Review by VF5SS
Aura Battler Dunbine is a classic '80s robot anime filled with mechanical designs that seemed ahead of their time. The titular Aura Battlers are known for their particular fantasy motif that combines medieval knight armor with insects. While their subtle curves, fierce talons, and bug wings made for cool animation, the toy technology of the time was often very unflattering to Dunbine mecha. Honestly, I continue to be amazed by the ambition of designers in the 1980s, who pioneered new styles in toyetic robots when the merchandise tended to be a bit doughy and clunky. There certainly was always charm in that old school way, but it's cool to see the Aura Battlers get a new lease on life in modern toy lines.
The Botune (Boh-chune~) is a mass-produced Aura Battler used by the rebels of Byston Well who fight against the forces of Drake Luft. They appear in a variety of colors in the series, with the burgundy one belonging to the show's main heroine: the wonderfully named Marvel Frozen. You know, when I think of a red-headed woman from Texas, the first things that comes to mind are two properties owned by Disney.
The Robot Damashii Botune is a sharp (both figuratively and literally) rendition of this soldier Aura Battler. It is an all plastic figure with molding so crisp that you may need to be cautious around all the pointy bits. It stands about six inches tall.
The massive Aura Converter dominates the back of the Botune, with two movable thrusters covering a set of translucent insect wings.
Each thruster is connected to the converter via a ball-joint and they have an near unobstructed range of movement. Despite the bulk of its backpack, the Botune carries the weight quite well.
The converter itself can also slide downward.
The insect wings come separate from the figure in the box. They pop into the gray colored organic areas via a ball-joint, which allows them to move about. While the wings don't feel particularly fragile, I would be careful moving them, as they are fairly thin plastic. I find grasping them at the base is the best way to pose the wings.
Its head resembles a fierce bird of prey, which gives the Botune a very regal and noble appearance.
As the Botune looks up, the orange throat-like section moves along with the "beak" to fill in the neck. It's a neat effect that preserves the smooth contours of the upper body.
The base of the neck can also move back...
And forward, reinforcing the bird-like design.
Unfortunately, the flowing cowl around the cheeks and the way the orange part feeds into the neck limits side-side motion.
The Botune's arms are a modern miracle of toy design with multiple swivels, hinges, and ball-joints allowing everything to move in a smooth, natural manner. Sadly, the shoulder armor can limit articulation, as they just rotate back on a track. Still, you can get the arms to point straight up with some doing.
The upper body features ball-joints in the torso and waist. This allows the Botune to flex about 45 degrees to the left or right. However, be sure to mind the opening clear green panels on the chest, as they can bump into the hip area. There is a gap in the groin that allows the panels to sink down, but doing this makes them appear to split apart.
Another important point of articulation are the movable cable talons in the groin. Most Aura Battlers have these claw-tipped grappling hooks positioned somewhere, and the Botune's are in the nether regions. Again, these bits are sharp and pointy so be gentle.
While the figure doesn't have ankle joints per se, the four movable talons on each foot make a pretty good substitute. The front claw has two hinges for movement and the rear has one. Each of the side claws can pivot around on a ball-joint.
The Botune's knees are exceptionally well executed, with the flexibility to give the figure a digitigrade stance like in the line art or bend inward to ready a kick.
And the hips have a cool system of hinges with a ball-joint on either end. The mechanism has the same organic detailing as the rest of the figure, which helps emphasize the bio-mechanical nature of Aura Battlers. My only issue with this setup is how sometimes the whole assembly can get flipped upside-down, which makes the hips pose unevenly. Straightening them back out again is tricky but doable.
Since most of the Botune's weapons are internal, the toy doesn't need a lot of accessories. You get a few hands, an Aura Sword with scabbard, and an adapter to attach the figure to the Robot Damashii Fau.
The scabbard plugs onto the central block of the backpack, with the open end on the right side. You can make the Botune reach up to pull its sword out, but there's not enough room for it to draw the blade. This is actually a weird quirk of most Aura Battlers, as they just sorta have to fake it.
The Botune's Aura Sword fits nicely in its one weapon-holding hand. It's a good meaty looking blade that would fit right in with something out of Dark Souls. One interesting thing the instructions point out is that the figure's wrist cuffs can rotate so they don't interfere with the handle of the sword. This attention to detail is kind of astounding.
All Aura Battlers have an opening cockpit gimmick. With the Botune, pilot egress is a three-step process. First the two gray locking claws hinge up and out of the way.
Next, the two main clear green panels swing outward to expose the inner cockpit pod in the abdomen. Just get your fingernail or a tool in there to flip up the center window to expose a small pilot's seat. There is no figure included, so you'll just have to imagine Ms. Marvel Frozen is sitting there.
While this makes for a neat display, opening the Botune's cockpit can be a bit finicky, with the main chest panels popping off their hinges. And as I mentioned before, moving the upper body around can force the panels apart, which creates a small gap as you pose the figure. This can be somewhat irritating, but I suppose Aura Battlers wouldn't be '80s mecha designs without some quirky gimmick that affects future toys of them decades down the line.
Lookin' at you too, Mister Scopedog.
A Tamashii Stage can be plugged into either port underneath the Botune's crotch. I appreciate that this feature was integrated into the figure without the need for an extra attachment.
However, you will need this gray thingie to attach the Botune to the Fau. Since I do not own the big Dunbine support vehicle, here is a scan of the instructions showing how the Botune mounts the vehicle for completeness. Some parts, like the outer foot talons, have to be removed in order to perform this coupling.
Now honestly, I don't have a whole lot more to say about the Robot Damashii Botune. I had never handled one of the modern Dunbine figures before, so I was surprised to find a toy of a secondary Aura Battler to be so expertly built.
The design itself strikes the right balance between eye-catching and humble, as it is not intended to be the main mecha of Dunbine.
The toy looks quite majestic "in flight," owing to its avian aesthetics.
"Drake Luft's main force is moving towards the river! He should not underestimate a woman!"
The Botune hovers like some vast, predatory bird whilst its pilot spouts Tomino dialog.
"Sho can handle an Aura Battler, and I can too!"
"Let's go! Remember to stay calm in battle, otherwise you'll hit a tree!"
Overall, the Robot Damashii Botune is a very enjoyable figure, even for a Dunbine neophyte like myself. It may have taken about thirty years for toy technology to catch up to Aura Battlers, but it's a testament to their uniqueness that these knightly bug bots can still get people excited. This is definitely a toy I can recommend to fans and non-fans alike.
|Posted 12 May, 2015 - 10:16 by VF5SS|