Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Voltron Giant Commander from LJN Toys

(80's toy commercials, also known as your parents' arch nemesis)

LJN brought some of the coolest toys to toy store shelves in the 80s. Everything from the top bruisers from the WWF to our favorite Saturday morning cartoon hits like Thundercats and Tigersharks (but shockingly not Silverhawks, go figure). In 1984 LJN brought the Mighty Lion Force Voltron to America, most memorably for me the Giant Commander. A two foot tall, remote control replica of everyone's favorite combiner outside of Transformers. It was a real treat for fanboys old and young considering the original one had only been available in Japanese / Oriental markets prior to LJN getting their hands on the license and they didn't skimp on the extras for it's American debut.
(he's seen things, as has his box. I wish I looked this good for being almost 30 years old too.)

First of all the package is big, bright and impressive. The box is just over 2 foot tall and has a large window so you can see exactly what you are getting. A standard nesting "coffin" lid is the only thing that stands between your grubby hands and the most impressive Voltron collectible this side of the Pacific ocean. Out of the box; Voltron comes with two sticker sheets, an instruction manual, a remote control base (which is fully removable from the robot) and the Blazing Sword. I mentioned earlier this is different than the Popy version (for those not hip to the lingo, Popy is a company that produced a lot of cool robots and monsters for the Japanese market. Feel free to Google or eBay search for them, they made tons of the jumbo style Shogun Warriors and whatnot.), their version had firing hip missiles but didn't come with the Blazing Sword, "grasping" hands or remote control base. Some people will argue for ages which one is the best, I put my money on the LJN release.....USA, USA, USA, USA!
(the crime scene)

(nice sword, overcompensating for something?)

(these hands are made for pinching)

The remote control takes two fresh C cell batteries for fun to begin. The remote control base is fun, but only in small doses. Like most cheaper remote control toys it has two directions; forward and turning right in reverse. Luckily, only a few screws stand between you and liberating the Giant Commander from his bondage. With Voltron free from his base, it hits you; damnit, this toy feels really light and cheaply made. This Voltron is made like the Jumbo Machinders (or jumbo Shogun Warriors) of the late 70s, blow molded  plastic similar in composition to your average shampoo bottle. The only difference between Voltron and his Jumbo Machinder brothers is the feet aren't weighted, mostly because they never planned on kids taking him off the "fun" remote control base.
(complete waste of plastic for an adult, hours of fun for a child)

Voltron is articulated at the neck, shoulders, wings, elbows and hands. The figure grips the Blazing Sword quite well but some movement is hindered by the "grasping" hands. The base, in my opinion, is garbage and I  won't be using it for display of the Giant Commander. The paint and stickers help pull off a fairly good likeness of it's cartoon counterpart and in my mind is the definitive vintage Voltron collectible next to the Castle of Lions playset. He's also a great Jumbo Machinder brother from another mother and displays well with the rest of my 2 foot tall club. Overall, a great collectible and worth picking up if you like Voltron or Shogun Warriors.

(high quality scans of the stickers and instruction manual, b/c my fans deserve more)

(a really cool 5 foot tall standee used to lure children into asking for this monstrosity of a toy. Needless to say, it worked.)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Kilazee from Ultraman: Towards the Future by Bandai

(for lack on actual show footage, I must rely on the SNES to give us some visuals)

A monster from Earth's past destined to destroy it, the winged monster Kilazee made his appearance in the final episode of Ultraman: Towards the Future. The final battle in any Ultraman series is usually something to stop and take notice of and this is no exception. This red dragon of death and destruction was nearly impervious to all human weapons, it even sustained a direct hit from a nuclear weapon and did nothing more than shrug it's shoulders and flapped it's wings in response. Looking like the end was certainly near, Ultraman Great took on his final opponent atop of the the great mountains in the secluded outback of Australia. Even though Kilazee seemed indestructible, Ultraman Great triumphed by using his last Great Slicer and Star Beam to kill the beast before picking it up and carrying it into space. Neither was ever seen again.

The Bandai Kilazee figure is leaps and bounds better than the Dreamworks American release. Granted the Bandai figure is smaller and the paint application isn't as good, but the textures and details sculpted into all 7 inches of this figure makes it a feast for your eyes. This version is much more show accurate in detail and fits in with the rest of the Ultraman saga figures from Bandai. The only thing I feel is lacking from the figure is the lack of paint applications. Take into account, the Dreamworks figure has a more colorful paint application but is still far from show accurate. On a personal note, all of the monsters from the Towards the Future line are really hard to find. I've been collecting for years and I'm still 5 characters short of a complete set of this line, Bandai never really went into any great degree of repaints/ re-issues of characters from the Towards the Future line making the figures very collectible and commanding higher prices on a secondary market.