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January 21, 2003

Don’t Forget Your Angry Eyes

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 7:54 am

That’s good advice from Mrs. Potatohead for any warrior going into battle… Or as the fiery Drill Instructor in Full Metal Jacket put it, “SHOW ME YOUR REAL WAR FACE!!!“. If ever a Japanese character had a War Face, it’s gotta be the menacing black-clad, machine gun toting Kerberos Panzer Cops from the dark mind of Mamoru Oshii. Imagine yourself clad in impervious armor, laying waste to the enemy in such sweeping fashion that even Sam Jackson would nod in approval… Sure is more likely than getting to pilot a 100-feet tall Super Robot!

Before the explosion of worldwide fan interest in the Kerberos franchise due to the superb Jin-Roh anime, the only way you could own a figure of the trooper was to either get the soft vinyl kit from Kaiyodo, or purchase the exclusive and very expensive Japan-only, mail-order toys from Medicom. I would hesitate to even call those figures real toys because they were only slightly removed from the kits, having the most basic of 12″ figure bodies, and non-articulated hands that could barely hold the included MG-34 or MG-42 machine guns (assembly required). Later, Medicom also released the much improved Jin-Roh version, although the base figure was still very limited in poseability, and the armor was permanently attached to the figure. Check out Tim Brisko’s excellent Rumbles from February for his customized Stray Dogs version, and the Medicom Jin-Roh version.

So now Dragon Models enters the scene, they of the insanely detailed and over accessorized, super realistic 1/6 scale action figures. In their edition of the Stray Dogs Kerberos Panzer Cops, the same maniacal attention to detail lends a level of reality as never before to this fan favorite. On their website (Thanks for the link, AcroRay!), they list 3 versions of the toy, a battle-scarred Toys ‘R Us Japan exclusive, a Japan-only light-up eyes version, and a standard export version. I would have gladly bought ANY version available, but as it is, the dealer here in Singapore managed to snag a good number of the “light-up” version.

Just looking at the included stuff gives you an idea of how good Dragon Models are. The fully-articulated trooper is equipped with a handgun and a Luger, both with removable magazines, the trademark MG-42 machine gun, with spare diecast barrel and a chain of linked metal bullets. I can’t tell you enough how much better the metal bullets looked compared to the “normal” rubber molded ones you get with the set of guns sold separately for 1/6 scale collectors. The heft of the bullets makes the chain obey the laws of gravity more naturally… And the main figure? What a revelation! Like comparing the DX Sazabi to a Gashapon capsule figure! (OK, maybe not THAT drastic.)

Double-jointed elbows and knees, even the feet are double-sectioned. Look at the detailing on the gauntlets! METAL helmet, backpack with grips for the MG-42, working belt clasps that let you remove all the armor. I was especially impressed by the leg armor – hinged knee covers, soft PVC molded shin guards and separate boots that together allowed for very realistic poses. The much sleeker Jin-Roh figure was like a day-old stiff compared to this toy.

And of course… the EYES! The glowing red goggles are the most recognizable feature of any version of the Kerberos Protect Gear. Where previously you had to settle for brightly painted goggles, Dragon Models gives you close to the Real Thing. The actual visage under the helmet and mask is a featureless casing which contains a pair of battery-operated LEDs. Locating the switch was a small puzzle at first as the diagram on the back of the box wasn’t too helpful. But once you remove the mask and balaclava, there it is… a real T2 moment for me. And that blank face with two pinpoint eyes? He’s either the tallest Jawa this side of the Star Wars galaxy, or the closest cousin to the naked EVA-01 from Evangelion :P

I put the toy through the paces and was very happy with the level of finish and playability it offered compared to all previously released versions. My pricey Medicom simply can’t compare… Dragon Models blows it clean away, like the Kerberos would with a real MG-42… BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRTTTTTTTTTTTT!!! No remorse! About the only complaint I could come up with is that the toy is pretty top-heavy, which means that some poses are very hard to hold still. It took me quite a while to get the shots done right, the figure kept toppling over on the table.

I paid about US$85 for mine. If you’re a fan of the design this figure is not to be missed. The more brutish looking Stray Dogs version is now a brother in arms to my Medicom Jin-Roh. I can only hope that Dragon Models creates the ultimate version of the Jin-Roh version as well. Now THAT would be a sight for sore eyes!

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