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November 18, 2003

A REAL Robot

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 2:18 pm

There are Real Robots and there are REAL robots. Welcome to the world of true bipedal research robots! While the closest one can get to owning one of these is still a couple of years and many thousands of dollars away, a robot-toy fan can get by pretty well with a nifty scale model figure of the Honda ASIMO…

As a longtime fan of Real Robot designs, I guess it’s only natural that I’ve taken an interest into real world research on bipedal robotics. Among the most well-known today are SONY’s SDR-4X (a.k.a QRIO), Honda’s ASIMO and the PINO by ERATO. In true Japanese fashion, they not only push the limits of technology, they also sport fairly attractive industrial designs as well. Of course they are nowhere near Patlabor-ish levels of anime appeal, but they are literally taking steps towards the slick humanoid-industrialism seen in Chris Cunningham‘s robo-Björk music video. And of course, owning toys of such groundbreaking mechanoids is a dream come true of sorts for me!

ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) comes in a rather drab package. Other than the figure itself, the only other accessories are a pair of closed fists which you can swap with the standard open-hands. Where the toy really shines is the attention to detail and faithful reproduction of the actual ASIMO’s astonishing agility. The figure comes with over 20 points of articulation, some in 2 axis of movements. The matte-white body stands at 6″ tall with crisp molding and clearly printed markings. The oversized backpack (in real life it houses the power supply) is in a nice shade of metallic silver with shadowed vents and a prominent HONDA emblem emblazoned across the back. Although the lighting makes it hard to see, ASIMO’s
has 2 large circular eyes and a smile under the transparent faceplate.

Once out of the box, I got down to exploring how well little ASIMO moves. Dancing on one leg is entirely possible, as are full squats and other whimsical poses. The expressiveness of the toy is quite amazing. Although not in the same scale, I had to put ASIMO next to my 1/6 scale PINO for a little comparison. PINO doesn’t have as crisp a sculpt, but its no slouch either when it comes to poseability, with about 17 points of articulation… including a waist-joint.

All in all, I’m really pleased with these niche toys. They may not have Rocket Punches or even do anything useful yet, but they point the way to a day when bipedal robots join our common reality. I await that day with eager enthusiasm. :-)

P.S. A big thank you goes out to my friend Wosing for helping to track down this elusive little toy in Tokyo. Arigato Gozaimashita!



November 8, 2003

Modern Vinyl Machines

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 1:16 pm

“Modern Vinyl Machines”. Right.

Of course, this is a Rumble about Machine Robo Rescue. But not about the usual Bandai Machine Robo Rescue toys, not about the transforming toys.

A couple of months ago, Bandai brought out three sets of little vinyl Machine Robo Rescue figures, each packaged in a nice tube-shaped box: the Jet Team Set, the Police Team Set, and (duh) the Drill Team Set. These represent the first (and most important) 3 MRR Teams. Each set includes the concerned team’s leader robo in both machine and robo mode, and the 4 helper robo in robo mode. Each set also includes a bad guy, basicly an egg with arms and legs (called a Garagoro).

For cheapo vinyls (1200 yen a set of 7 figures), these are quite well detailed, as this shot of the bottom of the machine mode Jet, Police, and Drill Robo shows. See the detail that they have. They even have detail that the transforming toys lack. The vinyls are well-painted and well assembled, even though the Dozer Robo seem to suffer from legs that don’t stay attached. However, this is actually an advantage, as the Dozer Robo have trouble standing; the loose legs allow you to make them bend forwards a bit, making them stand better.

Talking about the transforming toys, here’s a pic showing a comparison of the transforming toys and the vinyl figures. These guys are SMALL! Only the Garagoro are bigger than 2-3 cm.

Of course, the nicest thing about these vinyls are the great scenes one can make with them. One is the unescapable ‘Mini-Me’. The other…well…Machine Robo also have rows from time to time…


November 5, 2003


Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 1:18 pm

At this year’s Halloween Chiller show, M-1 Go‘s upcoming Sanda and Gaira figures were previewed to many drooling fans (with the notable exception of Russ Tamblyn). Expect these by the beginning of next year. I’d tell how how cool these are in person, but the words get stuck in my throat.

Otherwise, not much else news to report from the show, so enjoy these pictures of a Battle Royale contestant, Leela, and Lara Croft.


Bare Metal Robocon

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 1:13 pm

First of all, don’t ask me why I did it.

I started with an extra The Chogokin Robocon, and disassembled it. Then I soaked it in some .3 brake fluid overnight. The next morning, I scrubbed off the excess paint with a toothbrush, and wiped down the parts.

Once the parts were naked, I checked out what matching the finish on the hands would cost at Union Hard Chromium. I was quoted $65. I was unwilling to spend 7 times the amount of the original toy, so instead I handed them off to my friend Jeff, who polished and clear-coated them. My friend Matt repainted the eyes, and I applied one of Robocon’s red heart stickers.

I don’t know why I did it, but I’m glad that I did because now I have a Chogokin that looks like a kitchen faucet.

I love it.


November 3, 2003

Scope Diggity Dawg!

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 11:10 am

Back in 1983, Takara seemed to be king of realistic mecha toys. Their Dougram dual models were some of the best mecha toys ever made, and alot of that same engineering went into the Votoms toys. Bandai’s HCM’s were like cheap plastic crack compared to these.

I’m not going into much detail about the show, except that I sat through the whole first stage (about 6 hours), and I’m not even a fan of anime. It’s dark, violent, and doesn’t have any of the silliness that ruins most anime I try to watch.

The mecha designs are rooted in reality, and look as if they could be produced today; even 20 years after the show aired. Takara made toys in 3 scales: 1/24, 1/35, and 1/60. Here is a (semi-complete) list, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong:


Scope Dog

Red Shoulder

Brutish Dog

Slash Dog


Red Shoulder Scope Dog

Snapping Turtle


Scope Dog

Brutish Dog

Marshy Dog

Diving Beetle

Standing Tortoise


The 1/24 toys were the large DX versions, standing roughly 6″ tall, and about 4″ wide. They are mostly ABS plastic, with a complex diecast mechanism for the Down Form mode. This makes it a bit easier for the pilot to get in and out of the AT (armored trooprer).

The smaller 1/60 toys are quite simple and don’t have much in the way of features, so the focus here is on the bigger scales. These pics are of the 1/24 Scopedog, and 1/35 Red Shoulder Scopedog. These are the original issues from 1983, most if not all of the larger scale toys were reissued back in 1999. Several were also released with Playstation games: The Scopedog, the Red Shoulder Scopedog, and the Slash Dog. The Slash Dog was a completely new design from the game, and was never produced back in the 80’s. The versions packaged with the games have a different color scheme than the originals, and my Red Shoulder is a reissue, so I’m comparing the standard 1/24 Scopedog to the 1/35 Red Shoulder here. There was also a Snapping Turtle done in the 1/35 scale, and this is the only incarnation of this toy that I am aware of.

Ok.. besides the size (of course) between the 1/24 and 1/35, the smaller scale cannot do the Down Form mode. But on the plus side, it can bend at the knees. The mechanism in the larger one prevents it from doing this. You can fake it, but not too convincingly.

Also, the upper arms can rotate above the bicep on the 1/24, but not on the 1/35. This is a shame, because it really limits how the toy can hold its gun. See this group shot for an example, and for a sense of scale. Speaking of weapons, the Red Shoulder is armed to the teeth with 2 rocket launchers, a gatling gun, and a cannon; whereas the standard only has a rifle and a backpack which can store the magazines for the rifle. The Red Shoulder also comes with the standard backpack, and both sizes come with standing and sitting pilot figures. Sorry, my pics of those didn’t turn out. Another thing to note for accessories, the larger scale comes with 3 sets of hands: open, closed, and closed with a peg hole for holding a weapon. The 1/35 only has closed hands with the peg holes.

Despine each of their limitations, they can pull off some pretty cool poses: 1/24 and 1/35. Their proportions are almost identical, and both have very similar opening cockpits: 1/24, 1/35.

Bottom line: These are essential mecha toys. Everyone should have at least one of the 1/24 variations, but only the diehards will want all of them (L-R Slash Dog, Red Shoulder reissue, Brutish Dog, and Scope Dog in the rear).


November 1, 2003

Keen ‘Deen

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 6:30 am

THE Chogokin Raideen in th’ haus!

Beautifully done, as expected. It also happens to be significantly larger than the previous releases (whether this is in keeping with the scale of the originals, I don’t know, but I know that I like it.)

It is nigh-indistinguishable from the original, which makes me realize how much I dislike the elongated proportions of the reissue they did several years back. It transforms into the God-Bird mode, of course. And they went out of their way to replicate the paint job of the tough-to-find first version as well (note that the thighs are painted white.) A nice touch for chogokin maniacs.

Rocket punches, the transforming mechanism, detachable weapons, nice ‘n heavy diecast…. And all for the equivalent of $15 USD. Pinch me.


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