Review by The Enthusiast
The Jewel Lords are a subset of the Rock Lords, themselves a subset of the oft-maligned Gobots, or Machine Robo toys in Japan. Despite an impeccable Popy pedigree, these toys are little loved, at least in the States. It’s true that the line had its disappointments, but there were terrific entries as well, such as the Jewel Lords.
As Machine Robo wound down in the late eighties, Bandai lost its damned mind and introduced the Rock Lords. The Rock Lords are baffling. What appeals to me about transforming mecha is that something inherently cool, a robot, becomes something else which is cool, say a gun or a spaceship, using the same mechanical vocabulary. The Rock Lords, however, aren’t robots at all - they are living rock-monsters. But hold on! These living rock-monsters, as if by magic, can transform into…ROCKS. That’s it, rocks. Becoming a rock solves nothing. It’s not productive, fun, scary, or cool.
That being said, I love the Rock Lords. They are surprisingly good toys. Many have decent diecast content, and the transformations are inventive and sophisticated. The figure modes are mostly attractive, really embracing the alien/monster aesthetic, not unlike the MR “devil” foes before them. Rock Lords are more substantial than the typical, first-wave (or 600 series) Gobots, really durable and 4” tall.
The Jewel Lords were a late entry into the Rock Lord pantheon, and switched things up with translucent plastics. Their alt-modes are crystalline gemstones. Other than late-period scarcity, one can’t help but speculate that the sales of these were impacted by the vaguely feminine quality of the toys. There is a distinct My Little Pony/She-Ra vibe to these.
No matter. The clear plastic over metal aesthetic is beautiful, evoking Henshin Cyborg and Microman. Each of the Jewel Lords is solid, well detailed (painted screws!), and fun to hold and play with.
Sunstone, or Amberman in Japan, is a boxy, pugnacious figure cast in orange translucent plastic, with chrome diecast limbs and joints.
His head is nicely detailed with paint applications.
The claws on his hands and feet are painted with metallic silver, a detail similar to the Devil Satan Six monsters.
His only accessory, a dull gold axe, is missing from this specimen. While Sunstone is technically well-articulated, his joints mainly exist in service of the transformation. His arms just sort of flop around and cannot hold a pose. His knees bend, but once you bend them he cannot stand. His hips spread somewhat, though balancing him once you’ve done so is difficult. Oh yeah, he has a waist joint.
The transformation to a lump-of-amber alt-mode is complex, requiring you to slide pieces apart, twist and collapse them.
Sunstone has the best and most Rock Lord-like transformation of the Jewel Lords.
The lump-of-amber, while an attractive object, suffers from the inherent Rock Lord flaw in that it doesn’t do anything.
It feels more like a puzzle than a proper transformer. Sunstone is a solid toy and looks great along side the other Jewel Lords, Rock Lords, or translucent toys. I would expect to pay anywhere from ten to twenty-five bucks for Sunstone loose.
|Posted 24 March, 2009 - 12:02 by The Enthusiast|