In college I had a lot of downtime - I wasn't drinking or experimenting with things that would make me fun, I hopped on a bicycle looking for toys, CDs, records, and cheap video games. If I had a particularly bad day, I'd probably go down to one of the Kay-Bees populating Broadway in Tucson, because there were some solid things to be seen there. And Suncoasts. And Magpie's Pizza in a cart form, which I actually quite enjoyed. One of the trips resulted in my stumbling on Ikira's Speeder. I meant to review this for this site back then, and it's 18 years later, so why do I still have it? It's neat - there were precious few 3 3/4-inch action figure lines in those days, so when I saw something neat on clearance I'd buy it. Usually the findings were so cheap, I'd be a fool not to do so.
A good friend of mine and young adults in general were particularly fascinated with anime, so it's no surprise BanDai would bring out stuff that looked vaguely Japanese for the kids. This actually was a nice piece - the paint job was better than Hasbro was doing at the time, with a nifty feature that swings out wings and moves up an engine. It feels more like a model than a toy, and you can see loads of paint everywhere. The bottom was painted - nobody does that! Little smoky hints of battle damage can be seen on the vehicle, subtle and actually almost easy to overlook. I don't recall applying any stickers, it was ready to be nifty right out of the box. You could even lift the nose on this thing and a geared cannon slides out - the look and feel of this piece is sure to impress, even if the character is something of a nonentity. Just looking this goofy speeder over is a strange exercise in overkill with painted upholstery, silver vents, articulated antennae, black panels, and more. It's really tops - you can see that a lot of care went into the design of this toy, and looking at it now I can't honestly say I'm seeing anything remotely close to it on the market today. Corners are cut, prices go up, and then you get something like this that is pretty impressive. Consider what it was going up against in Star Wars at the time, and you'll see someone decided to try to make a quality product against a goliath marketing machine... and failed.
Ikira - hmmm, doesn't sound at all like a popular movie that people wouldn't shut up about in that era - is an old, bald man with a ponytail, glasses, and a big ol' white mustache. He probably ran a record store. This 3 3/4-inch scale figure has a loose vest piece around his shoulders and is jointed specifically to ride this bike... where he has probably sat since I bought it. His costume reminds me a lot of the humans from Dino-Riders with blues, greys, and a red dot on his head that just makes me think of their telekinetic powers. I have no idea if Ikira had any - I never saw the show. With 7 points of articulation he was on par with the Biker Scout of his era, with a product that I bet more people would have geeked out over had it been in a Japanese box and cost twice as much. Sculpting is good and clean, with a nice paint job and a look that seems to be fancier than similar lines of the era (see also, Hasbro's Titan A.E. series.)
It's weird that a lot of this quality stuff in my toy boxes - occupying far too much of my house - amazes me to this day and I can still completely understand why I bought it. The designers should be proud, BanDai did a lot of wonderful toy work that was frequently overlooked in the USA for some reason or another. Maybe it's because everything has been under the shadow of Power Rangers for nearly 25 years. Maybe it's because they didn't put marketing behind some of their other creations. Maybe it just wasn't a good show. I hope the next owner digs it, and I'll miss it, but it's more important that I actually start to make room so I can live in my house rather than meander around toy storage all the time. I've carted it around to multiple residences and it's a memory of a time where I'd buy toys when I was happy, or sad, or had a reason to celebrate, or had a reason to be sad. You know, like now.
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