Gun-Damn ? I have no idea what it means, like so many Japanese words it is likely the phonetic spelling of something. Like "GO" which in Japanese is the phonetic spelling of the sound a lion makes what we would call a roar. Think I'm kidding, the power rangers are known as "GO-Rangers" in Japan and the show always has the robots roaring.
Regardless of what it means, "Gundam" carries as much weight in Japan as the words "Star Wars" does in the US. The US is just now seeing the tip of the iceberg that is Gundam. In fact the Gundam Wing series that has done so well here in the US is not only a very recent Gundam story it is also set in an alternete timeline. Yes thatís right Cartoon network and Sunrise productions chose to introduce Gundam to the US by giving us the equivalent of their "elseworlds" or "Batman Beyond".
Why? Because it was easier. Gundam Wing as a series does not depend on the long history of Gundam to be understood, and it contains some of the Gundam Universes most superhero like robots.
Let me start out by saying that Gundam is nothing like any of the "anime" cartoons that we had as kids. Not like voltron, transformers, G-force not like any the US has seen before. The good guys aren't always good, The Bad guys aren't always bad, they enhabit a world were politics, espionage and propaganda are tools of war.
Now Iím thirty and I know the names and histories of all of these robots. I know that the Shogun Warriors were just Jumbo Machinders imported from Japan. I know that the Shogun Warriors were just a small sampling of the variety of robots released in Japan
Why they were cool.
24 inches of Shampoo bottle :
The large Shogun Warriors were made of the same material used in shampoo bottles and were able to endure the roughest of play with just a few nicks and scratches. They shot missiles, fists and rockets and they towered over everyother toy in the toybox. Size does matter when your talking toys.
The first three Shogun Warriors were exactly like their Japanese counterparts with the exception of Mazinga and Raydeení s left fists. The fists were replaced with Accessory Jumbo Machinder arms to add to the figures play value. Dragun didnít loose his fist, but was given a jumbo star shooter to strap onto his hand. Other than the added fists and accessories they were exactly like the Japanese versions.The same three Shogun Warriors were sold in 1978, but had what appear to be subtle differences, wheel trucks clipped on rather than molded like the first series, different missiles, axes and the like. In fact they were completely different figures with all new molds. I cannot confirm this with all the Shogun Warriors, but I can confirm that the 2nd series Mazinga is completely different from the first series and thus completely different from the Japanese version. For more on the difference between them click here to read my review. The logical explanation for the differences would be that Mattel went back to Popy after the first series was successful and wanted more. Popy no longer had them as this was 1978 and they had stopped making those three back in 1975 (toy companies destroy or scrap the molds used to make a toy when they no longer need them. As Popy no longer had the molds they had to make new molds for each of the Shogun Warriors. By the time that Mattel Released Goldorake, Gaiking and Daimos and the 3rd version of Mazinga , Raydeen and Dragun, they were looking to cut corners as the newness of the toys were wearing off on American kids. Star Wars was in and taking the lions share of toy dollars. Goldorake, Gaiking and Daimos had all been already released in Japan and once again Mattel would have to settle for newly sculpted versions rather than the Japanese ones. These last Shogun Warriors Marked the end of the Jumbo Machinders in the US . (Teaser: one more copy of a Japanese Jumbo Machinder was released in the US in 1983. It was called Go Lion in Japan, but over here we called him Voltron. click here )
Japanese toy collecting is riding a wave of nostalgia and a few Jumbo Machinders were re-released by Uni-five into the Japanese market (re-released, but not copied as the original molds were gone), but sold poorly as the average Japanese toy collector doesn't have space to store these. They ended up being shelf warmers in Japan and rumor has it that the guy who came up with the idea was fired. Pretty crappy, but nothing compared to what would have happened back in the day. Just like Vintage Bob, I long for the days when a toy executive would have to cut off a finger for screwing up a good toy line (fingerless Hasbo anyone?). However, Japans loss was our gain. The extra shelf warming Jumbo Machinders were bought by Diamond and offered for $120 each (about $60 cheaper then they were in Japan!). As stated before these were re-releases of the Japanese versions, not the Shogun Warrior ones. Check out the pictures below to see the difference between a Mattel Mazinga and Uni-five re-release Great Mazinger.
The final word :
In the end we get Shogun Warriors back, well sort of, we get the leftovers that wouldn't sell in Japan. But the story doesn't end there. One of the four Jumbo Machinders released in Japan was Garada K-7. Garada was a bad guy who was produced in very small numbers in Japan. He is the holy grail of Jumbo collections and Uni-five reissued him in Japan. However they got it wrong, the color scheme that they used was based on box art not on the original toy. Soon afterward pictures of the original Garada surfaced and they were way off, Diamond jumped in and asked Uni-five to make an exclusive Garada for the US only that would be in the correct colors and Uni-five did just that. click here Now Japanese Jumbo collectors are having to pay through the nose to get the "correct" Garada Re-Release.
What does this all mean?
The Diamond Re-releases have already sold out, Diamond has already sold most if not all of their exclusive Garadas and are talking to Uni-five about releasing a "planned but scraped" Combatra Jumbo. The Jumbo Machinder failure was only a failure in Japan. Seems like the US is the best place to sell " Giant Robo Shampoo Bottles" is in the US.
All Hail the return of the Gai-jin Machinders!