Bismarck DX GC-22
Review by Sanjeev
The 80's were a rather interesting time to grow up--a statement to which many browsers of this site can attest. In the States, World Event Productions of Voltron fame distributed another dubbed/heavily edited Japanese anime in the form of "Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs". The show, while clearly outshined by Voltron in terms of popularity and merchandising, still has an active following today. Originally entitled, "Seijushi Bismark", the show was an interesting blend of futuristic science fiction and Wild West intrigue. And while the show did feature a giant robot, the episode-to-episode plotlines focussed far more on the main characters and the frontier setting. The plots occasionally did not even require the robot being called into action.
Still, as a big fan of this show growing up, if one were to ask me what one single toy from this show I would want (among many sorts of figures of the main characters and their support vehicles), it would be the deluxe version of the main robot from the show, Bandai's GC-22 Bismarck DX. (Yes, you will see "Bismark" spelled with and without a "c"! For those looking to hunt down the toys, Bandai most often romanized the name with the "c".)
Very detailed in appearance for a Super Robot, and eschewing vividly-contrasting primary colors, the Bismarck could perhaps be best described as the mechanized incarnation of Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name character featured in those classic spaghetti westerns. Even the robot's name, like Eastwood's character, was vague: in the US "Saber Rider" version, it was ambiguously referred to (if at all during the episode) as "the Ramrod Equalizer" or "Ramrod: Challenge Phase". At any rate, it's easy to see the strong, silent type of anti-hero in the design of this robot. The toy brought this imagery out magnificently.
Of course, any robot worth his salt requires some sort of ultimate attack. The Bismarck's consisted of two large cannon barrels rotating up from it's chest and blasting the enemy 'bot back to the "vapor dimension" (the English version's convenient explanation for death). While this was all well and good, the most popular weapon was clearly the pistol (a.k.a., the "fancy shootin' iron"!).
Another excellent feature of the toy was the carapace on the robot's back being able to fold out, enveloping the robot...like...oh, I dunno...say...a poncho?
Oh, I should also mention that the carapace has a rather sneaky hinged panel...about hip-height...on the robot's right side...
Lastly, we come to the final gimmick: transformation! Yup, the 'bot with no name (well...Bismarck) can transform into Space Cruiser mode to fly off into the sunset or wherever desperados may roam (ok, I'll stop). The transformation, while extremely simple, is rather fun and very faithful to the show. It's as ruggedly-built as the robot--not floppy bits.
The front landing gear swing down from under the nose on a smooth, spring-loaded hinge, and the wheels roll nicely. The aft landing gear swing down from the side and have faux tank treads over chrome plastic gear. There's a small plastic wheel in the middle prevent those rubber treads from actually touching the ground; they allow the toy to roll freely. Finally, it wouldn't be a Bandai chogokin without something that shoots! Two missile launchers are located to either side of the forward section of the aircraft.
The attention to detail is fantastic on this toy. The robot stands almost 9" tall and the cruiser is almost 10" from bow to stern. The lower legs and front half of the chest/pelvis are diecast, providing satisfying heft. Articulation other than weapons is pretty much limited to the arms: the fingers are hinged to grasp the pistol and the shoulders and elbows are nicely double-hinged (while they cannot swivel at these points, they come close to simulating a universal/ball-n-socket type of joint). The paint is wonderfully glossy and the use of chrome is excellent. It's a great-looking toy.
Due to the age of the toy, there is some sticker peel; this is to be expected and doesn't bother me much. There is virtually no chrome wear (except for the tiny peg on the pistol that mounts it to the inside of the poncho). The most important thing to be aware of, however, is the rubber tank treads. These toys are over 20 years old and in many cases, the rubber treads have rotted. In my case, one of the bands snapped, and while the others are intact, I now simply store them in the box with the extra missiles, etc. The cruiser rolls fine without them and I don't mind the naked chrome road wheels.
My only *design* complaint with this toy is the hands: while they are jointed at the main knuckle, the parts aren't fit to mate with the gun in any way, so the grip is very awkward. The gun is prone to fall out, as there is nothing really holding it in there. Still, a minor complaint, at best.
Overall, Bandai's GC-22 Bismarck DX is an under-rated jem, in this reviewer's opinion.
The going rate for such a piece in this condition is approximately $300USD (2006), though it may take some time to track one down.
|Posted 3 October, 2006 - 14:55 by Sanjeev|