Dating from the initial year of the line in 1975, the Chogokin Raideen figure was the first in the range to be designated DX (i.e. Deluxe) by Popy.
At 6" tall, the toy is more of a size associated with the ST Chogokin figures. However, the toy was designated DX due to its' transforming feature - at the time, this was unique for a toy, and was enough to justify the DX title. DX Chogokin would generally grow in size over the years until the 10-12" size was the norm.
The character was the star of TV Asahi Anime series Brave Raideen , which was apparently the first Super Robot show to give the robot hero mystical origins - Raideen comes from the lost continent of Mu . I haven't seen the show, but I doubt he's justified and ancient, or travels the land in an ice cream van. It's much more likely it's exactly the same as every other Super Robot Anime ever.
No ST version of Raideen was released - presumably, as with other small DX figures like Daitetsujin 17, this was because an ST version would just be a static version around the same size, and thus pretty pointless. There was a two foot polythene Jumbo Machinder made, though. Also, another innovation introduced by Popy for Raideen was the idea of a collector-orientated 'black recolour'. This has gone on to be something of a recurring theme in the past three decades from a number of manufacturers. Erm, thanks, Popy.
A few years after the original Japanese release, Mattel licensed a seemingly random selection of figures from Popy, and released them as the Shogun Warriors series. Among those chosen were the DX and Jumbo Machinder Raideen figures, with the name changed slightly to Raydeen. The former was sold in the line's Two-in-One range, and as such was among the first transforming toys sold in America. The character also took centre stage in Marvels' tie-in Shogun Warriors comic, albeit as a lifeless automaton piloted by one Richard Carson.
More recently, a slightly smaller version of Raideen was made at 4.5" tall for Bandai's The Chogokin line, closely following the original figure, while in April 2008 the character was issued in the Soul of Chogokin premium series.
Raideen's alternate mode is, as you might expect, fairly simple. Realistic or even coherent vehicles were rarely the object of the exercise, and it's hardly surprising that the first example would be simplistic.
However, it's nicely made on the whole, and the front half does look a lot like a mechanical bird of prey, thanks to the curved nose/beak, the carefully placed eye stickers and the ridged plastic covers for the arms. These don't sit particularly well, it has to be said. Not sure if this is some defect with my example, or a wear issue, but the white sections don't seem to cover the body well without getting in the way of the rear end, while the red parts don't seem to overlap with them properly.
The back end is just troubled - despite Popy sculpting the legs in a very cylindrical shape, and the curved tail fins, and the booster detailing on the base of the feet, it's the two thighs that make it pretty obvious that the legs have just been worked around.
As you can no doubt tell from the pictures, transforming Raideen to robot mode is very simple - fold the rear wheels out of the way straighten out the legs, turn the red plastic cowling through 90° to form the shoulder pads, slide the cockpit halves outward to reveal the face, and fold the white cowling onto his back to free the arms.
The resulting robot isn't particularly imposing, even for a 6" figure. Raideen has the rounded look that many Popy figures of the mid- to late-1970s had, and doesn't appeal to me as much as boxier later designs. However, it's hard to find a lot actually wrong with the toy.
The colour scheme is just right - colourful without being too bright and garish, while the quality is superb. The legs, torso and back of the head are all good, solid diecast, and Raideen has a considerable heft for such a small figure. He even has passable articulation - the arms move at the shoulder, while the hips and knees are jointed. The circular feet and thin 'toes' mean his balance isn't the best, but you can still get a couple of nice poses out of him. As well as this he has the usual Rocket Punch fists, plus a couple of soft plastic slip-on weapons - these actually look a little tacky with their big clips, and the bow especially doesn't come off. However, bows are always difficult to do for this sort of thing (and it does work as a double-bladed knife), and I can't think of any better ways to do the God Block shield/blade thing.
is frankly primitive as a transforming robot, if not unexpectedly so.
The humanoid body and folding covers aren't really to my taste, but he
does have a little style, and is generally well made. Raideen was a big
hit for Popy, and a wide number were also made for Mattel. Combined with
it generally being very sturdy, this means examples are fairly easy to
find. This considered, he's an interesting curio most robot fans should
sample at times, even if it's just for the history of the thing.