Three unique robots that can be changed into three super-sonic jets,
or combined to form a super spacecraft.
Abega was released in the third series of Godaikin in late 1984. Whereas most Godaikin figures were primarily robots which had additional features such as transformation or separation, Abega was a spaceship primarily. Albeit one that could separate into three smaller ships which could in turn be transformed into robots.
The original figure was one of the first designs undertaken by Bandai after they reabsorbed Popy, and was originally released as part of the Popinica series - a long-running Popy line concentrating on licensed vehicles from popular TV series. Named New Super Abega, the toy was modelled on a vehicle from the anime Lightspeed ElectroGod Albegas where it was used to transfer the three human protagonists to the Albegas robot (though this feature wasn't carried across to the toys due to Albegas not being around five foot tall).
As a brief detour, it's worth noting at this point that Lightspeed ElectroGod Albegas was originally mooted as the third instalment in the Voltron franchise, but the financial disaster of Vehicle Voltron put an end to this, with World Events Productions stumping up the cash to fund brand-new episodes of Lion Voltron instead. The two different-sized Albegas robot figures were released by Matchbox as Voltron II (a.k.a. Gladiator Voltron), but the Abega ship wasn't released as part of Voltron. However, in another tenuous connection to something I like, unsold Godaikin stock of Abega (among others) was shipped over to Europe and had Robo Machine stickers slapped on the box. The three individual units were named as Alpha, Beta and Gamma for the Godaikin release.
The overall design for Abega is superb. The minimalist white-with-red stripe scheme is just the aspirational 1980s distilled in toy form - this is the sort of thing playground yuppies owned. The three distinct vehicles actually blend very well, with the lines all matching up nicely - Gamma's nose follows on well from Alpha's cockpit, while the top of Beta dovetails beautifully with the Gamma fuselage. Even the red stripes match up nicely. Combining the three units is a straightforward and intuitive process, though it should be noted that removing Gamma (yep, him again) for separation requires a little more force than feels comfortable. Still, on the upside the ship hangs together really well, and can move around a lot without the slightest fear of any bits detaching.
It's a great futuristic design, while the combining aspect brings back happy memories of the vehicles in Thunderbirds 2086 - this is a Good Thing. There's not a huge amount else to do with the ship to be honest, apart from gazing lovingly at the retro style. Abega has no firing features or anything like that and the closest thing to an action part is the retracting nose-wheel. However, the combined ship is a lovely display piece.
Abega set is notoriously fragile, and as experts will notice my example
of Alpha is missing the folding outer wings. This does cost it a little
bit even individually as it's a common breakage. However, it's still
a nice-looking little jet with a very nice design. There's only a small
amount of metal on the toy - just the outer rear panels that would be
holding the wings, the robot forearms and the landing gear made from
diecast. Aside from the white plastic being an invitation to yellowing
and the fragile wings, Alpha actually holds together quite well - a
tip for if the robot arms are working lose is to rotate the plastic
claws slightly, which will keep them in place in jet mode without permanently
I like this set so I'm going to assume this is the odd one out, a land-based vehicle among the jets. I'm not going to watch any of Albegas to check or anything though as I'm fairly sure it's an awful show. Beta's vehicle mode is a charmingly square armoured car then - a neat cockpit mounted on a pair of diecast tracks (complete with working plastic rollers embedded in the underside).
The big cockpit dominates more than on the others and it's nicely detailed inside, including a seat for a pilot and a gun turret. Bandai missed a trick by not making these open - little pilot figures and a moving turret would be great. Maybe Soul of Chogokin can get around to this after the 48th Mazinger Z offering? If the vehicle mode is sweet the robot mode scales new heights of cuteness, an odd little C-shaped thing with big rolling feet and the cockpit as a head. There's also some very good articulation squeezed into the robot mode - at the shoulders, elbows, hips and ankles. All in all, Beta is neat - not enough to justify as a toy in its' own right, but as a component of a larger set it's very nice.
the construction of Abega, Gamma is the unit which has to make the fewest
compromises - as long as the jet has a flat bottom, it'll work. It's
therefore something of a disappointment that it's the weakest of the
trio. The fuselage has a very odd shape, with the thin cockpit and high
central section looking unusual mounted on the flat, wide wing. The
nearly-straight wings look somewhat incongruous on such a futuristic
design as well. There's lots of nice detail work (especially the chromed
VTOL engines) and some neat accents, but it just doesn't look particularly
good. That and the diecast inner wing panels tend to cause the wings
to sag at the root as well.
Abega isn't a particularly renowned figure due to not being attached to a popular series, and Popinica doesn't have the following of Chogokin. However, don't let the low-key reputation fool you - this is a well-designed toy with some nice features and sums up Bandai's 1980s design aesthetic beautifully. Abega can be found quite cheaply for a Godaikin figure, especially loose. However, as mentioned the set is pretty fragile, with wings and legs frequently detached from odd figures and connections broken. On the plus side the robots function pretty well on their own - each having two modes - and so Abega's not frustrating to buy piecemeal.