Review by The Enthusiast
The Jewel Lords are a subset of the Rock Lords, themselves a subset of the oft-maligned Gobots, or Machine Robo toys in Japan. Despite an impeccable Popy pedigree, these toys are little loved, at least in the States. It’s true that the line had its disappointments, but there were terrific entries as well, such as the Jewel Lords.
As Machine Robo wound down in the late eighties, Bandai lost its damned mind and introduced the Rock Lords. The Rock Lords are baffling. What appeals to me about transforming mecha is that something inherently cool, a robot, becomes something else which is cool, say a gun or a spaceship, using the same mechanical vocabulary. The Rock Lords, however, aren’t robots at all - they are living rock-monsters. But hold on! These living rock-monsters, as if by magic, can transform into…ROCKS. That’s it, rocks. Becoming a rock solves nothing. It’s not productive, fun, scary, or cool.
That being said, I love the Rock Lords. They are surprisingly good toys. Many have decent diecast content, and the transformations are inventive and sophisticated. The figure modes are mostly attractive, really embracing the alien/monster aesthetic, not unlike the MR “devil” foes before them. Rock Lords are more substantial than the typical, first-wave (or 600 series) Gobots, really durable and 4” tall.
The Jewel Lords were a late entry into the Rock Lord pantheon, and switched things up with translucent plastics. Their alt-modes are crystalline gemstones. Other than late-period scarcity, one can’t help but speculate that the sales of these were impacted by the vaguely feminine quality of the toys. There is a distinct My Little Pony/She-Ra vibe to these.
No matter. The clear plastic over metal aesthetic is beautiful, evoking Henshin Cyborg and Microman. Each of the Jewel Lords is solid, well detailed (painted screws!), and fun to hold and play with.
Flamestone, or Rubyman in Japan, a friendly grinning demonic monster, is cast in red translucent plastic, with chrome diecast limbs and joints.
His head is painted a little sloppily, and his face is more aggressive and menacing than the other Jewel Lords’.
His only accessory, a gold club/staff, is missing from this specimen. While Flamestone is technically well-articulated, his joints mainly exist in service of the transformation.
His feet are very broad, so that any movement in his hips or knees makes him tip over. You can move his shoulders a little, but it easily messes up the appearance of the mode. Like Solitaire, many of Flamestone’s joints only work laterally, further limiting any posing.
The transformation to ruby alt-mode is simple and intuitive; you basically fold up his limbs.
The ruby, while an attractive object, suffers from the inherent Rock Lord flaw in that it doesn’t do anything. It feels more like a puzzle than a proper transformer.
Flamestone is a solid toy, though in my opinion the weakest of the Jewel Lords. You can expect to pay anywhere from ten to twenty-five bucks for Flamestone loose. In my experience, Flamestone is the rarest, by a small margin, of the Jewel Lords.
|Posted 26 March, 2009 - 13:15 by The Enthusiast|