Laserion DX with Full Armor
Review by The Enthusiast
**** I notice from time to time that this review will inexplicably trend on CDX. When I click thru, I am embarrassed by the sometimes terrible photography. I have updated this review with better pics. Please to enjoy. ****
Laserion DX is the hero mecha from Video Warrior Laserion, a cartoon which originally aired for 45 episodes in 1984. From what I can tell, VWL was a virtual-reality based story, obviously influenced by Tron.
The show and its toys were unpopular, and the chogokin languished on shelves in both Japan and the US (both DX and ST models were released domestically under the Godaikin brand).
When I became serious about vintage gokin, I was equally confused and elated by the typical robot collector’s indifference towards Laserion, a toy which I found especially appealing*. I was able to easily snap up a few lots to assemble a complete, minty specimen for hundreds of dollars less than any other Godaikin-era gokin of similar size. It was one of the rare instances where what I desired was actually plentiful and cheap. Laserion, at least in its Godaikin incarnation, ontinues to be an easily obtained, entry-level piece.
Laserion comes in a classic suitcase-styled Popy box (15" x 12" x 4"), with handsome photographs and art on the front and sides. I particularly like the green wireframe illustration.
Inside, the playset rests in its Styrofoam cocoon, covered in the typical Popy window-lid.
In broad strokes, the set consists of the main robot armature, the infill body pieces, and weapons/accessories. I find the shear number of parts exciting, but I can understand how those partial to perfect transformation would be put off.
The “empty” armature is a formidable toy on its own. It’s substantial (at 11”)and fun enough to play with by itself. The figure tends to “melt” due to its collapsible nature, though.
The fully-collapsed mode is interesting, Laserion could compress himself to make his file size smaller. The first Winzip compatible robot!
The body is mostly ABS, but with metal pins at all of the multifarious collapsing joints and diecast at the shoulders, knees, and elbows.
The parts which fit inside its torso and appendages can be combined into two modes with small rubber plugs, included (but often missing).
Both of these configurations suck heavily. The rubber plugs prevent any sort of solid connection, so the toys are just gooey blocks of fail. This feature is the weakest part of the whole set.
The head is a spaceship unto itself, and includes a small pilot within.
With the combination of the armature and the inserts, the figure really shines.
The textural complexity of the flat black, red, silver, and red; the chrome; and the translucent green, is unequaled in classic gokin, or indeed, since.
The figure comes equipped with a sword, gun and knee-lasers.
Laserion, while technically well articulated, is essentially a brick. But he’s so heavy and complex that I don’t miss the pose-ability.
But wait! It gets (much) better. Until a few months ago, I was somehow unaware of the upgrade armor! I luckily happened upon an auction for the accessory, bid on it before I knew what the hell it was, and then did my research.
The armor is sublime. All plastic, it comes packaged separately in a window box.
Inside, the (8) pieces are packed in Styrofoam with cardboard backing graphics.
I was a huge fan before I knew this set existed, but Laserion is incomplete without it. When you’ve fitted the pieces, each held on with friction, you get the feeling that this is the way he was supposed to look.
The bulkiness of the armor still preserves the layering and transparency of the overall figure, magnifying the complexity and depth of the design.
Gaze upon it, ye mortals:
*So why does Laserion appeal so much to me?
My design sensibility is influenced by the confluence of nostalgia and tectonics, ie what I feel is “cool” in my gut and what I can appreciate as a beautiful and intuitively fun object.
As a child of the eighties, my aesthetic taste is forever imprinted with a bias for the design touchstones of that era: chrome, angular lines, transparency, bold colors.
This era, arguably, also saw the nadir of aesthetics and engineering in Japanese toys.
Laserion, as a toy, is ambitious. It does more per-inch than other contemporaneous gokin. Each joint in a toy is a significant investment in engineering and material cost, and Laserion has around 70 JOINTS in the main figure alone. The engineering of the armature is totally unlike any other toy robot, Popy or otherwise, with no closed clam-shell volumes at all, just an articulated framework.
Laserion personifies the entire mystique of the modern robot, the union between the machine and the spirit. Laserion’s design is a totally unique interpretation of the larger idea. The other titans of classic Gokin, say Tetsujin, Voltes, and Combattra, while well executed and soulful, don’t break any new ground in character design. Most are just impeccable versions of classic characters, either revised from previous designs or similar to each other. Laserion is a singular, beautiful expression of the mecha narrative which isn’t visually derivative of other characters.
Laserion succeeds in being the embodiment of the super robot idea, realized with state-of-the-art engineering and quality (which we may never see again), while still being fun and funky. I think, by any standard, Laserion can compete with any of the more beloved Popy DX bots.
|Posted 22 August, 2009 - 17:59 by The Enthusiast|