[Alen Yen's ToyboxDX]

  August 18, 2002

It's Good To Be A Grunt!
Calibur Family It's Good To Be A Grunt!

1/55 Quarter View
1/55 Back View
1/55 Profile Comparison
"Standard" Jeep Mode
Jeeps Moving Out
"Standard" Duo Front
"Standard" Duo Back

Mention 1/55 scale transforming robots and everyone thinks you’re 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. I’m 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 “standard” versions.

Although the 1/55 toys were great fun, I couldn’t 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 it’s simple construction, the head design still bore the meticulous TT attention to detail... and I actually liked it more than the Mugen’s 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.

It’s 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 paint.

The 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 toy’s 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!

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, Mugen’s colors don’t exactly do him any favors! It’s good to be a simple grunt sometimes :)



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