Big Dai X
Review by VF5SS
X-Bomber is a somewhat obscure entry in Go Nagai's pantheon of giant robot shows. It follows the titular starship and her crew on its mission to save the Earth from alien invaders who hail from just past Gemini. The ship also carried three vehicles that could combine into the powerful Big Dai X. What followed was a Space Battleship Yamato style adventure mixed with Go Nagai's signature style and penchant for action and melodrama. The show also drew heavy inspiration from Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation series, using puppets to portray all the characters, while the spaceships and robots went with the traditional models and men in costumes route. X-Bomber enjoyed a fair amount of success when it aired and got a good number of toys from companies such as Takatoku.
The Big Dai X dominates the battlefield like a walking engine of destruction.
The unique look of the show and the fact it was based on internationally beloved shows like Thunderbirds made X-Bomber a good fit for markets outside of Japan. It was dubbed in several languages and aired in many parts of Europe with the UK version, Star Fleet, becoming a real cult classic. One of the most surprising things to come out of the English dub was a hard rock cover of the theme song by famous musician Brian May. The legendary Queen guitarist had become enamored with the show and gathered a few of his friends (including Eddie Van Halen) to record one of the most amazing songs about giant robots I have ever heard.
And there's even an official music video that you should go watch right now.
Anyways, as an American I never had a chance to see the show when it originally aired but I decided to check it out when I saw just how many people were anticipating the subject of today's review. I must say I was genuinely surprised at how enjoyable it was even with the cheesy English dub. Aside from some name changes, Star Fleet is quite faithful to the original version and does not attempt to gloss over or remove the show's fairly heavy themes that include betrayal, revenge, and death. When Evolution Toy announced they were making a modern toy of the Big Dai X, I was pumped as this was the first new figure of the character since the 80's. In fact it seems like a lot of people were really excited that X-Bomber was finally getting some love after all these years.
So let's dive in and find out if this toy is up to Earth Defense Force standards.
The Big Dai X is the twelfth figure in Evolution Toy's Dynamite Action line. Standing roughly seven inches tall, it is a mostly plastic toy that has a bit of heft due to the metal used in its joints. Design-wise, the figure lacks the bulk of the Dai X costume used in the show and is a more idealized rendition of what the vehicles would look like combined.
Front to back, the Dai X is covered in screen-accurate details. Its whole body is covered in eye catching glossy paint.
All these panel lines make the figure look a lot bigger than it actually is. Next to my standard six inch scale Eckhart, the mighty Big Dai X seems more reasonably sized. Evolution Toy is aiming to make something that can stand side by side with your typical Soul of Chogokins or other similar Bandai products.
Note that before handling the figure, you need to install a pair of chocks into the heels which will lock the transformation joint in the feet and keep the Dai X from falling over. Sadly, these extra parts are poorly molded. While they may fit, it is a less than seamless result.
For some reason Evolution Toy felt the need to include this little plastic tool for getting the fill-in parts out after they're installed. This is entirely unnecessary as just hinging the feet downward will pop these pieces out.
A closer look reveals that the detailing on the Dai X is adequate. Everything is there but the molding is a bit soft. There's also some nasty seam lines in the middle of the face from how this toy was assembled. The signature "X" on the robot's face is made from flexible PVC plastic but can still scrape worryingly against the edges of the chest when posing.
And if you're wondering, no, the head does not turn into a helicopter. They just needed a reason to call it the Big Dai X.
Since this toy is based on a physical prop, there is a need for more detail than the typical anime robots seen as Dynamite Action figures. Again, all the Star Wars style panels and mechanical bits look okay, but they lack the sharpness of a similar product from Bandai.
There's a number of small imperfections in the paint apps, particularly on the white striping. I also noticed some missing red from the left forearm which makes it look like somebody dropped the piece on the floor.
All the tiny guns on the Dai X are made from soft PVC which can flex a bit, but you should probably avoid doing so. Again, there's some patchy white paint around the edges.
The Big Dai X's asymmetrical feet are properly represented on this toy. A lot of the vintage pieces omitted this detail as the foot guns were too small to render properly. There is a weird gap in the middle of the foot cockpit that wasn't there on the prototype though.
All Dynamite Action toys use a common joint system which consists of large metal balls that clip into sockets lined with strong magnets. The shoulders in particular use saw toothed rims to create a faux ratcheting joint. You'll find these magnets in the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, chest, waist, knees, and ankles. There are also regular hinges and swivel joints to round out the figure.
All these joints afford the Big Dai X a good amount of articulation. You can do everything from basic walking poses to the iconic "arms out like a big X" stance.
The joints all work quite well with limbs keeping their form despite the entirely friction-based setup.
The elbows, hips, and knees feature extra hinges where the metal balls are attached so they can swing out further for a greater range of motion. If you're feeling daring and courageous, the Big Dai X can do poses that far exceed what the on screen actor could do in his bulky suit.
Despite being armed with several different weapons, the Big Dai X usually just smashed and stomped enemies into submission.
To get the point across, the fingers all have red arrows painted on them. It's a nice bit of military sci-fi flair that compliments the Big Dai X's heroic Go Nagai robot styling. The hands rotate on a simple ball-joint connection, and all you get are a pair of fists cuz these mitts are made for punching.
He's a puncher.
The Big Dai X is less of a giant robot and a more of tactical two-legged tornado. Top engineers at the EDF even installed an electronic roar for some reason...
When the three pilots did feel the need to bust out some firepower, the Big Dai X would charge up its Super Cannon to blast enemy tanks and planes. The toy does a good job of rendering this simple twin barreled turret.
The other common used weapon is a pair of missile that launch from the left forearm. These big Acme rockets are static and do not fire, nor can they be detached.
Lastly, the rarely seen "Breast Missile" launchers can be opened up to reveal a set of nondescript gray nipples. From what I've seen these are not accurate to the show. At the very least, getting the doors open is easy enough, provided you have a strong fingernail.
The Big Dai X's small array of accessories exist to complete its three components when they're in vehicle mode. You get a pair of tank treads and burner nozzles for Legstar, a landing skid and laser gun for Jumbody, and an engine nozzle for Brainder. Also included is the aforementioned useless tool for extracting the heel fill-in pieces.
Now before I go into breaking down the figure into the three ships, I want to go over my history with this toy. In the short time since its release I have managed to handle three different figures, each with their own issues. Initially I bought a Dynamite Action Big Dai X with my own money and ended up having to return it for a replacement. Things only got worse from there...
The first one I purchased came with a broken knee guard. This one was sent back immediately.
When I got a replacement toy, I noticed it was missing some red paint on the side of its head. Note that three of the blocks on the right are gray.
And to add insult to injury, the metal ball from the chest joint separated from its housing as I attempted to split the figure into its three vehicle components. In the end I returned this figure for a refund.
After receiving two defective figures, I decided to forgo getting another one. Our wonderful site admin here at CollectionDX asked me if I wanted another figure. Now I think that every toy deserves at least a second chance, but three? Let's take a closer look as I do the DAI X JUNCTION in reverse.
First you pop the head off and cover the metal ball with the engine nozzle. This also has a skid on the bottom so the Brainder ship can rest on the ground. And then you...
Be disappointed that you've just struck out with the third figure.
So in theory (and on the other examples of this toy I had), you can slide the two halves of the helmet part to convert the head into ship mode. The tiny cockpit where Shiro Ginga (or Shiro Hagen in the dub) sits then slides upward to form a bit of a nosecone.
On this figure, one of the sliders for the helmet halves was really tight and eventually caused the outer shell to come unglued. Like an idiot, I pushed the slider back inside to see if I could still display the Brainder in head mode and now that thing is stuck tight inside. While I can still have the Big Dai X as a robot, the head's alternate mode is effectively lost to me.
This is the best I can manage with it partially broken. While even in the show the Brainder (or Braincom) wasn't much more than the Big Dai X's head pretending to be a space fighter, the toy's fragile implementation of this gimmick is downright frustrating. If Evolution Toy wasn't up to making this work then they should have just included a separate head part in Brainder mode. Here everything is just too small and their manufacturing process is too loose to produce something viable.
And when I tried to pry the engine nozzle off the damn metal ball came off its peg. This issue was easily fixed by plugging it back on where it seems to be okay.
Separating the rest of the figure into the other two ships is less harrowing. Although given my second Big Dai X broke when I tried to do this, I'm still kind of leery of the whole process.
Upper body connects to the lower half via a keyed peg. It can be used as a waist joint but when it's turned far enough the parts will separate.
The core of the abdomen can then be pushed through to allow enough space to attach the landing skid. Since the core piece with the metal ball is cylindrical, you can position it to offset where the connector will separate if you need more waist motion to one side.
Just slide the cockpit forward, flip the shoulder guards down, remove the fists, and attach the laser gun to the front of Jumbody (Main Body) to complete the ship mode. This ship is piloted by Bongo Hercules (Barry Hercules) and was used as a heavy fighter. While it does even less than Brainder to hide the fact it is just a chunk of the Big Dai X, I find its design makes for a decent looking ship.
The little laser gun in the front is kind of cool in how it attaches to the neck socket via a small screw that is held tightly by the magnets. I also appreciate that they found a way to include the arrows that are on top of the shoulders despite this toy being a bit different than the original design in that area.
The landing skid at the back keeps it level when placed on a flat surface. With the fists removed, the unpainted red ball-joints within the wrists make for a low effort rendition of the Jumbody's glowing space jet engines. In the show they never really show just where the hands come from, as they just magically appear during the docking sequence, so I can't really fault Evolution Toy for not knowing what to do here.
Turning the legs into the Legstar is a bit more involved than making Jumbody. You first remove a sizable chunk from the inner calves so you can fold the pelvis down into the exposed cavity. This is where all the extra joints in the legs come in handy. The feet then rotate down and slide back into the shins where they softly snap in place.
You finish the Legstar (Legtrack) by extending a pair of wings from the sides and placing the magnetic burner nozzles on the rear. Out of the three vehicles, the Legstar is probably the most convincing as a spaceship. The legs form a neat catamaran hull design and the lower body manages to hide itself just enough so this doesn't look just like a pair of robot pants.
The nozzles on the back clip onto the exposed metal balls in the knees using the aforementioned magnets. While they are tight, the nozzles don't line up as neatly as one would expect.
In the show, Legstar's pilot Bigman Lee (John Lee) would usually convert his ship into tank mode and land to fight the enemy at ground level. Somehow, even working with physical models Go Nagai found a way to break the laws of physics as the huge tracks spring out from the underside with no regard to how they would fit in with the rest of the joints. Evolution Toy eschews a complex transformation in favor of a big tread base you fit onto the existing parts. Start by popping the legs off the pelvis so you can attach it to the tracks with the same keyhole setup the upper body has.
Next, the legs are meant to attach to the tread base, by slotting the gray half cylinders on the calves into a pair of indents on the base itself. Due to how the tread part is fully painted, even on parts you wouldn't see once it's all together, the fit between these areas is too tight to allow things to mate successfully. Not that it matters the the legs will still rest happily on top. It just might not look as seamless as intended.
So here is Legstar as a tank. While it looks big and burly, it's kind of hard to ignore how Lee is only packing two little guns at the front for weapons.
The two sides of the tread base are in fact solid pieces of red plastic with the tracks painted gray, so they do not move. While it is good that you can replicate the tank mode, I found separating the lower body from the base to be touchy as the hole for the connector was slightly too tight and wouldn't let the peg get out going the other way. I had to carefully inch the pelvis out again.
And you know things are really bad when I'm harping on the instructions, but can I just say how absolutely terrible these are? You get a single sheet of paper where every picture is printed in such low quality with eye-strainingly bad contrast, that it is really hard to figure out what you're supposed to be doing the first time around. While the text does help (if you can read it) and Evolution Toy did put up videos to clarify things, would it be so hard to just have bigger, clearer pictures on two pieces of paper rather than one?
Seriously Big Dai X, are you even daring or courageous?
If I had to sum up my experience with the Dynamite Action Big Dai X it would be in one word: disappointing. Watching the show as a way of gearing up for this toy's release got me really stoked and probably set my expectations a bit too high. In the interim I had handled some of JoshB's Dynamite Action toys including the Albegas and the Gaiking which seemed to be good figures in their own right so the Big Dai X being so iffy came as a shock. At best the toy is adequate and serves as a decent modern day representation of this classic 80's giant robot. It will stand and it will stand together if you just want to put it on your shelf as a stand in for an SOC Big Dai X but the fit and finish just isn't there. And the frankly poor implementation of the transformation gimmick (particularly for Brainder) sours the whole experience which is made worse by the spotty quality control.
I understand Evolution Toy is a much smaller company than Bandai and that X-Bomber is not an in-demand property in its native Japan, but at 13,800 yen (about $130) this toy does not do enough to justify its price. If you are riding high on the golden voice of Brian May as I was and are dead set on getting one, I would recommend waiting for a price drop. Again, I wanted to give the toy a second chance but that gave me two defective figures from one retailer, and even when they gave me one for free it had issues. And that's from two stores that couldn't possibly have the same stock so this isn't just a case of a bad batch!
The thing is, I look at this toy and see a robot design that I do genuinely like, so it pains me when I pick it up and it's just disappointingly mediocre. There has to be some way to cheer me up after all this...
I ask who will come and save me now?
Who can defend me from this power?
|Posted 18 October, 2014 - 07:04 by VF5SS|