|Character Design||Ralph McQuarrie|
|Toy Design||Brian Flynn|
Review by NekroDave
We're here at last...
Technically, this toy was only two years in the making, but for anyone who was a child of the 1970s, this is 30+ years of childhood fantasy finally come true. For many of us, our thoughts in the late 1970s were dominated by two things… Star Wars and the Shogun Warriors. Star Wars was (and remains to this day) a phenomenon of science fiction/fantasy escapism, huge with kids everywhere, while the Shogun Warriors, imported robots from Japan based on the popular Jumbo Machinder toys, were simply HUGE in a literal sense. Two feet worth of huge, far larger than any other toys at the time, or since. Although we loved our Star Wars toys, the figures were less than four inches tall, and it's a good bet that most kids then probably thought at least once... "What if....?"
The San Francisco based company is headed by lifelong Star Wars and Japanese toy fan Brian Flynn, who, when given the opportunity to work with Lucasfilm and make a Japanese style Star Wars toy, knew immediately what he needed to do. He needed to answer that lingering question... "What if?"
What if Star Wars had a Shogun Warrior?
The first thing you should know about these types of toys is that they are expensive; expensive to make, expensive to ship, expensive to store. And every company that's ever made them has ultimately decided it was not a good idea from a business standpoint. In the past, however, they've almost always been marketed towards children, and parents simply don't want to pay a price that will make these profitable, assuming they even want toys this big in the home at all. On top of that, they are made from sturdy blow molded polyethylene, a process simply not used for toys anymore. These factors combined have resulted in this limited edition (only 1200 made) adult collectible whose price tag ($299) may scare off some prospective buyers. The hope around these parts is that the collector can see the reasons for the price and realize that to get something this unique, and hopefully more like it in the future, the financial sacrifice must be made.
So, what exactly do you get for your money? Well, these toys are traditionally simple by nature, but Super7 has tried to give you as much bang for your buck as possible, while still remaining faithful to the old style.
For starters, you get two boxes. That's right, TWO boxes. The toy features not only a traditional box, but also an outer shipping container. Both boxes are inspired by traditional Jumbo Machinder boxes, going so far as to even include Japanese writing. The outer box pays homage to the simple cardboard boxes that vintage Jumbo Machinder villains were packaged in and is reminiscent of the box for the Unifive Garada K7 toy, while the inner box combines elements of both Jumbo Machinder hero boxes as well as Shogun Warrior boxes, which differed from their Japanese originals.
|Outer box||Inner box|
To give you an idea of what influenced this style, here is a look at the Stormtrooper box compared to several other vintage boxes.
Where the Shogun Warrior influence comes in is in the writing along the sides proclaiming such things as:
- Rocket Punch!
- Blaster with movable stock!
- Head turns!
- Arms raise and lower!
- Leg rollers!
- No batteries!
- No electricity!
For people unfamiliar with Shogun Warriors, this may seem a little hokey, but it's really a great treat for the fans who grew up with that sort of thing. Other nods to vintage packaging abounds, in the form of a small sticker similar to those seen on vintage Japanese toys, here denoting the collaboration between Star Wars and Super7 by saying "SW/S7 2010". The vintage Star Wars logo is used (in shiny metallic foil, no less!) and a "Proof of Purchase" is even included on the side as well.
The only thing about either box that I don't care too much for is the placement of the shipping label. It's designed to be placed there, but I sort of wish it were on the back where it wouldn't be seen while on display. I'm currently debating whether or not I'll try to remove it.
Of course, eagle eyed readers will have already noted the two things about the box that are really exciting. The label indicating that this will be a series, and the teaser image of what character is next!
Even the interior packing is consistent with the vintage Jumbo Machinder style, while also providing for safe transport of the toy. When you open the shipping box, small pieces of cardboard used to protect the corners of the box are seen.
Once removed, you can slide the box out and you'll see that it's been wrapped in tissue. Opening the box, the toy is covered with a protective piece of cardboard and is packed with cardboard inserts and enclosed in a plastic bag. Accessories and paperwork get their own bags, too. Everything is nice and secure.
OK, now the figure is out of the box, so what about it? Well, the first impression you get is that Super7 must also be big Spinal Tap fans because this thing definitely goes to 11! You keep getting just a little bit more. It's a little bit bigger, a little bit heavier (actually, a lot heavier!). The feet are filled with resin making the toy weigh in at a whopping 7lbs!! The toy retains the iconic Stormtrooper design while adding Shogun Warrior style and functionality.
The first thing that jumps out at you is the gun. The E-11 Blastech Laser Blaster is exquisitely detailed and features a movable stock and removable clip. At the end of the gun is an orange cap, likely included for legal reasons. Don't like the cap? A very slight twist and a yank and its gone, with no harm done. It’s VERY easy to remove (one person said his actually simply FELL off!), but personally, I think I'm going to leave mine in, as its bright orange coloration is evocative of classic toys and adds a fun factor that I like. You mileage may vary.
The gun is easily slid in and out of the right hand of the Super Shogun, and here lies my one and only complaint with the toy. From the moment I heard that there was going to be a trigger finger extended from the rest of the fist, I didn't like the idea. It basically renders the toy almost undisplayable when the gun is not in his hand. Traditional Machinders have had holes in their hands to hold weapons in the past, but always just a hole in a clenched fist. I'm not sure why this change was made, but I don't care for it.
The second feature that is less obvious, but perhaps even more awesome than the gun, is the spring loaded rocket punch fist. For the uninitiated Star Wars reader, most Jumbo Machinders/Shogun Warriors had a launching fist, even character that, by all rights, should NOT have, such as Godzilla. So if you are wondering why in the world your Stormtrooper can fire his fist off, it's a classic feature of the toys this is based on. It's insane, but all the better for it. Fortunately, if such a thing is too far out for you, the button to fire the fist blends in very well with the rest of the arm. You might not even notice it if it weren't pointed out to you.
Unlike traditional Machinders, the fists on this toy are made of soft vinyl. Polyethylene does not take paint very well so the change was made to accommodate the two colors of the fist. This worried me initially on two levels. First, I was afraid that when the fist was fired, the impact would scuff the paint on the fist. Fortunately, it appears as though it is molded in black vinyl so there is no paint at the point of impact. Secondly, I wasn't sure how the vinyl fists would latch into the arm and was afraid it might be something that would weaken and tear over time. My fears in this regard were also eased when I saw that the firing pin is still made of polyethylene and is simply inserted into the fist. This not only ensures that the tabs on the pin likely will not break, but it has the added benefit of giving the figure wrist articulation! That's something that I don't think I've seen on another Machinder.
While I'm on the subject of articulation, both wrists turn, both arms turns and both arms raise and lower, and of course, the head can be turned as well. Other than that, it's a pretty static figure, but here’s another surprise for the Star Wars fan...it has wheels on the feet! Leg rollers or roller skates, whatever you want to call them, they are a staple of some of the earliest Jumbo Machinder toys and when this project was first announced, fans asked two things: "Will it shoot a projectile"? and "Will it have wheels on the feet?". Check and check!
In keeping with the tradition of Japanese toys, the name of the toy and the manufacturer information are on the bottom of the left foot, as well as the unique hand written number assigned to the toy. Mine is number 937.
Two last things to touch on and both will endear this toy to fans of the vintage toys. Included in the box is a very retro instruction sheet, with artwork and styling based on the classic style of the Shogun Warriors, and a sticker sheet. Two stickers are included, one saying "Stormtrooper" in English, the other in Japanese (ストームトルーパー). You can choose which one you prefer and apply it on the lower chest. I think the toy looks fine without either so I think I'll leave mine blank, or maybe I just can't decide which is better. Maybe I'll have to get two more and display them all three ways...
I think that's about it. So, does this toy fit in with vintage Machinders? Decide for yourself...
The Super Shogun Stormtrooper is still in stock at starwars.super7store.com! Order yours before they're all gone!
|Posted 19 June, 2010 - 14:27 by NekroDave|