Engine Gattai Series #4 - Engine Birca
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
This toy appears courtesy from HobbyLink Japan.
Three 1.5 volt (LR44) batteries are required to operate electronic light-&-sound feature within the Engine Soul, and should be replaced by a responsible adult.
Adequate batteries have already been installed in the Engine Soul by the manufacturer and do not need to be immediately replaced. However, to activate the feature, you must first manually remove the small white tag from the back of the cartridge before it can work; this is a one-time issue. Nothing other than the Engine Soul on this toy requires batteries.
In one of the eleven dimensions, Machine World is a planet populated by Engines- giant sentient living machines with individual personalities and capabilities. They succeed in driving the destructive Ban KiZoku Gaiarc clan off their world during one of their largest planet-wide races. Unfortunately, the Gaiarc decide to move on into the dimension where Earth is since it seems to be an easier target for them to conquer in order to turn it into the ideal world of unchecked pollution and waste which they favor. Three Engines cross the dimensional barrier to pursue them, but they will begin to suffer fatal rusting if they exist in the atmosphere of the Human World for more than ten minutes at a time! To protect against this, they separate themselves into two halves- inanimate Engine Casts which are smaller versions of their physical bodies, and Engine Souls which contain their life energy and personality. Therefore, they and their smaller rust-resistant assistant Bomper chose three young humans to fight the Gaiarc in their place, and restore them to their larger forms whenever they are needed. Together they form the Flame-god Taskforce Go-On Rangers!
Though the excitable Hanto Jou and former-police detective Gunpei Ishihara didn’t know each other, they were both strongly intrigued when they first saw the Go-Onger fighting against the Ban KiZoku Gaiarc. Gunpei (with Hanto following cautiously behind) actually managed to track down the Go-Onger’s private RV, and then steal the Engine Attaché Case with the three dormant Engine Casts in it, and kidnap Bomper! After interrogating Bomper in a tunnel, they learn about the origins of the Go-Onger, and both then insist on joining the team. Later, as the Go-Onger are loosing in a battle, Bomper recognizes positive qualities in Gunpei and Hanto when they help some civilians, and he gives them Shift Changers & Change Soul cartridges so that they may officially join. Though initially suffering a rocky start between the five Go-Onger, they manage to get along and become a real team.
. . .
Though Hanto is an official Go-Onger, he still needs an Engine partner to grant him access to the same powers that Sousuke, Ren, and Saki have- such as even the standard MantanGun sidearm! Towards the end of Grand Prix 3 – “Basic Investigation”, Bomper announces that the energy signatures of two Engines have appeared near Earth from Machine World. After some difficulty tracking down and acquiring both newcomers’ Engine Casts and Engine Souls in Grand Prix 4 – “Engine Trouble”, Birca and Gunpherd secure their place among the other Engines as they help Engine-Oh beat back the Spray Banki monster.
Engine Number 4 – Birca (back) His partner is high school graduate Hanto Jou (Go-On Green). He is represented as a combination of a motorcycle and an orca whale. Despite having never been to Earth before now, Birca is a light-hearted multi-linguistic polyglot- frequently mixing Spanish, Italian, English, and Mandarin Chinese phrases in with his regular Japanese speech. When not popping wheelies and being bubbly & happy-go-lucky with Hanto, he uses the BirCutter attack- where the upper half of his body spins around like a saw blade- as he plows through Gaiarc fighters. But he also frequently teams up with Engine Gunpherd for a combination attack. As a life form from Machine World, he ends most of his sentences with the two syllable of his name, “Bar baa-ruka!” Birca serves as a left arm component for any combination, but usually is seen as part of the Engine Gattai Gunbir-Oh.
With Engine Buson from the DX Engine Gattai Engine-Oh, it was very difficult to tell that he was a passenger bus crossed with a lion. So, while it’s a little more obvious that Birca is part motorcycle (well, more like a motorized tricycle, since he actually has three wheels), he seems to have a bit of an identity crisis as far as his animal half. Officially labeled as an orca, these “killer whales” are larger members of the dolphin family, hence why here Birca’s smaller dorsal & ventral fins and pointed snout are more consistent with the latter. Also, if Birca had been colored all-black instead of Engine Gunpherd, the white spots would have been more obvious and it would have matched an orca’s real striking black and white coloring. (Trust me- I live in Washington State; we have three regular families [called “pods”] of orcas that call the large Puget Sound inner waterways home during summer months, so I’m pretty familiar with what they look like at a glance.) If it wasn’t for the horizontal PVC tail fins [which designates it as an aquatic-based mammal] and signature white spots, I’d have called him a shark or dolphin. Birca’s lower-half is sufficiently tech-oriented to somewhat resemble the exposed innards of a motorcycle. Additionally, because of those paired back wheels, he won’t tip to either side.
As with the previous three Engines from the Engine-Oh, Birca’s front wheel is represented on either side of Go-On Green’s helmet.
. . .
Aside from putting the provided Engine Soul into him (see below) and rolling him around, the only action feature is his BirCutter attack. Birca’s upper half can snap-twist sideways in either direction at every 90° all the way around. So to get him spinning, you have to just keep pushing since he can’t turn on his own for any length of time.
In addition to future accessory DX Engine sets, the common ‘collecting’ gimmick is the battery-powered Engine Soul cartridge. These serve as a replacement in all of the toys for a dedicated light-and-sound effect. Each Engine Soul shares an identical shape (2½” x 1¾” x 9/16”, or 2.57cm x 4.5cm x 1.5cm), has a single bright red LED light (which can project over 6ft / 2m in a dark room!), a large decal which identifies it, and they all have some generic sounds. Because of this, any Engine Soul (or Change Soul, which I won’t get into here) can be fitted into any properly-fitted toy that can accept one. But, the gimmick is that each Engine Soul has a unique set of sound effects...
The Engine Gattai Series #4 set comes with Birca’s Engine Soul. It is uniquely identified by its green ABS casing, the stylized “4”, and the phrases “ES” & “04” on the front decal. While each of the Engines in the “Go-Onger” line can accept an Engine Soul, only Birca’s is provided; however, it will work equally in all of them since, again, all Engine Soul cartridges are the same size. The storage compartment is located behind the back wheels, and requires some transformation to get access to. Both back wheels split apart to reveal the compartment, and then Birca’s upper half needs to be twisted away a little bit so that you can access the lever on the door to open it. The bright red LED light from the Engine Soul shines through a hole in the top of Birca’s head, just in front of the brown cockpit windscreen.
Birca’s Engine Soul has four unique effects- all performed by the same seiyu from the series, Soichiro Hoshi. (He makes his Super Sentai debut here, but is best known for more-numerous anime and OVA performances. Coincidentally, he was the Japanese-dubbing voice for Andros the Red Space Ranger in “Power Rangers in Space”!). He says, in Japanese:
- Bar baa-ruka!
- Here we go, amigo!
- (onomatopoeia for “twirling” or ”spinning”)
The word “amigo” is not Japanese, but rather Spanish, for “friend”. If you don’t watch the show, then you wouldn’t be aware that Birca says amigo and al dente [Italian for the ‘taste of well-prepared pasta’] almost as frequently as he does “Bar baa-ruka”.
The phrases will always play in that order, each preceded by the same sound of a motorcycle engine racing by. Now, if you place Birca’s Engine Soul into any other DX Engine set, it’ll say the same things, but it’ll obviously be inaccurate since that’s not the right Engine for it to go with.
Unlike the three previous Engines from the DX Engine-Oh set, access to Birca’s alternate/generic sound effects can be accessed in both his regular form, and his Engine Bisou form:
- Go-o-o-o-o On!
- Bar baa-ruka!
This time, however, instead of a motorcycle whooshing by, you hear the engine revving first. But it is still Birca speaking.
. . .
I came across two new and unexpected items in Birca’s Engine Soul that I had not noticed with Speedor’s...
First, another set of sound effects exist inside the Engine Soul which can only be accessed when both effects buttons (but not the one in the center) are pressed at the same time. Instead of an engine sound, we get the quick crackle of a radio, followed by all of the voiced sounds above (with the exception that he does not say his name). In order to do this, you have to hold down one of the buttons, and then at the same time, press the other. By doing this and cycling through the sounds, I found one new phrase that cannot be accessed in any other way:
- [???] al dente!
I’m not certain, but I think he’s saying “Pasta al dente” (a mix of both Spanish and Italian), but I’m not fluent in either, so it could be something different. (Watch the video below, and help me figure it out, please!)
To double-check this, I installed Speedor’s Engine Soul into Birca and then did the same with it, and it did exactly the same thing- I found a new phrase inside of his Engine Soul too in Japanese which I cannot immediately identify. I do know that he says that word “mantan” (a slang term for “fill ‘er up”, referring to putting gas in a car); the Go-Onger’s common standard sidearm- shaped like a gas dispenser nozzle- is the Self Henkeiju MantanGun. (One of the phrases Speedor says in the series is, “I have a full tank of courage”, so it may be that, but I can’t be certain.)
The other thing I found is a small round manual battery cut-off button on the back side of the Engine Soul cartridge cleverly camouflaged in with other surface detail. (I found it on Speedor’s Engine Soul as well.) When depressed (anything small like a pen point, fine-point Phillips head screwdriver, or paperclip will do), all effects are turned off. It seems to serve the same purpose that the thin cardboard strip does when the toy is shipped off from the manufacturer, but I don’t know how this would be of any use once [any] Engine Soul has been played with. (I suspect it may be used in other Engine Soul-accommodating sets, but I don’t know yet which or why.)
The Power Rangers’ version of Engine Birca has not appeared yet, so comparisons are impossible. If I were to take a shot in the dark, I’d say the silver paint on the front wheel, in front of the ventral fins, back engine detail, and the Go-Onger logo on the nose were removed and left the plain coloring of the plastic. I’d also venture that all Engine Soul cartridges (whatever those will be called) will be either modified to have fewer-or-no electronics, or completely eliminated from the line. There’s no die-cast metal, so that’s not a problem. (No metal in a car-shaped vehicle? Who’d‘ve thunk it?) I doubt any plastic coloring will be changed, but there may be very minor paint changes.
Engine Busou - Engine-Oh Birca
Components required for this combination:
- DX Engine Gattai Engine-Oh
- Engine Gattai Series #4 - Engine Birca
In Grand Prix 5 – “Sometimes a Mother!?”, Hanto is working part-time at a local crepe shop, splitting his duties between it and being a Go-Onger so that he can make some money for them all to eat better. (Eating nothing but Renn’s well-prepared omelets all the time gets a little repetitive after a while, though no one says this out loud.) But in truth, Hanto (and Birca’s kawai holographic self) like hanging around with the teenage girls who come to the small portable restaurant. But when this becomes more of a distraction and draws Hanto’s attention away from his hero duties, the other four Go-Onger begin to question his priorities. And when the unbalanced Go-Onger face off against the magnetic Jishaku Banki monster, Hanto realizes how much he is needed, and how he needs to remain focused in the face of his ambitions & interests, and apologizes for lying. After using the new Junction Rifle to blow the upgraded Denjishaku Banki, he grows to giant size, and the five Engines assemble together for the first time to attack simultaneously. After forming Engine-Oh, Denjishaku Banki steals the Go-On Sword and uses it against the Engine gattai, damaging Speedor’s left arm. As his own way of apologizing for letting Hanto astray and letting himself get carried away, Birca suggests combining with the other Engines.
[Birca]: “Amigos! To apologize for playing with Hanto, let’s show them ‘that’.”
[Bear RV]: “By ‘that’, do you mean ‘that’?”
[Buson]: “I see! We can do that!”
[Gunpherd]: “I see. Try it!”
[Speedor]: “Engine Armament?!”
[Go-Onger, together]: “’Engine Busou’???”
[Birca]: “Enough talk. Here I go, amigo!”
“Engine-Oh Birca: Tune Up!”
In this new form, Engine-Oh Birca’s left arm has a strong blade along the outside which can match Denjishaku Banki’s stolen Go-On Sword, and dish out some more. Once disabled, Go-On Green and Birca then use the energized spinning BirCutter Slash finisher to destroy the land-polluting monster once and for all.
Engine-Oh Birca (back) is the first upgrade of the series for the lead mecha. Birca’s back two wheels reposition themselves to either side of his front wheel, together making something that looks like a fist, while his green & white whale-half forms a long “Y”-shaped blade weapon. Though rather oversized compared to Engine-Oh’s regular arms, this new left one has an added advantage over the former. At the connection point in the upper arm region, there is a ratcheting joint which allows the entire lower arm to twist around in 45° increments all the way around at the elbow! The only problem with the toy version of this combination is that the “Y”-blade can’t twist all the way around anymore [like it does in the show] because it bumps into either the shoulder itself or, turned horizontally, Engine-Oh Birca’s head. Additionally, with Birca’s upper body twisted around 180°, the shaft which allows the Engine Soul’s LED light to shine through is now cut in half and can’t be seen anymore when activated; however, both activation buttons are still fully accessible.
In closing, this was something of an awkward outing. The theme of mixing animals with vehicles was an odd-enough concept, but then here they throw in a character in which those two elements remain separated and yet always connected together. The lower half is dedicated almost exclusively to carrying the Engine Soul cartridge, which it only just accomplishes. And the upper half seems even conflicted with itself as to whether it’s a dolphin or a shark; the green coloring certainly didn’t help in this regard by positively identifying it as an orca! Not even the LED’s light shaft- conveniently placed to be assumed to be a blowhole- helped much. In its Engine Busou formation, the arm is very large as I said above. While it was nice to be able to access all of the Engine Soul’s effects, I thought it would have been better to be more restricting like it is with Speedor; where only one set of sounds can be accessed in one form, and a different set in the other. Also, why Speedor’s left wing needed to be open in this form doesn’t really help the already-blocky shoulder armor; I thought it would look fine with it still retracted. However, that twisting elbow joint is a really nice feature to have- certainly better than the elbows on just the DX Engine-Oh, and I praise PLEX for indulging us that little bit. That’s the kind of novelty poseability I like to see in these typically-inarticulate DX Super Sentai toys other than their transformation(s). By himself, Engine Birca is fair enough. Then, when you form Engine-Oh Birca, it’s equally good. So, I recommend getting him, amigos!
|Posted 13 June, 2008 - 15:33 by EVA_Unit_4A|