October 2006: an anonymous alcoholic author/localizer/translator sends me a surprise birthday present. A Soul of Chogokin Lightan? 14k Gold? OK, I’m piqued. I cut the tape, pop the box flap with my special chogokin butter knife, and slide out the trays. One look at this thing and I shut the box and walk away.
It’s too nice, too special. I’ll savor it after I finish the site redesign, and more importantly after I get a reciprocal b-day present in the mail. Put it in the “patience” pile and forget about it for awhile. Let it come when it will come…
4 months later, I finally manage to get my own birthday package out the door. The non verbal part of my toy lobe celebrates by subconsciously gathering shiny, yellow Bandai things into a single pile. Can’t seem to be straightforward with this stuff anymore. Everything’s got to be a stupid dance.
For over 8 years now Josh Fraser’s been grimly shaking his pretty head at my air-exposed robots. He’s warned me — what? — about a dozen times about tarnishing and oxidation. I’m horrified to tell you that he’s 100% correct. Anything chrome or gold-plated that I’ve touched frequently has tarnished. The worst casualty is Gold Baron: the finish is dulled, even though he still stands strong and “displays nicely!”
So I get out the gloves. Yes, white, supple gloves for my tender fingers. I fire up the lights one by one in my homemade Brisko Box.
Check it out: the entire room, for real, unexpectedly starts to glow…
Godbird Raydeen is still a piece that holds up. Of the newer, plastic toys, this one has a tremendous presence that I’ve always admired. Lightans â€” cannot believe, really cannot believe â€” that they have reissued all of these. I guess that’s good and bad. SOC Mazinger Z: Not a strong piece in my mind because of the whiffy plastic finish on some of the parts. And of course I’m missing the Robocon (add it to the checklist.) And a total bummer I let my gold GA-01 go a while back.
I take some extra time to dwell on the Raijin Go Gold, one of my few “scores” from the last visit to Hong Kong; if I told you what I paid for it, you’d weep. Let’s just say it cost less than dim sum. It’s spectacular, just spectacular. Every bit as cool as the original, and beautiful in so many new ways. The finish on it is mirror smooth.
So here’s a weird thought: we’re old enough to have our own vintage content now. Remember the Chinese Boot from 1999? We had a great time debunking this. Eight years later in 2007, it’s a lot easier to see the differences: just pull the Chinese one out of the box and watch how pieces of it simply snap off on their own…
Enough dawdling. Onto the SOC…
I have to tell you, this has never been my favorite character (a robot that turns into a, um, lighter) but Bandai has really put some love into this. The articulation is smooth and beautiful. I love the elegant orchestration of the leg and arm rotations. The packaging is impeccable.
Compared to the original, it’s substantially taller, though it’s interesting how they’re at similar scale in lighter mode. My only complaint? The hands. Too many hands, and not a rocket punch among them. Snapping them on is an undertaking and requires some focused wrist strength. There’s something about the whole swappable chewy soft hands SOC thing that kind of pisses me off. (Nothing says “mannikin” more than having to carry extra hands around in a tray when you want to bend a finger.)
Altogether an amazing object of tremendous quality, truly precious, and a hell of a present.
Meanwhile, the corner of my studio still looks like it’s on fire. A beautiful sight for Spring.