Review: Currently DMZ-01, will add more as I spend time with them
Packaging & Extras: (3/5)
For the most part the DMZs come in attractive albeit fragile packaging. Excluding the event exclusive DMZ-01 Material Version and the web exclusive Melkia version, all DMZ toys come in a box that opens like a book revealing the armored trooper(AT) on one side and the pilot and accessories on the other. The larger and more plentiful the accessories are the larger that side of the box becomes. DMZ-01 and DMZ-02 score slightly less here than the subsequent releases because they come in packaging that requires the owner damage the box in order to free the accessories. It’s a huge oversight on boxes that otherwise meet the highest standards of high-end collectibles. You get metallic print on a well decorated box and Velcro dots that keep the box sealed but you have to mar it all if you want to enjoy the toy inside. I also am not a fan of how the accessories on the first two releases protrude into AT’s side when the book-like box is closed. This means you have to open the book flap before opening the top of the box when sliding out the AT tray if all you want to do is handle the AT. Failing to open the box and clear the accessories out of the way will lead to tears in the very thin cardboard at the corners of the box. Inside the box you’ll find the following:
3) Microman pilot figure and base (DMZ-01 includes Chirico with gun and special Microman base)
4) Helmet for pilot
5) Fixed posed hands for pilot (DMZ-01 comes with 2 x set of 10 fixed posed hands for pilot, one set as if the pilot were wearing gloves, the other bare, plus 2 additional fixed posed hands, gloved versions of the bare hands that come equipped on the toy)
6) Gun (Scopedog rifle comes unassembled with stock, grenade launcher, barrel, magazine, and body of the gun converted into mini gun mode with optional short-barrel accessory piece)
7) Screw covers on sprue
8) Hand parts on sprue (DMZ-01 comes with the parts to make left and right gun gripping hands or slightly open palmed)
Charm & Collectability: (3/5)
Here is what you need to know about the DMZ line in regard to when the toys were released and what the original MSRP was:
DMZ-01: Scopedog with Chirco, Release: May 2006, MSRP: 10,500YEN
DMZ-01MV: Material Version Scopedog, Release: Chara Hobby Event 2006, MSRP: 7,500YEN
DMZ-02: Strikedog with Ipsilon, Release: October 2006, MSRP: 16,800YEN
DMZ-03: Space Scopedog with Round Mover & Fyana, Release: March 2007, MSRP: 14,800YEN
DMZ-04: Rabidly Dog with Chirico, Release: July 2007, MSRP: 16,800YEN
DMZ-05: Turbo Custom with Chirico, Release: December 2007, MSRP: 18,800YEN
DMZ-06: Lido Scopedog with Round Mover & Chirico, Release: March 2008, MSRP: 12,800YEN
DMZ-06: Melkia Scopedog with Round Mover & Chirico, Release: March? 2008, MSRP: 12,800Yen?
So, for those of you doing the math, the original DMZ design is now more than half a decade old but these toys still largely command their original MSRP when you can find them in like-new condition. Some releases are more popular than others with the DMZ-04 and 05 being much harder to come by than the DMZ-03. The popularity of these toys was assisted by the popularity of Takara’s 1/18 scale MicroMan line of action figures. The Material Version DMZ-01 has very limited appeal, primarily amongst customizers that thought they could do a better job painting their Scopedogs than Takara had done. The Hobby Mart web exclusive Melkia DMZ-06 suffers from the same lack of demand all Melkia paint schemes are afflicted by… probably because pink doesn’t make for a very intimidating toy. At 1/18 scale these toys are also quite large but they weren’t the largest dog in the kennel as they competed somewhat directly with Yamato’s 1/12 scale Votoms products. The competition wasn’t good for either company and neither line outlived the worldwide economic collapse of 2008.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
The sculpt has a few minor shortcomings. First, the forearms are too large. Second, the armor plate above the feet is supposed to be wider. You can nitpick out a few other shortcomings but those are the only issues that struck me as obvious enough that some folks might be genuinely put off by them. Moving beyond sculpt, the detail work is wonderful to the point where it’s practically obscene. VOTOMs has always had a large following amongst modelers and Takara has done a good job appealing to that crowd by including so many details here. Even the interior bits look wonderful. Obviously the paint job, with its weathering effect, is absolutely top notch. Look how boring the Yamato figure looks in comparison. While there are three different variants of the basic Scopedog piloted by Chirico (DMZ-01, DMZ-01MV, and DMZ-06) there are differences between all of them as outlined in the picture above. The DMZ-01MV should probably score a hair lower here since it is devoid of the paint applications.
Here are the positive design attributes of the AT, I’ll discuss the pilots more in posts related to DMZ accessories:
1) Opening cockpit, foot well, and scope visor
2) Cockpit controls that move forward and have fold-down joysticks
3) Sliding scope (left to right) with rotation gimmick
4) Feet have wheels and working pivot spikes
5) Spring-loaded punch mechanism
6) Gun has swiveling front grip, can convert into short barrel variant, magazine has articulated handle
7) Able to assume down ‘dog’ mode
Here are the negatives:
1) The hands are not articulated and are prone to falling apart (in more ways than one). If you use the spring-loaded punch mechanism the thumb might go flying off the toy.
2) As with many AT toys, the armor bits can pop off during handling. Note in the picture above that shows the back of the DMZ-01 and 06 toys that the back armor piece with the white stripe has migrated to the right leg although it belongs on the left.
3) While the toy can pull off some good sliding poses it would have benefited from heavier feet (many people opened the feet up and inserted coins to accomplish this).
Durability & Build: (7/10)
While the build quality is top notch on the two DMZ-01 toys I’ve handled I was very let down by the broken hands pictured below. The cracks leave the toys very loose wristed and make it so the fingers and thumbs can fall out very easily. This makes it a chore to get the toy into a good pose holding its gun (although still possible) and makes the toy frustrating. If a toy’s not fun then it’s not doing its job very well. I’ve also seen versions of these toys with the handle broken of the Scopedog’s cockpit footwell but this is a fragile area on all Scopedog toys. The DMZs are made almost entirely of ABS plastic with just a bit of metal used internally which does give the toy a somewhat floppy feel. If you handle the hands with care you should be able to enjoy your toy comfortably.
The legs on these toys are articulated extremely well and let you get the toy into a lot of fun poses. The only real weakness here are the lack of articulated hands (which were included on later models and will be discussed in an update to this review) and the poor range of motion of the elbows.
Total Score: (38.5/50)
I’ll be working on updating this review with additional content related to DMZ-02 through DMZ-06 as I spend more time with those toys. In the meantime, I can tell you that the DMZ-01 toy is, to this day, a very good Scopedog offering. There are some weaknesses here, primarily the toy’s box and hands, but there are also plenty of strengths including a gorgeous paint job and plenty of gimmicks.