Review: Heavy Metal from the 80s!
Packaging & Extras: (4/5)
My toy, and likely most toys purchased from online retailers, came in a brown shipper box. Inside the retail box was kept in place via Styrofoam holders at the corners that seem like they should be an ideal solution for safely delivering the box but my retail box still had dinged corners. The retail box is further ensconced by a plastic bag. A slip on sleeve covers the front, back, top, and bottom of the retail box. The production quality of the images on the box is poor, as if the image is somewhat underexposed. Removing the sleeve finally reveals the huge retail box (42.5 cm wide, 42 cm tall, 14 cm tall) which is glossy but otherwise feels like a high-quality shoe box. The front of the box is the same as the sleeve, the top/bottom and back are all blank (as those graphics were on the sleeve). Removing the box’s lid reveals two thin pieces of cardboard. Opening those paper-like covers reveals:
1) Full color instruction book (click the file to download a copy with rough English translation back solved from Google) . The image quality in the book is inconsistent which isn’t fitting of this product.
Below the book is a Styrofoam lid. Removing that lid reveals the body of the toy thoroughly cocooned in plastic wrap, tape, and Styrofoam film as well as:
2) 2x arms (assembly required)
3) Shogo pilot figure
4) Alternate Shogo hair/visor
5) Alternate seated Shogo lower body
6) Laser orb gun
7) 2x Maneuver craft mode stands
8) 4x pairs (8 total pieces) of fixed posed hands (open, gripping, gripping differently, fists)
Flipping the Styrofoam tray over you’ll also uncover:
9) Display stand for Maneuver Slave mode (consisting of a base and arm)
Attaching the arms is an awkward way to start and it seems a little surprising that Fewture chose to go that route. Had the toy been assembled and shipped in craft mode, they probably could have fit three in this box. There’s no ‘battle visor’ like we got on the Arcadia toy, nor is there an integrated one already in the head. I was surprised that there were no articulated hands included… at this scale and price, they seem like a reasonable expectation.
Charm & Collectability: (3.5/5)
It’s a little too soon to tell if this will become a hot collector’s item. Megazone23 is certainly a small niche in the toy collecting world. Originally proposed for an April 2017 release date, this toy didn’t hit store shelves until November 28, 2019 at the astronomical MSRP of 39,800¥. Touting perfect transformation, gobs of metal, an undoubtedly small production run, and the most iconic Garland paint scheme, all the ingredients are here for a hot collector’s item. The metal adds a lot of heft; the EX Gokin tips the scales at a massive 588 grams! For comparison, the old Takatoku 1/55 scale VF-1 (or G1 Transformers Jetfire) weighs 354 grams. At about 25 cm tall in Maneuver Slave, this is also the biggest transformable Garland toy we’ve had to date, just edging out the old 1/15 scale Yamato toy which stood either a little over or under 24 cm tall depending on how far you extend the foot. Though Fewture makes no mention of scale, the measurements make the EX Gokin Garland 1/15 scale. I suspect Fewture released this without a scale due to the included Shogo figure which is a comparatively small 9.3 cm tall. At 1/15 scale, that would mean that Shogo stood roughly 140 cm tall (roughly 4’7”).
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8.5/10)
If you are a stickler for line art accuracy than this is not the toy for you but I’m still scoring the toy very high because I think it’s beautiful. Fewture didn’t give us a toy that jumps off the screen from the original OVA, instead they gave us what a Garland would look like “in real life.” In the line art, the abdomen is small, consisting of an armored wheel cover cod piece that connects directly to the large chest unit. On this toy, there is a long abdominal region that works as a bridge from the cod piece to the chest. While the region looks good with nice mechanical detail and a dark wash, it and the backward slope of the cod piece are not in line with the original art. Leaning the toy forward brings the chest down over the mechanical abs and alleviates the backward sweep of the cod piece but puts the backpack a little higher than it should be… and I love it. It makes the more line art accurate Yamato and Arcadia toys look simple, almost boring, without going to the extreme of looking like jumbled spare parts like a Bayformer design. Additional detail prevails on practically every part without seeming gratuitous.
The gun does come up a little short. While the sculpt is nice and includes things like an open scope/sensor cover, there are no paint applications to make that sensor stand out and the barrel could have used a touch of black to look deeper.
Like bot mode, bike mode ventures far away from line art accuracy. The line art has the arms parallel to the ground but this toy gives the arms a steep upward rake toward the back of the craft. This change places the front of the bike much higher than it is on previous interpretations of the Garland. The headlight tucked in behind the windscreen is absent from this interpretation. Given his different scaling, Shogo looks like an 8 year old hopping on his dad’s motorcycle. The tail lights are translucent pieces and the detail work throughout is very pleasant. The tires even receive some nice tread work but keep an eye on the front wheel because each half of the tire rotates independently so you can get in a situation where the treads don’t line up.
The Shogo figure looks to be a more mature/tough take on Shogo, it almost looks like a combination of Shogo from part II with part I; I don’t really get a Mikimoto vibe. He has a tough-guy physique and a pronounced Adam’s apple, but he works just fine as supporting cast to the Garland.
This toy has all the elements you demand in a premium Garland toy:
1) Spinning tires
2) Ability to sit Shogo on the bike
3) Ability to place Shogo in the bot
4) Perfect transformation that is solid in both modes
5) Gun extension gimmick
6) Swappable Shogo head
In maneuver slave mode, the toy is solid and fun to handle. Unfortunately, the main rotation points of the shoulders and hips are not ratcheting joints (there are ratchets when moving the arm away from the body, moving the shoulder up to its final slave position, in the ab crunch joint, and the knee). If those main rotation points or any other joints get loose, it’s easily remedied with a drip of floor polish but I know that’s blasphemy for some enthusiasts. As mentioned above, Shogo was made very small to accommodate the cockpit gimmick. I like that Shogo is a true action figure. Placing Shogo in the cockpit while in Maneuver Slave mode requires swapping his articulated legs for fixed posed sitting legs which isn’t ideal but they look natural and this is the best fit of Shogo in the cockpit yet. Swapping Shogo’s head is quick and solid.
Maneuver Craft mode is much less solid than Maneuver Slave. The heavy arms attach only to the cowl, not to the body of the bike, so when you lift the toy up by the body the cowl droops down which can cause cascading failures of pegs and joints that will all need to be tightened up again when you put the toy back down on a surface. While this is annoying, you will quickly learn to support the weight when handling the toy and it only takes a moment and a few good pushes to get everything seated again. Sadly, it seems like it would have been easy to engineer a better system that properly locked the front of the bike in place, so this flaw is particularly vexing given the price point. Did they really think tiny vertical tabs fitting into slots on the heavy arms was a good way to keep those parts attached? They know how gravity works right? If Fewture had to go with hooks and pegs on the arms, they should have made the hooks look like coil-over shocks. The front fork parts which become the outward prongs on the shoulders in craft mode also don’t lock into position and can be bumped askew. The wheels aren’t rubber, they’re matte plastic. This may be good from a durability standpoint, or perhaps in helping create a tighter fit, but it makes trying to move the toy around on the tires less fun. As with almost every other Garland toy, this one makes no effort to give you something to do with the gun while in craft mode.
You get two display stands for use with Maneuver Craft and not using a display stand will cause the toy to lean hard to either side. I found both stands to be underwhelming. Display stand A goes directly under the center of the bike with two prongs that come up and hold the bike at the hips. I would have preferred the base of this stand to be much smaller so that it wouldn’t be obvious there was any display stand being used.
Display stand B is a cradle that runs the full width of the Garland’s craft mode and props the legs up. Using this stand eliminates the need for the pins that secure the legs in their position which then allows you to angle the legs upward. Angling the legs gives the toy a look more similar to the Proto Garland. The stand works to both keep the toy together and to keep it level with the ground but it sticks out a little too much for my liking and I can’t believe I would ever touch it if I didn’t feel it necessary to investigate for this review.
The included Maneuver Slave display stand, an adjustable length rod that plugs into a ‘big enough’ base, alleviates some concerns about the joints. Adjusting the rod’s length allows it to be useful in a variety of positions, from crouches to jumps. At the top of the rod is an adapter with a very firmly ratcheting connection point that allows it to angle parallel to the ground or upward. This connection is also on a twist point in case you wanted to do some jumping to the side poses. My only complaint is that the stand connects to the toy at a folding joint so pressing the adapter in can cause the joint to come disconnected on the toy.
Durability & Build: (7.5/10)
As mentioned above, the weight of the limbs quickly overcomes the friction of the joints leading to a sloppier feeling handling Maneuver Slave mode. The lack of ratchets in the foot is worrisome as it may make the toy more likely to fall forward or backward which could definitely lead to damage given the heft and amount of paint on the toy. There are also lots of area where paint scratching seems likely. Even with extreme caution, a single transformation will likely cause some paint wear and several transformations will likely cause obvious paint wear.
The head is on a ball joint but it is extremely limited (no idea why) in its ability to twist left/right or cock in either direction. The only movement the head does well is looking up (the neck also pivots a bit to help the toy look further up). Unfortunately, given the articulation elsewhere, the very limited head can prove quite vexing when posing the toy. The joint that brings the ball of the shoulder up is ratcheted (to keep the arms in the elevated position) as is the joint within the shoulder that allows the arm to extend out away from the body but the arm rotates 360 degrees at the shoulder via a simple friction-based pivot any looseness will hinder gun holding poses (the weight will cause the arm to swing back down along the toy’s side). There is a twist at the elbow as well as a double-joint allowing the elbow to bend a tiny bit more than 90 degrees. The hands connect via ball joint and no articulated hands are available. There is a waist twist that would allow the upper body to spin completely around (but will generally run into the hips at some point). Also in the abdomen is a joint allowing the whole upper body to pivot forward about 30 degrees that can be used in concert with the twist for some fun poses. The hips attach via ball joints allowing the legs to spin freely until they run into something and also allowing you to twist the toe in out (unfortunately, there are no other twists in the leg). While ball-jointed hips are great from an articulation standpoint, the extreme heft of this toy’s upper body means the hips won’t provide enough resistance if you attempt any extreme poses and the toy will fall (use the display stand!). The knees are a weakness allowing only about 45 degrees of motion. The feet open wide to provide a fairly stable base, they can rock left/right and the toe/heel can move up and down but they can’t twist and the range of movement in any direction is limited (which may be a good thing given how heavy the toy is).
Shogo has his head on a ball joint but motion is limited and the ball joint at the base of the neck does most the movement. The shoulders are connected via double ball joints (one in the torso, one at the base of the arm) allowing the shoulders to pivot up and down as well as move the arm in any direction. The elbow joints allow greater than 90 degrees of movement. The hands also attach via ball joints allowing them to pivot and twist. There is no waist as this is the point where you can unplug the lower body to swap it for either standing or sitting legs. The hips are ball joints that allow the figure to do the splits though pulling the knee straight up when facing forward is limited. The knee is limited to a little less than 90 degrees of movement. The feet attach via ball joints allowing a great range of motion in all directions and the right stiffness to keep the toy standing.
While the wheels do spin in bike mode, the front ‘tire’ requires significant effort o spin so you won’t be rolling this toy around on your tabletop. As mentioned above, if you spin one side of the bike’s front tire, make sure you spin the other to keep them looking symmetrical. The handlebars pivot and there are foot stands to help position Shogo.
Total Score: (39.5/50)
Want a toy that looks just like the show? Get the Arcadia 1/24 Garland. It’s clean, it’s dynamic, it’s heavy for its size, and it’s no more prone to joint looseness than this toy is. If you’re less of a stickler for the line art and like this interpretation of the mech, then this toy offers more size, more heft, great articulation (less head and knee movement than the Arcadia but with a waist and ab pivot) and the ability to stow the woefully under-sized pilot in the cockpit in Slave mode. While the Fewture toy isn’t as solid/playable as the Arcadia Garland in bike mode, it is serviceable and looks great (both toys gave us a mini-Shogo that make the bikes look huge). I think most people are fine sticking with the cheaper Arcadia toy but if you need a centerpiece, must have Shogo in the cockpit, or like this reimagination of the design, the Fewture is a good option. Given the cost of the EX Gokin, if you’re not a huge Megazone23 fan, you can find better toys for less (like a Bandai DX VF-1).
Original post date: December 15, 2019
Updated December 22, 2019, added 4K video review
Updated January 19, 202, added 4K bike to bot transformation guide