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Astro Toy
DX Soul of Chogokin Mazinger Z Jet Scrander Set

by David Cabrera,

DX Soul of Chogokin Mazinger Z Jet Scrander Set
Mazinger Z
Maker: Bandai
Cost: $100

(This is the third(!!) Astro Toy feature on DX Soul Of Chogokin Mazinger Z. See parts one and two for equally massive reviews of the base figure and its accessories.)

Oh my god, did you guys see Pacific Rim? Oh my god. Go see Pacific Rim. It draws from the best of robot anime and kaiju films and you're gonna love it. I'm bringing this up because among the robot anime and kaiju movies referenced, the film owes the most to 70s robots and especially Mazinger Z. Everybody talking about it being Eva quite frankly knows nothing about anything, and shouldn't be trusted. Anyway!

Here's what I knew was coming from the moment I bought my DX Mazinger: the accessory set. Bandai loves doing this, especially in the robot lines, where major weapons are often sold separately. I understand why the Goldion Hammer is its own item, but it gets tougher when you're talking about stuff like Gunbuster's cape, a box containing only extra drills for Gurren Lagann, or a $25 set containing perhaps five of Kamen Rider Fourze's 40 weapons. And don't get me started on what they did with The Big O, I was going to buy myself that! Anyway, of course the same thing was going to go down with DX Mazinger Z.

And that's how it went. The Jet Scrander, Mazinger Z's winged backpack, was announced as a separate piece well into DX Mazinger's preorder period, when everybody who wanted it was basically already on board. It's a safe bet that if you love Mazinger enough and have the spare change to spend $400 on the base figure, you're not the kind of person who can continue to live without seeing their Mazinger wearing the vital mid-series upgrade. As they do, Bandai exploited this need. So here we have a $100 backpack which was sold exclusively via Bandai's online store (and, thankfully, via Bluefin for those of us in the States).

The wings clip on effortlessly and securely. The sculpt is of course totally accurate, and the yellow/crimson paint job is flawless. At this price, everything had better be perfect. The wings do not slide back and forth like on previous SoC Mazingers, they're set firmly in place. No diecast metal in this set, by the way; everything is plastic.

Pop the top panel off the Scrander's wings and you'll see that they boast the same inner mechanical detail as the base figure does. See the Southern Cross Knives?

With the “half-off” armor pieces on Mazinger, you can really create a striking effect. Note that while the figure had already been too big for my lightbox, it is now entirely too big. My tiny tripod was no use either. (I'm honestly just happy to do an article about DX Mazinger with his arms intact. God, am I glad nothing was broken this time...)

And here's how he looks fully armored. The Scrander snaps into the back and the belt attaches around the front, just like in the original anime. Yell “Scrander Cross!!” to your heart's content.

Everything looks great strapped to Mazinger, but the designers missed a major problem: there is no easy way to pop the thing off the body. The connection is rock solid, there's no button to make it detach, and the belt proves quite difficult to pry open with your hands. If you don't have long fingernails that you're willing to risk, I recommend taking something long and thin (but not sharp!), slipping it between the stomach and the belt, and prying very gently until it pops open. I've found prying the belt open gets easier the more I have to do it... but I'm not going to try and do it often. As I said last time with DX Mazinger, figures at this level of prestige and in this price range shouldn't have flaws this basic.

Attaching the Scrander pushes a button inside the lower back of the figure that “unlocks” a few more phrases for use with the remote via some special button sequences that are included in the manual. I was fully expecting to make a video for this, but somehow they forgot the Jet Scrander theme song. How do you forget the Jet Scrander theme song that plays over and over again whenever the thing appears onscreen in the cartoon (COMING SOON FROM DISCOTEK)? What is their problem? Anyway, with that button depressed, you can make Kouji yell “Scrander Cross!” “Southern Cross Knife!” and “Iron Cutter!”. The Scrander isn't even really required to do this, just hold that button down and go nuts.

In the show, Kouji's Hover Pilder is also replaced with the Jet Pilder. The piece is a bit higher-quality than the rather weak Hover Pilder included with the original figure: the detail in sculpt and paint is more crisp, and the Kouji in the cockpit is sitting up straight as a take-charge type like him should be. A pleasant surprise.

The Iron Cutter parts are replacements for the forearm armor, not actually replacement forearms. Mind the sharp edges: SoC values proper anime-accurate detail over the hand of the holder. As it should be.

The forearms remain the weak point of the figure overall, detaching if any force at all is applied in the wrong direction. The situation is such that the instructions again include the same huge diagram detailing the exact dos and don't s of attaching the finicky and poorly designed elbow joint. “We know this is bad,” they're saying, “but it's that bad on purpose.” Would it have been a good thing if Bandai had made better forearms for use with this set, or would it have been holding robot arms at ransom? I dunno!

Two display options are offered: the first, which we've been using throughout, is for the Jet Scrander itself. This is modeled directly after the rail deep within the Photon Power Labs that the Scrander is launched from in the show. Whichever Pilder you're not using can go right under that stand.

The other stand is extremely simple and has only one function: to hold a standing Mazinger up while wearing the Scrander. Ain't no Tamashii Stand, nor is it intended to be. Holding a figure this big in a flying pose would probably be both impractical and dangerous. I just held it up delicately, moved it back and forth, and whispered “whoo-oosh”. Like Iron Cutter, this a component that should have been in DX Mazinger's gigantic box from the start.

At this point, finally complete, standing among and dwarfing my other pieces (pardon the dust), the DX Mazinger goes from being quite impressive to actually breathtaking. It will muscle its way to the centerpiece position of any toy shelf, that's for damn sure. So that you get an idea of the size, those are Figmas, Nendoroids, and other Chogokin pieces in the background. This thing is just huge.

I have few complaints in the quality department here, but the pricing of this set is pretty indefensible: it's a very obvious move on Bandai's part to gouge an audience that was already willing to pay $400 for their Mazinger in the first place. If they have that to throw around, they're not going to let the robot go incomplete, right? Who the hell would? The Scrander is as beautiful as the original piece, but it's no $100 item. It's barely even a $50 item: I mean, $50 gets you Super Robot Chogokin these days. The stand seems especially hollow as a bonus because the DX Mazinger already came with such an elaborate display solution, which was also clearly meant to justify a chunk of the $400 price. To be frank, I believe Bandai pretended that display stands cost a hundred dollars on both releases.

That being said, we got it for $110 shipped from Big Bad Toy Store via Bluefin. (Tamashii Web exclusive items are otherwise extremely difficult and expensive to get, so we're very lucky for this.) BBTS is still selling the DX Mazinger base unit for $400 shipped, so that puts you at about $500 for the complete pack. Now that my package is complete (and the customer service nightmare is over, see my previous columns on this figure and the major defect with which it originally shipped), I'm basically satisfied with it. It's certainly the most extravagant figure I own (or will ever own). Even by the standards of the expensive die-cast robots I used to buy, however, it's probably a hundred bucks too expensive.

But Bandai knows I'll be back: they make the best robots, and when you love robots, what else are you gonna do? If they ever make it to Go-Lion (Voltron)... hell, I'll get in line.

When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, David Cabrera makes moe 4-panel comics about videogames at Kawaiikochan. You can follow him on Twitter @sasuraiger.

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