Welcome to FOTD #2,000. I had another figure selected for this day, but it didn't show up - more on that soon. Starting next week we'll be updating Tuesdays and Thursdays, because I've written over 4,500 "FOTD" reviews and it's kind of draining to open a new toy - or dig out an old one - every single day. We want to make things interesting or special, and ZW-05 Gannontoise is very special. Takara-Tomy revived Zoids yet again, this time in a line currently only in Japan with teams like "Death Metal" and "Freedom." There's a story associated with it, and an anime, and other stuff - we'll see more as time goes on, and the word's still out on when or if Hasbro will bring them here like we got in the 2000s. Some lines never made it out here. Zoids have had several runs in the USA with varying degrees of success. Tomy brought out the eponymous line in the early 1980s for a brief time, followed by unique colored toys for Robo-Strux later. Kenner brought over Techno-Zoids as another US-recolor line in the 1990s to compete with Zords, and yet another US line in the early 2000s were more or less direct imports of Japan's line of 1999+ kits - and I imported plenty of those, too. I've been buying these toys since I was a kid, so I get excited when new ones marketed to kids come out.
This series launched with two small kits and four medium-sized ones, the latter of which come with their parts pre-trimmed from sprues. Normally you spend hours finding and clipping your parts - this time they're in marked bags, but the sprues proved to be handy in easily identifying which part was the right part. Now, you fish around in a bag to find the right ones with no additional cutting or clipping. It goes much more quickly, as I put this together in about an hour last week when my internet and phone went out during the work day. It was somewhat fortuitous to get a big box from Japan and then a ton of time to put it together. I had no problems assembling the central engine and the guts of the toy, and the optional clip-on seafoam green armor added a lot to the toy's personality. I assume future toys will likely just swap out the armor so Takara-Tomy can use the same basic design to give us other toys using 80% of the same parts.
At about 6 1/2-inches long, it's not a huge toy but it does offer more moving parts than usual. A motor allows the toy to walk and nod his head, and if you reconfigure its armor it will also cause a piston to manipulate a very phallic cannon in the fold-out portion of the shell. Muy sexy. The shell also has an opening hatch to reveal one of the toy's radical departures from previous generations - the little chrome pilots are gone, replaced by significantly larger clear colorless frosty figures. I assume these will be replaced by anime-styled figures later as blind bags or other figure kits are sold, but for now you've got a nameless, faceless slug figure pilot. (I wish it was just chrome.) The actual mech gets some bonus personality thanks to one very new part - chrome eyeballs inserted in the robotic skull. They're metallic blue, but not vac-metal blue, and glisten nicely in a dark room.
The day this kit came, I went out to lunch to visit one of the two remaining Toys R Us stores which had one day left on its lease on life. I bought a lot of kits there, and it's weird to think about how that era is over, finished - but I'm also living in an era which has allowed me to buy pretty much any wacky kid's toy from Japan for close to its regular retail price since at least 1997. While the core hub of the reason I went out to do a toy run is gone - possibly forever - the internet has evolved to be an invaluable tool for toy collectors. Virtually anybody can post a video of a toy with a movie studio that exists in their pocket. Any goofball with the resources can find the rarest of rare toys on eBay or on a forum. You may not be able to get what you want at your local store, but I know I've had problems tracking down the exact figure I wanted, when I wanted it, back to at least the early 1980s. The big difference today is there are numerous outlets wanting to sell me stuff straight to my door, but it's not like I can just hop to a local store and find a wall of Playmobil or Zoids or even Imaginext anymore. On the other hand, the current marketplace allows a company like Onell Design to make its own toys and sell them to me, and for a retailer like HobbyLink Japan to continue to ship me Japanese Zoids, just like they did to my college dorm back in 1999. And today, I've got this goofy turtle covered in 26 3mm hardpoints for some sort of future weapon expansion kits or something. If you have old kits, the smaller weapons will fit on them.
If the price is right - especially at $30 or less - get one of these. Like recent Transformers from Hasbro or Takara-Tomy, this one is made in Vietnam and it came out basically perfect. My only gripe is that we didn't get the classic factions of Helic Republic or Zenebas Empire... or to a lesser extent, the Guylos Empire.
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