Tuesday 28 May 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Galaxy Mega & Delta Mega

Release Date: January 2019
RRP: 6912 yen

Having the Super Mini-Pla line revisit the history of Super Sentai and breathe new life into older designs with modern, articulated model kits is one thing. But the fact there's no clear pattern to what's coming next makes these releases all the more exciting. After wowing collectors with Muteki Shogun and Kakure Daishogun at the end of last year, Bandai have decided to jump forward a few years next to 1998 and Denji Sentai Megaranger. Even better is that they've made this a double release, with Super Mini-Pla Galaxy Mega & Delta Mega coming together in one retail-release set – giving buyers the opportunity to own Super Galaxy Mega right off the bat. Power Rangers fans will also know these two as the Astro and Delta Megazords from Power Rangers in Space.

As with previous Super Mini-Pla releases the two Megaranger mecha come together in decorated outer packaging rather than the basic one-colour boxes you see with other candy toy lines. The black and white box features greyscale images of both Galaxy Mega and Delta Mega, along with a look of their combined mode and both English and Japanese language names for the mecha. Though it’s the kind of packaging that will ultimately get thrown away unless you're a particularly serious box-keeper, the added effort they have doesn't go unnoticed and they always manage to make the releases feel that little bit more special. The selection inside is also a little different to what you'll usually find with Super Sentai mini-pla – since the two spaceships here are just one model each rather than made up of five individual components, the inner boxes are much larger than what you'd usually find with these releases.

Sticking to the excellent precedent set by previous Super Sentai Super Mini-Pla releases, Galaxy Mega's packaging is a direct copy to the original 1998 DX toy. The layout are background are completely identical, with the images of the toy itself changed to the Super Mini-Pla version and the logos swapped to reflect the different lines. The front of the packaging even has the same Japanese text running down each side! While the front of the box is particularly striking with the image of Galaxy Mega against the Earth, the sides and back are a little more straight to the point – featuring clear boxed off images of the kit's various features and components.

Likewise Delta Mega's box is also near-identical to the original toy, again with only the logos and figure images swapped to avoid confusion. The sun backdrop on the front offers a nice colour contrast to the Earth on Galaxy Mega's, and the show-suit headshot of Super Galaxy Mega in the top corner is a nice touch. With less features to offer the back of the box has fewer images of the Delta Mega model, instead supplementing it with a nice big image of the combined mode to show off the two robots' interactivity.

Big boxes mean a lot of runners, but that doesn't make these Megaranger releases any more special than the usual Super Mini-Pla offerings. Inside you'll find a decent selection of different coloured plastics, along with sticker sheets for the additional detailing and even a few pre-painted pieces. On top of this there's also instruction guides for the building and transformation of each kit, as well as a single piece of bubblegum in each box.

In ship mode Galaxy Mega is simply known as the "MegaShip" (or "Astro MegaShip" in Power Rangers), which is a chunky blue saucer-eseque spaceship with a shuttle-like cockpit jutting out of the front. Its larger size makes it a nice change of pace from typical Super Sentai mecha components, but what really makes it stand out is the sheer level of detailing on the kit. Almost every piece of the model has a myriad of intricate panel markings, which really makes the completed model pop and look like something worthy of the "Super Mini-Pla" title. In addition to two turning cannon turrets on either side, the MegaShip also has wheels on its underside so that it can roll along flat surfaces.

Also packed in with the MegaShip is of course the MegaShuttle, a smaller realistic-style space shuttle which is used to transport I.N.E.T. personnel into space. Meanwhile in Power Rangers in Space, the "Astro MegaShuttle" is used to initially launch the rangers into space following their defeat at the end of Turbo. The shuttle may only be a tiny model but is an integral part of the Galaxy Mega transformation, and can also dock inside whilst in MegaShuttle mode. This is done simply by swinging the front halves open and pegging the shuttle inside, but allows for a really cool display that echoes the fantastic miniature work featured in the show itself.

Much like the Super Mini-Pla GoLion and Muteki Shogun releases, the Mega Ship also has a few additional features unique to their original toys. Also included with the model kit is the Shuttle Booster, a booster pack which can be connected to the Mega Shuttle and transforms into Galaxy Mega's Booster Rifle. However on the toy it can also split apart to give the Mega Ship additional armaments, with the cannon section mounting on the underside whilst the two booster parts connect on either side of the ship. On top of saving on the amount of loose parts being stored it gives the Mega Ship a nice bit of extra functionality and playability, as well as continuing the Super Mini-Pla's skill of combining the DX toy functions with screen-accurate design work.

As a single vehicle mecha one of the most satisfying things about Galaxy Mega is that it transforms into robot mode, rather than being a combining robot like most Super Sentai mecha. And what a satisfying transformation it is, as the front of the MegaShip splits apart and the two sides swing out to become legs. The underside panels then fold in and clip onto the sides of the torso, with the connected boosters extending to form the arms. Finally the MegaShuttle sits atop the torso, folding out to become the head. The Super Mini-Pla captures the feel of the onscreen transformation perfectly, and the end model easily lives up to the high standard the line has set itself with the past few releases. While it might be a fairly simplistic design in terms of shape, the colours and detailing accentuate that simplicity into something truly memorable.

Articulation is of course still a big selling point with these releases, and that relatively basic silhouette allows Galaxy Mega to take full advantage of what Bandai have to offer. Galaxy Mega features a rotating head, forward and sideward moving shoulders, hinged elbows, rotating wrists, a waist swivel, forward and sideward moving hips, hinged knees, and ball jointed feet. The crotch section is also hinged to accommodate the forward movement of the legs. With all this articulation and minimal flourish to hinder it, the robot is free to pull off all manner of action poses you'd never dream of pulling off with a DX Super Sentai toy.

Most Super Sentai mecha come armed with a sword and shield, while others may prefer a projectile weapon for their monster takedowns. It's a rare that one comes with both however, so it's extra fun to see the Super Mini-Pla line tackle one that falls under that bracket. Galaxy Mega has the choice between the MegaSaber, Mega Shield and Booster Rifle. While the sword is a rather basic looking blade with some detail on the hilt, there's always something extra satisfying about a Sentai mecha sword no matter how it looks. The shield and rifle are a little more fancy however, featuring some steps of transformation thanks to the way they are incorporated in the Mega Ship design. The Shield folds out into a circular shape, while the rifle folds out to reveal the barrel. All three weapons fit snugly into either of Galaxy Mega's hands, allowing for a variety of different displays and variations depending on your personal preferences.

Unlike Galaxy Mega, Delta Mega is simply known by that name in both robot and ship modes – with the latter being an equally chunky triangular spaceship with twin cannons at its front and raised fins at back. Like the MegaShip it’s an impressively big model which immediately gives it display presence, and the black and silver colour combination looks especially good. The only shame is that the back end requires such huge sticker. Whereas other areas of the ship mostly have the detail moulded in to allow builders to paint them on if they prefer, these sections are completely smooth and lack any of the panelling detail that the stickers provide.

Delta Mega unfortunately has a lot less going for it in terms of additional functionality compared to the MegaShip. The two cannons at the front of the ship can rotate, and that's about it. There aren't even any wheels on the underside to give the model a bit of free-wheeling motion. But as disappointing as that might sound, it's still a fantastic look ship overall – sizeable, chunky and as a result considerably sturdier. Odds are buyers aren't going to keep it displayed in ship mode anyway, but even if they do all it needs is a good articulated stand and it'll look pretty damn fantastic.

Delta Mega's transformation to robot mode is considerably more parts-formy than Galaxy Mega's, with the whole back section essentially being removed, split and reattached to form the legs. The said, the end result proves just as impressive. Even in robot mode Delta Mega is a big imposing space triangle, complete with oversized feet and missile fingers. Even though they have enough similarity to clearly come from the same series in terms of colour and shape it's a completely different beast from Galaxy Mega, which is perhaps why the two work so well together. One nice feature Bandai have added for the Super Mini-Pla release is an extra set of hands with the cannons bent to look more like fingers, as opposed to the straight ones immediately revealed in the transformation.

As you can probably guess by the shape, Delta Mega isn't quite as articulated either. However that said it's still a significant upgrade to the old DX toy. Altogether the robot has a rotating head, shoulders with forwards and outwards motion, elbows, wrist swivels, forward and sideward moving hips, upper leg swivels, hinged knees and hinged foot sections. Looking at just the numbers that’s actually a fair bit of articulation, but the lack of a waist swivel combined with the way the torso is put together results in movement that feels somewhat restricted and (for lack of a better word) robotic. It's all there, but doesn't feel anywhere near as fluid as it does on Galaxy Mega. Still, those big feet provide more than adequate balance for any poses you do have planned and the whole "robotic" feel really works for this particular model. Not because it's obviously a robot, but because more because Delta Mega just looks like a walking armoury that wouldn't need to be especially mobile in battle.

The fun doesn't stop there either, as Galaxy Mega and Delta Mega can also combine to form the Super Electromagnetic Fusion Super Galaxy Mega! After relatively straightforward transformations for the two individual ships bringing them both together is a little more complicated, no thanks to the instructions' rather vague images on certain steps. To put it bluntly Delta Mega splits apart and is essentially as armour, with huge parts of the model pulled apart and then reassembled on top of Galaxy Mega. Folding out the part that becomes the chest piece and shoulder cannons is particularly troublesome at first, but thankfully nothing too frustrating. The two robots come together really nicely and as you add each piece on you can see that this is potentially something very special.

These days multi-robot combinations in Super Sentai usually come across as cumbersome and a mess of parts, but in the 90s these combos definitely had finesse. Super Galaxy Mega makes the perfect upgrade to the base robot, with Delta Mega's part bulking Galaxy Mega up into a hulking behemoth complete with gattling gun shoulders. Though a lot of Galaxy Mega's detailing is lost under the sea of Delta Mega parts, it's nice how elements like the translucent red chest emblem are replicated through different parts. Most importantly, the combination holds together exceptionally well – with each part locking into place nicely to form a robot that won't suddenly start falling apart if you try to move it.

Naturally piling a second robot onto even an articulated frame is going to result in a loss of articulation, but nevertheless Super Galaxy Mega has still got a fair bit of movement worth noting. None of Galaxy Mega's leg articulation has been hindered by the combination, however the feet now have a hinge joint working in place of the original ball joint. The waist swivel is sadly lost but the arms continue to feature forward and sideward motion in the shoulders as well as working elbows and wrist swivels. Using the arm articulation does involve moving the cannons which is a little fiddly, but at least you have the option to do so. Finally the head is still able to turn from side to side (with the Delta Mega head cannons moveable as normal), but again unless you move the cannons you don't get a whole lot out of it as they'll obscure the view.

Last year the Super Mini-Pla line showed exactly why it was worth buying into despite its somewhat high prices, starting with their excellent Liveman releases before really showing off its potential with the Kakuranger mecha. Denji Sentai Megaranger was obviously the perfect place to go next, because Super Mini-Pla Galaxy Mega & Delta Mega are another set of absolute winners. The chunky, single-vehicle format offers a nice change of pace to previous releases, but models themselves are still the same high quality, articulate figures these older Sentai mecha have been crying out for. For Super Sentai collectors this is another must-have set, and now I really can't wait to see how the imminent Chojin Sentai Jetman releases have turned out.

1 comment:

Oar said...

These two are easily my favourite from Super Minipla, two perfectly stylish, transforming robots that come together to form an even bigger robot. That it's the mecha from one of my favourite seasons of Power Rangers definitely helps.