D’ya know Denjin? Probably not. They’re an ultra-minor “garage” toy maker with a single license to their name. Or more precisely, only one that I care about: the license to produce limited-edition, retro-styled, soft vinyl representations of robots from the Mobile Suit Gundam series.
Denjin first caught my eye about a year and a half ago, when they sold a pair of soft-vinyl Zakus (one “Char,” one “cannon fodder”) as convention exclusives. With their old-skool sculpt and satisfying size (roughly equivalent to the “standard Bullmark” scale of nine inches), they were a standout in a flood of depressingly similar Gundam merchandise.
Unfortunately, I missed the boat the first time around, and prices had skyrocketed on Japanese auction sites before I could get my greasy mitts on them. But fortunately, Denjin wasn’t a one-hit wonder.
In the middle of last year, Denjin bulked up their line with a whole slew of new characters. To wit: a “commander type” green Zaku, Doms molded in purple, Char orange, and blue; an “old type” Zaku; and my personal favorite, an old type Zaku molded in the oddly earth-toned personal colors of fan-favorite character Ranba Ral.(I just can’t get enough of that turqoise and sky blue color combination.)
The downside to the Denjin toys is their price. Although loose specimens occasionally appear ine online auctions for $20 or $30, more often than not they’re only encountered mint-in-bag at $75 to $100. That’s a lot of dough for a new toy, especially one that’s practically immoble (in keeping with the style). But then again, what’s a fan of vintage 70’s Gundam soft vinyls to do? Choices were slim to begin with, but they’ve been even slimmer since Clover went under in the early ’80s. Now, thanks to Denjin, those with a proclivity for questionably-proportioned renditions of Gundam robots have a chance to fill their shelves again.