Astro Toy with Rob Bricken: Nene + Moto Slave

by Rob Bricken, Nov 2nd 2008

1/15 MOTO SLAVE + NENE
Series: Bubblegum Crisis
Toyline: Bubblegum Crisis 1/15 Moto Slave
By: Yamato
Cost: $60

This week's Astro Toy is making me feel old. Why? Because the toy featured in it is from Bubblegum Crisis, an OVA series that was quite popular among the few hundred anime fans in America circa the early ‘90s, and I'm betting a decent amount of you ANN readers have little to no recollection of it. I do, because I'm old.

The anime was about four girls called the Knight Sabers who wore body armor and fought bigass cyborgs, which was the plot of about 60% of the anime released in America in those days. The girls were pretty dim, but they had motorcycles which turned into bigger suits of body armor, almost exactly like the Cyclones in Robotech: Next Generation/Mospeada. We were so desperate for anime at the time we didn't mind the rip-off.

Likewise, I thought having a kickass figure and motorcycle-which-turns-into-armor which mitigates my feelings of old age. It didn't. The first problem was that I ordered Nene, the young and utterly worthless computer hacker instead of Priss, the sultry and hotheaded pop singer/most badass Knight Saber. I forgot that Priss was all blue, and Nene was blue and pink (I later found out Priss was sold out anyways). Granted, other than the pink legs on her figure, there's very little different in-between the two toys, so I might have gotten over that had the toy not sucked.

Okay, that's my bitterness talking. The toy doesn't suck. Not exactly. The 4-inch Nene figure is accurate to her Knight Saber outfit design, complete with ludicrous high heels. She's about half as articulated as a Microman figure, and all those joints are almost exclusively ball joints. This allows her to sit on the motorcycle, or at least it would, IF HER @#$%ING LEG WOULD STAY ON. Seriously. When I first pulled out the figure, her left leg popped off. Since it's just a ball-joint, I thought it would be easy to pop back in. this is technically true, but then THE LEG FALLS OFF ALMOST CONSTANTLY. ARRGH. I can barely pick her up with out it flying off. I don't know if I got a bum figure, or if this is a design flaw with all the Bubblegum Crisis figures, but it's driving me crazy. And filling me with hate.

I'm pretty sure her constant amputeeism is making me prejudiced against her Moto Slave, the stupid name for her motorcycle which turns into her suit. First of all, it seems to be made of the cheapest plastic in the market, like what you'd expect from American capsule toy machine. The fact that it's all pink doesn't help it look like some generic Barbie bike you'd find in a drug store toy aisle somewhere.

The bike is made up of four separate pieces, some held on by magnets, some with latches that'll you almost never see. Some parts will fall off in your hand, even if you didn't touch them. You do have to disassemble the bike in order to transform it. Now, I'm of the old Transformers school, where you should have to remove parts and add them back on in order to change modes, but this is very much the case with the Moto Slave.

The instruction book shows you how to transform the bike in a mere 35 separate steps (more if you want to put the figure inside the mecha). Unfortunately, the pictures are all in black and white, and incredibly grainy to boot. Now I fully admit my inability to read Japanese was a hindrance, but c'mon—I should at least be able to tell what piece is what in the pictures. It took me over an hour to transform the damn thing, and pieces were constantly falling off and needing to be re-attached. Obviously, I finally got it, but I can't help but think that it was a much harder task than it needed to be. I mean, look it at the result:

It's not that cool. I shouldn't have had to spend 35 steps turning a motorcycle into this lame-ass mecha suit (or an hour of trying to decipher the terrible instruction manual). Sure, the magnetic pieces were kind of cool—although the magnets are pretty weak, and the pieces tend to fall off if nudged even slightly—but only two pieces used it. Why not more? Why not make the whole damn thing magnetic and easy to transform?

In the toy's defense, it looks better with the Nene figure inside, but I wouldn't say it looks particularly good. But trying to fit the Nene figure inside is its own nightmare. Now, Nene has two high heel extensions, which allow her feet to reach to the pedals on the mecha's legs. This is very strange—why not just raise the pedals to match the figure?—but easily done. She has two extra hands, both with pegs to fasten to the arms of the mecha. No problem there. But Yamato actually wants you to take out the shoulder joints and replace them with two SLIGHTLY LARGER SHOULDER JOINTS so the figure can move its arms about freely.

I hope you realize how asinine this is, because it makes me too mad to articulate it. First, because the only way you're getting the shoulder joints out is with a pair of pliers. Second, because the only way you're getting the joints into the torso is by killing your thumb. And third and most important, PERHAPS YOU SHOULD HAVE JUST USED THE SLIGHTLY LONGER SHOULDER JOINTS IN THE FIRST PLACE, YOU IDIOTS. Sure Nene's shoulders might not be flush against her torso. But she would be able to move her arms and I could have bypassed this ridiculous step.

The pain continues, as the instruction indication that her back wings should be removed, and two smaller wings and some kind of knob inserted into the lower portion of her backpack. I made sure to take a picture of this, because I want to make sure you see that the small wings are supposed to be connected by placing the ball end into the slight indentation. As you might guess, this is pretty much as effective as LAYING IT ON TOP AND HOPING IT DOESN'T FALL OFF. I managed to get one of the wings in long enough to take the picture, and the other not even once. And all the piece immediately came off when I tried to put Nene in the Moto Slave. Add in the joy of her leg ceaselessly falling off every ten seconds, and you should understand why if I ever meet the guy who designed this toy, I will punch him in the @#$%ing throat.

Now, I'm clearly bitter about the toy's shoddy craftsmanship, but I can't help but think that even BGC fans will be legitimately irked by this figures. If you want something that replicates the lithe and sleek Moto Slave-wearing Knight Sabers, I don't know how you're not disappointed with the huge, bulbous torso and weird, spindly legs. And if you've been dying for a highly realistic Moto Slave toy all your life—and why would you?—you just have to be irked by the utter nonsense required to transform it into its different modes, because unless I've forgotten something, the Knight Sabers didn't have get new shoulder bones every time they hopped in their Moto Slaves.

The only other accessory is big gray gun. I remain unimpressed.



In summary, screw this toy. Even if you're a huge Bubblegum Crisis fan, because it will only drive you crazy as you try to enjoy it. I know it's the best BGC toy in…well…ever, but I got this toy for free and I'm still looking forward to hitting it with a hammer immediately after finishing this review. I am actually angered by the shoddy construction of both the figure and the mecha/cycle, and the cheap-ass plastic used, and the fact that it looks stupid, even after you've deciphered how to transform the damn thing. I'm especially angry that I had to spend several hours writing this Astro Toy column about it, when there are other better toys I clearly should have ordered. You've wasted my time, Nene. I'd tear your leg off in revenge, if it WEREN'T ALREADY LAYING ON MY FLOOR.


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