.css" /> ToyboxDX: Datafiles: Sanzen
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Now and Sanzen

text: Robert Duban & Matt Alt, graphics: Robert Duban

March 2004

Updated: 10.10.04

Image contributions: Tim Brisko / timbrisko.com, Warren Schwartz, Giovanni Vaciago, Great-Items

[logo / missile-vinyl Gakeen] Sanzen. Few '70's Japanese toy companies were as minor. Yet the meager handful of toys this long-dead company produced are among the most coveted collectibles on the Japanese toy collecting scene today. What is it about Sanzen's creations that inspires such lust in even the most jaded of robot-toy collectors? Whatever the case was, they weren't doing it alone. A little digging shows us that they had a relationship with two much larger toy companies: Takara and Bullmark. Just who was this minor mack-daddy on the fringes of the '70s toy scene?

[Takara Jeeg tin] Every single one of Sanzen's licenses overlaps those of industry giant Takara. Takara produced a series of toys from the Gakeen, Gowapu 5 Godamu and Jeeg animated television shows. Most were "magnemo," a genre of figural toy using magnetic ball-and-socket mechanisms for joints. The fact that Sanzen shared the same licenses but produced far fewer toys is a large piece of circumstantial evidence that Sanzen was a Takara spin-off of some kind. In fact, at least four toys -- a Jeeg tin toy, the missile-firing Jeeg vinyl, a larger "Flying" Jeeg vinyl and a large plastic Jeeg motorcycle toy -- featured the logos of both companies on the packaging.

[Gakeen Spirit-go] In addition, several of Sanzen's toys share similarities with those made by Bullmark. For example, Sanzen's Gakeen "Spirit" bike is nearly idential to Bullmark's "Apolon Baider," as is the packaging. Even the artwork on the backs of the boxes is similar.

[family jewels] [ammo] The connections don't end there. Sanzen produced a pair of large missile-firing vinyl toys that are suspiciously similar to Bullmark's "Meka Machine" toys. The toys of both companies feature nearly identical missiles, launching mechanisms, packaging design, and box art. In fact, Sanzen's vinyl Gakeen toy shares a torso with that of Bullmark's Meka Machine Robo Kress toy. While the companies may not have shared any licenses, there is no question that Sanzen and Bullmark must have cooperated in some manner from a design and manufacturing standpoint.

[image] "Friction" Gakeen - box, box back
[image] "Magnoid" Gakeen - box, box back
[image] "Spirit" bike - box, box back
[image] Gakeen missile-firing vinyl - box
[image] Gakeen vinyl
[image] Godamu missile-firing vinyl - box, box back
[image] Godamu mini vinyl [co-produced with Onda]
[image] Yoko Misaki mini vinyl
[image] Go Tsunami mini vinyl
[image] Daikichi Kameyama mini vinyl
[image] Norisuke Kawaguchi mini vinyl
[image] Goemon Koishikawa mini vinyl
Jeeg motorcycle - mini - box

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