I got the Battling Deer Stalker from what I could loosely term as a friend - more of a neighbor - in the late 1980s along with a Grimlock, Imperial Gunner, and a couple of other odds and ends. Attention spans were short and NES games were expensive, so a lot of people would gladly turn over toys for a dollar because they had no use for them - and thus was the collection forged. In stores, these Battle Chariot vehicles would come with a more or less random figure, meaning there's no specific pilot. There was also a ram and a tiger, each of which sporting a fairly distinctive Takara look with the robotic eyes and various vents for no good reason.
Molded in green plastic with softer rubbery orange, this is a sharp vehicle. The eyes are a separate gold piece, with stickers on the side and some grey fold-out racks to store a figure on either side of the vehicle. In other words, it's all stickers and no paint- the design cuts costs by molding everything in color. There was a lot of this in older toys, when you saw paint as a necessity for things like hair or faces with most figures being molded in color to keep costs down. Today, there's a considerably larger amount of painted parts and we're paying accordingly.
The grey racks pop out fairly easily and are a good design - they hold figures in place after the pull-back motor is activated and it "charges" forward. The pull-back mechanism starts slow, running forward for a few seconds and then leaping to a faster pace with a chomping jaw attack. How this would be a remotely viable form of battle, what with recessed lances on the bottom, is beyond me - but it looks neat and it's fun to futz with.
The driver figure locks in the top thanks to a tab sliding in place, sandwiching the figure inside. With few exceptions for ultra-skinny figures, the relatively small opening around the waist would keep a figure in position even if the toy flipped over. To this day it's a smooth lock, holding the figure in place without any fear of forcing something and cracking it. Or at least that's what I'm saying as I write this, as the toy hasn't seen a lot of heavy use since the first Bush administration.
I remember seeing a lot of these toys on clearance shelves in the late 1980s, as it seems that the bulk of the magic that Hasbro, Kenner, and Mattel had on the world of action figures would evaporate by 1988. The figures disappeared quickly in my neck of the woods, but things like the bandoliers and some of the bigger playsets just sat for months. Ift his exact kind of toy were made for a LEGO line today, I bet it would be fun - I love the motor, the chomping jaw, and the fact you could load it up with 3 figures. It may not have been a big hit in its day, but it remains a fun toy. I've been going through a lot of old toys, most of which have only sentimental value, and some are easy to part with. This is not one of them. I'm keeping it.
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