Mention 1/55 scale transforming robots and everyone thinks youre
talking about Macross Valkyries. But fans of Super Real
1/55 Die-cast/Plastic Scale Model&High Technology Produced By
Takatoku Toys will know there exists another series that
wears that cool moniker on its boxes. Im talking about the
Variable Mecha line-up from DORVACK... MUGEN CALIBUR, BONAPARTE
TULCAS and OVELON GAZZETTE. These were the souped-up custom mecha
for the three heroes, while the regular joes made do with olive-drab
Although the 1/55 toys were great fun,
I couldnt help but wonder what could have been if Takatoku
had actually followed through with the mini-catalogue. You see,
there were illustrations of the three mecha colored in army green,
and in BOTH
MODES. Unfortunately, a well-informed
friend in Japan has told me in definite terms that the standard
versions were never made.
So does this mean that no standard
toys were made at all? Not exactly. Among the numerous cheapies
was a gift set that had both of the Caliburs and a set of armor
to go with it,named "V
V-Version" (I thought
it was "W-Version" but it's far more likely to
be read as "Variable-Vehicle Version").
Smaller than the 1/72 series, and having less articulation, I would
have passed it over in favor of the larger toys when I was a kid.
Not so as an adult! I found the loose, boxless ST Calibur
at a flea market and bought it for less than $5. What a revelation!
Despite its simple construction, the head design still bore
the meticulous TT attention to detail... and I actually liked it
more than the Mugens design :)
The ST Calibur in hand I dug out a toy
curio in storage - the Transformer known as Roadbuster.
Roadbuster was a near 100% copy of the 1/55 Mugen Calibur, but sported
much freakier colors in orange, green and brown. Even the weapons
and armor were included. It was obtained by my brother before we
managed to get the TT version. Besides Roadbuster, the 1/55 Gazzette
was also remade into a TF, named Whirl and molded in light blue.
However, Tulcas had no TF counterpart. With a real reference for
a ST Calibur, a dream was born to remake Roadbuster
into a cool shelf companion for the other Dorvack toys.
>> Fastforward one YEAR...
Having mulled over the plan for so long
I finally decided to do something about it. It takes some nerve
to put your toys into surgery, let me tell you! My best effort to
date was to scratch-build a set of shoulder armor for a 1/72 Abitate
Blockhead (a great find on eBay for only $48). I learned
to use putty, sanding blocks, primer and lots of patience.
Its always interesting when I take
apart a toy and learn more about its structure and construction.
It was actually pretty tough to remove the metal pin that held together
the windshield and chestplate. Once everything was disassembled,
I masked the tires and the hip joints and went hunting for paint.
Surprise! Neither Tamiya nor Gunze Sangyo
makes light/pale green paint in a spray can. German
Grey - OK, Olive Drab
- OK... just no Light Green.
Without an airbrush, my only alternative was to hand-paint the affected
areas with a dry-brushing technique. I gritted my teeth and bought
the brushes and a small bottle of lime green acrylic
key to the project was to
sculpt a standard head out of the Roadbuster/Mugen.
I began by cutting off the ears and filing down the
cheeks. I cut a notch on the face plate and used a needle file to
create the tunnels on the sides. A set of WAVE Option parts was
ideal to replicate the cylindrical sides. Three rounds of puttying
and refinements later, I was satisfied with the results. It
wasn't a perfect copy of
the smaller toys design, but more of a pleasing combination
of its distinctive features with the underlying structure of the
original toy. And after all the masking and painting, here it is
finally - My
very own 1/55 scale 'Standard' Calibur...
Mecha-head Bliss! Calibur Team MOVE OUT!
Endnote: Why are the crosshairs
trained on good ol Mugen in the title graphic? Well, snipers
are always looking for officers and squad leaders to off.
They spot them either by their rank/attire or sometimes by their
using a comm set. In this case, Mugens colors dont exactly
do him any favors! Its good to be a simple grunt sometimes