Ah, the summer of 2001. The memories of those days are still pretty vivid in my mind, as if it wasn’t all that long ago. “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” was something fresh and new, the Macarena wasn’t illegal yet (at least in New Jersey), and George W. Bush’s biggest problem was getting out of the Oval Office by 5:00 every day.
Bandai, you see, discovered this thing called the Shrinky-Dink Machine. They took the old standard Bullmark vinyls and turned them into little 200-yen Soul of Bullmarks. Sure, Marusan had tried this a few years before, but they didn’t make the toys small enough. Collectors wanted tiny things for their tiny living spaces, and they snapped up the little SOBs like crazy. For all intents and purposes, they were the same toys. Same paint jobs, same material, only smaller and squooshier.
Bandai then delved into their own toy history to give us the Mini Popynika and Mini Chogokin gashapon toys. Speaking for myself, while they were great likenesses of the original toys, I was a little let down by the low metal content. As a result these didn’t carry the essence of the original toys like the Soul of Bullmarks did, but I don’t think anyone could have delivered that for 300 yen.
So now they have given us The Chogokin. I got the first three from Hobbylink Japan, for 1500 yen each plus 1860 yen shipping via EMS. All told, it cost $52.80 and arrived in 4 days.
Mazinger-Z is my favorite of the bunch so far, with four spring-loaded missiles and fists. Getta 1 is, well, Getta 1, with his little middle-finger powered tomahawk and head-butting action, and Robocon is sweet as sugar.
I don’t have any of the original Popys to compare with, but I have been told that the shoulders of Mazinger and Getter are plastic, as opposed to the metal originals. I can live with this, though. I do have the GA-14R Robocon reissue (which was made in Japan, incidentally). Here’s a size comparison shot of the gashapon Chogokin, The Chogokin, and the reissue.
Some brief differences I noted, comparing all versions with the big shot of Robocon on the back cover of Green Arrow Graffitti #13:
- The Chogokin has gold-hued arms and legs, as opposed to the silver of the original and reissues.
- The head area of The Chogokin version is more similar to the original’s, which may have been mounted plastic buttons (as seen in this shot of a really beat-up original). The Chogokin’s eyes are part of the main body, painted diecast. The differing eyes of the reissue were hinted at in Matt’s 12/04/99 interview of Koji Igarashi.
- This is really minor, but the original has philips head screws holding the hands together.
- The box of The Chogokin version is almost as big as the full-size reissue’s. Go figure.
Yes, I notice these things. Yes, I think about this stuff. Yes, I have no life. Yes, I am a weanie. But so are you for reading this.
So far, the The Chogokin lineup consists of…
In summary: if you love old school die cast metal robots, get these. If you don’t, at the very least get Mazinger-Z, he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite toys this year.