What more can I say about Takara’s 1/72 scale Dual Model Combat Armor toys? Every self-respecting mecha fan should make a pilgramage to the sacred Dougram Datafile at least once in his life! The 1/144s may have been more varied, but the 1/72s were undoubtedly some of the coolest mecha toys one could own, with superbly realistic designs, detailing and mechanical gimmicks.
Usually, fans get introduced to the series through the first two toys in the series, Dougram and Soltic H8 Roundfacer. Getting these two is a stroll down Easy St, but to complete the line-up, one has to track down the much rarer Abitate T-10B Blockhead. This, I managed to do for a pretty hefty price around 5 years ago.
Opening the signature slipcase was an awesome experience. While keeping to the established high quality of printing and materials, the Abitate case eschewed the understated elegance of the earlier two toys to include a brawny illustration of the mecha on the front. Perhaps Takara figured out that kids wanted to see what was in the box instead of relying on a small drawing on a slipband over a cryptic black box. :-)
Anyway, as I poured over the instructions for applying the decals, I came across the painting guide for doing a customized ‘desert’ scheme. Truth be told, I really preferred the grittier tan/brown scheme to the original’s factory-showroom glossy red. But when you’ve shelled out over 300 bucks for a hard-to-find toy, a custom paint job isn’t exactly an easy thing to consider!
It wasn’t until a couple years later, when Lady Luck smiled on me and I came across a mislabled 1/72 Blockhead on eBay (“Japanese Robot”… or something like that). It was missing its gun but the armor was all there, even the rocket launcher, except for the two shoulder pieces. What the heck, it was only $40, so I grabbed it! With a little Gunpla experience under the belt and a lot of determination, I managed to scratch-build the missing armors by measuring and tracing the originals from my first Blockhead. About the only thing I wish I could have done better was to replicate the hollow in the ‘bolt extensions‘ on the shoulder armors, but all things considered I was pretty happy with the finished work.
It was also a while later when I learned on the BBS that this ‘desert scheme’ was in fact the ‘X Nebula‘ version of the mecha, the moniker referring to an upgraded onboard computer that rivaled the equipment on the good guys’ Dougram. Well, I never got to watch the show, so I don’t know if ol’ Doug won or lost… but I’m sure Nebby and gang would’ve gone into battle with a cry of “We never approve your independence from our Federation!” :-)