Observations & Critque: Looks cool for a STEEP price
This accessory comes in a retail style box that’s pretty basic with some nice pictures of a crowd-funding type Garland wearing the parts front and back. If you purchase the parts meant for the red Garland, there will be a red circle on the front of the box. Inside the box you’ll find a plastic tray containing:
1) Strike parts consisting:
A) 2x ankle thrusters
B) 2x calf armors
C) 2x forearm shields
D) backpack thrusters
E) 2x weapon attachment pieces for the backpack
F) strike cannon
G) missile pod
H) 2x shoulder armors
I) 2x calf armor weapon attachment pieces
J) gun attachment piece for bike mode.
What don’t you get? HOW ABOUT INSTRUCTIONS??? There is no insert at all. There are no instructions on the back of the box either. So, instead you need to take your Garland toy, which is completely covered in chippable paint, and figure it out. Don’t worry, check my video out, I’ll detail everything you need to know so you can head into the install with confidence (and thanks to Bobby on MW for walking me through it).
A third version of the strike parts was released as an unassembled, unpainted kit. This version comes in a plain white box with a red sticker indicating the contents correspond to the Arcadia Garland toy.
Most people don’t think of strike parts when they think of the Garland and this will probably continue to be true if Megazone 23 XI never grows beyond a promotional video. On the positive side, these strike parts do look real nice in either mode so a cult following of sorts is all but guaranteed. This project began as a pledge reward though it has since been made available at the Akihabara Container Event held from May 11-May 22nd 2019. Could the parts that correspond to the red Garland see a wider distribution some day? I suppose it’s possible. So far there have been three releases:
Strike Parts for periwinkle Garland, 38,000¥, May 2019, AIC Crowd-funding reward
Strike Parts for red Garland, 15,000¥, May 2019, Akihabara Container exclusive
Strike Parts unassembled kit, 10,000¥, May 2019, Akihabara Container exclusive
The crowd-funding parts are spartan with only basic detail and trim paint applied. Fortunately, what is here does help make the parts pop. The strike cannon has a blue sensor on the scope and a blue monitor on the flip-out display. There are red missile tips inside the missile carrier. Black paint was added to the insides of the backpack thrusters and heel thrusters though the round discs on the ankles seem to have skipped their round at the paint station. When installed in slave mode the Garland looks truly beefy and militaristic. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.
The event-exclusive strike parts for the red Garland has additional paint applications. The backpack receives silver thrusters. The back of the leg armor loses the red trim stripe but gains white trim and silver thrusters. Those ankle discs that look particularly bland on the crowd-funding version gain a black stripe and black thrusters. The largest paint difference is on the missile pod which features black and white trim, black interior missile detail, and a gloss black paint application at the rear. The only parts with less paint are the tiny weapon attachment pieces and the big strike cannon. The attachment parts lose the black/red accent circle from the crowd-funding version. The strike cannon loses the gold scope with blue sensor in favor of an unpainted scope with a yellow sensor with a bit of black trim to make it pop a little more.
The two most crucial elements for me, as far as add-on accessories are concerned, are whether the parts stay on as intended and, when installed, if the parts hinder enjoyment of the underlying toy. Starting with the good, these strike parts did not decrease articulation or introduce balance issues. The missile pod has opening doors with unobtrusive hinges. The strike cannon has a flip out monitor that slides forward and back. Regardless of paint scheme, the parts are the same, so you can feel free to mix and match.
Moving to the bad, some parts attach poorly. The forearm armors are the worst offenders. There are two points of failure on the forearm. First, the clip that attaches to the forearm is rather thin so applying pressure to the front or back of the shield causes the shield to bump askew or fall off. Second, the clip attaches to the shield via two small pegs and the shield can be bumped off those pegs easily. At first blush this might sound more like a tightness of fit issue, and that’s part of the problem, but it’s the underlying design that’s the bigger problem. The forearm armors shouldn’t be removable from their attachment point. Instead, they should have a sliding/pivoting mechanism that allows them to slide forward and turn around for slave mode and back for craft mode. Instead, Arcadia took the much simpler approach of having you pop the armor off during transformation and pop it back on in the second position which introduces all the issues of the armors falling off when they shouldn’t. The forearm armor could have also been bolstered by a fold-down clip at the back of the forearm for additional support but even a longer connection to the forearm would have helped. The issue isn’t isolated to slave mode. In bike mode the forearm armors run into the thighs and will fall off constantly as you try to adjust them. Since there are ball joints in the thighs and the armors are touching the hips, it’s also really annoying and difficult to get the armors to look symmetrical.
The shoulder armors just cover the protrusion and don’t lock satisfactorily to the toy, clinging on through a tiny bit of friction and gravity. Some more dynamic arm positions, such as having the toy reach up and grab the strike cannon, often lead to the shoulder armor falling off the toy. There are three potential ways to apply the shoulder armor. The first way is shown on the front of the box, the top part slides up and away from the body but stays close to the shoulder. A second method has the top hinge opened and propping against the wheel. The third position has the top hinge lying across the tire with the shoulder protrusion more inset. I really preferred the first position because it required the least thought when moving the arms. In bike mode the hinged part swings up and tucks in. It looks cool but the connection to the shoulder remains weak and these armors may pop off as you struggle with getting the forearm armor correct.
The backpack requires you to remove the taillights from the toy (much easier to do when you start from the inner edge). I wish they would have made it so the removed taillights could be stored in the backpack or maybe the missile bay because losing a taillight would be awful. The backpack could also use a peg/slot at the bottom for a more secure fit; it will occasionally fall off when repositioning the strike cannon or opening the missile bays. The strike parts rely on friction joints to support the missile pod and strike cannon. This isn’t an issue for the missile pod but the friction joint is insufficient for the weight of the strike cannon. On my red Garland strike parts the cannon droops forward and rests on the shoulder. The cannon extends but again relies entirely on friction and the barrel will fall right out when the hinge that holds up the cannon droops forward. In bike mode, the cannon presses up against the rider and the missile pod needs to angle up a bit if you want to be able to open the missiles.
The best accessory parts can stay on a toy throughout transformation but that’s not the case here and I highly recommend you remove all the strike parts except the ones on the back of the leg before attempting transformation. Parts will be flying everywhere if you don’t. If you’re not keen on the strike cannon traveling past Shogo’s ear then you have the option to move the cannon to the exterior of the leg. Similarly, if it doesn’t look to you like there’d be enough clearance to fire the missiles, the pod can be transferred outside of the leg. You also get an attachment part for the Garland’s regular gun which is awesome since the magically appearing gun in slave mode always bothered me.
From a durability standpoint, it seems like lunacy to buy a clip-on attachment piece to a toy that comes with warnings about how it is entirely covered in paint and you should use extra caution. Putting on and pulling off these parts will eventually lead to paint chipping. The potential of losing a taillight is also unfortunate. While the parts themselves seem sturdy enough for adult handling, the potential danger they pose for the Garland you apply them to makes this an accessory only for brave die-hard fans of the design. Ignoring the paint issue, the parts have issues with tightness of fit that will likely irritate you to the point of seeking out some sort of a fix. Some of the problems will be easily rectified with a tiny bit of clear tape, other problems, like the drooping strike cannon, will require more creative fixes.
The strike parts don’t inhibit articulation but they do require caution in how the toy is handled. If you’re careless you will be locked in a circle of knocking parts off and clipping them back on again. If you have the patience, you are rewarded with parts that look gorgeous in either mode. If you’re the type of person who puts the toy in a display cabinet and only changes it up occasionally, then the pure visual impact these parts provide may be worth it. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed my photos after how frustrating it was to shoot them. The price is egregious for what you’re getting (even if you only paid the Container Event price). While the missile pod and strike cannon have some nice gimmicks, the overall design feels uninspired, rushed, and more akin to a bundled item a manufacturer felt obligated to include rather than a purchased-separately accessory. Since Megazone23 XI doesn’t have its own fan-base, these parts are only for the most diehard Megazone23 devotees and fans of this design. Casual fans have a great many other toys and accessories they can find at a much lower price that they would get more enjoyment from.