Monday 19 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: 13200 yen

The Bandai Super Mini-Pla line has done some pretty sizeable model kits in the few years it's been around, but when it comes to pushing just what the line to offer from the Super Sentai franchise Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner is possibly their most ambitious project yet. Their second release from KyuuKyuu Sentai GoGoFive is another Premium Bandai exclusive, which isn't really all that surprising given the size and price of this behemoth. Standing at an incredible 27cm (nearly 11") tall, Grand Liner not only outclasses anything the line has put out thus far but it also does it while still being a combining robot – made up of five heavily armoured which make up the GoLiner.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner Box 01Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner Box 02

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner Box 03Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner Box 04Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner Box 05Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner Box 06

If you weren't convinced at just how big Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner is by Bandai's promotional images, then the box should certainly do the trick. The model comes in a sturdy cardboard done out in the style of the original DX packaging, and given the size and thickness of the card it might actually be bigger than a lot of DX boxes these days. All sides of the box are decked out with images of the completed kit in in both the combined form and individual trains, as well as some technical specs about the size of the actual kit and the robot's in-show capabilities. Open the box up and you have a whopping 22 different runners of parts, mostly in black but with a few other colours thrown in as well. As is typical for the line, some pieces also have pre-painted parts. On top of all that you'll also find six different instruction flyers (five for the building and one for the combination), two sticker sheets and a single piece of soda-flavoured candy. That's right – a model kit this size and you STILL only get one piece of candy.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 02

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 03Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 04Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 05

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 06Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 07Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 08

GoLiner 1 is the component of Grand Liner belonging to GoRed, with a design based on a steam locomotive. Combined it makes up Grand Liner's left arm. Despite how large (this component alone is as long as Victory Robo is tall) and chunky these models are a big portion of the vehicle is actually hollow, as the side can open up to reveal a section (complete with extending ramp piece) where Red Ladder can be stored. One thing you'll quickly learn about this model kit is that there are A LOT of stickers involved, many of which you can't avoid using as the details aren't moulded onto the pieces.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 09

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 10Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 11Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 12

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 13Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 14Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 15

GoLiner 2 is based on an electric tram engine, and as the right arm of Grand Liner its overall construction is largely similar to GoLiner1. This includes the hollow section in the centre section of the train, which can store Blue Thrower. Even though the build process is largely the same there are enough little details to make the two trains feel suitably different, particularly the front of GoLiner 2 which has some interesting internal detailing built in to show off on the Grand Liner combo.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 16

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 17Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 18Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 19

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 20Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 21Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 22

As the torso of Grand Liner, GoLiner 3 is the largest and most unique looking of the five trains. Its design is based on an armoured military train, featuring a thicker midsection and cockpit sections at both ends of the train. Like the rest of the trains it can house GoGreen's 99Machine, but it is unique in that Green Hover enters through a hatch at the top rather than from the side. As well as being the biggest train in the convoy it's also perhaps the most interesting to build, since it features a lot of intricate joint work to make the Grand Liner combination work in the proper Super Mini-Pla line fashion.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 23

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 24Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 25Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 26

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 27Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 28Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 29

GoLiner 4 is based on a subway train, and combined forms the left leg of Grand Liner. Much like GoLiner 1 and 2 Yellow Armor enters its storage section via an opening on the side (again complete with extending ramp), but overall the design of the train is a little thinner and naturally the build process is a little different since it's a different limb. This includes some particularly interesting joint work on the front section of the train, which is attached via a multi-link connection piece which collapses onto the back section of the train. Go Liner 4 also features easily the most frustrating stickers of the entire set, which are thin yellow strips which run along the four wheel pieces. Not only are the stickers so small they could easily rip, but the angles and diagonal lines make them really frustrating to apply. It would have been nice if these could have been included amongst Grand Liner's pre-painted pieces, but in the absence of that you might want to consider painting these parts to avoid the hassle.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 30

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 31Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 32Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 33

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 34Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 35Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 36

Rounding off the trains that make up the GoLiner convoy is GoLiner 5, GoPink's bullet train which forms the right leg of Grand Liner. Again as another limb it means construction is pretty much identical to that of GoLiner 4, save for the slight differences in shape. As with the others, Pink Aider can be stored in the hollow cavity located in the centre of the train.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 37

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 38Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 39Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 40

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 41Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 42Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 43

One final bonus this release comes with is a larger cage attachment which connects to the bottom of Green Hover. With this attached, Green Hover is able to airlift the rest of the Victory Robo components without the need for the grapple wires. The cage can also be stored on the top of GoLiner 5. It's a fun little extra to have, but without an obvious way to display Green Hover using it mid-air via a display stand its use is arguably limited.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 44

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 45Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 46Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 47

Put them altogether and you have an impressive convoy of giant model trains. Each train has coupling connector pieces at the front and back that allow them to be properly fitted together, the result of which is an impressive string of trains that's much too big to fit in my light box set up. It's a function that you'd need an awful lot of room to display properly, but the fact Bandai made sure the kit still had this simple function definitely doesn't go unappreciated.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 48Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 49Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 50Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 51

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 52Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 53Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 54

The combination into Grand Liner is nice and straightforward, working just like it does on the show itself. The minor bits of parts moving are all show accurate, and there's everything fits together nicely.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 55

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 56Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 57Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 58Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 59

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 60Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 61Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 62Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 63

Each individual train might seem enormous compared to your average Super Sentai mecha component, but it's only when you have them all combined that you REALLY get a sense of just how huge Grand Liner is. Just saying nearly 11 inches doesn't quite do it justice, so as you can see from the pictures above it's over twice the size of Victory Robo and with considerably more mass. The model is so big that it only just fit in my current lightbox set up, and far too big for any decent background/effect part photographs (so excuse the more basic gallery). But other than size, the model looks absolutely fantastic. The all-black look really contrasts with the multi-coloured Victory Robo, but the numbering and coloured lines make sure it keeps that Super Sentai feel.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 64Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 65

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 66Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 67Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 68

While the Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner looks and works perfectly fine on its own, Bandai have also thrown in a few little extras to make it even better. The most significant of these are articulated elbow joints, which can be added to GoLiner1 and 2 to give the robots fully functional arms. With articulation arguably being one of the main selling points of the line, the robot having working elbows is a HUGE plus. The other accessory thrown into this set a support stand, which has both adjustable height and the GoGoFive logo as the base piece. This is a pretty necessary inclusion because ultimately while Grand Liner is well articulated, it struggles to pull off a lot of poses without that additional support. This stand piece plugs into a port directly between the legs, and is actually articulated at that connection point even if it doesn't really add anything overall.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 69

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 70Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 71Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 72Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 73

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 74Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 75Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 76Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 77

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 78Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 79Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 80

Despite needing a bit of extra support to hold the more extravagant poses, that certainly isn't to say it isn't poseable. Admittedly not as poseable as your average Super Mini-Pla release, but given how much of a (albeit glorious) brick the original Grand Liner was any additions made to that are definitely a bonus. Breaking it down by each area Grand Liner features; 
Head – Ball jointed 
Shoulders – Can lift upwards at two different connection points, as well as rotate a full 360 degrees Elbows – Hinge joint when additional parts attached 
Hands – Rotating wrists with hinged finger sections 
Hips – Rotation forwards and backwards, as well as the ability to extend downwards 
Legs – Thigh and upper knee swivels, hinged knees
Feet - Can extend outward, providing an additional ankle tilt
Sadly the model doesn't have any sort of waist articulation, but then again it's not really the kind of design that can incorporate one very well either. Admittedly one shouldn't really be TOO critical of any lack of movement the model has since Grand Liner was intentionally designed like that on the show as well, so it's more the stability of the whole thing that could be argued a little off. The hips have a lot of cool things going on with the way they can extend downwards, but those legs are quite heavy for tiny bits of plastic. You can offset this a bit with those cleverly designed feet, which extend outward to reveal a reasonably good inward ankle tilt. But again said sections are held together by relatively small connector pieces, and whilst it is a bit more sturdy than the hip area it doesn't do the job any better than a big old ball joint could have. The important thing is though that Grand Liner looks enormous and imposing in nearly every pose you put it in, which is ultimately what you really want from a massive five-train combiner robot. Those articulated hands are just the icing on the cake, it's not very often you see those in this line and they do not disappoint. 

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 81

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 82Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 83Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 84

Grand Liner doesn't have any additional accessories however it does have a gimmick of sorts. The arms can be reconfigured for the mecha's final attack, the "Grand Storm". Here the shoulder weapons reconnect to the arms, with GoLiner 2's front also opening up to reveal an array of missile pods. While it might only be a little change in formation, it's different enough to look both impressive and convey how much firepower the Grand Liner has.

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 85

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner is quite easily the most ambitious and impressive thing the line has pulled off yet – an enormous combining robot that towers over everything else. Given the size alone, it would immediately become the centrepiece of any Super Sentai mini-pla collection. But does it have everything that makes the Super Mini-Pla line so damn special? Size isn't everything, and the structural/balance issues that come along with it are a little disappointing – it's not quite the same throwing the thing into poses the DX could only dream of and then needing an additional support stand to hold it. That may not be a deal breaker for a lot of people, but the price certainly might be. This thing was expensive to begin with, and with the way the aftermarket value of Super Mini-Pla kits shoots up (especially the Premium Bandai ones) many collectors might find themselves priced out if they didn't pick one up on release. Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner isn't a release for everyone, but those who are willing to pay that price tag are unlikely to be disappointed.


Onerik said...

You say there is no ankle tilt, but there is, I'm looking at it on mine right now. After putting 4 and 5 into foot mode, just pull the foot down and forward. :)

Alex said...

Yeah I see what you mean, you do get some movement if you pull it forward. Still not quite as seamless as a standard tilt, but thanks. Will amend :)