Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
GALAXY EXPRESS 999 SUPER MECHANICS
Series: Galaxy Express 999
I'd say well over 90% of Astro Toy columns have been about action figures or statues. Obviously, that's what Japan makes and that's what we all like, but after a year and a half of columns, I'm finding it more and more difficult to get excited about these things. So when I saw this toy Galaxy Express 999 train on sale, I was thrilled and snapped it up immediately.
I know this is incredibly depressing, but bear with me.
Hey, it's something different. And for $15 (on sale at Toys Logic; they say the normal price is $24) it's not like it wasn't worth a try, right? As you can see it's a pretty decent hunk of plastic for 15 bucks. It's about a foot and a half long, and almost a foot tall on the taller side. I put the famous Revoltech Krauser next to it so you could get a better sense of scale — pretty big, right? So if you're a Galaxy Express 999 fan, it's a hell of a replica at a great price.
If you're not a Galaxy Express fan, well, it's… it's kind of just a toy train. The only sign that it would be a space-faring train to the non-otaku eye is the fact that train is clearly shooting off the rails, but I imagine most people would just assume you're a train wreck enthusiast (which may or may not be more acceptable to people than anime fandom).
Ironically, this space train can't be removed from its track, so it is more of a statue than a toy. It's made out of a rather cheap material, and it has no paint apps whatsoever, so it's really just a big black hunk of plastic, the only colors being two gold emblems on each side, the brown wood of the tracks, and the yellow windows in the passenger car, which is achieved with a hunk of transparent yellow plastic inside. It's actually so cheap that while writing the first half of this Astro Toy, one of the tracks just fell off. Like, without me touching it. My cat almost ate it. I picked it back up and stuck it back on, and in all fairness, it didn't fall off when I was actually moving the toy for pictures and such. Still, I have a hard time getting upset about all this — I'd be more willing to bitch about if, you know, I hadn't only paid $15 for it.
The stand is made from four separate pieces — again, of amazingly cheap plastic — which fit into each other only one way, as shown above. However, the track is strong enough that it can hold the train up if you want to display it at a lower angle or something, I guess. But that's not all!
If you take the world's tiniest screwdriver and open up the coal car — actually, it's just the coal (you'll need to turn it upside down and shake it to get the coal cover to come out) — and you'll have t you'll find a slot for three watch batteries which were not included and which I do not own. But if you had these three batteries and inserted them, you'd end up with something like this:
It lights up! There are actually multiple setting for the lights; this is setting one, which includes the passenger cabin, the engine cabin, and a headlight on the front. Setting two is shown on the right — it actually makes the passenger cabin light cycle from front to back. I can't take a picture of it, for obvious reasons; my apologies for being unable to check out this aspect of the Galaxy Express 999. I do take my position as a toy reviewer seriously, but not so seriously enough that I'll hunt down odd batteries for a cheap-o UFO catcher prize (and it is, actually — the box has the tell-tale crane hook holes).
So. All-in-all? I approve, although I imagine my happiness at not reviewing another scantily clad action figure or totally inappropriate statuette might be making me a little biased. Obviously, not many of you will need or care about this train, but you should at least be happy that Japan still remembers how to make merchandise that isn't crazy expensive. I honestly don't know how much Galaxy Express 999 merchandise there is — I can't imagine it's that much — but this is certainly nice enough for GE/Matsumoto fans, unless they have somewhat high standards for their anime goodies. Or if you just need a big, possibly phallic toy train in your life.
Some people do.
Looking to pick one up for yourself? Here's a link!
Thanks to Phillip Harrington for designing and creating the Astro Toy banner.