Review by The Enthusiast
Red Fighter (full name: Battery Operated Super Robot Defender of Justice Red Fighter) belongs to a strange and obscure sub-genre of Japanese robots, the MekaRobo. MekaRobo is the missing link between tin and diecast. Each has the proportions, stature, and motorized gimmicks of the classic tin bots, infused with super robot funk.
Popy only released two characters in this format, Combattler and Gaiking (MR Gaiking was released in the U.S. as Shogun Warrior Zargon). These toys used a kit of parts to create the robot forms. These parts could then be variously reconfigured into other robots or vehicles. The two original molds have been extensively bastardized, bootlegged, and knocked-off.
Bandai itself released pared-down (read: bastardized) versions of these toys a few times in the U.S., as the Red and Blue Fighters; and the Red and Blue Motionic toys, respectively. The red versions are based off of the Combattler molds, the blue versions off of the Gaiking molds. I believe all four have unique head sculpts.
The Red Fighter comes in a generic but winningly disco-tinged box (7.5”x 10.5”x 4”). The front features a soft-focus, gleaming photograph of the toy, similar to contemporaneous Micronaut packaging.
The top and sides feature more photographs, including parts and alternate configurations.
The pieces come unassembled in a corrugated cardboard tray. A minimal brochure is included.
The set consists of (1) head, (1) Torso, (2) arms, (2) legs, (2) feet, (2) wheels, and (1) set of tank treads. The torso has motorized rotating plugs at the shoulders, head, belly, and back, with the latter two plugs operating the treads. The Leg plugs shuffle back and forth at the hips. Everything is sturdy ABS, with added mechanical heft in the torso. The tank treads are rubber.
It all adds up to a good-looking robot with a couple of extra, largely extraneous, pieces. The original gimmick, the microman-like interchangeability of the pieces, barely remains. The original arm components were replaced with fixed, clumsy arms which clash with the rest of the design. Additional accessories and components were left out altogether.
I don’t find the limited building possibilities terribly compelling, but I can see a child still having fun with them. I’m only really interested in the bot. Red Fighter stands at a respectable 14” tall. I like the scale of these toys. They fit nicely between Popy DX toys and Jumbos.
Like most of the second generation MekaRobos, Red Fighter’s head is the best part. It’s really a beautiful and unique design, and nicely detailed. I’d love to see the rest of a robot that properly matches it.
The rest of the bot is solid and well-proportioned, if uninspired. The lack of paint applications and decals really hold back the aesthetics. Without the finish detailing, the otherwise fine sculpting looks anonymous. If you like motorized action, you can make the robot shuffle, drive, spin his arms, and so forth.
The MekaRobos are fun to collect. I like their “otherness”. Each is vaguely familiar, but distinctly different from its Popy relatives. They nicely fill a few gaps in my collection.
A quick note: Most of what I know about MR comes from Matt Alt's Excellent article here.
|Posted 20 May, 2009 - 17:33 by The Enthusiast|