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Combattra

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14 comments posted
oh man, those prices. I too

oh man, those prices. I too have passed on these prices as a kid although not because I didnt want, but didnt have the cash since I was too young to be making my own money. I could have begged for em but that would never work. Great review by the way!

chachipower's picture
Posted by chachipower on 16 May, 2011 - 21:40
man

stories like that hit home...had my mom talked me out of a grandizer shogun warrior for 5 bucks and always regret...think I remember goggle V at Toy-r-us....asked for a voltes V for x-mas but it was actually like 85 bucks...was my main x-mas present. Great Review BTW...

AJProDie-Cast's picture
Posted by AJProDie-Cast on 17 May, 2011 - 00:03
The $7.00 Sear's Exclusive Cobra Cardboard Missile Base

Thanks for the replies. Yes, there are more than a few regrets of items I didn't buy when I had the chance. My biggest loss was when I saw the Sear's Exclusive Cobra Cardboard Missile Base at Sears Surplus for $7.00 in Upland. I begged and begged and begged my Mom knowing this was perhaps the only chance I would be able to get it. My mom said no and that was that. 30 years later its an around $400.00 items for some pre printed die cut cardboard. $7.00 was the better deal!

Cheers!
LF

Modcineaste's picture
Posted by Modcineaste on 17 May, 2011 - 11:19
Great Review

Really nice write up. I love your stories about the prices. As a kid my folks bought me a godsigma and it was like my only big gift but in the catalog that came with it I saw combattra and fell in love. Sadly I never could find one in a store. A friend of mine had some beaten up pieces of one from the u-combine shogun set. I traded him something for the pieces. Man, that kid also had no idea what he had. Anyway That was as close as I got to having a combattra until the late 90's when I finally picked up two of them. One was loose until I mentioned it to this guy Steve who worked at a place called outer limits in NJ. He GAVE me a gold box with some fists, drill and other stuff in it. That guy was amazing. Too bad that store closed . Just the greatest toy ever. Boxes with handles rule :) Again great review!

Novacaine31's picture
Posted by Novacaine31 on 17 May, 2011 - 21:13
Bewitchery and wonderment.

Bewitchery and wonderment.

jacksauce's picture
Posted by jacksauce on 18 May, 2011 - 21:14
Why these things were blown out, and why parents were reluctant

Ah, Combattra...
It's a toy I have a long history with...

It's important to realize WHY kids and parents weren't so keen on Godaikin in the US around the line's original release in the 80's... my father worked as a manager of a toy store here in NJ, so I clearly remember why I wasn't allowed to own all the line, only a few here and there... we haven't talked toy since the early 90s so if my memories are hazy forgive me...

Combattra was one that I always wanted, was always denied, and one of my 1st gokin purchases in the early-mid 90's when the prices were fair and there wasn't such a huge scalper-scene with vintage diecast or Popy in general... also one of the 1st toys I sold for a serious profit.

They cost so much versus Hasbro's Transformers, plus they broke when you played with them. At $50-100, these things weren't cheap and guys like Combattra and Gardian were pretty quick to break in kid-hands. They break easily in adult hands! These things were pretty quickly returned to the store, and parents would get rowdy looking for money back. The store wouldn't get credit for the busted toys until they were returned to distro, which could be months later... for small stores like the one my father worked for, this was poison.

As a kid my father worked as a manager of a toy store here in NJ. His only memories of Godaikin were the returns... how they would break either in shipping from the NJ warehouse (these things would break in the case on a 50 mile trip, I can only imagine some further stores and what they got!) or parents would come with crying kids the next day wanting a full refund or a new toy. Apparently, it was so bad, and so constant an issue, that these were his only memories of the line, how much of a problem it was for the store, and how much his little son wanted them all... When I bought Combattra in the 90's he quipped that his store made so little money from Godaikin and Gobots that the "robot fever" craze was a profit for toy makers and not stores... The manufacturers took advantage of the craze to charge big bucks to the wholesalers. The store's markups on Godaikins was only 10-20%, which is a tiny, tiny profit for toy buisness, especially in the 80s. TF was a bit more, but not much. His store made so much more money from other toys that they stopped stocking them. Not because they didn't sell, but because of how much Bandai, Hasbro, and Matchbox wanted per case. If you make a 90% profit off of hula-hoops, 80% profit on hong kong knockoffs like Lionbots, and a 50-60% profit from GIJOE toys, why would you continue to stock toys that break that you make only 15% profit on? Rest assured chains like TRU and Kay-Bee took a massive hit on Godaikin, with them probably breaking even ...maybe... on the $50 price discount.

We now know that Bandai's NJ Godaikin operation was not super-profitable anyway due to the repacking, shipping the heavy toys from Japan, and US labor at the time, so these numbers make sense.

I think some of the confusion was also from Bandai's representatives, who sold the line as "new shogun warriors" to stores, and played up the quality and die-cast... far more complex toys than Shoguns, and way more fragile. Shoguns were something that buyers knew from the 70s as opposed to using the "Transformers" name and giving Hasbro more word of mouth. There was also a language-barrier issue; many of the reps from Bandai weren't from the US and had trouble explaining some of the concepts in English, or would miss appointments picking up damaged toys from retailers.

The impression kids my age had of these were the same as Lionbot... "Fake Voltrons." Kids didn't want them because it wasn't Voltron. Add that the 2nd series window boxes weren't as attractive to kids as the picture-boxes (hence the difference in price and rarity), and the lagging GoBots were shelf-warmers... "Transformers" and "Voltron" were brands sold to kids daily via TV - Godaikins were, due to no prominent "branding," relegated to 2nd tier with Gobots.

This all created a perfect storm, which partially put my father's store under in the 80s after he left, and put Godaikins into the deep discount bins, creating a deep prejudice against larger diecast robot toys with retailers, much how Star Wars: Episode I did for carded action figures in the early 2000's.

Sorry for another long comment, but maybe this will shine a light onto the history of the toy and the line in general, and maybe explain a little history of gokin in the US that people don't know!

The Big R's picture
Posted by The Big R on 19 May, 2011 - 10:08
Meat

This is the kind of insight I like when writing, no opinion but hard facts on the business side of toy manufacturing and retail! Excellent, this cleared up a lot of questions I had concerning the business side of selling these.

Thank you for taking the time out and writing this!

Cheers
LF

Modcineaste's picture
Posted by Modcineaste on 19 May, 2011 - 11:29
Yeah that's some great

Yeah that's some great information. Thanks for sharing.

Novacaine31's picture
Posted by Novacaine31 on 19 May, 2011 - 15:55
thanks

great comments, help shed light on a history steep in children (us) feeling ignored and slighted and parents actually doing what makes sense...thanks.

AJProDie-Cast's picture
Posted by AJProDie-Cast on 19 May, 2011 - 21:30
The poor combatller...

In my country, The poor combattler always under the shadow of Voltes. Many people thinks that Combattler is rip of of Voltes. I don't blame them because combattler videos never sold here.

Berserk's picture
Posted by Berserk on 19 May, 2011 - 20:08
Same Dad.

They have the same creator, so it's not surprising...

The Big R's picture
Posted by The Big R on 22 May, 2011 - 09:35
Great review, and backing

Great review, and backing story Mr. Mod!
Beautiful pics of a classic toy.
I'm sure eventually all the old school DX sets will be reviewed, and cataloged here on CDX.
I'll echo my thanks to BigR and the rest of you for your backup stories. Like most of you , my family didn't have the funds with 4 kids, to justify big, expensive sets like this, so didn't get them until much later when grown up.

repairtechjon's picture
Posted by repairtechjon on 21 May, 2011 - 22:57
Shogun Version - 1978

In the U.S., the Shogun Warriors version was offered by Mattel in 1978 as five individual Shogun vehicles or as a single large boxed set, both under the moniker "U-Combine". This was a full 4 years before the Godaikin. I believe the vehicles listed for $10 each. $50 at the time would have been a week or two of groceries, during a time when food prices were a much higher ratio of household earnings compared to today.

With no electronics, lights, sound or motorized action to justify their steep price (even Biotron was around $12), Godaikins were a puzzling toyline with a steep price point. These toys are 100% about the robot anime boom, which wasn't happening in the U.S. until well into the 80s, and tepidly at that.

Interesting to hear about the fragility and frustrations of shop owners - just adds to the downfall story. But still, there were so many pieces that made it into Godaikin boxes. One would think that a failing toyline would have died before so many products got out?

leMel42's picture
Posted by leMel42 on 31 May, 2011 - 01:30
That was informative

Very informative
I am talking about the comments posted
Economics 101 for Plastic/Metal Robots Fans everywhere.

ThePlasticRobot's picture
Posted by ThePlasticRobot on 7 August, 2013 - 00:33
 
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