Review by JoshB
I had never even heard of the ‘Tomics line until I saw one brought to the Summit last year. It felt like the unholy love child of LEGO and ZOIDS and I think I fell in love.
Of course there’s almost nothing out there about ‘Tomics – it’s the toy line that even the internet forgot. Here at CollectionDX we have all the details for you on this long lost line.
Tomy released the ‘Tomics line in 1987 with little fanfare. Intended to be a competitor to LEGO and the other sci-fi building kits CONSTRUX, CAPSELLA, ROBOLINKS, and ROBOTIX, ‘Tomics gained little traction and quickly disappeared from the shelves.
Like any awesome toy, the origin of ‘Tomics lies in Japan, a year earlier in 1986. The line was originally called SCITEX (サイテックス) and consisted of several building sets in “real type” color schemes. Scitex was developed to be a companion line to Tomy’s ZOIDS line in that the parts from Scitex sets could be used with ZOIDS sets. The small pilot included with the set is in scale to the Zoids pilots, so the two lines are in the same scale. Little is to be found even on the web in Japanese, so it appears this line was unloved on either side of the world.
image courtesy http://zoidsocean.blog26.fc2.com/blog-entry-2847.html
The kits varied in size and complexity, from basic sets to full-on motorized deluxe sets.
Treadmaster is one of the larger sets with only Rotary Commander being bigger. It’s based off of the Japanese Scitex set “Groster”, but the colors have been changed for the US release. The original kit had a grey and green color scheme where this version has gone with blue and tan. When the toy shipped new, most parts were on sprues that you had to remove.
The assortment of parts is varied and complex. Darker grey blocks have gears in them, while lighter grey do not. Dark blue parts act as connectors and accessories, and blue and tan parts are mostly decorative. Also included are an assortment of wheels, hoses, weapons, and connection points. In fact, the toy includes small adapter panels that allow the parts to be used with the LEGO system, a fact proudly boasted on the box.
The main gimmick here is the motorized engine system. This consists of several gray blocks connected with power cords.
The main core block has several geared points, and a series of levers on the back. Each lever controls a connection point, and when the unit has power it controls the various action features. Power is provide by a “remote” that uses two AA batteries and has a long line to connect to the core. An extension is provided for an even longer reach. The engine’s direction is controlled by a three-direction switch on the remote.
So what can you do with the motor? Of course, the first thing is that it moves. Amongst the four wheels is one geared wheel that allows you to turn when put in reverse. Also, a winch with a string and hook can be attached to a connection point to act as a crane.
Putting this together is fun, but time consuming. The instructions are an invaluable tool, and you will need them if you want to build the designs on the box. There are a few problems, however. One, the designs the instructions show you how to make are NOT exactly the same as the ones on the box. In some cases they are similar, but compare the two and you will notice they are not the same. Secondly, each diagram has a nice drawn instruction page with a small photo in the corner representing the finished product. Unfortunately, the photo depicts the Japanese set, which appear to come with more parts than the US release. Way to tease us, TOMY.
Like any building set, the point is not to build just what is on the box, but to explore your own imagination.
Several additional parts not used in the shown designs are included. My guess is the Japanese sets had more suggested designs and that the US catalog makers just got tired and gave up. After three nights of building the kits shown I was pretty much exhausted. Keep in mind I am a 38 year old man with dwindling patience and coordination. I’m sure if you were a kid you would have loved these.
A small 'Tomics robot is included! He's cute!
I built the five "suggested" designs. As you can see there are big differences as to what is shown on the box and what you actually make.
So now I am on a hunt for these. For those keeping track, the US released sets were:
- Rotary Commander
Their Japanese Counterparts, in order:
- Back Fire バックファイヤー
- Space Ship スペースシップ
- Sand Cruizer サンドクルーザー
- Groster グロスター
- Heli Bot ヘリボット
- Gun Truck ガントラック
- Work Dozerワークドーザー
Tomy also released three parts sets, used to enhance existing sets.
Happy hunting, but don’t bid against me!
Comments14 comments posted
...happen to bid and win this on Jan 1, 2012? Was this the auction, http://www.ebay.com/itm/260922128800 ?
Cause its got the same crease in your review and its also got the dual French / English which is only on Canadian packaging.
If it is I'm glad it went to a good home, and if it wasn't you then I'd blast you for not reviewing it earlier .... I also saw that in one of your pics of last years summit and emailed you guys about it. Didn't get a reply.
I just checked ebay and was like NOOOO, cause someone put up one in Jan and there was also a Rotary Commander. For the treadmaster I did a double take cause the box in this review and the auction box have an identical crease on the upper right hand corner on the dual language banner.
Great review I'm hunting for Tonics now.... d@mn you CDX ... lol....=D
Yea, I won both sets. the Rotary Commander set is too incomplete to review though. Sorry I never saw your email!
Interesting toy. As a kid, I'd surely love to have one of these, but I was born some years after the release haha
When I was a kid, I remember having a toy of a robot crocodile that was very similar to this toy. Many of the pieces and the pilots were identical to the ones present in this set. It was probably a knockoff and the original toy was probably related to this line. I remember that the box showed three sets: a green crocodille, an orange/brown gorilla and a white gryphon (well, it was a four-footed animal with wings). Too bad I donated it not long ago...
Thanks for the review!
I enjoy the reviews of the building kits, as they are sooooo tempting to pick more up, but can't justify the space now to own and build. Nice pics! I'm exhausted just looking at them all.
These Tomics are the kind of thing that will pop up more at a toy/train show, or flea market, than ebay, but, as you say, not as often found as the Robotix, or Capsela, or Erector sets. I'll keep an eye out as usual. ;0)
These definitely have more cool factor than some of the competition. Much to drool over in the toys aisles as a kid. They were expensive at first though.
This looks like it would be worth it if only for the plesiosaur mode. That's awesome.
Is that Twiki (from the old TV show Buck Rogers) in the "head" of the toy?
I love hearing about these "unknown" and forgotten about toy lines. Just when I thought I had heard about everything robot toy related, you guys pull another rabbit out of your hat. Keep it up!
This is one very cool toy line, wow!
So this what's it's called... I have the Rotary Commander and doesn't know the name until you mention it. Thank s a lot Josh. I'm very tempted to do the review, now.
These were heavily knocked off by a Hong Kong company to make the very diverse series of "MultiMac" toys that you can usually find cheap on eBay. I have an incomplete SciTex 'copter, and a couple of pounds of random MultiMac parts acquired from a couple of cheap eBay lots and a boxed pair of sets unopened.
I have some builds I put together from those lots (not even using close to half the parts...) here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/microbry/sets/72157625328845058/ It's fully interchangeable with the original Tomy stuff (among other things).
Bizarrely, MultiMac includes both the Zoids-type pilot modules along with larger scale modules with figures that look loosely derived from M.A.N.T.A. Force. Some sets only include one type or the other. The cockpit parts tooled for the larger figures appear to be original (or knocked of yet another more obscure series...).
... but one question what is the base that you have in all the pics, its a really nice sci-fi design?
By base I mean where all the mulitimac/zoid/starriors are standing on.
Thanks! It is in fact part of this monstrosity, what is in my opinion one of the most amazing toys I've ever owned: http://www.yojoe.com/vehicles/87/defiant/
I use the launch gantry for many of my toy pics as it makes a great universal display backdrop in either horizontal or upright position. The shuttle and space station are fun to shoot in occasionaly too!
All it took was one random (albeit obscure toy) I put on display at the summit (if you weren't there, see the 2011 Summit Wrap-Up page for a shot of my Rotary Commander in the video of my display stand, yes that one) and off you go starting on ANOTHER toyline LOL...I'm not going to be held responsible for any repercussions, but at least you picked a small toyline go after.
Also I think there were a few more smaller powered or non-powered units that were available, they might be shown on other boxes or some magazine ads. Don't hold me to that though, after I purchased my Rotary Commander set a few years ago, I inventoried it and did a little research on Scitex and pretty much shelved it. Man Josh, the first time I actually cracked it open again recently was with you at the Summit.
So what's the value on this set?