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December 9, 2004

Review: Yamato 1/12 Scopedog

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 11:42 pm

You want details, huh? Well, you’re going to get ‘em, because Yamato’s 1/12 Scopedog is all about the details…


First Impressions


This time, instead of going for a straight window box presentation, Yamato put a huge illustration of the Scopedog on the front cover. The cover flips up, revealing the ‘dog inside and some product shots. The back of the box has statistics about the Scopedog. Most of the text on the box is in English.


The first thing that strikes you about this toy is the size of it: 12 1/2″ tall, and about 7 1/2″ wide. After picking it up, though, it feels very light, and it weighs in at 2 lbs, 3 oz. This is due to the construction: aside from a couple of small die-cast parts and vinyl in a couple of places where it’s needed, the toy is completely unpainted matte-finish styrene.


The Nitty Gritty


Legs: Each foot has a “roller-glide” wheel embedded in the sole that retract when the robot is standing. This way, the robot’s foot stays nearly flush against the ground, preventing it from roller-skating away. There is a removable “turnpick” braking spike on the side of each foot. The housing is plastic, and the spike is die-cast. The upper and lower legs can have the armor removed, a feature repeated on almost every part of the toy. If you want to disassemble the entire thing and play “AT Garage”, you can do so. The rung on the right knee is die-cast.


The front of the legs allow the Scopedog to assume the “down form” position, allowing the pilot to get in and out easily without having to climb up the front of a robot. The feet are articulated so that they can flex and arch. Ankles move freely from side to side and front to back. Knees bend and ratchet. Hips swing and ratchet, and can pivot inwards and outwards slightly. Legs are removable. All five hip armor skirts are hinged, as well as those on the front and back of the feet. The hip racks that hold the “armor punch” magazines can be removed and replaced with the magazines for the rifle.


Arms: Each arm has an “armor punch” feature. There is a plastic magazine in each forearm, and pushing it out through the bottom activates a spring-loaded punch. Using the feature is a little strange, but the way it’s implemented allowed them to avoid hiding a button somewhere on the arm. The arms are removable, and articulated at the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. There are rungs mounted on the shoulders, and hinged armor flaps on the wrists. As with the legs, armor on the forearms and biceps can be removed. Two pairs of fists are included, open and closed. The thumbs on the open fists detatch so the rifle can be inserted easily.


Torso: The hatch on the belly can be opened (a couple of people have asked me what function this serves, I don’t know, I never saw it used on the show). The rung on the belly hatch is die-cast. The cockpit opens and stays that way due to two metal hydraulic-style struts in the back. Inside the cockpit, the control joysticks flip up and down, the steering column swings forward and back, and the headrest moves. Most of the machinery inside has painted detail. The torso can be separated from the hips, and the belly portion of it can also be removed. An armor panel on the lower back can be removed, revealing machinery underneath.


Head: The head turns and the visor can flip up, revealing the pilot inside. The scope can slide back and forth along the visor, the entire scope assembly rotates, and the main scope can be focused. Small translucent blue, red, and green pieces are present for the lenses, and there is also a translucent green sensor on the back of the head. The antenna is hard vinyl. The head can be removed from the torso, and the visor can be removed from the head. Molded and painted detail can be seen inside the visor.


Accessories: The rifle has a removable butt, barrel, and magazine. The forward handle flips up, and there is an auto-selector switch on the rifle that can be set to three positions. Two additional magazines for the rifle are included. In addition to the two armor punch magazines in the forearms, six additional ones are included that fit into the racks on the hips.


Paperwork: A 12 page full color glossy manual with Japanese text illustrates every feature of the toy. The final two pages of the booklet show line art used in the show, as if to say, “See? We got it right.” Two 8 1/2″ by 6 1/2″ sheets of matte-finish pre-cut decals are included with various squad insignia, including one for the Red Shoulders.


Tuning The Toy For Maximum Toy Satisfaction


One thing to look for when opening the box for the first time are the “ear” pieces that secure the visor to the head. These are small flat 1/2″ grey pegs, and both of mine popped out during shipping. Since putting them back on the toy, only one has popped out once. If this persists, a possible fix is to glue the pegs in, but that would prevent the visor being removed.


If there’s a seam showing on the bicep armor, just give the two halves a little squeeze to get them flush against each other.


One of the arms fell out once. If this persists, a possible fix is to cut out a small patch of fabric softener sheet, wrap it around the peg, and push it back into the socket. So far, though, the fit is nice and tight.


When standing the robot up, make sure the feet are flat against the ground for maximum stability. Sometimes the articulation in the feet will cause them to arch upwards. Unlike Matt’s, the ankles on mine are nice and tight. At any time I’ve been concerned about the toy toppling, I’ve given it the Harkavy Labs Stability Test (pounding on the table next to it for about a minute), and it has not fallen once. Even if any problems with the ankles develop, I’m confident they can be easily solved (perhaps another “fabric softener solution”).


In summary, my toy has a couple of very minor issues that have all been easily dealt with and haven’t detracted from my enjoyment of the toy.


Complaints (Because that’s what the internet is all about, right?)


It would be nice if the armor flaps on the wrists had some detail on the underside. It would be nicer if the lens piece in the main scope was a little less opaque. It would be nicest if the barrels came off of the rifle to make the stripped-down version that the Marshydog uses. And the ultimate wish for this toy would be the inclusion of a red shoulder piece to match the decals on the sheet.


In summary, half of my complaints are obsessive-compulsive nitpicks, and the other half are fanboy wishes that could be fulfilled on my own with a small amount of effort. Again, these issues haven’t detracted from my enjoyment of the toy.


Overall


It’s no secret, I love VOTOMS. This is the toy I’ve wanted since I held the little 1/60 Takara Scopedog in my hand 20 years ago. Putting all that aside, though, I have to say it’s an excellent toy. It’s the size of an infant, sturdy, as poseable as the design allows, incredibly faithful to the source material, and it does almost everything the “real” Scopedog does (short of walking around by itself and shooting things). I give it a solid A, I’m going to buy more, and I strongly recommend this toy if you’re a VOTOMS fan, a collector of mecha toys from the 80s, or if you’re someone who just likes big robots.


How To Get One


I got my Scopedog from Hobbylink Japan here. It shipped via EMS and arrived here in about 72 hours. Due to the dismal exchange rate (roughly 100 yen to the dollar), it cost about $220. To me, the price is justified, but I realize other collectors may balk at this price tag, understandably. If you have to have it now, though, this is the cheapest way to go.


Yamato-USA will be releasing the toy domestically in April through several distributors, including Diamond. You can see a list of retailers carrying the toy here. At least a couple of them are pre-selling it for under $100, and that’s how I plan on getting my second one.


As far as the future goes, the Chirico figure that goes with the Scopedog will be released in about a month, and future accessory packs and exclusive color variants are being discussed. More details on these as they become available.


Conclusion


Sorry that there aren’t many photos to go with this review, but hopefully these three pics will give you a size of the scope of the thing (pun intended). Rest assured, quality toy pr0n is on the way…


Ya done good, Tofu, real good.


(And Mike Johnson, eat your heart out.)

Roger

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