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Aura Battler Dunbine

by Roger Harkavy

September 1999

updated: 09.03.99

Debuting in 1983 and produced by Mobile Suit Gundam's Yoshiyuki Tomino, this 49-episode series is heralded by some fans as one of the smoothest efforts to work toy robot promotion into an anime show. Taking place in 1980s Tokyo, the hero, Sho Zama, is drawn into the mysterious dimension of Byston Well, where kings, knights, and fairies co-exist in a medieval world that greatly resembles that of Earthly legends. Sho is recruited by a feudal lord to pilot an "aura battler", a biomechanical machine that reponds to the "aura power" of Earth-dwellers. The mechanical designs in this series, rendered by Yutaka Izubuchi (who would later go on to design robots for Patlabor and Gasaraki), remain some of the more unique entries in the mecha pantheon to this day.

The robots produced by Clover for this TV series were some the last toys they ever made. Like their previous Mobile Suit Gundam and Xabungle offerings, many of the toys featured a high die-cast metal content and a good selection of accessories, but as representations of the mecha they're not extremely accurate. To their credit, though, Clover did try reaching a wide variety of price points, from the miniscule 1/83 series to the Jumbo Machinder scale "Big Machine" Dunbine.

Clover wasn't the only licensee that covered this series. At least two "train station" toys were produced by Seven. After Clover's demise, some of the molds for these pieces seem to have found their way into other manufacturers' hands. Several different types of Dunbine toys ended up on American shores in suspect packaging in the 80s, and it remains to be seen how this happened, or where the molds are today. More recently, Bandai released a set of small vinyl aura battlers as part of their Gashapon EX line.

(Dunbine Main Theme MIDI File - courtesy of Steve Chang)

  Aura Battler Dunbine Checklist
  Clover: 1/86 Series
(sold in a set of 4, and separately)
  Clover: 1/60 Joint Model Series
  • Dunbine
  Clover: 1/58 Series
  • Dunbine - box front, box back
  • Dan-O-Shee
  • Dunbine & Dan-O-Shee boxed set
  • Virunvee
  • Drumlo
  1/46 Series
  Tomy: 1/32 Series
  • Billbine
  Clover: Big Machine Series
  Seven: 1/83 Series
  Bandai: Dunbine Gashapon EX Figurines
(6 designs, each sold separately)
  • Series 1 (From L-R: Drumlo, Leprechaun, Dunbine, Virunvee, Bozune, Botune)
  • Series 2 (From L-R: Virunvee, Drumlo, Dunbine, Bozune, Botune, Leprechaun)
  Unknown: Vinyls
  • Dunbine - loose
  • 4 Aura Battler Set
  Unknown: copies of Clover 1/60 Joint Model Series
(avail. in purple, blue, black, and red)
  Unknown: copies of Clover 1/46 Series
  • Dunbine
  • Billbine

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