I’ve always collected Shogun Warriors. Call them chogokin, jumbo machinders or popynica if you must, but it wasn’t Popy selling them here in 1977. It was Mattel who brought me Mazinga, Dragun, Raider and Poseidon in their 5-inch diecast glory. Later Mattel provided Gaiking, Combattra, and Grandizer in a more compact “Collectors” size. But I never had a Raydeen.
Never got the “Two-In-One Warrior,” despite his killer catch-phrase, “He’s a bowman! He’s a bird!” I did convince a neighbor to lend me his 24-inch Raydeen for a day, but that was the closest I ever came to owning one. So when I started rebuilding my lost Shogun Warriors collection as an adult, Raydeen wasn’t a priority. At first.
I found myself drawn to modern Raydeen toys. First, a Banpresto SD diecast – just to go with the others I had, of course. Then, Bandai’s near-reissue of the vintage gokin moved me to place my first order with Hobby Link Japan. I decided I was done with the character, until I found myself bargaining with Roger for a Raydeen vinyl. Miniature versions followed from the “Popy” gashapon and The Chogokin lines. Only when I begged JoshB for his High Complete Model Raydeen did I realize I’d gone over the edge and become a fan.
Still, I thought I had some restraint, until Mcfitch arrived for the San Diego Comic-Con. I was singing the praises of one of my favorite SoCal dealers, Phat Collectibles, so we stopped by their booth at the Con. Phat had three 24-inch Shogun Warriors there, the triumverate from the initial release: Mazinga, Dragun … and Raydeen. Mcfitch bought the first two on the spot, so I casually asked to see the Raydeen. The price was nice, and what kind of host would I be if I didn’t buy a jumbo at the place I’d recommended? I bit.
Irony was – this wasn’t the Mattel 24-inch Raydeen. No, sir, this was a bona fide Japanese jumbo machinder. No sign of the left Mazinger Z cutter-fist that Mattel attached to its US version. Instead, a perfectly-proportioned Popy bow-arm. As we continue to wander the dealer’s room, clutching jumbos under our arms, I can’t stop shouting “He’s a bowman! He’s a bird!” Seeing this display, Mcfitch offers, if I liked Raydeen, he could hook me up with a Rydoto. Dead stock, real primo stuff.
And he did, good as his word. The Rydoto that Mcfitch sent me was as minty-fresh as a vintage toy can be, like it was just purchased at the long-closed Lowen’s Toys of Bethesda. The contrast between it and the Raydeen jumbo I’d just bought was stark. My Raydeen, let’s be honest, was beat to heck: dirty, scratched, missing stickers. But this Rydoto was pristene, its paint perfect, its box bright.
It’s a great little toy. Full disclosure: I have never seen the “Brave Reideen” cartoon, not once. I have no idea how Rydoto relates to the Raydeen super robot, or what the toy’s features are supposed to represent. But it’s not like Mattel ever gave us that information. So when I tell you that the wings pop out with a satisfying snap, and the little mouth opens to fire a chromed escape vehicle, you’ll just have to take my word that it’s cool. Rydoto fits right in with the design philosophy of the other Shogun Warriors and Action Vehicles, which show an inordinate concern for allowing pilots to bail out with their entire cockpit intact.
The Raydeen jumbo now occupies an honored place in my toy garage, with his buddies Mazinga and Dragun. Courtesy of Sean Bonner, I have an extra left cutter-fist, so I can simulate the Mattel version’s asymmetry. To ask the obligatory question: why did Mattel think swapping this for Raydeen’s bow-arm would be a good idea? Far from the aesthetic matches of Dragun’s star shooter or the missile launcher attached to Mazinga, the iron-cutter fist is the wrong length, size and style for Raydeen. I guess the answer remains that it’s a rocket-punch, so it’s all good.
If you can find a Raydeen and Rydoto, I highly recommend that you “collect ’em all!”