Legioss and Tread (Zeta)
Review by VF5SS
Oh, the poor Legioss. Not quite the alpha of realistic styled transforming fighter jets, though far from the omega, its role in Genesis Climber Mospeada was one born out of compromise. While the show was originally envisioned as "the invasion of Normandy with powered armor," Shinji Aramaki and Hideki Kakinuma had to put in transforming jets because Macross made a lot of money. I believe at one point they intended to have the Legiosses be more disposable, with Stick Bernard and his gang using what they could find and discarding machines as they grew inoperable.
Of course, sponsors don't like the idea of their merchandise being disposable (unless it's a Scopedog), so we got scenes of the gang toting four fully operational airplanes on their journey to Reflex Point. They didn't even have a truck like in Dougram. Although they did have huge log rafts one time...
So here's the one Legioss nobody wanted. It's the red one or "Zeta" type that is piloted by Houquet et Rose. She was the group's resident tough chick as voiced by Mika Doi, one of the best voice actresses for 80's tsundere. You often see her name rendered as "Fuke" because that's the straight transliteration of her name. Often times when I see an anime character with some foreign sounding name I look at how it's written in katakana because I actually know how to pronounce that.
CM's Corporation has always been a mixed bag when it comes to robot toys. Sometimes they achieve near Soul of Chogokin quality with things like their Gordian and Gyakuten-Oh. For whatever reason, when they tackle anything from the mythical Real Robot genre it always comes across as well intentioned but kind of half-assed.
I am no stranger to CM's Corporation and their somewhat obscenely priced toys. Having reviewed both versions of the Dark Legioss for this site as well a Mugen Calibur repaint, I have a fairly good idea of CM's overall approach to these toys. Also, JoshB reviewed the arguably more popular raspberry blue Legioss Iota set.
I bought this one because it was the cheapest.
In the world of transforming fighter jets, the Legioss has always been a stand out design in its Armo Soldier. I have said before, it does not advertise its variable nature. Rather, it looks like the Legioss went out and skinned an airplane and now wears the pelt over its shoulders like Conan the robobarian. CM's Corporation's take on the design was not well received as their Legioss has a more rounded appearance, which is at odds with the usual blocky animated look. Despite this toy being in the Brave Gokin line, you will find very little metal in it. The three biggest chunks are the double hinge for the nose section and the two shoulder hinges. The overall construction of this figure is a lot more like a mid 90's mass release toy than a high end collectible. While nothing is outright bad, this Legioss feels more like a weird throwback than a modern rendition. It is not so much the toy people always wanted, but some previously unseen intermediate step towards a definitive version. The toy does have very nice colors, and the moderate amount of tampo printed markings add to its overall appearance.
Not pictured: the five times it fell backwards because one of the heel struts is loose.
Articulation in Armo Soldier mode is kind of a mixed bag. The legs feature several solid ratcheting joints in the hips and knees, but the feet are attached to some very loose diecast brackets and the arms can be floppy at the main shoulder joint. I do appreciate how the elbows bend on two axes so you can approximate some of that odd elbow trickery found in 80's robot designs. The figure also has a free moving waist joint. The biggest letdown with this Legioss's articulation is the neck joint that does not allow for any side-to-side movement. This is because the head and neck are a part of the hinge that moves the nose section for transformation. Again, it feels like a weird compromise that would be alright on a mass release toy.
Also, true to the show, the little vent on the crotch can move up and down.
For accessories, the Legioss comes with this extra missile pod for the shoulder. This missile pod was never seen in the show to my knowledge (it's been a while since I watched it) and is most well known to builders of old Mospeada model kits. It simply plugs into a hole on the shoulder and has its own hinge. The little red nipple missiles are not winning any points for style.
Did you ever notice that this Zeta type Legioss has tiny golden eyes amidst the blue visor area on its face? In fact the whole face is very different than any other rendering of the Zeta type, so I wonder where it came from.
Also include is the Legioss's beam gun with its signature banana clip. The clip is removable and does have tiny battery-like detailing on top. In this review you will not see much of this gun being wielded by the Legioss because the hands are squiddamn awful. They're basically a throwback to the old Bandai High Complete Model hands with their fingers hinged at the knuckle. Those HCM hands could never hold a gun twenty-something years ago and these new hands done in terrible rubbery plastic aren't going to hold a gun now.
Oddly enough the hands are capable of holding the Legioss's most obscure accessory. During one episode, Rayley suffers through a strange fever dream due to dehydration. During his dream he joins his friends who are all dressed up in medieval armor (Yellow's armor has some fine breast plates) to rescue Aisha from a dragon and all of their robots had this generic sword. Lots of toy companies like to include as much as they can so this sword is not entirely out of left field. As far as plastic swords for robots go, this one is about as good as you would expect.
Another accessory that got more play in the model kits than the show are these very 80's missiles that plug into the screw holes in the Legioss's chest. Some enterprising fans found authentic Artmic lineart which identified these as "Legioss Breast Missiles." Now and forever, that is what they will be called. Also check out the A(rmor) Cycle marking on the chest.
Lifting up that central flap reveals that the poor Legioss has a hole in its chest. You can (attempt) to shove another accessory in there. I would like to point out here that, because of complaints about the shape of the light blue chest intakes, CM's Corporation released an upgrade kit with more accurate intakes you had to install yourself.
Now, because Macross made a lot of money, the Legioss is armed with dozens of missile launchers all over its body. Conceptually this was meant to give the Legioss as much firepower as an Armored Valkyrie. Outside of the show, however, (and even in the show, honestly), it comes across as very halfhearted. I've said this before, unless those missiles are being launched, they just look like little red dots with no hint to their true nature.
Before anyone asks, that unopened door on each leg is for the landing gear. Although CM's felt the need to stick one extra red dot under those doors.
The missiles in the shoulder are a little different as they are red nubs and not just dots. I'd also like to point out one of the stranger oversights in this toy's design. When the tail fins are folded up into the forearms they still stick out, which is something I've almost never seen done on a Legioss.
Armo Diver has always been the poor man's walking plane. In the show it looked barely passable, but on this toy it's pretty awful. Even if you use the oddly bow-shaped joints in the knees for that reverse joint look, the overall effect is just a robot bending over. The lack of any thigh or knee swivel also hurts the overall effect as you have to rely on the main hip joints for posing. Here we can also see one of the most common complaints with this toy's design. The fighter mode nose section is just too long and pointy. You can search high and low through the show and lineart and never see it rendered like this. While I can see them altering the design a bit to fit the revised proportions (and maybe to cram in the landing gear), it just looks off and throws people for a loop when they see it.
From certain angles the Armo Fighter mode looks decent. The Legioss is a reasonably competent looking little sci-fi jet. The common intake warning and other little details add some legitimacy to the design. Here, the long nosecone is less egregious. For display in this mode, the Legioss has a complete set of diecast landing gear with working wheels.
A shot from the rear is where we see things start to get messy. There are no pegs or tabs that lock the legs together or even lock the arms into the legs for stability. Merely picking up the toy can knock something out of alignment. A common problem with transforming Legioss toys is how to handle the telescoping legs for the transformation. CM's Corporation came up with a rather ingenious method of using those aforementioned bow-shaped joints in the knees to allow the thighs to retract into the shins without an unreliable sliding mechanism. The problem is that this took up a lot of space inside the legs when retracted, which did not allow the already oversized feet to push in a little bit. The result is a rather messy rear end. The feet also do not lock in place or even peg together, leaving the rear of the Armo Fighter a mess.
The culmination of all the problems discussed above is this nasty gap in the middle of the airplane. All of these problems lead me to believe this toy was designed primarily for Armo Soldier mode with the other modes being kind of an afterthought. Every variation of this toy is packaged in Armo Soldier mode, which to me says this is how CM's Corporation wants to you play with it.
Not to be outdone by an 80's toy, the Legioss does have a hinged canopy with a tiny pilot inside.
While I don't recall this happening in the series, you can mount the gun under either wing as seen in the lineart. It's just a simple plug in affair, although I did find out after removing the gun that the little ring it plugs onto is in fact a separate piece glued into the wing because it totally came off along with the gun. I have no idea why it wasn't just molded as a part of the wing.
The missile pod can also be used to mount the gun. You do have to remove the banana clip and plug it into small black piece that connects to the pod. Sadly, the missile pod only pegs into one arm so it can at best keep them at the right distance, but does not help lock them into place.
Now, like almost any robot design, the Legioss has its fair share of inconsistencies with regards to its proportions across all three forms and the realization of its gimmicks. I tend to give mechanical designers the benefit of the doubt because things envisioned to work on a fifty foot tall robot won't always work on a toy a fraction of the size. Nobody buys a Hot Wheels Thunderbird Convertible and decries the use of "car magic" when the toy does not have a working top. The CAD wizards of Japan have done some amazing things and a hella sweet buildup of the IMAI Legioss makes me believe anything is possible with enough careful planning.
Just for fun you get a set of four little soldiers in various stages of dress. There is a soldier on a Rider Armor in bike mode, a solider with the Ride Armor in its signature power suit mode, a folded up Ride Armor, and a soldier without the Ride Armor. Don't get too excited, as this is just the generic Stickley type and not Houquet's more girlie Bartley Ride Armor. How dare they cheap out on accessories that are smaller than a pill.
For the typical going price of this set (which is equal to one Dark Legioss MSRP), you get this bonus Tread. Its name is sometimes rendered "Tlead", which most people assume is just typical Engrish, but intrepid researcher Roger Harkavy found in his amazing "Imai Files" an unused acronym stating that Tlead means Transport Legioss Escort Armored Dreadnought. Some people tell me Tread fits better because it's easier for foreigners to pronounce and makes reference to the robot's big feet. These people are silly.
A red Tread (say that three times fast) is not something that appeared in the series proper. I heard there might be one in some failed pilot somewhere, but that's neither here nor there. In Mospeada it's all about the blue Tread the gang finds along with two other Legiosses in a graveyard of downed starships. There were also rarely seen black Treads and green Treads.
While the Tread has virtually no diecast, it is by far the better figure of the set. It's a big, solid, chunky robot that poses well and looks great. Like the Legioss is has ratcheted hips and knees along with an impressive array of strong swivel and hinge joints. It even has a fully functional neck, which the Legioss lacks.
For gimmicks the Tread has a full set of opening missile launchers. Strangely, the big breast plates for the chest launcher do not hinge down all the way. I believe corrected plates were included in the upgrade set. While these launchers have the same red dot issue as the Legioss, I feel the size and depth of these weapons gives them more legitimacy. I've also been told the big yellow thing may also be a missile launcher, but I don't recall it being used. Also, don't let anyone tell you different colored Treads have different heads. There is nothing more pure than the deliciously Kakinuma-y flat head with its beady yellow eyes. For what it's worth I think that, despite some discrepancies with the lineart, this Tread captures the look of the animation design.
Please ignore the Mars Base logo on one breast flap and the JB (Jupiter Base) logo near the right launcher. Someone was having an off day.
While the transformation of the Tread is very straightforward, CM's Corporation did devise a clever trick for reconciling the coloring inconsistencies between the Soldier and Bomber mode. Ideally the turtle head shaped cockpit is meant to simply fold down along the robot's sternum, but for some reason it was rendered as a solid white block most of the time. This toy flips the whole cockpit inside the chest and exposes a more accurate sternum piece for the robot mode.
Due to the proportions of the figure and the fact that the Tread itself may be undersized, the cockpit area seems extremely small. This photo (which was totally taken at the same time as the others) shows this toy's cockpit is more like a coffin for a midget pilot. No, this pilot is not in scale with the one in the Legioss or any of the Ride Armor figures.
The Tread does have an intermediate form. You can bend the knees a little more, but that exposes the hinged knee guards that I feel look kinda awful. Also, please forgive me for not flipping out the extra fin on the Tread's rear engine block.
In full Armo Bomber mode the Tread is actually quite majestic for something that looks like a huge brick. The only problem with this mode is the yellow thing does not fit smoothly between the legs of the Tread so it sticks out like a blemish on this big red lady.
This Tread toy has no internal landing gear. It instead relies on this nearly solid block of diecast metal to provide the full set of landing gear. This bludgeoning weapon is meant to represent the extending boom that comes out of the Tread's crotch area and somehow contains the front landing wheel and a connection point for the Legioss.
Now before I get to the biggest issue with this set I'd like to give some back-story on the rocky Legioss x Tread pairing. This is the story I've heard over the years from nerds smarter than me. After finishing up the Legioss design, Shinji Aramaki went home for the night only to return to work the next day a find a huge booster on the back of the Legioss. Apparently, his cohort Hideki Kakinuma was told to add a booster to the design. This would eventually evolve into the transforming Tread machine. Because of this radical change in plans, the union between Legioss and Tread is said to only work on paper because neither design really fits together without parts clipping through each other like a bad Playstation game. Again, I place my faith in the design wizards of Japan to sort this mess out. I myself have mused on how to solve this issue but I feel that the most important step is to plan on doing this union from the very beginning.
CM's Corporation totally didn't do that
I tried taking a picture of these two linked in their respective airplane modes but it sooooooo doesn't work. I have attempted to show this awful orgy in the video review. Here's the best I got using the included stand, which serves as the fulcrum of this carefully balanced calamity. This is terrible. The Legioss's hips slot into a pair of c-shaped clamps with nothing else to keep it from rocking back and forth. While the Tread is firmly connected to the combination bar, this big chunk of metal is not stabilized into the horizontal position in any way, which only leads the whole thing to droop lifelessly. The upgrade set did include a plastic bracket that I guess helps the combination work better. Some people were so desperate they hacked together connectors made of Lego and toilet fixtures.
I'm sorry you had to see this. This isn't a toyetic combination of awesomeness but a bad robot snuff film.
In the end the CM's Corporation Legioss and Tread (Zeta) set has continued to warm the shelves at major online retailers nearly three years after its original release. Despite some misgivings about the look of the toys, a lot of people were excited as these Legioss and Tread sets had the first modern Tread toy. For decades, the only commercially available Tread toy was the extremely rare Gakken toy that barely made it past the test shot page and managed to make its way to France of all places. This toy mated with one of the least pretty small Legioss figures and costs a bundle on the aftermarket. Ironically, this 80's toy does the combination better than the CM's toy.
I personally do not feel that either the Legioss or Tread must hinge their existence on their combined form. While it is dangled like a tasty carrot in the opening of the show, it plays a minor part in the story and is never really showcased during combat in favor of just having the two units operate independently for space crab killing fun. Granted, this did not stop any of the sponsors from pushing the combination as a nifty keen play feature. To CM's Corporation's credit, they did manage to make a passable Legioss toy that is not as hopeless marred with issues as some competing products, and the first Tread that is a cool toy in its own right. They also stuck with the Mospeada license and released just about every Legioss and Ride Armor they could muster. There is something to be said about having the only complete range of Mospeada toys (space crabs don't count), whereas such a feat could not be done at the height of the show's popularity. As the only line of Mospeada toys not sold internationally, this is the fruits of a company rushing to appeal to the narrow window of the show’s anniversary before the nostalgia once again faded to black. Regardless of how you feel about Mospeada, it is a show that only exists because Macross made a lot of money.
The story of the Legioss and Tread has always been a tale of compromises. Almost every aspect of their designs requires a distinct checklist of things that need to be accomplished. One common problem in the pairing of two robots of different sizes is scaling them appropriately. The Legioss has to be relatively small to keep the Tread a reasonable size, otherwise you just get a huge brick of a toy that in the end was always a less popular support mecha. Despite what fans may tell you, the Tread has less popularity than even a Macross Destroid. The problem with a small Legioss is that its complex design begs for a larger toy where fewer compromises have to be made. Aanything larger than the roughly 1/48-ish scale version of this set, however, pushes the Tread into Fortress Maximus levels of uncomfortable for retailers. While the CAD wizards are powerful, they do require a sacrifice of money to work their mystical brilliance.
Before this review concludes I'd like to leave you with something Mr. Harkavy told me in relation to what he found in the IMAI files.
To paraphrase, these are the designs that weren't good enough for a show that was canceled for being unpopular.
I swear to christ if this doesn't process soon...
|Posted 3 November, 2011 - 16:59 by VF5SS|