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.
Solitaire, or Diaman in Japan, is of that rare species, the female robot toy. She is cast in two shades of blue translucent plastic, with chrome diecast inner mechanics. Her head has paint apps at her horns, eyes and mouth.
I believe the lipstick was unique to the American market. She has a decal on her torso resembling a bathing suit or costume. Her only accessory, a dull gold sword, is missing from this specimen. While Solitaire is technically well-articulated, her joints mainly exist in service of the transformation.
Many of them only move laterally, making the figure relatively static and incapable of interesting poses. The transformation to the diamond alt mode is simple and intuitive; you just fold up her limbs. The diamond, 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.
Solitaire is a great piece and a unique addition to your shelf. She can display well with other Jewel Lords, Rock Lords, or other lady robots. I would expect to pay anywhere from ten to forty dollars for Solitaire loose, though prices can vary wildly. She is generally considered to be the most desirable of the Jewel Lords, though the most common.
|Posted 21 March, 2009 - 17:24 by The Enthusiast|