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May 28, 2003

The Facts of FIX

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 2:41 am

As you may or may not be aware, the next entry in the love-it-or-loathe-it Gundam Fix Figuration series will be the “Crossbone Gundam X-1” from the Gundam X series.

That’s numero sixteen, for those keeping score. And like it or not, you’re going to see more of ’em. The Fix series (or “G.F.F.,” as Japanese fans call it) is hotter than ever in Japan.

And why wouldn’t it be? The appeal of the G.F.F. toys isn’t so much that they’re “action figures.” It’s because they look nearly as good as the renditions fans have drooled over in hobby magazines for the last twenty years. Mobile Suit Gundam fandom was first and foremost founded on model-building rather than toys. The most interesting aspect of the G.F.F. series is its attempt to fuse the detail of models with the instant gratification of toys.

Whether they’ve succeeded or not is largely a matter of taste. But like it or not, Bandai (and Japanese fans) seem to be behind the series full force. Don’t take my word for it, though! Check out this interview with series designer Katoki Hajime and Bandai project director Katsuo Izumi. It’s a bit of a puff piece, but whaddya expect? It’s an excerpt from the July 2003 issue of Hobby Japan magazine and is printed here, ah, somewhat unofficially. Enjoy! (Are those sirens I hear in the distance…!?)

Hobby Japan: Can you tell us about the sequence of events that led to the beginning of the Gundam Fix Figuration (G.F.F.) series?

Katsuo Izumi (I): I was overseeing the Super Imaginative Chogokin (S.I.C.) Hakaider project at the time. Based on that experience, I got the confidence to try making something that was far more detailed than anything that had come before. So the idea came from my thinking that it’d be nice to do an S.I.C. sort of thing with Gundam. That’s when I approached Mr. Katoki.

Hajime Katoki (K): At the time I really admired what I’d seen in the S.I.C. and Spawn series of figures. But all of them were monsters. Initially, I said I wasn’t interested because I didn’t want to do anything non-robot.

I: But then you saw an example of “tampo” printing.

K: Yeah, I’d been interested in the process even before that, when I saw 1:87 scale car models with really fine details like emblems and ornaments printed on them. I decided that I had to try it out on a robot sometime. Then, around that time, I saw the “tetsu” versions of the Mobile Suit in Action (M.S.i.A.) toys, which had been tampo printed with some pretty detailed designs. At that point I was half convinced that with a little work tampo printing would be perfect for robots. I wasn’t really satisfied with the molding capabilities at the time, but by ’99 the M.S.i.A. series had started getting a lot of attention, and candy toys were starting to get really popular as well. I was starting to feel like a series of high-quality Gundam toys would be coming along whether I was involved or not. I could already tell that no matter how “high quality” they might be, I still wouldn’t be satisfied with them. And so rather than sitting there waiting to be dissatisfied later on, I thought it’d be a better use of my skills to get involved directly and challenge myself to making the product even better right now.

I: A lot of trial and error was involved in figuring out how to proceed. At first we built prototypes in-house here at Bandai based on Mr. Katoki’s designs. But when we did things this way, the way they’d always been done up to that point, the design would inevitably start looking too much like a blueprint.

K: And so there was a lot of back-and-forth between us and the modelers trying to get areas that just couldn’t be cut from the blueprints to look good. There are always things that need to be fine-tuned when you actually start mass production, and being aware of that, it was especially important to have a sculpt we were satisfied with from the get-go. We got a lot of help from Hobby Japan, who introduced us to various pro modelers.

I: On the Bandai side, we took the finished prototype and tried to devise a way to mass produce a product that would still satisfy Mr. Katoki, and how to create a manufacturing process that would ensure that we didn’t lose any detail. There was a lot of negotiation with the factory in China. “Manufactured abroad” can have the connotation of a lower quality product, but the factory we chose was full of people who were intensely devoted to making high quality products. They really put a lot of thought into coming up with new ways of doing things and making the product match the prototypes. Their craftsmen really helped make the project happen.

HJ: What sort of direction do you see the series taking from here?

I: Well, the Crossbone Gundam is set for an August 2003 release. And after that, there’s the Zetaplus. After that, I’d like to try another transforming design like we did back with the Wing Gundam Early Model.

K: In the future, I’d like to do at least one Gundam that’s never been done as a product before. I’d like to add high-quality versions of as many of these “unloved” Gundams to the line as I can. The Crossbone is the first example of that. And up until now, it’s been restricted to Gundam. I’d like to take G.F.F. beyond that, and I’m looking forward to it!


May 27, 2003


Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 4:19 am

A newcomer to the Japanese toy scene, with the enigmatic name of “CM’s,” is apparently eager to make a splash. Their very first product will be a full-action diecast-and-plastic “Genesic GaoGaiGar” toy.

Details are sketchy at this point, but one thing’s for certain: it’s going to be a big mother, clocking in at roughly 32cm (that’s well over a foot, for those keeping score.) The main component of “Genesic Gaigar” appears to be close to ten inches tall itself (not to mention fully transformable into the “Genesic Galeon” form as well.)

Pictured is the Kotobukiya “Docking” Gao Gai Gar resin kit for a reference — we’ll post actual pics of CM’s big guy when we get our grubby mitts on ’em.


Nothin’ But a Getta G-Thang

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 3:55 am

“Soul of Chogokin” fans, prepare to be happy.

This month’s issue of Dengeki Hobby Magazine carried blueprints for the next character in the SOC series: the long-awaited Getta Robo G!

Although the release date and price aren’t set yet, the article stated that there’s a high chance we’ll see the set before year’s end. Of course, it’ll come complete with individual Getta Dragon, Getta Liger, and Getta Poseidon robots.

Design-wise, the Getta Robo G set appears to follow close on the heels of the previously released Soul of Chogokin Getta Robo. In fact, Getta Dragon’s legs are a slighly modified version of the ones used for Getta One (with the inclusion of the pop-out fins found on the Great Mazinger toy). What’s more, the shoulder joints appear to be indentical — meaning that in all probability the Getta Robo G robots can not only combine with one another, but with their predecessors as well.

Stay tuned for more details, but one thing’s for sure: chances are it’s going to be a very Getta Christmas.


May 22, 2003


Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 11:19 am

(That’s “Hello” to those of you who aren’t little green robot mascots.)

This is Bandai’s full-scale Haro Multi Box. It cost almost as much to ship it to the US as the retail price, but to me it was worth every yen.

It’s made up of two separate halves, with black stickers for the eyes. Push the button on the top, and the flaps pop up for easy access. My only complaints about it are that it doesn’t light up, or make sounds like “Haro, Genki!”, or bounce, or follow you around the house, or relay messages to your friends, or blow bubbles, or project holograms, or double as a notebook computer. Otherwise, it’s pretty cool.

So what can you use it for? You can store fresh produce in it, or your toys, or maybe dump the contents of your pockets in it at the end of the day. Mine sits on top of my TV filled with gashapon capsules, an hollow sphere filled with hollow spheres, a monument to emptiness.

Like my life.

Someone please kill me.


Lil’ Sid

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 10:52 am

Here’s Medicom’s Sid Vicious Kubrick. There’s not much to say about him, except that it’s Sid Vicious, and it’s a Kubrick. His face looks like he just ate a lemon, and he comes in a little pine box.

(Because he’s dead, y’know.)

He’s pretty cool. If I had him two weeks ago when I was at the Chelsea Hotel, I would have taken pics of him there. For now, here’s a shot of him partying with his new friends, Chirico Cuvie, Beat Takeshi, and Amelie.


May 1, 2003

Small Wonder: Studio Half Eye Getter Dragon

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 9:14 am

Getter Dragon has always been my favorite Japanese Robot since I was introduced to the character back in the late ‘70s. My Mattel Dragun Jumbo started my love affair with all things Japanese.

I was ecstatic to hear that Studio Half Eye would be releasing a Simple Change Getter Dragon, and I eagerly preordered one from HLJ as soon as they started taking preorders.

I already own the original Simple Change Shin Getter 1, so I knew what to expect as far as far as the resin is concerned. The Simple Change Getter Dragon is crafted with the same quality as my Shin Getter 1. The resin has a nice, flat finish to it, with a tough, “plasticky” feel to it. Handled with care, it seems like a durable material. The size of the Getter Dragon, though, does not measure up to the Shin Getter 1. However, I had read previous Rumbles on the Simple Change Getter 1, so I was prepared for the small size.

The Simple Change Getter Dragon comes in a clear plastic box in its three separate ship modes: Gett Machine Dragon, Gett Machine Lyger and Gett Machine Poseidon. Included in the package is an attachable Getter Wing, two Double Tomahawks, two Fists and two feet.

The gattai process is actually simple and straightforward. A few flips, twists and turns, and your Gett Machines are ready to be combined into Getter Dragon. The fists simply push into the forearm assembly, the Getter Wing clips onto the back of the Gett Machine Dragon, and the feet’s pegs go into the leg assemblies.

The Double Tomahawks fit snugly into the fists, and the feet are angled so that the robot has a wide-stance pose. The robot’s head can move side to side, the shoulders and elbows are jointed, and the fists can rotate around to change pose. The legs are jointed at the hip and knees, allowing a limited set of action poses.

I am pleased with my purchase, and once again, my only complaint is the size of the figure. At 11cm in robot mode, it is roughly the same size as a MSIA Gundam. However, with Getter 1 and Shin Getter 1 usually getting all the attention from toy makers, it is refreshing to see a combining rendition of Getter Dragon. Now, if only Bandai would “Gett” with the program and give us a Getter Robo G SOC…. Until then, my SHE Getter Dragon will have to do.

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