Astro Toy Rio-Bot Blodia
by David Cabrera,
I haven't made it a secret when I talk about this column on Twitter that I just really like Sentinel's figures. We have a bunch of their stuff coming up in the coming months on the column, and I might even be buying their super-deluxe Giant Gorg in April. It appears to be a direct challenge to the recent DX Mazinger, and I find that prospect very exciting.
Why do I like Sentinel? I can lay it right out. Uncompromising quality, attention to detail, some offbeat creativity, and a love of weird subjects. Like, hey, the Attack on Titan stuff coming out is cool, right? But only Sentinel's Levi figure can be turned into a janitor in the blink of an eye!! Sentinel were the guys who thought to make Jojo's Santana into a Stretch Armstrong figure, and then there's stuff like this amazing One Piece 2D/3D diorama. Everyone made Panty and Stocking figures, but Sentinel were the ones with the stones to sell Panty and Stocking figures that actually looked like the TV show. Sure, the stuff's often extremely niche and expensive, but those two factors tend to go hand-in-hand. And who am I to want to stop this kind of mad genius?
Anyway, speaking of niche and expensive, here's Sentinel's super-deluxe, obsessively sculpted figure of the hero robot from an obscure mid-90s Capcom fighting game. Be still, my heart! (I was also considering Jushin Liger, but he's more like $130?)
Any of you guys remember Cyberbots? It was a great, unique game that came out in '95, right at the start of Capcom's amazing CPS-2 arcade run. Its hot-blooded pilot, Jin Saotome, is probably more well-known than the robot due to his absurd appearance in the first two Marvel Vs. Capcom games: he'd scream “BLODIAAAA!!” and the robot would come out and punch the entire screen. (Trivia: Devilot from Puzzle Fighter also hails from Cyberbots.) Anyway, somebody on staff at Sentinel must really have loved this game, because they somehow got the okay on not just the main robot Blodia, but a whole damn line of Cyberbots figures. Prior to this, Blodia has only ever been made into a capsule figure in a line for other, equally obscure videogame robots. (How did I even get the okay on this article?!)
The figure is bigger than you'd realize from just looking at it from the front-- that backpack-- and the figure feels surprisingly bulky and solid when you pick it up. Unlike the previous release, it turns out that Blodia uses some diecast metal in the shoulder and knee armor, as well as in the the toes. Even the little metallic parts are actually made of metal!
As we've said before, this line really shines in its level of detail: the tiny lettering on the panels, the detailed paint job complete with weathering effects. The closer you look at this figure, the more impressed you'll be with it, especially when you put it next to other robots of its size.
Articulation is excellent as is expected of a robot figure: shoulders and elbows have a nice, large range of movement and the legs are surprisingly flexible and stable. There are so many joints in there that, if it weren't so expensive, I'd want to take apart the leg and figure out how the hell it's doing all that work. It is not hard to keep this figure standing up. However, the jump kicks and Dragon Punches and stuff like that from the game aren't gonna happen. That stuff doesn't happen in physical space, and the stand is useless for holding the figure up. Surprisingly, the torso isn't built to swivel at all.. and it doesn't.
A minor disappointment in this department is that the wheels at the heels-- which in the game allow the player to glide forward like the Scopedogs in VOTOMS do-- don't seem to actually roll. There are also extra fists with fully articulated fingers.
HOWEVER, please be advised that the fuel tanks sticking out of the engine in the back do not move. When I gave one a gentle nudge, I heard the loud pop that every figure collector knows. The one you never want to hear. The tank snapped right off. Do not attempt to move these parts. I don't know why there isn't a huge warning about this in the box (indeed, no instructions at all are supplied), because it took only a gentle brush for the plastic to snap and this is the kind of part that typically moves on a robot figure.
(Later a tiny piston went flying from the right arm: luckily this was a replaceable part and not an actual break.)
Accessories are quite light, but the loving mechanical detail on them is not. The main piece is Blodia's huge shield/cannon, which snaps onto the arm. The way this works-- completely undocumented, by the way-- is that a connecting gimmick can be pulled right out of the arm and plugged into the shield. From here, the shield actually has its own independent range of movement from on top of the arm. It's very finicky, but it's also very clever stuff.
The bit from the game floated in the air alongside Blodia, laying down laser support fire. Obviously this isn't possible in real life, so the bit is hoisted up in the air to “float” beside Blodia. This is the only use you will get out of the stand, unfortunately.
The stand is the same as the one included with the Rio-Bot Gurren Lagann and probably other releases in the line. Rather than opting for invisible clear plastic like the Tamashii Stand, this is a very attractive generic stand in black and clear plastic. It worked great with the skinnier, more orthodox. Gurren-Lagann. It doesn't really suit this particular figure, however.
Due to the protruding fuel tanks (just like a moe girl's long hair) and the odd shape of the body, the posing claw can't be made to properly grasp the figure in any sense. There is no peg on the body, so this stand is basically useless aside from using it with the bit. Picking up the figure is not gonna happen, which shot down half of my cool picture ideas that I was screen-referencing from the game right off the bat. For a figure at this price, you expect a stand that was at least built with some thought as to the character's design, not just “the same one worked last time”.
So I knew what I was getting here, and I got what I wanted-- but I didn't expect the figure to be quite so delicate. If I'd paid $100 for this myself, and the same things had happened, I'd be harassing the company for a replacement right now (and they'd probably throw out the claim, like Bandai was ready to do with my DX Mazinger).
Anyway. We got Blodia for $100 at Amiami back when it came out (and this means I've put it off since August, as just about everything in my review pile was more relevant and popular), but as you can imagine sales weren't exactly on fire for something so obscure. As I write this, Blodia is at a more reasonable $80 shipped. Again, Sentinel is making all the Blodias that appeared in the game, from the red-shouldered pre-mass-production version to the 2P color from the game to the ones whose designs are a little out there. I suspect the quality control issues might have something to do with why the original version is discounted at all...
When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, DavidCabrera makes moe 4-panel comics about videogames atKawaiikochan.You can follow him on Twitter @sasuraiger.
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