Mazinga: Mattel VS. Popy

An old friend.
I love all shogun Warriors, but Mazinga (Great Mazinger in Japan) holds a special place in my heart. I have such great memories of Mazinga from my childhood. I started collecting Shogun Warriors to replace the ones I had as a child and Mazinga was the first one on my list. I recently discovered that my childhood Mazinga, thought lost a long time ago, was hiding out in my parent's garage. I got him out and dusted him off and he was very different from the Mazinga I had tried to replace him with. His chest boomerang was different, his legs were different, he was different from head to toe?
After too much research.
Mattel made three different versions of Mazinga. Versions 1 and 2 are often confused with one another as they are similar, and are easily distinguishable from version 3. Most collectors consider version 1 and 2 to be the same, in fact most price guides list 2 versions, version 1 being Mazinga (version 1 and 2) and version 2 (really the 3rd version) being Great Mazinga. They couldn't be more wrong. Version 1 and 2 both have the red chest boomerang and removable headship that the 3rd version does not have, but beyond that they are completely different figures, different molds, different design, different size.
Getting to the bottom of things.
Version 1 has the trucks for the wheels on his feet molded on the feet while version 2 has them attached with clips. You will also notice that the knee pads on version 1 are split half-and-half between the upper and lower leg molds, while version 2 has the kneepads on the lower legs only. The change in wheel trucks and kneepads means that the upper and lower legs are both new molds. The legs are also spread wider apart on version 1.

In the middle of it all.
Version 1 has missile holders molded on its shoulders, while version 2 has them attached with screws. Attached to the torso is the chest boomerang, version 1 has a different shape from version 2, it's thinner with sharper edges and it juts out from the chest. The different shaped chest boomerang and different missile holders would mean that the chest boomerang and torso for version 2 are also new molds.

Armed and dangerous.
Next are the arms. When I started looking I was pretty sure that the arms were the same, but found out that both the upper and lower arms are again completely different molds.
Version 1 (foreground) has only one ring around the base of the upper arm and that Version 2 (background) has two rings. Also if you try to use a version 2 fist on a version 1 arm you will find that the arm is bigger and the fist will not fit.

Fists of fury.
Once again the fists were made from new molds. The missile firing fists are different as version 1 has 6 screws holding it together and version 2 has only 5. The right fist is also different from version 1 to version 2, as the fist is larger on version 1 because, as mentioned above, the upper arm is larger. The fin is also larger on the version 1 fist (far right in this picture).

You'll put an eye out.
Version 1 has missile with triangular vanes (left in picture) and that version 2 has clipped vaned missiles (right in picture, Version 3 also has these).

What did we learn?
So, What does all this mean? Well, other than an exhaustive review of a 20+-year-old toy, it means that the common idea that Mattel cut corners in the production of it's Shogun Warriors is bunk. This common theory was that Mattel had "dumbed down" the Shogun Warriors from their Japanese versions as supported by the replacement of the chest boomerang with a sticker and the addition of a non-removable headship in version 3 (Great Mazinga). In fact version 2 was a completely different figure made just for Mattel by Popy. This would mean that Mattel had invested money in a new Mazinga rather then simply importing the existing Popy one (version 1 was an import of the Popy version). This changes the theory completely. Instead of Mattel simply importing the Popy Mazinga and then cutting corners by having Popy make a cheaper version (version 3), it would seem that Mattel invested enough money to have Popy make a Mazinga with all the "bells and whistles" (version 2) just for the American market and later changed to a cheaper version when sales started to decline (version 3).
What did I learn?
I own way too many Mazinga's