Review by JoshB
While the rest of America is watching the Super Bowl, I'm here writing a review of one of the better toys I've had the pleasure to handle in a long time.
Gronk just got a touchdown.
The Soul of Chogokin GaoGaiGar is the culmination of 18 years of SOC development, and it shows. It's a nearly perfect gokin, with a good mix of play value and high-end collector appeal.
The GX-68 Soul of Chogokin GaoGaiGar arrives courtesy of Bluefin Distribution. Get yours wherever Bluefin products are sold, including:
GaoGaiGar is a Japanese animated show by Sunrise that aired in 1997. It was (and remains) insanely popular, largely due to the incredible coolness of the designs. The show was developed closely with sponsor Takara, so the mechanical design was directly made to be reproduced in toy form. What you saw in the TV show is what you got in a toy. A rare feat, even to this day. As such, the SOC GaoGaiGar is unique is that there is very little "anime magic" represented in the toy. There are no special panels or parts required to reproduce a look that appeared in the anime. The transformation and gimmicks as they appeared in the anime are faithfully recreated in this spectacular toy.
The box follows the style of the recent SOC releases with bold text and glamour shots. I wish Bandai would use thicker cardboard as I find these a bit flimsy. Why can Masterpiece Transformers have such gloriously thick boxes, but not Bandai's flagship collector brand?
Inside is a full styrofoam tray with a small clear plastic tray for accessories.
Since GaoGaGar comes dissasembled into it's varous components, that's where we'll start.
Drill Gao is a tank with dual drills on the front. Japan loves it's drill tanks, and I for one am thankful for that. This beefy machine is a big chunk of metal with real working tank treads.
Each drill on the front can turn, but it's a little tight. The cockpits feature transparent windows as sometimes people like Guy would ride inside.
The tank treads are not rubber, but actually consist of individual plastic links. It's not super smooth, but I appreciate that these will last a lot longer than rubber treads.
There's some nice detail on the back, which will eventually become GaoGaiGar's feet.
Stealth Gao is a giant stealth fighter which resembles a Northrop B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. As far as I can tell it's entirely plastic. It doesn't do much.
A stand is included to display Stealth Gao in the air.
Liner Gao is modeled after a 500 series Shinkansen bullet train. It comes in two parts which connect with a connector part. I'm not sure why they needed a separate part to connect the two trains instead of building the mechanism inside. The trains are all plastic on the outside but inside there's significant weight due to the arm mechanism.
Underneath you can see the internal arm mechanism as well as the wheels that Liner Gao rolls on.
Gao Liner and Stealth Gao can combine by unfolding clips on the bottom of Stealth Gao
Being a space robot lion, Galeon is not modeled after any vehicle because it is a giant space lion. Still, it's an awesome looking piece, and a great toy in its own right. Being the core of GaoGaoGar, it's loaded with metal.
The arms and legs are fully articulated with tight, metal joints. The lion's jaw opens and the tail has a few joints as well.
In the show, Galeon and the cyborg Guy fuse together to form GaiGar. Sadly, no figure of Guy is included with the set, but to be fair, he'd be about the size of a grain of rice.
Transformation is simple and mechanically perfect. This thing looks stellar in both modes. Once in robot mode, GaiGar is a wonderfully articulated heavy robot.
The bulk of the variant hands included with the set are for use with GaiGar. There are three sets of open, closed and splayed hands in addition to the included fully articulated hands.
A variant "angry" faceplate is also included.
GaiGar can also combine with some of the Gao Machines while outside of their combined GaoGaiGar form.
Here you see GaiGar with Drill Gao attached to the arms. This is achieved by simply attaching the clips from inside Drill Gao to GaiGar's forearms.
Pats just won.
You can also attach Stealth Gao to the back of GaiGar, but it requires the use of a connector on the back, and support from a stand.
Combining all the parts together is accurate to the anime but not quite as intuitive as you would think. There are neat little assembly points that really show how far engineering has come. Watch the video below to see all the steps, but it pretty much combines just like it does in the anime.
The combined GaoGaiGar is a beast. It's heavy, solid, and fun to handle. Some random thoughts about the transformation process
- Inserting the legs of GaiGar into Drill Gao is trickier than expected. Getting them to line up just right takes a few tries.
- Make sure you have Liner Gao facing the right way when you insert it, or the arms will bend backwards
- I love how when you insert Liner Gao, it triggers a switch that make the sides of the torso pop out and fill the space with spring loaded action
- Having the hands expand in a spinning motion when you insert the arms is brilliant.
- Trying to remove the forearms from Stealth Gao and then trying to fold the connectors back in is a pain
The head looks great, and retains some motion despite being tethered to the Stealth Gao. If I had any complaint is that the faceplate looks too white and could use some painted detail, maybe some subtle panel lines.
The articulated hands that store in the arms look good, but are a little small.
Fortunately Bandai has included an incredible set of larger articulated hands. These hands are amazing and look incredibly natural. Every joint in every finger is articulated.
Also included is a combined set of hands to form the Heaven and Hell attack. To use them you need to collapse the panels of the lions mane to angle the arms inward, then connect the hand assembly.
During the Heaven and Hell attack you can also open the vents on the back of Stealth Gao, and position the vents on the edge of the wing.
GaoGaoGar also comes with his signature weapon, the Dividing Driver. This large, orange, screwdriver-shaped weapon comes in two parts and can be attached to either arm, although it is most commonly used on the left arm.
The pistons on the weapon move and actually have spring resistance.
As it is, it's an amazing release. I can imagine if you were a fan of the Anime, your head might explode at this release. It's just about perfect. There's no shortage of GaoGaiGar toys, and this is the best one I've handled.
|Posted 3 February, 2015 - 21:45 by JoshB|