|Character Design||Go Nagai|
Review by Sanjeev
Like many young people growing up in the northeast of the US during the 80's, I was exposed to Jim Terry's Force Five series of cartoons. I remember so clearly the joy of getting up early before school to catch the latest adventures of these Super Robots, imported from Japan and dubbed (often miserably!) into English, defending the Earth from insidious invaders every weekday morning. Absolutely nothing could beat the thrill of your favorite hero piloting a huge robot, shouting out its weapons' names as he vanquished the baddies! Ah...those were the times!! I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said that the experience was like going to church everyday! You just did it...there was no question!
Of all the robots, Grandizer, was my favorite. Was it that the pilot, Orion Quest--or Duke Freed in Japanese--displayed a conflicted pacifist nature and his inner turmoil at having to resort to violence once again to protect his loved ones? Was it that this hero was actually an alien from a slaughtered world living among humans, constantly struggling to fit in, struggling with his violent past, and struggling with his secret identity?
Was it his nifty black costume?
Who knows? But I was definitely hooked!
Early in 2006, when Marmit announced that their awesome Daigokin line was continuing with a third mold, Grendizer (the original Japanese spelling of the character), needless to say, I was intrigued. This line, "Daigokin", consists of nearly completely solid diecast figures whose sculpts are based closely on Marmit's existing successful line of vinyl robot figures, "Fierce Legend of Super Robots" (Click here for an example of a FLOSR!).
While they appear nearly identical to their FLOSR counterparts, the Daigokin figures are often slightly taller and beefier in proportion and they usually offer improved articulation.
Waitaminute...did I just say "nearly completely solid diecast"? Yes. Yes, I did. Folks, take a minute to reflect on this. Say it with me now: "nearly completely solid diecast".
Well, first off, I gotta admit that I was hesitant about purchasing the Daigokin. I had the FLOSR, but I wasn't overly-thrilled with the sculpt. I love FLOSRs in general, but the Grendizer mold, in particular, has overly-beefy arms that also seem too long to me. Furthermore, the neck looks crooked at an odd angle if you look at it from the side. Yeah, I know: I'm picky...but, hey, if you're gonna make an "anime-accurate" sculpt of a character--especially my beloved Grandizer--ya gotta do it right!! Plus, the pricetag for the Daigokin is reasonably off-putting. Did I really want this sculpt I already had in the FLOSR...for that much money?
Well, y'know, in the end, the previous statement concerning diecast content in these toys won out in the end. I mean, really...for a hardcore Grandizer fan, is there actually a "choice" involved here? ;)
Aiight, so let's start with the box! I was pleasantly surprised to see that the cardboard Marmit used for the box is extremely thick--thicker than any cardboard I've ever seen used for a toy's box. The box finish is very glossy and the graphics are wonderfully vibrant.
Upon removing the lid, the figure can found between two huge, satisfying slabs of styrofoam. But before getting to the Daigokin, a repaint of the 4-inch Grendizer gokin Marmit released some years ago (also based loosely on the FLOSR sculpt) rests in a recess in the top half of this styro-coffin. It's dark silver with gold and yellow accents. Quite nice actually, but not a huge deal for me.
The styrofoam halves open to reveal one helluva toy. Figure, in a thin, clear plastic bag (not shown below), is nestled in his custom-tailored bed...no instructions, no catalog--no accessories or paperwork of any kind.
This figure is 17 inches tall. It weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 7.5 pounds--that's FAR and away the most massive toy I've even handled! But, y'know, it's not just the weight. Sure, when you pick it up, you risk straining a ligament or two in your wrist...but when you fly him around the room, the little mechanical bits in the joints and the separate metal plates on the bottom of its feet all clink and clatter lightly against one another, creating a melody of different metallic sounds. Oh...this is QUITE satisfying to the ears! You get the impression that this is an actual robot you're handling!
The toy stands just over an inch taller than it's FLOSR counterpart:
The camera is a bit forgiving with the colors: the red used on the FLOSR is quite drab, while the Daigokin is just right. The gloss black used on the Daigokin is simply excellent: very, very deep and lustrous--the photos with diffused ambient lighting don't do the finish justice. Under normal lighting, the reflections in the mirror-like polish are amazing. Also the chromy gold used on the Daigokin's horns is a great touch and complements the gloss black perfectly.
Also, as others have pointed out, there are interesting modifications to the existing FLOSR mold: notice above how the Daigokin's thighs are a bit thicker, while the waist seems to have shrunk. The upper torso on the Daigokin also seems to have been widened, adding to the more triangular physique.
Besides the visual changes, I was VERY pleased (and surprised!) to discover the articulation added to the Daigokin. Now, the head turns and actually tilts backwards--no more crooked neck! Also, the shoulders can splay outwards a bit, also minimizing my complaint about the gorilla-arms. And the real treat with the shoulders is the extremely loud clicking of the detents or "ratcheting" in the joints when they swing forwards or backwards! Finally, Marmit added elbow joints that can swing about twenty degrees back or forth. Not the greatest flexibility in the world, but it certainly beats the FLOSR and can at least make for some interesting poses. The other main FLOSR swivel joints are present: upper arms/biceps, wrists, hips, and knees (though, just as with the FLOSR, the toy's basically a brick from the waist down).
Not a whole lot else to say about this toy. No accessories or gimmicks--other than its sheer size and mass. Again, it's quite pricey and certainly not for everyone. Still, it's nice that Marmit is bold enough to make something as limited and niche-oriented as this in a time when megalithic toy companies like Taka-Tomy and Bandai are so concerned with focus groups, marketing due diligence, and their bottom lines.
For me, it's Grandizer. And in the final analysis, that's all I need to know. Marmit's Daigokin is not my favorite rendition of the character--the Popy Jumbo and DX Chogokin are simply timeless and easily among my favorite toys of all time--but I'm still quite pleased with it.
Remember, I'm picky! I certainly don't have every Grendy toy out there, but the Daigokin definitely gets my stamp of approval!
|Posted 25 February, 2007 - 21:37 by Sanjeev|