I have to say that I have a huge crush on this toy. It was love at first sight. After handling it and learning the ends and outs it’s unlike any other toy I own or have seen.
In the back of my brain I was immediately drawn to the design and style of this piece. As a fan of the real robot genre, this is about as real as you can get. The S.A.F.S. or Super Armored Fighting Suit look like something that might actually make its way into a real military in a few decades, but it also harkens back to older military styles and has a distinct retro feel.
To me this is the kind of powered suit that Juan Rico might have worn in the 1959 Starship Troopers story. Though the suit was never shown in the movie, or intricately described in the book, the idea of Mecha and powered suits all come back to Heinlein in my book. It isn’t massive, or fantastic but deadly and practical.
The designer/creator of the Ma. K universe and the SAFS, was original an illustrator at SF Magazine in Japan. Kow Yokoyama is a celebrated sculptor, and illustrator who had a keen interest in real world military models, as his father was in the Japanese Marine Force. Mr. Yokoyama got his start taking various WWI and WWII model kits and making unique futuristic designs with them. Heavily influenced by the contemporary American space program in the1980’s, and the pop culture of the day like Star Wars, Blade Runner, and the Road Warrior, Maschinen Krieger was born.
Maschinen Kreiger, or Ma. K for short, was originally known as SF3D and ran in monthly installments in the Japanese Hobby Magazine Hobby Japan. The story revolves around a world war in the year 2807 that goes nuclear and makes the Earth a barren rock. Fifty years later the earth is habitable again and two factions fight for control of the re-population colonies. The SDR or Strahl Democratic Republic, which are essentially the “bad” guys, and the IMA, or Independent Mercenary Army, which is a loose fedration of humans who returned to earth before the SDR are the “good” guys and are essentially rebels. Both factions have their own versions of the SAFS, with lots of different variants for different fighting situations.
Unfortunately, this story has never really been translated properly, or officially for that matter, to English. Ma. K doesn’t have an Anime or Manga to fall back on to push it’s popularity, and remains quite a niche cult favorite for it’s fans. If you’re interested in Ma. K it’s up to you to get all the information you can find, and hash out the story for yourself. This could be a big turn off for a lot of people, put personally I enjoy the sense of discovery and uniqueness of the property.
It’s also interesting to note that this item isn’t really aimed at the large majority of Ma. K fans. Most people who enjoy Ma. K are model builders who would tell you that this is just too expensive and they could probably build their own for less, though I don’t honestly think it would this detailed or fantastic. Companies like Hasegawa and Rainbow-Egg have made all kinds of kits and models over the years, while ThreeA has released a Krote toy, which I’ll probably try to grab at some point. Max Factory has also created some “pre-finished” 1:16 and 1:35 scale toys if you’re looking for cheaper options.
Getting back to the story of the toy itself, Kow Yokoyama is really good friends with the director of Toys McCoy, Hiroshi Okamoto, and they collaberated with Billiken Shokai’s master sculptor, Hiromoto Mihara to sculpt the suit, and Billiken Shokai’s, Hayao Hama to create the pilot. The style is based on MA.K. series IMA 14th armored soldiers hunting company ‘Egg Plant 6’ S.A.F.S. armor, also referred to as a “Split suit” due to the unique way that the top of the suit splits to allow the pilot to enter.
So what makes this toy special, other than how attractive it is? Why go to the trouble to track one down and purchase it?
The suit actually works. I don’t know many armored toys that let you insert a fully articulated doll into the suit and retain all articulation. That is a pretty special feat of engineering, especially at this scale. One you actually get the pilot inside you realize that a lot of work went into this piece.
The project was about 3 years in the making, and all the details of this item were personally approved by Okamoto himself and went through 3 prototype stages.
Another big drawing point for me personally is that each of the 600 limited units were hand crafted and took up to 63 hours to complete. As a further quality control measure, they video recorded each and every suit during construction and kept detailed logs so they could aim for a “zero claim record”. Essential zeo QA issues. That’s a pretty high standard for a toy. If you’re a toy collector you know all about parts that don’t quite fit, paint problems, and even missing or broken pieces.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the piece, and the more I handle it the more I love it. It has a visual appeal that very few toys can match, and I plan on keeping it in my collection for a long period of time. I am very interested to see what ThreeA will eventually produce in the S.A.F.S department, but I have a feeling it won’t be quite the same quality or finish as this beauty.
My full video review is below. It clocks in at a hefty 28:28, so if you have half an hour to kill, grab some popcorn and stay awhile.
Some additional S.A.F.S. fictional Facts:
With its 7mm of Tungsten frontal armored bolstered by 15mm of Super Ceramic coating, the S.A.F.S. can withstand a direct hit from the Nutrocker’s 60mm P.W.38 Laser Cannon. The HL375G engine gives the S.A.F.S. a speed of 52 kph. The shoulder and side armor sections are moveable. The paint and markings are for the 14 Armored Regiment’s “Eggplant 6.”