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Garada 27
Soul of Chogokin

 

Tonight's guest review, Joseph, is covering an interesting line from Bandai.  Tell us all about it, Joseph!

Shogun Warriors is a toy line that has always fascinated me. I never played with these figures as a kid since they came and went before I started getting action figures. But, growing up there was always something cool about robots with rocket-fists and child-killing missiles. Shogun Warriors cranked out figures ranging from giant 2í tall hollow plastic figures on down to 3Ē tall die-cast ones, with a ton of ships, vehicles and accessories in between. The most popular of the series seems to be Mazinga; who also had a TV series imported to the US known as Tranzor Z. Over the years I have picked up a few Shogun Warriors, but unfortunately vintage stuff sells for a lot of money and itís hard to get complete figures in good condition. 

Bandai has recently revived and revamped the Shogun Warriors (or Jumbo Machinder) line and created the Soul of Chogokin (SOC) series. The line has had about 30 entries and it keeps growing every year. Bandai has consistently cranked-out high quality figures that have a lot of die-cast parts, are expertly made and come with a ton of accessories. The figure Iím reviewing tonight is number 25 in the list, and his name is Garada K7. I donít know much about his background except that he is a villain, battles Mazinga Z and has a skull-head. But really, past that, what more does one need to know? On top of that I already had the SOC Mazinga Z and Great Mazinger, so why not add a bad guy to the line up? So, without further ado, hereís the reviewÖ







Packaging - ***1/2
Packaging really doesnít get more collector-friendly than this. The box front has large images of the figure and the back sports images touting the figures many features. For some reason it has a sort of 80ís appeal to me (maybe it the marbleized background) and is consistent in style with the other figures in the SOC line. Styrofoam inserts are used to hold the figure in place and plastic trays hold the accessories. All of this leads to a figure that can easily be removed and replaced without anyone being the wiser, and the packaging is great for moving and storage. The only downside is that there is no way to see the actual figure without opening the box.

Sculpt - ****
This figure is amazingly well sculpted. Itís not an overly complex design, but it is expertly executed and appears very clean and smooth. The figure is sculpted in a way that captures the overall look of a Shogun Warrior, but also maintains the cartoony stylization of the series. The figure is a mixture of die-cast metal and plastic parts which gives the figure a nice heft. Also, the die-cast and plastic parts of the figure are combined in a way that really matches well and you donít notice a difference between them. As far as I can tell Garadaís legs, feet, waist, and upper arms are die-cast, or about 50% of the figure.

Paint - ****
All of the paint applications on this figure are excellent. There is no bleeding or over spray which is fortunate since the design of the figure is so clean and crisp that a sloppy paint job would have really detracted from the figure. The colors for the figure are mostly pastel shades, which seem odd for a villainous figure, but he still looks great despite being basically a 7Ē hunk of pink. 

Articulation - ****
The articulation on this figure is very impressive, especially for a die-cast figure. When I got my first SOC figure, I expected it to be a pretty rigid/statuesque design. I was completely surprised to find a highly articulated figure, and Garada is no exception. Garada sports 18 POA which consists of ball jointed shoulders, hips, feet and neck. Also his knees and elbows are pin joints with a cut joint below the pin and the wrists and waist are cut joints. The only real limitation of the articulation is the lack of up and down movement in the wrists and that there is no mid-torso joint, but these are pretty small faults. Most importantly, all the joints hold positions very well and have a great range of motion.

Accessories - ***
Garada, much like other SOC figures, comes with a number of accessories. He has 3 sets of hands (open, closed fist and weapon holding), and extra bendy arm, 2 antlers/scythes, 2 eye missiles and a display stand. The accessories give you numerous display possibilities and most impressive of all: the base is designed to hold and display every single accessory! I sometimes get really annoyed with figures that have a ton of accessories and no way to use them all, but the SOC line has remedied this dilemma. However, Garada only receives 3 stars because the number of accessories pales in comparison to the earlier figures in this series. For example, the Mazinga Z figure came with close to 3 times the amount of accessories! But for Garadaís lower price point I canít complain too much.

Fun Factor - ****
Iím not entirely sure how to judge this category. If you had asked me if kids would fall all over the original Shogun Warrior lines I would have said no way, the toys are kinda goony and thereís no real reason to give the series a try. But, having said that, when you actually get the figures in your hands you are compelled to fiddle around with them and then you begin to see their true value and playability; this true for the original series and for the SOC line today. I realize this is a series aimed at collectors, but I think barring worries about kids popping-out an eyeball, loosing accessories or scratching up the paint; these figures are a whole heck of a lot of fun. And as an adult collector, I love this series because there is just an almost endless range of possibilities with them. Also it might just be me, but there is just something extra-cool about die-cast figures.

Value - ***
This may be subjective, but I tend to get pretty lenient on price when die-cast is involved. In this case my Garada figure cost about $45 off eBay; a price I was happy to pay. I think at this price point you are really getting a good deal on a very high quality figure. I see this particular figure on eBay pretty regularly for around $50-60, which is a good, but anymore than $60 and you might need to take off a Ĺ star. Also of note is that SOC figures seem to appreciate rather well. I am by no means a collector for investment purposes, but some of the earlier SOC figures (Combattler, Grendizer, etc.) sell for 2-3 times their original retail prices.

Things to Watch Out for-
The figures in this series seem to be pretty consistent in their quality. The only consideration I would have is that some of the figures in the SOC line come with accessories still on the trees and therefore require a minimum level of assembly. As always with trees there is the potential to break somethingÖ So be careful out there!

Overall - ****
I donít think figures really get any better than this. Garada is a fantastic value for what you are getting and is just a damn fine figure. I canít say that I have been waiting my whole life for a figure of a giant robot with a skull for a headÖbut now I wouldnít want my collection to be without one. I realize this figure might not be for everyone, but if you have any interest in the old-school Japanese cartoons and toys, or maybe even a lot of transformers stuff and need something new, this figure and the SOC line can really fit nicely into a collection.

SCORE RECAP:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ****
Articulation - ****
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***
Overall - ****

Where to Buy-
This figure and a few others from the SOC line have been picked up for US distribution by Diamond, and are available at a number of online shops for around $60. But, I still find that you can typically find a better price on eBay if you shop around a bit. 


Figure from the collection of Wakko.

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