getting mine and I think it's a great feature.
The box for this toy is similar to other Italian robot factory style Jumbos and measures 15.5"x12"x5". It appears to show a prototype of the toy with silver on the head in place of blue and the axe is silver instead of yellow. Action features are shown on the sides and the back has a parts list/assembly blueprint.
You may notice that my example is missing a few stickers here and there. But remember my friend who ended up paying through the nose for his because of me and my snipe? Well, fortunately he doesn't take things like that personally and has promised to send me a scan of the sticker sheet at some point.
Once assembled, Gundam stands about 25" tall. The sculpt as well as the fit and finish is fantastic. This is real quality work here, unlike other cheap Italian knockoff Jumbos, such as the lovable, yet lamentable, Space Valour. It holds together as well as a Popy toy and stands solidly. Everything fits. It's truly a one of kind masterpiece and has probably surpassed Dangard Ace as my favorite Machinder.
|Posted 1 November, 2008 - 13:59 by NekroDave|