Review by JoshB
I love the Dragonar design, but not for the reasons you might think.
In 1987 I got my first issue of Hobby Japan. At that time, I knew all about Robotech, Voltron, and Transformers, and while I had had some Japanese toys before, I never really knew their provenance.
The November 1987 issue of Hobby Japan changed that for me. It opened up a new world to me. I was 14 at the time, and had no idea that much of what I was seeing was scratch built or custom, but I poured over that book for hours. I still have it today.
Dragonar was on the cover. There was a spread with different builders modifying the core Dragonar kit into new things. It had a centerfold. That Dragonar centerfold was on my wall for almost 10 years.
I never watched the show, but I always loved that character.
Flash forward to a few years ago, and Bandai puts out a Soul Spec Dragonar in not one but two incarnations. I buy the one that looks most like the one I remember from the magazine. The other is too angular. It’s a good, small toy.
A bit later, Max Factory announces their fourth Max Gokin – Dragonar 1. I am elated at this news, because Max Gokin is usually synonymous with high metal content and great quality. However this Dragonar is not the design I remember, this is something different. The figure is a more stylized Dragonar, re-designed by Masami Obari (Dancouga, Gravion, Dangioh). According to Max Factory, this design is featured in the opening animation for Dragonar, as well as on the cover of an issue of B-Club Magazine.
While not the same Dragonar that I remember, it is still close enough to the original design to get my blood flowing.
When it finally arrived a few weeks ago, I was stoked. The box was big, but light. I had kept reasonably spoiler free with this toy, but I had heard that the metal content was disappointing.
Give kudos to Max Factory for knowing how to make a box. This thing is sturdy, with heavy cardboard folded over to thick walls. The thing has a handle! Opening the top flap, you can see an unexpected surprise – WHITE GLOVES. Yep. The thought is that all the grease on your fingers will tarnish metal over time. That’s a good sign; gloves mean metal, right?
Inside are two Styrofoam trays. The top tray has the figure, lifter and some accessories; the bottom has stand parts and more accessories.
I pull the figure out of its tray, remove the plastic bag, and it takes a minute for me to process the weight. Did I get the wrong toy? This can’t be it? Can it? THIS IS A GOKIN? It’s much too light. I give the surface the touch test. If there is a question as to what parts of a toy are metal, the easiest way to tell is by the temperature. Metal gets colder than plastic. I fondle the toy and can find no metal.
Sadness sets in. I replace the toy into its bag, and then back into the box.
According to Max Factory, all the diecast is in the internal skeleton. The inner legs, waist and chest are supposed to be metal. None of the armor is removable, so we just have to take their word for it.
The next time I take it out, I really analyze it. There must be metal in it. It not light enough to be all plastic, but heavy enough that something solid is in there. I figure I might as well run it through the motions and see what it does, despite the metal.
Imagine my surprise – it’s actually an awesome toy, even with the low metal content.
Where do I start with this one? This toy is a finely tuned machine, built by toy scientists, to maximize its awesomeness. You cannot compare this to another robot toy that I can think of. It belongs more in the category of Hot Toys releases. It’s made to look awesome in any pose. It’s tight, detailed, and well made.
The head is sharp and detailed, and features two hard ABS antennas the top. The antennas are removable, and a second set is included in case you break or lose one. The head is on a dual-jointed neck, so it can look pretty much anywhere.
The first sign that you are not dealing with an average toy is in the shoulders. It’s hard to describe, but there really is a fantastic amount of articulation here. I’m not talking about the whole shoulder pad assembly; I am talking about where the arm meets the body. On the body, the whole shoulder connector can elevate up and down, as well as swivel forward. In addition, it rotates and moves in and out on a ball joint. The shoulder pads are attached to a ring. The instructions show you how to remove the arm, which provides you access to this ring, should you want to check it out.
NOTE: frequent posing will cause the arm peg to come out a little bit, making the shoulder pads loose. Since this joint is designed to be removed, you just have to push it back firmly.
Below the shoulder joint you have a swivel bicep, a double-jointed elbow (with movable armor piece) and then the forearms. On the outside of the arms are slots in which you can store ammunition clips for the gun.
Oh, I should mention at the end of each shoulder pad are removable grenades!
Several different variant hands are included – closed fists, open hands, a trigger hand, and closed hands for holding beam sabers. Each hand features a wrist joint, and plugs into the end of the arm with a ball and socket connection.
The chest is made out of two main parts. The top part can click forward on a super-tight joint, and the whole thing can rotate. On the back of the chest you can attach two directional blades over the boosters.
The waist is surrounded by three movable skirts. Each of the side skirts can hold the hilt of a beam saber.
The hip joints are phenomenal. They can move in every direction imaginable, smoothly and firmly. The engineering here is top notch. Just look at how smooth it looks.
The knees are another great joint, heavy duty and smooth. As you bend the knee, the knee panel slides with the movement. On the back of the knee there is another large panel that can be lifted out.
The feet are also super posable. The foot is made out of two sections, with a joint in the middle. Above that is a dual joint that can swivel, bend and be angled. Above the foot is a multi-segmented piece of armor.
The toy stands like it is rooted to the ground. The only time you have any balance issues is with the lifter on.
The lifter is a detachable flight pack that attaches to the back of the figure. It’s all plastic, but it does feature a bunch of moveable parts.
To attach the lifter to the back of Dragonar, you need to remove the part between the two thrusters on his back, and also remove the white panels. Replace the center part with the special connector part. The lifter is spring loaded, so pinch the back to open up the “jaws” in front, and then attach to the figure. The hooks on the front hook into the shoulders of Dragonar.
The wings of the lifter can lie down on its sides or be spread out wide. To get the wings to lock out, you need to extend them then push in towards the fuselage locking them in place. At the end of each large wing is a missile/bomb cluster that can be removed, but there are no alternate attachments.
The bottom wings are smaller but lock in the same way as the larger wings. Each of these wing assemblies can move up and down.
At the rear of the lifter there are two poseable jet nozzles.
I mentioned a shield earlier. The sleek shield has a secret – beneath the cover there are two large knives, held in place by various clips. You need to remove all the clips to access the knives, and then once you get them out you realize there is no paint detail on them at all. To mount the shield on the arm, you need to swap out a connector part on the left arm. To remove this panel, Max Factory has graciously provided you with a small pick to lift it up. Replace it with the special “open” panel and then slide the shield handle in from the bottom. The shield can also be held by one of the accessory hands.
On the same section of the arms that store the ammo clips, you can attach these circular bombs. I thought they were shields at first.
The large gun is designed to only go in the right hand, and only one trigger hand is included. You need to remove the thumb off of the hand to add the gun, but it snaps back in place. The gun features a fold out handle, but that’s about it.
The beam sabers are stored on the side skirts, and can be held in either hand with a hole in it. The actual blades are stored on the base. They fit the hilt snugly, and look pretty awesome.
It gets more awesome when you add in the double bladed beam saber. This is a separate hilt section, but you attach the same beams. The double bladed beam sword reminds me a little of Tekkaman.
The stand is huge, and clunky, but what’s nice is that EVERY PART HAS A PLACE ON THE STAND. Not only does every part have a place, but it’s a secure place. The hands are even recessed into the base. It’s really great.
The part that holds up Dragonar is 3 pieces: two arms and a connector. One part attaches to the base, the other to the figure. The part where they meet has “teeth” on it. Attach the two together in the position you like and add the third part to lock them together.
I was all set to hate this figure, but now I love it. It’s too much money for what you get, but wait for it to go on sale, and you will have one hell of a toy. I just can’t put the thing down. There’s not a pose it does not look good in. Nothing falls off. Everything is solid and sturdy. It’s really something else.
|Posted 28 March, 2010 - 00:11 by JoshB|