Review: Includes red, periwinkle, and Proto Garland versions
Packaging & Extras: (4/5)
Arcadia isn’t known for their box art but they did a very nice job here. The language issues on the back of the box are unfortunate but it’s kind of charming at the same time. The box is efficiently sized (29.5 x 20.7 x 7.3 cm). There is no flip-top lid here and the cardboard is the same thin cardboard that less premium toys come in. Unlike Arcadia’s Macross offerings, you won’t find a slide out cardboard tray here either. Instead, the box opens immediately to a plastic tray that contains the bike and the following:
1) Pilot figure (Shogo in riding position)
2) Pilot figure (torso with arms cut-off at the elbow, the true stuff of nightmares)
3) Gun (with extension gimmick)
4) Battle visor AKA “Camera guard goggles”
The partial pilot figure is for putting in the cockpit in Slave mode. Behind the clamshell you’ll also find:
5) an art book (regular release only)
6) Screw covers & flyer telling you where to install
7) Instruction booklet
8) A flyer telling you where the paint is most delicate. Translation:
“Thank you for buying this product! The ‘all painting specification’ means that we have painted everything, including the plastic, to deliver a higher quality feel. Please understand that this makes paint-scraping more likely. The areas noted below require additional precaution during handling and transformation. If your toy has paint flaws before you begin handling it, please contact customer service.”
The regular release comes with an artbook, the Megazone 23 XI crowdfunding version does not. An artbook? Yes, the covers (in and out) are color and the rest is black & white. The book is 25 pages and begins with an original comic depicting Shinji’s first interaction with the Garland leading up to its theft. It doesn’t compete with the artbook Yamato included with their Megazone Celebration 1/15 Garland +DVD+Artbook set but it’s still a very nice extra. What more could you have asked for? The original Yamato toy came with different faces for the Shogo figure, here entire heads would probably be necessary but doable. A Yui figure would obviously be a huge plus but maybe Arcadia will follow Yamato’s lead and do that for a military paint version of the Garland.
The MegaZone 23 XI Garland toy comes in the same box as the red Garland with a sticker indicating it’s the special version and a second box attached to it via a plastic ribbon that includes strike parts (reviewed separately). There’s no artbook included but everything else remains the same except the color of the screw covers.
The box for the Proto Garland is a hair larger than the original (29.5 x 20.9 x 7.5 cm) but otherwise similar. I like that the art is a little more heroic of a moment than the one depicted for the Garland release. Contents are similar to the regular Garland while still being quite different:
1) Pilot figure (part 2 Shogo)
2) Lightning pilot figure (slave mode torso-only)
4) Net launcher attachment for gun
5) Cord for net launcher
6) An art book
Charm & Collectability: (3.5/5)
Megazone23 fans have been hungry for an improved Garland since Yamato made their last effort in November 2007 (or January 2008 if you want to include the Proto Garland). This toy ratchets down the size while ratcheting up the die-cast metal content. The metal content plus the perfect transformation make it more likely this toy will some day be a collector’s item. As of the date this review was published, there had been one release:
Garland (red), July 30, 2018, 25,800¥
Megazone 23 XI Blue/White Garland, May 2019, 78,000円 contribution to the crowdfunding campaign (reward)
Proto Garland, January 2020, 28,944¥
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8.5/10)
Shogo is small so concessions have been made. A blue tinted translucent visor on the figure would have been best but instead we get a blue painted one (which is what Yamato did with their larger figure so it’s no surprise). Paint applications are good and, most importantly, the proportions of the body look realistic. This figure isn’t going to make your jaw drop but it’s not going to make you grimace either.
There have now been several Garland toys but none of them seem to capture a craft mode that seems like it could realistically be a motorcycle. It’s worth noting that a few lines within the context of the show do reference the bike being big but it would still need to function as a motorcycle and most toy renditions of the Garland fail this. Yes, there was obviously some anime magic proportion shifting going on with the original design, primarily with the size of the legs. Like previous Garland toys, the legs are too large and too low to imagine banking into a turn. While the Yamato toy had a translucent plastic piece simulating the head lamp under the cowl, the Arcadia toy has a yellow painted rectangle. You will find translucent plastic pieces used for the tail lights and turn signals. The instrument cluster is painted and looks sharp. The unpainted gray plastic on the front wheel and various other locations looks very drab in contrast to the shiny paint everywhere else… a slightly darker silver paint than that used elsewhere (or metallic gray) would have worked better but that’s a total nitpick.
Slave mode is very nice with large hands and a large head. The upper body is slimmer than the Yamato version. The screws are concealed and the paint job is absolutely top notch.
The crowd-funding limited Megazone23 XI paint scheme is not for everyone. The paint is more matte and what was billed as “blue and white” turned out to be periwinkle and white but that appears to jive with the scheme as presented on the crowd-funding page. The blue tail light and gold shoulders look peculiar but add flare and the painted head really gives slave mode a different look.
The Proto Garland is radically different from the regular Garland involving a surprising amount of brand new parts. As you are likely aware, Megazone 23 Part 2 had a radically different art style and the pilot figures capture the new look very well. While the part 1 Shogo had a visor, the Part 2 pilots did not and Arcadia did not have eyes painted on so the figures look a little creepy. It’s a little worse in pictures than in person since in person you get more of an appreciation for how small the figures are. The armor-mode pilot figure, Lightning, has arms now which make him less freaky looking than the Garland’s Shogo Slave-mode pilot.
Arcadia paid close attention to the differences between the Proto Garland and Garland, nearly all of the superficial parts of the toy have been tweaked to make them accurate to the Proto Garland. Parts you might casually think are the same, like the cowl behind the seat, the gas tank cover, the ankles, and the front fascia all have alterations ranging from barely noticeable to pronounced. Even the instrument cluster has been tweaked. The quintessential details like the tubes and back of leg mechanical details are present and beautifully done.
Let’s start with the positive aspects:
1) The tires spin (but see first negative as well).
2) The rider torso and head figure from your nightmares can be tucked into the ‘cockpit’ while in slave mode.
3) Perfect and fluid transformation that is solid in both modes.
4) Lots of articulation pluses like extending ankles and fully articulated hands
5) The gun has a little extension gimmick
My complaints were few and minor:
1) Surprisingly for a toy with this much metal, the tires aren’t rubber. There is a good deal of resistance on how the front wheels spin so largely they don’t spin at all, the toy simply slides on the front wheel which could lead to scuffing.
2) While you can put a creepy torso in the figure, the Yamato toy and even the dreadful Freeing E=X Garland allowed full size pilot figures to be placed inside the vehicle in slave mode. What’s odd about this is that the rider figure makes the Garland seem like a huge bike. If they weren’t going to put the pilot inside, they should have provided a larger Shogo.
On a neutral note, the toy does have an optional battle visor but you have to pop the head off and use a toothpick to replace it. Once in place it stays on very securely but, in a larger toy, the ideal would be to have something like this be integrated, or more easily employed. This is certainly a good Garland toy but it doesn’t add anything unexpected. As with all previous Garland toys, there’s no ability to angle the front wheel (which would take quite a bit of engineering) nor is there any mechanism for mounting the gun in craft mode (though I’m not sure Aramaki ever gave much thought to that). The transformation, and how solid the end result is in either mode, is the only thing that will provide a real ‘wow’ factor. I would have liked if the knee caps had a soft lock in the forward position in slave mode.
The Proto Garland lacks the swap out visor in the head found on the regular Garland but it adds some new tricks. The Proto Garland’s gun has a removable magazine and a net launcher adapter.
The coolest plus for this design is the mechanical detail housed in the legs and the covers that open to reveal it and allow the thrusters to also pivot outward. The outer door is on a double hinge allowing it to open widely enough to appreciate everything that’s going on.
The Proto Garland also features a monitor that pops up from behind the wind screen (as seen in the OVA).
Durability & Build: (7/10)
The preponderance of the die-cast metal is located in the legs which is great for durability purposes. Die-cast in the arms would have made them too heavy for the shoulders to support them and die-cast in the torso may have proven challenging for the hips. Metal content creates color-matching and paint difficulties for manufacturers that need to deal with painted metal, tinted plastic, and painted plastic. Unfortunately, paint scratching will be an issue, see the scan included for particularly troublesome spots and I witnessed first-hand that they truly are trouble spots. As the flyer indicates, Arcadia decided to paint plastic that was already molded in color to deliver a more luxurious feel so the white hexagon that serves as the front of the chest is painted white over white plastic. Mine had a chip on it straight from the box and others are reporting similar issues after a couple transformations. That same hexagon also is attached to the toy via glue that to the paint beneath so it pops off easily taking the paint with it. A dot of glue should fix that. Another area where the glue didn’t hold on my toy was the back of the hand. Nothing was broken, but the glue was insufficient and I should glue the hand back on but I probably won’t bother. Another area of significant concern after the Yamato 1/15 scaled debacle (see my review of that toy separately) is shoulder durability. Fortunately, it looks like we’ve avoided the fatal shoulder issues that plagued many red Yamato Garlands but the question of long-term stiffness remains. The shoulders are not ratcheted so it seems, particularly for the arm that will hold the gun, that looseness may be inevitable.
The Proto Garland is a unique enough release that it easily could get its own post, and I did do that with the Yamato releases, but that was primarily because my Yamato Proto Garland fell apart and I wanted it to be understood that the reason that toy was such a catastrophe was because of the elements that made it different from the previous Yamato releases (Yamato used a bronze plastic that turned brittle over time and disintegrated during handling. For now, my only problem with Arcadia’s Proto Garland was the same ability for the hand to pop apart that I noted on my regular release toy. The bronze plastic on my Yamato toy continues to crumble so I’m very concerned about the long-term durability of the Arcadia toy.
The Shogo figure’s head is pegged on so it has ball joint articulation but it’s limited in range. There are no other joints on the small figure. As noted previously, bike/craft mode has spinning wheels but they’re a little stiff. Slave mode is very nice. The head is on a ball joint as is the neck which offers an extension for greater range of movement. The shoulders are on a wheel that spins around. I’m not sure I like the ability to move the entire shoulder on that wheel, it’s easy to get the shoulders out of alignment with each other and it doesn’t seem particularly natural. Furthermore, if they could spin forward it would allow you to get more clearance from the large chest for arms forward poses but the wheel only spins about a third of the way around toward the back. Gone is the Yamato incorporated pivot of the shoulder forward-and-back but the range of motion was very small on the Yamato and probably not worth the complexity in this smaller scale. The shoulder prongs move and conceal a pivot beneath them allowing the arm to swing out farther from the body. There is a rotation point at the top of the bicep and a double-jointed elbow that allows something like 135 degrees of movement. The hands are incredibly well articulated with individual finger joints/knuckles, connect to the body via a ball joint at the wrist, the ball joint connection at the wrist extends forward, and there’s even a little bit of rock at the wrist collar for a bit greater range of wrist movement. There is no waist but the hips connect as ball joints with a good amount of clearance allowing the top of the leg to tilt in/out, angle the legs close to center or far apart, as well as rotate the leg way back/forward. There’s a swivel underneath the hip and then a truly impressive double-knee joint that gives you nearly 180 degrees of movement to the back and even a few degrees forward. As impressive as the knee is, the ankle is a little bit of a letdown. It extends away from the leg allowing an impressive ability to angle it left/right but there’s no ability to swivel the toe in/out. There is a joint allowing the foot to angle up/down at the ankle but mine was so stiff I didn’t know it when I shot the video review. The toe is articulated in two spots and so is the heel, so even with a very stiff up/down joint in the ankle, I was able to have a lot of fun with the feet.
Total Score: (39.5/50)
This toy feels like a reaction to the Yamato toy in many ways. It’s rock solid and heavy. I was a fan of the Yamato toy, and I’m still a fan of its larger size, but this toy feels refined in a way that I don’t experience very often. There is no comparison of this toy to Freeing’s E=X Garland which is, comparatively, an absolute disaster. If you’re a fan of Megazone23, transformable motorcycles, or the Garland design, you really ought to grab one of these. Of course, this is a very expensive toy, so if you’re not a fan as listed above, there are likely many other toys in this price range that you may find offer a more compelling value.
Original post date: August 26,2018
Updated August 29.2018, added a pic of the partial Shogo in the cockpit and included a transformation guide
Updated June 2nd, 2019, added crowd-funding version content and updated 4K review
Updated March 29, 2020, added Proto Garland content