Under the Radar?
In today's all-too-easy-to- access-on-the-internet toy scene it is rare for a toy, even a Japanese one, to take toy collectors by surprise. Seems I hear about new Japanese toys months, even years in advance of their release. Many times they toys are scrapped and never even get beyond the prototype stage. Between annual Toyfair coverage, the Internet and toy centered e-mail lists it would seem that a toy couldn't be made without someone knowing. Right? So what happens when one does? Not just any toy mind you, but a toy that just doesn't fit in with what is currently on the shelves.
Can you imagine walking into TRU and seeing a row of reproduction Mego figures or maybe a newer version of Six million Dollar Man toys? It just couldn't happen?
But it did for Jumbo Machinder/Shogun Warrior fans.
For anyone who hasn't read my other columns, Jumbo Machinders were 24-inch hollow plastic robots that were made in the 70's and imported to the US as Shogun Warriors. They are rare, expensive and hunted by a fanatic following of collectors. In 1999 reproductions of several were offered at 2000 yen or so in Japan ($170 or so) and later offered for $120 here in the US. They were a very limited run sold only in comic shops. Jumbo collectors had had ample warning/notice that they were coming and had saved their $$$.
In February of 2002 Bandai released a new Jumbo, Jumbo Wildforce Megazord (yes I said Megazord, embarrassingly it is a power ranger). No fanfare, no prototype pic, nothing, some jumbo collectors just walked into TRU and it was there. Not only that but it wasn't just called "Jumbo" it was 24-inches, Hollow plastic and a Japanese robot.
The questions I have heard most often about this unexpected surprise are listed below. I have tried to address each question as objectively as I can (considering that I love Jumbo Machinders).
Is it a real "Jumbo Machinder"?
I would say yes, as much as Gorg and Getta Robo Go are "Jumbos". It is a little taller and alot wider then
your generic popy Jumbo. But it is made from the same material and has much the same construction.
What features does it have?
None. If you want your jumbos to do something (missiles, shooting fist, transform) then the Wildforce
will be a let down. However it makes sense for Bandai to make it very simple as the price point ($29.99) is very low. It does have a handle on the back to carry/move it. In fact it has less articulation then most all vintage Jumbos. It only has three points (left shoulder, right shoulder and neck).
Will it fit in with my collection?
Sure. It's around 24-25 inches tall, blow molded and a giant robot! Some may find the "wide" stance of the legs and arms at odds with the "at attention" stance of most vintage Jumbos, but for my money it looks more Jumbo then many other accepted Jumbos (Gorg, U5 Garada, Getta Robo Go).
Does the paint look odd with other Jumbos having stickers?
Yes. Here is where I start to like the new technology, but miss the vintage Jumbos. The paint detail is really cool, however I miss the simple primary colors that the stickers had. The Wildforce has silver and gold paint as well as metalic Blue, red and Green. This new type of painted Jumbos is exactly what I imagined a "Soul of Machinder" line (rumored line of toy that never came to be) would look like, sort of like 24" versions of the FLOSR (Fierce Legends of Super Robots) figures with accessory fists.
If you’re a Jumbo fan run as fast as you can to get one of these and show Bandai that we like them and would buy more of them. In Fact TRU has another "Jumbo" Megazord listed as due to be released in April! (No pics though?) At $29.95 you just can't beat it.
If you’re a Power Ranger fan then run out and get it, but please don’t ask me to discuss plot devices or “what do you think will happen to the Green Ranger”. –Brad