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January 22, 2005

Galactic Patrol Lensman

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 6:08 pm

“Super Real Model and High Technology produced by…. TOMY??”

Galactic Patrol Lensman was a short sci fi anime series that ran back in 1984. Based on some old sci fi novels of the same name, the show seems to have more influence from Star Wars than anything else.

Tomy was licensed to produce the toys from the show. Not exactly known for mecha toys outside of Ideon and possibly Zoids, they did an amazing job. Tomy’s Lensman toys are some of the most gimmicked out mecha toys available, even today.

There were 3 vehicles produced: the Cycroader II, Grappler & DE, and the Brittania II. Other toys were produced from the series, but they don’t really fit into the mecha category.

Cycroader II

The Cycroader is the main “hero” ship of the show, and is the most common to find. It resembles the Naboo Starfighter a little, though that is likely a coincidence. The toy itself is a fighter ship that can separate into 2 peices. The cockpit, or sled, can be detached; and the pilot figure is removable. There are also 2 positionable “wings” that can extend when it is detached. The main part of the ship has retractable landing gear and a missile launcher at the nose.

The sled is motorized via 2 AA batteries, and can serve 2 functions when docked to the main part of the toy. These are controlled by a switch. In one position, the ship rolls forward. In the other, the entire front section of the ship opens up revealing 4 more missile launchers. Then, suddenly, these little metal balls start shooting from the front. This can be startling the first time you play with it. The balls shoot with a great deal of force, and you will probably lose some of them. This elevates the toy from simply amusing to dangerous. Don’t point it at anyone you like.

There are also several small rubber alien figures included. I would imagine these are meant for target practice. The only downfall of the toy is that the gearing mechanism is so complex, it jams frequently. When it works, it is very impressive.

Grappler & DE

Next up is the Grappler & DE set. This is the most mecha-ish toy in the series, and the only one that features any diecast. It’s also the only one that doesn’t take batteries. Regardless, it’s still packed with gimmicks.

This toy seems to be a construction mech, as the 2 parts included resemble a crane (DE) and a power loader (Grappler). The included pilot figure can be placed in either section. The grappler has most of the gimmicks, with weapons that can be attached to each arm. Additionally, these arms have spring loaded action features, shown here.

The DE is little more than a docking station for the Grappler. The crane is positionable, with a wrecking ball that can be attached to the hook. It also has rubber wheels on the bottom, attached to a friction motor. These allow the combined form of the vehicle to roll as well. A shovel accessory, stored on the rear of the DE when not in use, can be attached to the Grappler’s arms making a sort of bulldozer.

Brittania II

Lastly, we have the Brittania II. This is the biggest and hardest to find of the Lensman toys. It’s worth hunting down, because it is one of the most feature packed toys I have ever seen. Missiles launch from everywhere… and if that’s not enough, panels pop open at the touch of a button to reveal more missile launchers. There is a large air powered cannon that pops up from the rear of the ship, and fires plastic balls. The engine compartment lights up as well, unfortunately this is the only battery powered feature. There is also a friction style motor–actually I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s the same type found in the Diaclone and Starcom toys. Press the action button, and the motor whirrs to life, pushing the ship out into attack mode. This reveals 2 more missile launchers.

The landing gear is retractable, via a slick mechanism of moving the large fins on the bottom of the ship into a stowed position. There are also 2 more spring loaded fins activated by buttons at the nose of the ship. Tomy just didn’t know where to quit with this toy.

But there’s more: a removable carrier ship that features 2 missile launchers in addition to launching ramp for small ships included with the toy. One of them is a miniature Cycroader II, which should give you an idea of the scale of the ship. The carrier can also be docked to the Brittania.

The boxes: simple, yet elegant. A blue starry background, with artwork of the ship mixed in with shots of the anime, and photos of the toy. Like Takatoku’s mecha toys, these were meant to be detailed and painted. Speaking of which, the English on the box is reminiscent of Takatoku’s famous slogan: “High Technology and Super Real Model by TOMY”.

High technology indeed. Tomy’s Lensman toys are mechanically advanced, well engineered toys. The quality is excellent, and they have a distinct feeling of toys that would never be produced today.

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