Ah, Dorcus. Cast in a shiny purple plastic, his bright coloring is certain to draw attention in a ‘toy society’ of patriotically colored robots. He is very curvy, giving him a definite organic feel in both “Warrior Mode” (Robot) and “Live Mode” (Beetle / Space Ship), and he’s definitely based on the Japanese Kabuto-mushi — a real-life insect that has inspired quite a few transforming robots in its time. My first exposure to this robot, of course, was via the live action TV series Gransazer – which, you understand, I watch for the high drama and plot twists. In the series he’s part of the Kaze (Wind) Tribe, a name evocative of butterflies, birds, and sleek airplanes – certainly not chunky beetles.
And chunky he is. He’s packaged in his “Live Mode”, with his armament sealed in a separate bag. As I carefully removed him from his plastic coffin, keeping him protected from the prying eyes of humans, I felt like I was embarking on an archeological journey. The hieroglyphs on the instructions were less than worthless to my western eyes, so the small bag containing them was tossed aside, and I went for the weapons – four cannons, and a plate to mount the two larger on. The two smaller ones, which I have been told are called “Dol Cannons”, are placed on the outer edge of the approximate area of his shoulders – the two larger cannons (“Insector Magnum”) clip into the plate, which is pegged into a hole in an exposed area of his back. I picked up the toy, fingers caressing the smooth ABS plastic, admiring the details from the retractable claws in the front legs, and the four mounted on hinges on the rear. Light accents of silver break the monotony of an otherwise very bright design, and a few spots of gold on the claws and gunmetal in the internals provides adequate other color to clearly identify the different parts of his anatomy.
His transformation is simple, but at the same time, interesting, unique, and sturdy. The transformation from Live Mode to Warrior Mode couldn’t be more intuitive – extend the legs and fold forward his small, silver insect ones, then open his feet (which are clasped heel to toe in Live Mode), Separate the front legs (Noting the peg that ensures the hand touching the shoulder – yes, he has ‘2.0 joints’, for you MSiA fanatics…) and push the silver tabs by the elbow, which makes the golden claws erupt from the forearms. Finally, lean the head forward, pushing down his ‘crest’ in order to cover his fragile, silver brain (Which can accommodate optional weapons from additional toys of the line), lift up the plate on his back to bring the four cannons into firing position, then form the skirt by opening the two halves of the curved plate that covers his posterior, swinging them around to his front. ‘Warrior Mode’ is an accurate description – he certainly looks like a big, tough bruiser – so, even though some of his fellow Beetles, such as Gourajin, may dwarf him in size and weight, he definitely is superior in terms of presence.
As I placed him on my shelf, a light glow began to appear off of him. I realized I had not had lunch, and quite obviously, I was beginning to feel the ill effects of this poor decision. Suddenly, it felt like the toy was speaking to me – something which had never happened in my years of speaking to my toys. It began to compel me… “I’m different!” it repeated… I pondered the meaning of this. There are a great many beetle robots, that’s a definite, given the Japanese fascination with that type of insect. He comes from a show that could be considered analogous to the widely imitated Toei ‘Super Sentai’ series (incidentally, the Gransazer TV show was produced by Toho, famous for the Godzilla films.) The toy has no die cast metal, it doesn’t combine with other toys – it is meant to be independent, a toy that makes no sacrifices in terms of looks to increase play value – but it’s definitely not a fragile, difficult to handle collector’s item, either. Being caught between both worlds, neither plaything nor delicate prize, makes it difficult to classify.
As similar, yet unique as it is, Dorcus is definitely a treasure – a true example of the planning and engineering that goes into making a toy that’s simply merchandise to be sold in a 22 minute long commercial. While I am for certain not the target audience for this piece — or many others that I own, for that matter — this toy is beautiful for both the eyes and hands.