Friday, 1 February 2013

Chogokin Battle Fever Robo

Battle Fever Robo
I have been watching a fair bit of Kaizoku Sentai; Gokaiger lately.  In English that would roughly translate to Pirate Squadron Stylish-jer.  It is part of the long running “Super Sentai” (Super battles") series in Japan that got a sort of showing in English Power Rangers.  The Power Rangers chopped and applied parts of the Super Sentai to make it, but the general theme is the same.  Anyway, the Gokaiger series celebrates the past 35 years of the TV show and it got me interested in a couple of the series.  One in particular, which was the (eventual) third instalment of the Super Sentai legacy.

Battle Fever J.

This is a look and review I guess of the main mech of the show made by Bandai in their very snazzy Chogokin line of toys.


My first experience with Battle Fever was a brief flash in the ending credits of the Gokaiger show.

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My first thought was “What the hell was that?”

A brief History of Battle Fever

Some investigation revealed it was the Battle Fever series, and some more research let me delve into the ancient past of Japanese TV and some interesting takes on American Super heroes. Before Battle Fever J started, Japan ran it’s own series of Spiderman, which differed from what you would expect from Spiderman as it included the (now) requisite Massive Robot Battle.  After they made Spiderman this way, they were looking at Captain America and the eventual Red Ranger was going to be (essentially) a “Captain Japan” of sorts.  Makes sense as it would make the show more ‘local’ and accessible.  That’s a very short version, for more check out this wiki; www.powerrangers.wikia.com/wiki/Super_Sentai.  But for a better version (imo) check out www.battlefever.com, as it has that personal touch.

Through conceptual changes and such like, we still ended up with a sort of Captain Japan, but the team in the BF group were from around the world. Battle Fever Japan, Battle Fever Cossack (Russia), Battle Fever France, Battle Fever Africa, and Battle Fever America.  They all specialised in different skills and there was a very strong dance motif throughout. 

Yes, I said Dance.

As it turns out the team don’t have a combining robot as such, just specialised vehicles.  Japan naturally has a big robot called “Battle Fever Robo” and this is the toy of it. 

Phew, Intro over.  Thanks for bearing with me on that.  I felt that a bit of background was needed to truly enjoy this figure.  Or at least enhance the enjoyment of the figure.  Plus you can always skip to the pictures.


And Now for the Toy

From my experience, Bandai’s Chogokin line make excellent figures usually full of lovely sexy metal.  Except for my Drossel Charming I should note.  BFR as I shall refer to him as from now on is an anniversary figure of sorts in two ways.

First off, its the 30th Chogokin made and it was made to coincide with the 30th Anniversary of the Super Sentai series.

Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo

It comes in a fairly compact and if I may so so rather sexy box.  The face on the left of the front of the box is the face of BF Japan.  He has a nice scarf.  On the right is an image of the toy.  One thing I was struck with was the amount of accessories this guy has,  there’s heaps!  To top it off, he even has the weapon’s dock as the display stand (bottom left of second pic above) as his stand as well.  Hmmm, niiice!

BF Box FaceChogokin 30 and Super Sentai 30th LogoMore 30th Sentai LogoToei Tick of approval
Check out those images!  GX-30 (Chogokin Number 30), the 30th Anniversary Super Sentai Logo and the ‘Approved by Toei’ logo (Toei produced the Super Sentai series).

Opening the box, there are two tiers.  One with BFR’s weapons and the other with BFR and his stand parts.  the weapons are numerous and enclosed in a recessed plastic case.  The robot is packed in foam.  Oh yeah, foam packaging, takes me back to the time of G1 Transformers!!

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BFR is packed with no hands, they are stored in the weapons section.

Battle Fever Robo

Dang! Lookit all them thar weapons.  My initial impressions were “WOW,”  but they only got better as I had a deeper look and blow me down, not only is the robot itself full of metallic goodness, those weapons are too!

I must admit that I was a bit shocked by that.  I never expected to get a metal weapon!    Sure Japan is a bit easier in regards to toy weapons and idiots people who hurt themselves with toys, but damn man, some of these things are pointy! 

It’s a true joy to behold.  I think you could easily use the sword as a letter opener.  More on them later.

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First shot there is him straight out of the box.  I sourced some hands for him, which due to their slightly rubbery nature pop on and off the ball joint easily without damaging anything are nice a relaxing to change.  First thing to note is there is a very strong samurai theme going on with this robot, but then considering he is an embodiment of Japan in a way that’s not all that surprising.  It is nice and Glossy McShinepants though.  Check that third picture, you can almost see my ugly face in his back.  Howdy doody.

The design is incredibly close to the original TV show which is what I love about it!  This toy looks like it’s a suit with a man inside!  Hot Damn!  Its awesome!
Here is a sourced image from www.battlefever.com of the robo on the show and one of mine of the toy.  I recommend that site, lots of info and a source for the the TV show.
battlefeverroboBattle Fever Robo

You can’t really get much closer than that.  I love that he hands of the toy look like thick rubber gloves too!  Amazing!

Although this retro design was most likely to hinder the articulation which was a thought I had while quickly messing about and getting a feel for the toy.  It does a little bit, but there are lots of compensation points so the hindering isn’t all that off-putting.  Plus the fact that BFR has a surprising amount of articulation (more than I thought he would) makes him an impressively engineered figure.

Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo
He has a 90 degree hinge in his knees, but the hips are a little limited by his waist pieces, but as shown above, the do move up and down slightly.  The front piece does a little too.  Shame about the visible screws though.

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Those bottom two pictures have his leg as high as it will go and his knee at full bend.  The calves and shins are metal and so make his legs heavy, you won’t be standing this guy on one foot unaided as they just flop down again.  The ankles are on ball joints and the toe pieces can move up and down, making his feet stay in pretty much full contact no matter how you position his legs.  There are those strange piece on his thighs which are hinged and can be moved, I am not sure why they are there (aside from being on the show) but they don’t really get in the way much.  Personally if I were designing a huge mech like this, I’d have left them off.

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He has forwards/backwards, side to side and twist on the hips as well as a swivel in his knees.  It all makes his legs very dynamic as well as sturdy.  Hmmm, look at those toes.  The feet are well articulated and make him rock steady on a flat surface. Nice addition of a jet booster indent on the sole of his foot. 

Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo

BFR also has a waist swivel the diaphragm cut for a slight lean of the chest area.  It doesn’t add a lot, but just enough to help him out quite nicely.  The upper body is very well designed.  I was concerned with the large shoulder covers getting in the way of the arms or looking stupid when raised up, but they flip up easily and still manage to look cool when resting on top of the upper arm.

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The shoulders have a lot of joints in them that are beautifully ratcheted and well designed.  Since he is meant to hold his sword with two hands Bandai have given him the ability to reach across his chest.

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The Buzz Lightyear I reviewed a while ago has this as well.  I think with broad robot chests it’s a bit of a necessity.  I am impressed with this.  The shoulder moves and swivels at the joint, once again with a nice ratchety sound.  It’s all very solid.

The elbow has a double joint in it, which to be completely honest about, was a surprise.  For some reason, probably considering the age of the design of Battle Fever Robo I thought it would just be a 90 degree single joint.

Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo

So articulation is good, how’s the sculpting and paint? 

Very nice indeed.  The face looks very serious, the ‘horns’ are metal (or are they eyebrows?) and the face is well done.  The BF logo is proudly displayed on the chest and in an awesome 1970s font!  The head is incredibly emotive, or mobile, depending on your mood.  He has a neck, which has the same rubbery look as the gloves, which is jointed at the chest and under the chin.  He can shake and tilt and nod and all sorts of sweet moves.  It’s such a joy to behold.

Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo

Battle Fever Robo
One thing that concerns me a little bit is the neck (and to a lesser extent the hands) have some type of dust or corrosion on them.  I know that some rubber on toys has been known to decay and dry out over time. 
Robots In Disguise Optimus Prime, I am looking at YOU here.
So naturally since this toy is about 6 years old or so, I hope that Bandai didn’t cheap out on the rubber in this guy.  Considering how this is a premium toy line, I suspect they haven’t though, so it should be all good.

Hmmm, so the toy is very sexy and well made, let’s have a look at the main draw card for this bad boy.

His Multitude of METAL weapons!

MWA HA HA HA!

First one I will cover is probably my favourite:
Battle Fever Robo

Oh hang on, they are there, but you have to do something first.  Open up the little panel on his wrists, and CHA CHING!  Chain Whips drop out!  Then close the panels and he is armed from the get go!

Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo

I love this.  Chain whips!  Booyah! There just aren’t enough figures around with chain whips as weapons.  A quick change of hands and we can have him posing with them in a menacing way for enemies of justice of course.  These are called his  ‘Chain Clasher(s).’

Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo

They are actually neck lace chains and they even have the clasp on the end.  I assume (going by the instructions) that BFR connects some of his weapons to the chain, for extra whippy goodness.  So far from my experience, this is a bit hard to pull off with the toy’s weapons.  What I really like is since they hang off from his wrist, you can actually arm him with other weapons as well.

My second favourite would have to be his ‘Cross Fever.’ Incorrectly named the "Sword Fever" in the instructions, Justin from www.battlefever.com has informed me that they are never referred to as Sword Fever in the show and is always called "Cross Fever".  Which makes sense since they look nothing like swords. What a curious oversight though...  They have already been in some of the pictures.

Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo

These are two erm, daggers I guess that can be stored in the yellow holsters on the side of his legs.  These too are solid chunks of metal.  They are not however terribly sword like, being square with no discernable shape edge as such.  They do have a pointy end though.  Still being whacked with them would hurt a lot.  Combine them with his Chain Clasher and you have a pretty good short range weapon combination.  Taking what I learnt from Michelangelo’s Kusarigama, BFR will use his chains to incapacitate the enemy, pull them in close and smack them on the head with his Sword Fever.

Well, that’s how it goes in my head.  The TV show may well provide me with another way to do it.  Which it does.  Having watched some of the show now he kind of charges a laser attack and then throws them at the bad guy.  It’s usually the finishing move and I guess BFR’s signature weapon.  Aside from the sword…


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GOTCHA!

Oh poor Sideswipe, he showed up as I doing these pictures, so he has become the unfortunate monster of the week.  Anyway, as much as I like these weapons, I don’t see them as being much use except for stabbing really.  Since BFR has so many weapons, I suspect these babies will end up being left in their leg placement.

Next weapon to look at looks like a more traditional samurai weapon.  Its the ‘Attack Lancer.’  It looks like a trident, but is mucho sexy.

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Just what you need for keeping persistent enemies at bay.  There is a ring on the less-dangerous end, which I think might be for hooking into the Chain Clasher, but it’s a bit too large for the clasps.  This whole weapon is metal and so shiny!

Whipping through them now, next one we have is the ’Cane Knocker.’

Now this one is a bit odd.  My first thought when I saw it was of a Buddhist priest’s staff.   My thoughts flew to Saiyuki (the later one with SMAP actors sadly) where  Sanzo comes in banging his staff on the ground, causing the monsters to quake in fear at their coming judgement.  I’ll be watching closely to see how Battle Fever Robo uses it in the show!

Battle Fever Robo
Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo
It has a loose ring within the ring at the top and is not as long as the staff of the Attack Lancer, but is hexagonal in it’s handle design.  I must admit I really like the look of BFR with this ‘weapon’ in hand.

Next weapon is an odd one in that I have no idea from looking at it alone how it would be used.  It appears to be a single handed weapon, possibly a mace or club (well, mace’s are used in a clubbing motion of course) but with pointy bits!  It’s the cleverly named ‘Stick Attacker.’

Which makes me rethink my mace “usage theory”…
Damn

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Yeees, it seems my mace idea doesn’t quite work.  A mace is a bludgeoning tool, which requires leverage meaning that the handle would have to be on the opposite end of the business section.  The Stick Attacker has the handle in the middle.  Curious.  Still it looks nice and the heavy pointy end (there are a lot of pointy ends on this one) is a star shape.

Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo

Getting through these weapons.

Oh no! What’s that?

Battle Fever Robo

Monster of the week Sideswipe has got himself his guns.  Now how are you going to deal with that and all your melee weapons Mr. BFR??

Battle Fever Robo

"I shall defend myself with my “Battle Shield” of course!”

The Battle shield has the Battle Fever logo emblazoned boldly on the front, in a different colour to his chest and a nice reflective bubble thing.  It looks cool, fits in his hand well and has some nice sculpting on it, including the handle.
Battle Fever Robo
Now that BFR has defence from laser blasts covered, time to whip out his “Fever Axe.”  A nice short handled single hand weapon that has some nice paintwork on it and is also metal all through.  Ooooohh Yeah!

Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo

The axe I have found sits a little loosely in his hand.  He doesn’t actually have any tight fisted hand options for this, which I think I found an issue with his Stick Attacker too, so far this would have to be my only complaint.  In the first episode featuring BFR, he pretty much goes through his whole selection of weapons which is ok.  I was impressed at how cool they managed to make it look.  Each weapon flies off the rack (where ever it is located) and he does a little pose.  When he whips out the axe, they managed to make it look really cool as he grabs it low and then stands back up holding axe high and a colour burst behind him!  Brilliant!

The first weapon I had a play with before doing these photos though, was his “Knuckle Puncher” mainly because I have NEVER had a toy come with a pair of knuckle dusters before in my life, let alone metallic pointy ones!  These are great little accessories and really show off his cool double jointed elbow!

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The only issue with these guys is that you have to use his slightly open hand to get them on so it doesn’t quite looks like he has his fist closed around them.  Still I love them.

Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo

Final offensive weapon is probably meant to be his main one.  It is the “Denkouken” (Lightning Sword). 

It’s a beauty too!

Battle Fever Robo
It comes with a scabbard that has some wonderful detail on it.  The whole sword is metal and has some interesting details on the blade as well.


Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo
On the handle of the blade are the letters  A C F K J which all represent the members of Battle Fever (America, Cossack, France, Kenya and Japan of course).  Just where his hand is (note that I have him holding it wrong for this picture) is a little dragon motif with the kanji for Denkouken and on the end is the dragon with something I think is supposed to be Denkouken, but isn’t too clear.

Let’s have Battle Fever Robo draw his sword.

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If you look REAL closely at that first picture, on the blade near the handle is a section with “Denkouken”  printed on it.  It’s not the clearest, but again, I think that is what it’s supposed to be.  That’s where I would out it, and if I had gone to the trouble of making this character, I would certainly out the sword name on the sword somewhere!!

BFR  looks great with this sword!  He can hold it two handed as well.  It evokes the look of a samurai so much here it’s fantastic!  A perfect robot for a “Captain Japan” character!

Battle Fever Robo  Battle Fever Robo

Ready for the final attack?

Battle Fever Robo



Battle Fever Robo
AAARRRRRGH!

Sideswipe then falls down and explodes!

Mmm, such a cool little figure this one.  Now I have finally got around to setting up the weapons stand thing.  Most Chogokins that I have come across have a stand that hold their accessories somehow.  BFR’s just looks that little bit extra cool.

Battle Fever RoboBattle Fever Robo
It naturally has the name of the figure on the base and has all the struts plugged in .  What I like is that it has a recessed section for his feet to go in.  Most of the weapons go on the right with the shield and the axe on the left.  The Knuckle Punchers sit in a little hole just before his toes and the unused hands all have a little nub at the back of the stand for them to sit in.

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And that pretty much is all the accessories and toy itself.  Considering how old the Battle Fever show is now, there is a little book which shows off all his weapons and has some information on the show, which is nice and needed I think.

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And so there we have the Battle Fever Robo for the Super Sentai series Battle Fever J.  I tell you, I wasn’t expecting much from this figure when I first ordered it, it was kind of more a joke than anything else. A nice bit of retro robot to sit on my shelf next to all my Transformers, but I have ended up liking this one a lot.  Not only is the robot an almost perfect interpretation of the on-screen version, it has excellent articulation, feels incredibly solid (since most of it is metal), has some amazing (metal) weapons and the cool stand just adds the cherry to the top of this impressive cake.

Once again, the Chogokin line has taken my breath away with it’s brilliance!  I think that if you are a Sentai fan than this would be a good figure for the collection.  If you are a general robot fan, than this would be a good figure for your collection.  In general, if you like toys and action figures, you will like this.  It exudes personality and is very adaptable.

I’d say it’s at the top of my Chogokin favourites right now, yep Even passing over Buzz Lightyear.  Believe it or not!

Now to find that Tetsujin 28 I am after…


I'd just like to thank Justin who runs www.battlefever.com for inspiring me to get this robot through his website with the information and pictures of Battle Fever.  Also for the correspondence and information that he has provided me with.  If you like the look of this figure, I suggest you pop on over there and have a look, he has wallpapers, video clips and merchandise (oh My!), sound samples and much more.  Do it! You know you want to!  And drop him a line too, he's a nice dude.

I know I am extremely jealous of his complete set of Battle Fever Ranger Keys!  Lucky bugger!

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