Friday, November 25, 2011

Super Robot Friday

Its friday after Thanksgiving, I hadn't expected any excitement as I dislike going out for all the sales and shopping craziness. But the mail showed up with not one but all three packages of models I'd ordered, really odd timing as some of these were ordered as much as a week and a half apart.

It was a bit like a nerdy Christmas so I'm naming today Super Robot Friday in honor of being able to dive into multiple boxes of robot mecha awesomeness. In the tradition of present opening we of course start with the biggest box, the 30th anniversary Dougram collection.





Back in August they released a box set of all the old Combat Armor Dougram models in 1/144 scale. I'd kinda missed them as my focus was on finding the various Macross models. As I've aquired a few more N-Scale Battletech designs it got enough of a bug rolling that I wanted to look for some more of the old kits which I didn't see much of on Ebay and I managed to find this copy of the set on Amazon. It made it here from Japan in 4 days which was very impressive. The complete set was originally priced about $65 but since they are sold out at a distributor level they run about $100 now when bought through hobby stores. Individual kits go for around $10 which is nice as the original kits were running as much as $30 a piece about a year prior.

Combat Armor Dougram released back in 1981 and along with Robotech/Macross were part of the early "realistic mecha" animes. While mecha in any sense are a bit of a fantasy the "realistic mecha" phrase comes from how the mecha are used within the setting. There's a number of much old mecha animes but they tend to be singular robots usually acting as a super hero or as a boys best friend. and the mecha are often very stylized of have fantasy elements like animal designs, swords etc.. Gigantor, Transzor Z, Voltron etc.

The realistic mecha started off with Gundam and Armored Trooper Votoms which showed them as common place military machines. They fulfill a role of armored support for urban settings and were found in large numbers like a large scale grunt soldier. They were fitted with much more standard military fare for weapons, they broke down and needed to be repaired and no longer were super robots.

Dougram followed suit and all of it's mecha were military machines and their designs were meant to be used as a combined arms approach alongside armored fighting vehicles. One of the cool things of Dougram is that the mecha were air deployable by means of a massice twin bladed heli-carrier that would air lift the otherwise slow mecha to the battlefield.

So what makes the Dougram series relevant to Battletech? Well much like Macross they were a large part of the designs that were liscensed to form many of the core designs of first edition Battletech. Most of the medium weight mechs in 3025 are Dougram designs. So scoring this set was a great deal as it gives 10 differant models to use in N Scale. They are also the same kits that were repackaged under the Battletech model kits. (TCI reboxes)

The sets consists of:




Dougram  -   aka  Shadowhawk





Soltic  -   aka  Griffin





Blockhead  -  aka  Wolverine





Ironfoot  -  aka  Thunderbolt


Bigfoot   -    aka Battlemaster



Crabgunner  -  aka  Goliath



Blizzardgunner  -  aka  Scorpion


The Dougram, Soltic, and Blockhead all have two variantions so you do get a couple repeats but their weapons load outs differ.


The next box for Super Robot Friday was the Macross Mission 1 Gashapons from "Bandai". I use that term loosely as these are made in china and I highly suspect they are from the boundless variety of cheap chinese pirate mecha that flood ebay. Not that I care if they are offical Bandai or not, I just want cheap models in the correct scale.

I bought these so that I can recast the hands, and so I can set them on my shelf along with my growing collection. I got these for $28 with shipping from Hiong Kong included so that breaks down to just under $6 a model as you get five in the set, so it works well if you are aiming to use them as cheaper alternatives to the Nichimo kits for N-Scale games.

They are posed much more dynamically than the Nichimo models as well, their limitations are no real posability and the bendy rubberized plastic they are made from. They are made to fit together on pins and ball joints but are a bit ill-fitting so if you plan to handle them reguarly you will need to super glue them or they will constantly fall apart. They also bend easily and have lots of warped parts. The warpage can be fixed with some hot water or being warmed under a hair dryer but they will slowly warp again over time.

If you're a super anal hobbyist like myself one could easily buy a set of these and recast them in resin so that they are much more rigid and won't warp. The parts are all solid so recasting would be a fairly simple task compaired to trying to cast the hollow nichimo models. (which is as serious chore) The other downside is the lack of available destroid models in this line, the only available version being the tomahawk.

If you just want some figures that are prepainted and you can throw in a shoe box in between games without fear of damaging these are certainly good choices.



The Bandai Mission Gashapons are at a very slightly larger scale than then Nichimo models, I'd guess they are closer to a 1/180 or 1/170 scale. Not a huge deal as the scale often varies from episode to episode  in the anime series.


The Gerwalk mode figure is about the same height as the Nichimo model although it's parts are noticably larger. This is due to the way the leg structure is built, the knee pieces on the Bandai Mission figure are at a much greater angle more a  "U" shape curve while the Nichimo knee is much more upright. I do feel that the Mission figures are much more dynamically posed and match the feel of the show better. If they had a wider range of models and weren't so bendy they'd probably be my preferred version.


Last but certainly not least for Super Robot Friday is an incredibly awesome and rare Battletech Locust Model kit.



These are super hard to find, much moreso than the various Macross and Dougram kits. The mech was originally from the Crusher Joe series which was no where as popular and as a result their models are much harder to find.

This one had been listed on ebay but the seller took it down, when he inspected it closer it didn't match the stores description as "new" it'd been partially assembled and the secondary model for the griffin was misisng and had some odd ball model in it's place. Fortunately I'd saved the auction as I'd planned on bidding and contacted him right away to see why he'd taken it down. I told him all I was interested in was the locust model even if it was partially built so long as the parts were there.

He sent me some pics and it looked like it was complete, and I told him I'd take it as is although still no idea what the second model was. The model does in fact have all it's parts and I got it for a whopping sum of $3 which is total win. (plus $5 for shipping)  It could easily have been in the $30 range had it been bid out and been entirely on sprue.

The second model turned out to be a covered army jeep and APC combat vehicle. They are in the same overall scale, it's likely that they are some of the 1/144 Dougram vehicles as a number of the Revell Battletech versions of the Dougram models came with various fighting vehicles.



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