Thursday, 1 June 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Daizyujin


Release Date: March 2017 
RRP: 4968 yen 

Not content in being confined to the realms of classic mecha anime, Bandai’s Super Mini-Pla line has now branched into the world of tokusatsu and Super Sentai with Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger’s Daizyujin – perhaps better known around the world as the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Megazord. Conveniently timed alongside the release of Tamashii NationsSoul of Chogokin version, this candy toy model kit offers fans a smaller, cheaper alternative that is both still fully transformable and articulated. As with previous Super Mini-Pla releases, one case holds one whole figure so that collectors can pick up the whole with ease and without ending up with any duplicates on their hands.



2017 continues to be the year Bandai get a bit flashy with their “case” packaging, with Daizyujin’s having a bit more to it than the usual green/brown outer boxes you typically see with these candy toy lines. The box is a solid black colour but also features some great monochrome graphics of both the Zyurangers and Daizujin, along with the joint Guardian Beast emblem and the usual line/series logos. Not bad at all for something likely to almost immediately be thrown away.



However it's the individual boxes that Bandai have really outdone themselves on, being a near-perfect match of the original DX Daizyujin packaging. The front is almost identical save for it being the Super Mini-Pla figure on there rather than the DX, and while the back differs a little more it certainly matches it when it comes to style. Such wonderful attention to detail really makes the boxes themselves feel like a collectors' item, making it a such a shame that these boxes are almost impossible to open without someone damaging. Super Mini-Pla Daizyujin is spread across five boxes, each coming with their own individual instruction sheet and a piece of soda-flavoured candy.




Each box features multiple runners in a variety of different colours, making it feel closer to a Gunpla kit rather than Bandai’s usual range of Super Sentai candy toy kits. The plastic quality is also noticeably different, and like Gunpla will require a pair of nippers to get the pieces cleanly off the runners. Finally some pieces also come pre-painted – notably Daizyujin’s head and the Triceratops’ head crest. 

For this build I mostly used the stickers provided, adding some extra detailing where required. More significantly as with KyurenOh I spray pained all the grey plastic pieces silver prior to building to give the finished model a better finish and make it that little bit more screen accurate. For comparison with an entirely stickered, unpainted kit please also see here.




Moving through the boxes numerically, things start of big with the core component of Daizyujin – the Tyrannosaurus. Although its body shape feels like a relic of the past now this design really is a classic piece of Super Sentai greatness, which looks just as good now as it did back in 1993. Its size and detailing also means a fair amount of stickering is required, the most significant areas being the silver square on the forehead and the panels running down either side of the tail. Like the original toy the arms and tail are limited to just forwards/backwards movement, however the legs have received a rather sizeable upgrade – now sporting ball joints in the hips and ankles in addition to the standard hinged knees. Unfortunately the offset to this is that head articulation is completely non-existent, with the model even lacking the moving jaw the original DX toy had. While neck articulation is something that could easily be lived without (it isn’t like the suit had it either), losing the jaw is a pretty big blow for a line that these days usually IMPROVES articulation. Combined with the partsforming nature of the head when it comes to transformation (more on that later), it’s a pretty notable flaw in what’s otherwise could have been a really solid model kit.




Unfortunately for the rest of the dinosaurs there’s very little difference in articulation between these and the original DX toys, but given their designs that’s to be expected. The second box in the set contains Mammoth Ranger’s ZyuMammoth (aka the Mastodon Zord), which features a ball-jointed trunk and tusks. Stickers are needed for the head detailing and body side panels, with all the detail also moulded onto the plastic itself for painters. The Mammoth’s back legs also have limited up/down motion thanks to the transformation system, but it isn’t enough to change up the pose in any way.




Third out of the box is the Triceratops, which is arguably the most vehicle-looking out of the three components and thus doesn’t have a whole lot going on in terms of features. The head and tail and both swing upwards, with the tail tip also able to rotate a full 360 degrees. That’s about it really – the horns are also moveable but it isn’t really a feature in itself. However the build is suitably impressive and makes good use of the varying plastic colours, with the completed model also free-wheeling. Stickers are mainly required for the face and side panels, however the silver claws are the front are left untouched so require a lick of paint to be fully accurate.




The SaberTiger (or Saber Toothed Tiger Zord if you prefer) features lots of different moving parts, and as such outside of the Tyrannosaurus probably has the most going for it individually. Like the Triceratops the head and tail are able to move up and down, but here there is also forwards/backwards articulation in both sets of legs as well. The larger wheels located at the top of the front legs are free-moving, as are the smaller lower-wheels on the back legs. Why exactly Bandai only chose to give the model one set of working back wheels is a mystery, but at least they still get the job done. Stickers are mainly required for the face and side panel detailing, as well as the faux set of back wheels.




Rounding the set off is Ptera Ranger’s Pteranodon (aka the Pterodactyl Zord), which as expected is the most unremarkable of the five dinosaurs. The articulation is identical to that of the DX toy, all of which is primarily intended to work with the transformation rather than give the individual form any wider range of movement. The neck, head and wings are all hinged so can fold inwards and out, resulting in the head being able to up look up and down and wings having a “flapping motion”. Stickers are required for the head, body underside detailing and pink strips near the wings, but the outlines all moulded on too just in case you’d rather paint these details on. The combined mode cannons can also be clipped onto the bottom fins to act as feet like on the original toy, but honestly this still looks just as ridiculous as it did in 1993.



Individually the five Guardian Beasts don’t really have much more to offer in terms of features than their DX counterparts, and on the rare occasion they do it usually comes with some sort of trade-off (e.g. the Tyrannosaurus having better leg articulation but no moving head or jaw). They certainly look great together though, and there’s a definite satisfaction of having decent modern representations of the individual modes at this scale.




Before merging to form Daizujin though, these five Guardian Beasts are also able to combine into the mighty Dino Tanker. This tank-like monstrosity wasn’t used all that much in Zyuranger or Power Rangers (though was seen quite a lot as part of the transformation sequence), but is a great-looking vehicle mode that’s earned its place as a fan favourite. A quick glance at the instructions might be needed to get the Tyrannosaurus into the right position and get the Mammoth head attached but otherwise it’s a fairly basic combination that isn’t hard to figure out without assistance.

"Invoke, Daizyujin!"



The transformation from Dino Tanker to Daizyujin is exceedingly simple but just as satisfying as ever, with only a few steps different to that of the original toy. The main one being that while the legs are able to transform in the same way as the DX, the Triceratops and Tiger’s front sections can also be removed an reattached to a hidden ball joint – giving the combination some much needed ankle articulation for posing. The Tyrannosaurus head also partsforms rather than swinging straight down into the chest cavity, and needs to be completely removed from the body before being tucked away (along with the neck piece hiding Daizyujin’s face) in the chest. Other than those steps though it’s all largely the same – the fists fold out, the cannons mount on the back and the horns swing round to surround the head. Daizyujin has awakened! a



Combined Super Mini-Pla Daizyujin oozes that same blocky charm as the original figures – not quite streamline enough to pass off as a dead ringer for the suit, but bulky enough to look both impressive and imposing. Everything fits together nice and firmly so there’s no worry of parts popping off when messing either, which is always a plug given how easily some transformable/combinable model kits tend to come apart. But while the stickers seemed to have checked off all the major detailing, there is one area that’s surprisingly been left absent – the horns. So Bandai are able to provide a painted face, but then go and leave the white and black horn stripes missing? What’s even more bizarre about this oversight is that the detail has still been moulded onto the horns, so it isn’t even like it was completely forgotten about. This might not seem like much, but given the line and price one should expect all the detailing to be covered even if it is with stickers. For Bandai to do a great job everywhere else and then leave the head unfinished is just baffling.




Articulation is what really counts though, and while the Super Mini-Pla will never be able to match the more streamlined Super Robot Chogokin it certainly has enough to make it standout out among the various Daizyujins on the market. The model sports a rotating head, two-way shoulders, bicep swivels, hinged elbows, two-way hips, hinged knees (which are subsequently connected to another hinge underneath), ball-jointed ankles and hinged feet. There is also a waist joint present, but to use it first requires unclipping the Tyrannosaurus tail from the robot’s back. That’s more than enough points of articulation to allow Daizyujin to get into plenty of great poses, although making full use of the knee joints can result in some rather unsightly gaps that could have perhaps been avoided in the design process.





Finally Daizujin isn’t complete without its weapons, so there’s also the God Horn sword and Mammoth Shield on hand to turn the tide in battle. As fairly basic weapons there isn’t a whole lot to say about either of them – the sword simply slots comfortably into the fist hole while the shield connects via an adapter hidden inside Zyumammoth’s head. The sword looks great, but the Mammoth Head feels a bit undersized and so doesn’t really look like it’d make a very good shield. The adapter piece is also rather temperamental and prone to popping out of the head, although it attaches to the fist itself nice and firmly.



The jury is still out on whether the Super Mini-Pla line is truly worth its surprisingly high price point, but at the very least Daizyujin is a notable improvement over GaoGaiGar. While the overuse of stickers and minimal parts-forming is unfortunate for a near-5000 yen kit, the toy nicely fills the quota for a small transformable Daizyujin – bridging the gap between the small/articulated/non-transformable Super Robot Chogokin, the large/transformable/non-articulated DX figures and the large/transformable/articulated/expensive Soul of Chogokin release. With this there’s now a Daizyujin for every preference, and with Dragon Caesar (as well as a tentatively planned King Brachion) on the way at the very least this line doesn’t work in just one-off releases. With the designers expressing interest in revisiting Chojuu Sentai Liveman, here’s hoping if the line does continue with Super Sentai mecha it takes it in an interesting direction.

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