Accessories for Takara’s 1/18 DMZ Votoms Toys: MAP-03 Red Shoulder Parts

Observations & Critique: Wrong color?  Wrong shoulder?  No problem.

These toys come in beautiful and functional packages that feature a flip-top lid that let you see the goods within.  The back of the box is also the instructions so no need for additional paperwork.  Unfortunately, all the missiles are on a tree so you’ll need to free them to install them in their missile launchers and the accessory will never feel so minty again.  I’d say that’s a small price to pay given how intimidating a properly outfitted Uoodo-style Red Shoulder looks.  Here’s what you get in the box:
1) Vanilla Varta figure
2) Vanilla accessories:
 A) Optional pilot gear head
 B) Wrench
 C) Gun
 D) Spray paint gun
 E) Plastic base
 F) 5 x pairs of optional hands
3) 2x Ammo tins for hips
4) Red Shoulder
5) Right torso missile launcher
6) Left torso Gatling gun with ammunition belt and backpack
7) Right over-the-shoulder missile launcher
8) 9x Large missiles for over-the-shoulder missile launcher.  Comes in 2 parts, main body with head and tail section
10) 2x smaller missiles for torso missile launcher  Comes in 2 parts, main body with head and tail section
You’ll have to build your own Battling Arena diorama to create a platform for Vanilla to be high enough to look like he’s spray painting the dog’ shoulder.  It’s too bad we didn’t get Cocono or Gotho to go with Vanilla.

These optional parts released in August 2007 can be harder to come by than the Scopedogs to put them on… but they’re still circulating out there and can be had for a steep premium over their original MSRP of 5,000 Yen.  You can probably score one where the missiles have been pulled off their trees and assembled for a hair less than a never-been touched version which would be a wise move if you’re planning on setting up a DMZ display.  There also seems to be an abundance of very cheap Vanilla Varta figures sold in plastic bags out there.  If all you want is the Vanilla figure you should be able to meet that need pretty easily.

While not a perfect rendition of the Red Shoulder parts Chirico donned in Uoodo, these parts certainly do a good job.  The one thing that struck me as less than ideal was the left arm’s cannon.  The connection mechanism is clunky and overly visible.  It also would have been nice if the interior of the Gatling gun’s barrels were painted black as from head-on they look too shallow.

These parts do look great but there are some major weaknesses from a design standpoint.  Chief amongst those weaknesses is the inability to lock the missiles into their launchers.  The toy has a tendency to want to collapse backward as the missile launcher raises the center of gravity and the backpack adds weight to the rear.  When the toy falls the back plate can easily pop off the missile launcher allowing the missiles to slide out and roll.  Since the missiles are circular over their entire length they can roll a good distance.  Alternatively, if in your efforts to prevent the toy from falling backward you were to lean the toy forward, there isn’t enough friction in any of the launchers to prevent the missiles from simply sliding out the front.  As you can imagine, the missile issues can be quite tedious.  I mentioned before that the attachment for the left arm cannon is a little unattractive but it’s also surprisingly ineffective.  During only mild handling of the toy that cannon often pops off.  Usually it’s just a case of the barrel plopping to the ground and it can be quickly rectified but it’s one more thing to be bothered with.  Another thing I would like to see improved if another manufacturer ever tackles these bits somewhere down the line would be the ability to install the additional torso weaponry without the need to remove and store parts.  As it is, there are plates on either side of the vehicle that conceal the connection points for the red shoulder parts and must be removed and stored when the parts are applied. 

While there are plenty of parts falling off the toy there’s nothing here that seems particularly fragile and it doesn’t seem like applying these parts creates significant risk for the underlying Scopedog.  Yes, you’ll need to store the side armor plates that conceal the weaponry attachment parts somewhere along with the shoulder you’ve replaced, but that should be the only real headache.  You’ll definitely need to be careful about the possibility of your toy falling backward though which might cause lots of harm depending on where you have it perched.

Articulation is not significantly impaired by the addition of Red Shoulder parts and the toy does look well equipped to lay waste to any corrupt police forces it might come up against.  If you’re a fan of the Red Shoulder package and you’re just building a handsome display then these parts will be right up your alley.  If you’re looking for a Red Shoulder toy that you’re going to enjoy playing with in its fully dressed up appearance than this will probably be a frustrating purchase.

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