Goodsmile Freeing 1/20 E=X Garland

Review: E=X where X = very bad toy

Packaging & Extras: (4/5)
This toy makes a splendid first impression. The art on the box is nice and invokes some of the best art of the Garland. There’s a flip-top lid anchored with Velcro covering a large window that displays the goods within. There’s a plastic clamshell that includes the bike and the following:
1) Pilot figure (Eiji)
2) 2x guns
3) 4x daggers (2x large, 2x small)
4) Garland motor
5) 2x pairs of forearms (R with gun gimmick, L with dagger holster, R & L with dagger holster)
6) 2x pairs of hands
Behind the tray housing the clamshell you’ll also find:
7) Instructions
The extra arms are an immediate red flag of potential transformation shenanigans as is the separate motor. Presentation is very nice but where’s Eiji’s head without a helmet on it? At this price point there are a lot of accessories that could have added value like a display stand, an Eve figure, or even optional hands for the rider figure. It’s nice that the instructions are in color on glossy paper, but the fold-out giant poster nature of them is definitely not as nice as a booklet.

Charm & Collectability: (2/5)
Megazone 23 Part III is the least loved of all Megazone OVA so it was surprising to see anyone was taking a stab at its variant of the Garland. When the initial reviews were lukewarm at best, a toy that was already struggling to sell seemed destined for the bargain bin. Transformation is clunky and probably not considered “perfect” by most enthusiasts due to the motor detail that pops in and out of the bike. There’s no metal here, no heft, the scale is nearly as small as Eiji’s fan base, which, when combined with the toy’s inability to stay together, means it’s more likely this toy will end up in bargain bins than be a highly sought after collectable. There’s been one release so far:
E=X Garland (red), June 12, 2018, 27,593¥

Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8/10)
This scale doesn’t do the toy a lot of favors. There’s no Eiji face to judge, we only get the helmeted figure and the helmet has a yellow painted visor rather than a translucent one. Paint on the figure is good though and the toy does nicely approximate his uniform and accessories as seen in the show.

In ‘craft’ mode the toy has a lot of shortcomings though it gets the overall shape correct. My biggest issue is with the positioning of the legs. If you look at the size comparison with the Yamato toy, you can see the legs are tucked pretty tight on the DVD cover but the toy has them spaced too far away from the craft. The original art also implies the legs have a slight angle inward that is not present on this toy but that may be caused by the failure of the pegs that hold the legs in position. The toy does have translucent plastic used in lieu of paint for several of the lenses but the execution is poor with the tail lights looking more like metallic stickers. It would be nice if the translucent bits had internal detailing to mimic bulbs/lenses. The instrument panel is nicely detailed.

I though the look of slave mode was the high point of this toy. It has some nice painted pistons and captures the mechanical details of the design very nicely. The pistons in the arm bits are clearly not functional but that’s a minor gripe to an otherwise excellent effort. If slave mode functioned as good as it looked, this toy  might have been worth having.

Design: (4.5/10)
Let’s start with the positive aspects:
1) The front and rear wheels are made of rubber and spin freely.
2) Though not perfect transformation, the transformation is very interesting and even impressive.
3) The rider figure can be housed within the ‘slave’ mode vehicle.
4) There are cool little pistons that actually extend in several of the joints.
Unfortunately, the list of negatives is substantially larger:
1) The toy is not perfect transformation, the engine compartment is removed during transformation from bike mode and not put back on the bike.
2) There’s no ability to stow the gun(s) in bike mode.
3) The execution of how this toy pegs together is very poor. Craft mode is a disaster to handle and even photographing it without it falling apart proved tricky. Slave mode does a bit better staying together but one of the pegs behind the leg on mine frequently popped free and the toy is so sloppy to handle other parts would occasionally jar loose.
4) There are no ratcheting joints on this toy. This means that the legs, which are composed entirely of numerous, small, friction joints cannot support the weight of the toy’s upper body so getting the toy to stand on its own is a very difficult balancing game.
5) The integrated arms have hands that aren’t removable (let me know if they’re just in there really tight and I’m not pulling hard enough). Why wouldn’t these hands swap out so you can put the gun in the hand without having to replace the whole forearm? Sure, replacing the forearm is easy, but it feels clunkier and it makes for a bigger part you need to store somewhere.
6) Why not use a common handle size for both the dagger and guns so the installed hands could be used for either weapon?
7) You get two sets of daggers because the larger daggers don’t fit in the forearms, obviously one set of daggers that allowed the blade to extend would be better.
8) The hand for holding the gun needs to have the thumb pegged off and put back on instead of just sliding the gun handle in. Since this hand serves no other function and since the toy can’t store the gun in bike mode, it seems like the hand should be molded onto the gun OR the hand/grip could have been molded in such a way that it would just slot in.
9) The swappable arms could be categorized as either positives or negatives if they functioned better. In an ideal world, the arms on the toy would accommodate both the internal gun gimmick and the ability to stow the knives. Getting replacement ‘peg-on’ arms isn’t as cool as a fully integrated solution but it’s better than omitting the gimmicks all-together. Unfortunately, by pulling off the forearm from a round peg, then putting a new one on, then putting a big gun in the hand, you create a situation where the forearm spins and the gun ends up on the wrong side of the arm. The mini knives feature fold out hand guards and can be stowed in the special arms even after you’ve tired of the ‘knife being drawn’ pose.

Durability & Build: (5/10)
When a toy feels this unstable in your hands, it’s not surprising when things start going wrong. Here are all the issues I noted before and during one transformation:
1) The toy holds bike mode together by attaching a peg on the back of the bike into a slot on the foot. The housing for this slot is incredibly thin plastic that bends very easily and the attachment to the peg is inadequate. This means frustrated users will be applying a lot of pressure to secure a peg into a very thin piece of plastic which may eventually lead to breakage.
2) I had a screw on the cowl back-out, completely stripped, before I even tried transforming the toy.
3) During transformation, a couple parts popped off. Fortunately, these were instances where ball joints or peg/slot connections were the only things holding the part on so nothing was broken. Ultimately, this is a positive for durability but it doesn’t add to enjoyment of the toy.
4) There are tiny pistons that extend with various joints in the legs. One of these pistons was broken after one transformation. It looks like the piston may have been seized in its housing and snapped the first time the joint moved.
Since the toy handles so poorly, it’s easy to imagine frustrated owners breaking these in one hundred different ways.

Articulation: (7/10)
The pilot figure is a definite step up from Yamato’s Shogo figure that could only sit. This is a genuine 1/20 scale action figure… but don’t get too excited, the scale and second fiddle nature of the Eiji figure means there’s lots of room for improvement. The head is on a ball joint but there’s no neck joint beneath it to allow it to assume a more natural “looking up while riding” pose. There’s only a pivot at the shoulder; there is nearly no ability to bring the arms out away from the body, only forward or back. There is no twist point in the arms, the elbows allow just a bit more than 90 degrees of angle, and the fists aren’t ball joints allowing for optional hands and greater range of movement, instead they’re fixed to the toy with a hinge. There is a pivot point mid abdomen which is great, but there’s no swivel at the waist. The hips only allow forward and back mobility which is an obvious shortcoming. Given that there’s no twist point in the leg and no ankles, the ability to spread the legs apart might not have added much. The knees allow a bit better than 90 degrees of angle. To sum it up, the figure has almost enough articulation to be fun… almost.
Slave mode has better articulation than the toy can handle which makes a sloppy toy unbearable. The head is a ball joint though it’s limited in the rear by the wind screen. The shoulders rotate around allow the arms to swing forward or back and there’s a ball joint immediately below that allows substantial freedom of the arm. There’s a twist point at the elbow (the peg that lets you take the forearm off) and the elbow allows greater than 90 degrees of movement. The hands are not articulated. The hips allow an incredibly wide stance and pivot forward and back until they run into the body. While there is no waist, just below the hips are twist points that would theoretically allow for a twist similar to a waist if you could get the toy to stand. At that same point there is a joint that allows the leg to swing back 90 degrees and come forward a few degrees also. Going down there’s a knee that offers about 45 degrees of angle but that becomes a lot more impressive when combined with the 90 degree joint a little ways above it and the full range of movement at the hip. The ankle has both a joint allowing it to rock left and right a good range and there’s a hinge that allows the toe and ankle to pivot up and down. On the foot, the toe and ankle are both articulated. The combination of the pivot that allows the foot to move up and down, the toe, and ankle joints could lead to amazing poses if they weren’t all so loose they instead create a rickety platform for the toy.

Total Score: (30.5/50)
This toy sets you up with a good impression with its fancy box but it goes quickly downhill from there. In the end, this awful toy is awful, and you should avoid it unless you are fanatical about Megazone 23 Part III. If it were dirt cheap, it might be worth buying and gluing into some fixed poses but it’s really pricey.

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