|Another vintage Zoids kit that has yet to see reproduction. This kit sports fairly interesting movement for what should be an immobile shelled creature, and is a pretty nifty hermit crab. Way too much money on eBay.|
With Zoids having been returned to the USA in the early 21st Century, the bulk of the line consisted of old molds. Or, to be more precise, Japan's old molds. The bulk of the toys were previously unseen on these shores, and the older lines from which they were based were more or less forgotten. The super-nifty Sea Panther is one of those molds from days gone by, and while it's quite excellent it is a little dated these days.
This figure kit has a wind-up mechanism with rolling wheels and moving legs, positionable weapons, and concealed weaponry. There's also the always-present pilot figure.
In the early days, the very first Zoids shared a lot of parts and mixing-and-matching them was encouraged so that bigger, more interesting kits could be made. By the time this toy was released, it seems the rubber bolts, pilot, and canopy were really the only parts that have been seen on previous kits.
The sculpting is fairly ornate, there's a lot of ridges, bumps, and mechanical bits on the shell that could really be nicely brought out by an expert model builder, or really anybody that understands how to do an ink wash properly. The parts that aren't the shell look fairly smooth, providing a nice contrast with the exterior covering.
While sturdier than some other Zoids of the era, it isn't a toy that would be likely to hold up to much play from an enthusiastic child. It's a definite step up from earlier kits but definitely wasn't designed for the play patterns of American youths.
In this image, you can see the toy in a top-down view with the weapon concealed on the left, and with it deployed on the right. While not an especially menacing firearm, it does add a little extra charm to the toy. The movement was a little bumpy on the sample seen here, and some extra parts trimming was required to let it move freely.
Like all Zoids of this era, Sea Panther included a small, chromed, nameless pilot. Also known as Mind Riders for reasons unknown, these came in silver or gold depending on the set. This one is silver.
While there are points to add on additional weapons, this set really doesn't lend itself to any specific add-ons. As is, it's pretty nicely done and the minimal moving parts will probably mean minimal breakage, which is always an important thing with older toys.
Because odds are you won't have many chances to see it in this state, here are some pictures of the box contents as well as the trees that house the parts.
It's a fairly simplistic kit only spanning four sprues of parts. Were it rereleased today, it wouldn't cost more than $10.
Even by the standards of its day, this was pretty bland and thin, not standing out much, but being just large enough to house its contents which, in this case, makes it pretty large.
Still, boxed toys from two decades back don't show up every day, and as such, seeing such a thing is a real treat. Old Zoids had alternate models for the kits on the back, presumably showing what you could do if you had a little modeling skill you felt like showing off. No additional parts were included or, as far as can be determined, developed for these particular alternate modes.
This was a treat, an old rare toy that really doesn't seem to find its way to these shores all that often. It's a great armored little crab, and right now doesn't seem to be on tap to be released anytime soon. As a collector or a kid with too much money, you'll have to determine if it's worth the price if and when you ever see one, but if you're a fan of older toys it's a guaranteed delight. Snag one if you have the means.
Reviewed and photographed by Adam Pawlus
Sample found on eBay in 2003
Reviewed on November 18, 2003.