Yamato 1/15 Garland Toys

Review (updated):  The Modat 5 from Robotech’s Untold story

Packaging & Extras: (3.5/5)
Red Version
The packaging itself is clean with nice artwork and is otherwise traditional Yamato (slightly over-sized, slightly flimsy, flip-top revealing a window that prominently displays the toy within). The extras packaged are pretty decent but stop short of phenomenal.   The red Garland comes with the following:
1) Pilot/rider figure (Shogo)
2) Optional hair with visor and radio
3) Optional hair with visor, radio, and headband
4) Optional shoulder attire
5) Gun (with extending barrel and removable magazine)
6) Instructions Yamato Garland Instruction Manual Web
The Shogo figure leaves a bit to be desired. He is fixed in the seating position; you can’t get him to stand up next to the Garland. He also appears to be on the small size when compared to other 1/15 figures (it’s hard to judge adequately due to his being permanently in a seated position).

Red Metallic “Megazone 23 Complete Box” Version
Yamato’s megazone mega-bundle came in a box that was more like a book. The back of the box has a large clear window and all the same accessories that were included with the original release. The front of the box is a sleeve that contains:
7) Megazone 23 Art Book (housed ina  nice plastic sleeve)
8) Megazone 23 DVD + Original Soundtrack
9) Additional sticker sheet for driver’s console taped to a random piece of cardboard with something written on it (it looks like these stickers belong with the Proto Garland so these may have just accidentally wound up in my box)
Note that this is only the original Megazone 23 OVA, you don’t get Megazone 23 Part II or Part III. I don’t review art books, I don’t own enough to be very a good judge, but I enjoyed the one that came with this toy. I suspect if you have a lot of Megazone artbooks that there won’t be a ton of new content here. However, if you don’t have previous Megazone art books, this one will give you a great breadth of art from the various mecha, to the characters, and some info on the people involved.

Army Color Version
Yamato went with more dynamic looking box art on the Army Color Version and I love it. Otherwise the box is the same. The contents are different; here’s what you get:
1) Pilot/rider figure (Shinji)
2) Anonymous test driver helmet
3) Yui standing figure
4) Stand for Yui (a clear piece of plastic that wraps around her feet)
5) Yui sitting figure
6) Gun (with extending barrel and removable magazine)
7) Instructions
8) Instructions specific to the Shinji and Yui figures
The Yui figure is obviously meant to go with the red Garland so it’s a nice “incentive” piece. What else would have been nice? A shield and laser sword maybe?

Factory Color Version
Fittingly, the art for the Factory Color Version looks like a showroom floor. There are nice reflections of a cloudy sky in the shimmery chrome. This toy comes with everything the Red Version Garland comes with as well as:
7) a Red Helmet for the Shogo figure
8) Stickers
9) A seocnd instruction page that discusses how to use the new helmet accessory and also different schemes you can choose for applying the stickers

Charm & Collectibility: (2.5/5)
Unfortunately this toy has some fairly substantial issues which make it a collector’s item for diehard Megazone fans only rather than the transforming robot community as a whole.   The initial regular (red) release was marred by durability issues. Japanese customers were largely able to get replacement rods (see durability section) for the initial round of broken parts but it obviously left a bad taste in the mouth. That said, it’s a perfect transformation toy, a heroic mecha, and does contain metal (a very small amount) so there was a chance that this was bound to be a hot collector’s item. With Arcadia deciding to take on the license and produce a modern Garland toy, it’s likely you’ll be able to find these old Yamato toys at affordable prices for years to come. The red Garland was given a metallic hue and a special bundle before Yamato moved on to the Army-color version which, understandably, had a smaller fan base to cater to.  A later ‘factory finish’ version also would have limited appeal for not having been a stand-out scheme in the anime.  A Proto-Garland was also released but it has significant enough changes where that toy will receive its own post. The full release schedule looked like this:
Red Garland, May 2006, 16,800Yen
Metallic Red Garland, March 2007, 29,800Yen
Army Color Garland, April 2007, 16,800Yen
Factory Finish Garland, November 2007, 16,800Yen
Proto Garland, January 2008, 17,800Yen (reviewed separately)

Sculpt, Detail, and Paint: (8.5/10)
People looking closely will find lots of concessions from the line art (which was hand drawn and definitely shows a lot of variation from one drawing to the next). Generally, the bike appeared more compact and the legs, in bike mode, appeared to be a little higher up and not as tall. Bot mode looks great though so I don’t really have bones to pick with the sculpt. My biggest gripe about this toy, particularly the red and army versions, is that there isn’t much detail so the toy feels and looks plain and “toy-like”. One really nice touch is the use of transparent plastics at the back of the vehicle and the blinker detail at the front which nicely simulate the rear of real motorcycles and cars. Shogo liked to go fast and the gauges reflect this. The Shogo figure’s face looks great but he’s bow-legged, has massive elbow joints, and big screw holes in the back.

The metallic version definitely spruces things up a bit. The red is deeper and screams out “bare plastic” a little less. What I really loved about the metallic version though were the accents that were painted that had been left bare on the original. Now the shoulders and hands are painted silver instead of being left a matte gray. Another highlight are the shins which looked a little bland as big deep brown pieces of plastic, here they appear much richer, enhancing the look of the bot from straight on.

The army color version is definitely not for everyone. The included Yui figures do look very nice and make a great addition for those of you who already have a red or metallic version. The military style helmet is appropriately menacing and definitely helps this toy stand apart. Do you remember what Shinji looked like? Maybe not, he’s in-and-out in the blink of an eye (he goes to America.. wink wink). Like Shogo, Yamato did a great job capturing his likeness.

I found the silver of the factory-color version went a long way in limiting how plastic the toy appeared so if you don’t mind owning a version that isn’t very iconic I’d recommend the factory paint-scheme. The factory version also retains the painted shoulders of the metallic version but now the hands are gray like the regular release. This was a really fun, if not canon, take on the Garland with some accents being treated a little differently like the red on the chest and the darker metallic finish on the forearms that matches the shins.

Design: (7/10)
There’s a lot of complications involved in this transformation but Yamato utilized magnets in such a way that they’re actually effective and not awkward. The wheels spin (with effort), parts collapse and expand, joints are well planned and positioned properly, and the rider looks appropriate for the bike. Speaking of the rider, Yamato also went the extra mile to allow the rider to stay in the vehicle even when it’s in bot mode. It’s pretty tricky to get the driver in his little compartment once transformation is complete.  Since the rider is completely concealed, I recommend you not waste your time and effort and just throw the rider figure back in the box when you’re posing the toy in robot mode.  The hands are improved over Yamato’s 1/48 VF-1 chicken hands but they still leave some room for improvement as they don’t do a good job holding the weapon. The gun features a nice extending barrel and removable magazine gimmick. An awesome trick would have been to solve the “where does the gun go in bike mode” question but Yamato didn’t go there. If the gun were smaller it looks like it might have fit between the arms in bike mode which would have been a really nice trick. Another nice trick would have been to include the pop out mirrors on either side of the cowl but they’re molded closed into the plastic. In some of the line art the cowl is shown opened forward with engine detail inside but there’s nothing like that here. Other line art shows the bot mode Garland having an integrated magazine dispenser that is also not present here (but it may have been concept art that never made it to the show). While it was great that Yamato tried to avoid pegs and slots, execution with the magnets comes up short.  Too often parts become free and it hinders the enjoyment of handling the toy.  I probably would have given this toy a higher score if the rider figure was articulated more like the figures that came with CMs’ 1/18 scale Ride Armor toys so we could have posed the figure ducking down and steering more.

Durability & Build: (3/10)  Regular release, (7/10) all subsequent releases
These Garland toys look great but handling them always seems to lead to a certain level of discomfort.  The use of magnets exacerbates the feeling that the toy is poorly built since parts detach from each other rather than staying firmly in place. The little vents on the front wheels/shoulders have a propensity for becoming disconnected (notice the vents in the picture above). It looks to be the common issue of a part being painted first and then glued and it was an issue common to all releases of the Garland.

The first issue of the Garland, the standard red one, has metal rods in the shoulders that have a great propensity for snapping. I had one break the moment I began trying to separate the wheels so I’m convinced it’s a casting issue. Yamato responded to this issue by releasing improved shoulders and offering them free of charge to consumers who had their shoulders break. I received an extra set of these shoulders for review purposes (pictured above) and here’s what I’ve noticed. First, the internal swinging mechanism of these shoulders moves more freely than the original so less pressure will need to be applied to the rod itself. Second, the ends of the rods are painted red on the originals but on the new ones there’s no paint whatsoever (pictured). Those changes seem pretty minimal so I still think something was done from a materials perspective. Later releases of these toys came out after Yamato had to issue a great number of replacement shoulders so presumably those toys aren’t as fragile.  Even on later releases everyone should be careful, the shoulders are complicated and integral to everything the toy does. The good news is that a snapped rod, while ruining the ‘perfect transformation gimmick’, may still leave the toy playable. In slave mode, you can use the base of the road as a peg into the side of the Garland and the magnet on top will keep the top in position.

Unfortunately, my first release red Garland had bad shoulders in more than one way. Where the arms connect to the shoulder crumbled on both sides. On a brand new (though 11 year old) toy, I had an arm fall off the first time I handled it. We’ve seen issues like that on other Yamato designs where a rubber washer is in place. Some have theorized that a chemical reaction is happening that causes the plastic to weaken and become brittle. My hypothesis is that these crumbling connections are the result of areas where the factory assembled the joints and then ‘plugged’ them into position (rather than assembling the joint over the connection) causing micro fractures in the plastic. Another possibility is that the factory over-tightened the joint housing OR Yamato cast the housing too small so the size of the peg is constantly exerting force.

The red, metallic, and factory versions all come with a Shogo figure that seems pretty fragile. Of the four Shogo figures I’ve owned, two were broken and, alarmingly, they’re broken at different points where the arm connects to the body. One was broken in what appeared to be a brand new, never opened toy. Shogo appears to be made mostly of painted PVC which often leads to the paint ‘gluing’ a part in place and then the plastic breaks before the paint does when pressure is applied to the joint. One one of the Shogos above you can see yellow paint transferred to the black body area so I would suspect that was the issue. Whatever the cause, extreme caution is urged when handling Shogo. While Yamato did make it so you can put Shogo in the Garland in Slave mode, which is a very cool feature, I would use this gimmick very sparingly and simply remove Shogo for transformation since he’s only visible if you open the panel.

On any Garland, use caution when going back to bike mode. Make sure you swing that panel in front of the head open because the glue might be getting weak and the pieces on either side that hold the pegs connecting the back and front of the bike might pop off. It appears to be another case where parts are painted and then glued together which may explain why this is possible. Fortunately, a quick dab of glue to replace the cracked glue should resolve everything promptly.

The factory Garland adds a new helmet for the Shogo figure that can be broken during installation. Take care not to press down on the visor as you press the front of the helmet to the back of the helmet on top of Shogo’s head. The Visor is not secured by the front or bottom of the helmet and is made of brittle plastic.

Articulation: (8/10) Wow is this toy a lot of fun to pose.. until the shoulders get loose. Yamato had durability problems but they still did a bang-up job in allowing their toys to pose dynamically. There’s not a whole lot that can be done in bike mode but once in robot mode this thing puts many other toys to shame. The legs feature a swivel below the hip, the feet extend and angle, the shoulders and neck allow for a pretty extreme range of motion, and overall there’s just a ton that can be done. It’s still a long way off from perfect but it’s certainly excellent.  The only real negative here is the lack of the double-joint elbows and knees that newer toys feature that would allow the hands to come up to the shoulders with the elbows down.  So why only an 8 for such an amazing to pose toy?  The pilot figure is LAME and if Ride Armor toys have taught me anything it’s that the pilot figures themselves should be fun to handle. The pilots do have ankles, knees, a waist joint (allowing a bit of a forward lean), shoulders, elbows, and a ball-jointed head. Really, it’s just that the legs/hips are stuck in a sitting position (and the mold/shape reinforces this). The Yui figures have shoulder joints and a ball-jointed head which isn’t terrible considering she’s a bonus item but the fact the standing figure needs a doll stand to stand is unfortuante.

Total Score: (32.5/50) Regular (red) release (36.5/50) All later releases
Ignoring the atrocious shoulder issues of the first release, this toy was still impressive. I absolutely do not recommend purchasing the regular red release.  The factory and army versions are much better.  If you’re a fan of the Proto Garland, that will be reviewed separately.  If you’re just a casual transforming robot fan and for some reason the bike from MegaZone has struck your fancy, then try to find a factory, metallic, or army-version.  There’s currently a resurgence of Megazone products planned to be released in 2018 so if you’re just shopping for a Garland now, you should wait or check out pre-order listings.

Original post: May 15, 2007.
Updated September 5, 2011, resolution of photos was increased, content was updated, scope was increased to include Army-color and Factory-color variants.
Updated March 25, 2018, nearly all photos were replaced with 4K resolution photos. Content relating to the metallic and army versions was added. Content relating to all of the various durability issues that have come to light was added. 4K transformation guides were added.
Updated April 1, 2018, added 4K video review of the original red Garland release.
Updated April 29, 2018, added 4K review of the Metallic limited edition Garland release
Updated May 26, 2018, added 4K review of the Army Color release
Updated July 29, 2018, added 4K review of the Factory Color release

One Reply to “Yamato 1/15 Garland Toys”

  1. Very thorough and helpful! It’s such a shame the Yamato high end stuff consistently has glaring issues.

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