The leader of the Godaikin Forces with the secret power to transform
into 11 distinct robots, animals or vehicles!

DancougarOne of the final designs in the original Chogokin range, Dancougar was released in Japan in 1985, and appeared in the West in 1986.

Bandai designed the toy to tie in with the anime Dancougar - Super Beast Machine God , by Ashi Productions (later to collaborate with the manufacturer again to produce Machine Robo - Revenge of Cronos; thanks for that, guys...). It would seem the anime did alright, spawning several OVA series up to 1989, and then a remake in 2007 called Dancougar Nova.

The figures seem to have fared less well. Two were released for Chogokin - GC-30 was the DX version, which could separate into four smaller robots. Three of these had both vehicle and beast modes, while the smallest had a single mode that was a cross between a jet and a bird, presumably as a compromise. GC-31 was the ST version, and only two units could separate from the combined robot, and these were fixed in tank mode. The figure didn't really capture the look of the anime character, being much less complicated to look at, and it would seem it wasn't a great seller. So once again Bandai shipped the unsold units out to the West. However, Bandai America had cottoned on by now, and only limited amounts of Dancougar figures were released in the US. These were sold under the slightly modified banner of Godaikin Forces in 1986 - as far as I can tell, only the two Dancougar figures, Goggle Caesar and Daileon were sold under this name, although there may have been some older releases in updated packaging.

The year before Bandai had been forced to ship large numbers of Godaikin figures over to Europe, were they were hurriedly stickered for Bandai Europe's Robo Machine line (generally a European version of Machine Robo/Gobots, but occasionally used as a catchall for other robot toys). This time a number of DX Dancougar figures were shipped to Europe straight off and even given proper Robo Machine packaging. Also for Robo Machine Big Moth, under the name Mammoth, was released individually. Due to the continued popularity of the anime franchise in Japan, in 2003 Dancougar was selected for a remake in Bandai's premium Soul of Chogokin line. The GX-13 version followed the on-screen look of the character very closely.


DANCOUGAR

Combining Dancougar in theory is simple - Eagle Robot folds up to form the head, Mammoth Robot's head folds down so Dancougar's can be place on his neck, and the tank modes of Cougar Robot and Liger Robot click onto the bottom to form the feet. However, the connections themselves are quite fiddly. Leftover kibble from the mammoth mode has to be folded over the shoulders after the head has been attached, while the posts on the feet have to be inserted with the tanks angled at 45°, otherwise they don't stay in correctly. The original instructions are basically useless, failing to point this out - Bandai at least realised this and added a correction sheet to the sets.

Dancougar stands at a little over 9", and isn't particularly impressive to look at. Despite most of the colours gelling nicely (aside from, again, the yellow parts on Liger Robot, which mess up the symmetry too much), the design just lacks impact. The robot is basically a Super Mammoth Robot, with a different head (that's more in proportion to the body) and different feet (which are clown-sized). There are a couple of further tweaks, like the slightly pointless pop-out white sections (which I forgot to put in place for the pictures) which make a small area of his chest a little deeper, but that's the basic gist.

There are all sorts of minor problems which just add up - the head (at least on my example, which seems in terrific condition) doesn't really stay together, and has a gap between the chin and the top of the torso where there should be a neck; it doesn't take a lot for the whole unit to pop off either, a disappointment compared to neat jobs on the likes of Dynaman or Voltron. The overall impression is of a clumsy robot rather than the usual slick designs. There is some passable articulation - the shoulders rotate, the elbows rotate and hinge and the hips can move, though moving the ankles to make use of the latter causes the feet to pop out. There's not a lot to do with Dancougar either - one dull plastic gun, and not even a Rocket Punch.

Godaikin Dancougar DX
Godaikin Dancougar DX
Godaikin Dancougar DX

EAGLE ROBOT

The smallest of the figures, Eagle Robot (Eagle Fighter in Japan) only has one alternate mode. Actually to be fair that's not true - as well as forming a stylised jet and a robot, the figure forms Dancougar's head, and is the only component that has massive changes when combined. The jet mode has a 4.5" wingspan and is just over 3" long. The styling is a nice cross between a bird and a jet, thanks to the beak-like nose, the wings and the claw-like parts under the fuselage. In fact, with a little imagination you can tweak it slightly to be a little more bird like, lowering the nose, flipping down the robot-mode legs and fold away the undercarriage - it's not much different, but it's a good demonstration of the figure's flexibility, and gives him a third mode like everyone else.

The transformation is quite simple - he looks more complicated, but most of the complex stuff is for the Dancougar formation. The robot is only 3.3" tall, and looks a little daft with the wings still there, wider than he is tall. Due to the joints you can fold these onto his back, but then that looks even worse. However Eagle Robot has passable articulation for such a small figure, with joints at the shoulder, hip and knee, and the lightness of the design (despite a few diecast parts) means a poseable little robot, even if he isn't much to look at.

Godaikin Dancougar DX
Godaikin Dancougar DX
Godaikin Dancougar DX

MAMMOTH ROBOT

Mammoth Robot (Japanese name Big Moth) is by far the largest of the component figures. He has two alternate modes - a mammoth, and a battle tank. The mammoth is something a bit different - it's nice when designers think outside of the box. However, Mammoth Robot is clumsy and unconvincing. That weirdly flat underside makes the proportions look all wrong, and the head is set too far back anyway. It's a shame, as some work has gone into the trunk, tusks and ears, with much of the design geared towards incorporating the mammoth head the segment is actually so de-emphasised in this mode. The legs do move, though not with enough range to allow many poses, and it's a bit of a mess in all.

Mammoth Robot's tank form is basically the mammoth squatted down with some of the more obviously elephantine features folded away. To be fair, the way the legs lock together to form the tracks is very neatly done, but it's an unconvincing vehicle. The big chrome gun looks impressive, but doesn't turn, and there's really not much to do with this mode at all. From a distance the design looks good, like something out of World War I , but when you get closer it lacks coherence, and looks dreadful from anything other than side-on.

His 8" tall robot mode is similarly blocky. Like the 'feet' parts Cougar Robot and Liger Robot, Mammoth Robot has a distinctly simian aspect - a square chest with chunky limbs, the arms being roughly the same length as the legs. Add onto that a comparatively small head and feet, and you're left with a weird, awkward robot. The articulation isn't bad, with movement at the shoulders, elbows and hips - the knees are jointed, but bend the wrong way. The colours aren't bad, the balance between the grey-green, white and yellow/red details being well done. However, Mammoth Robot is on the whole a very mediocre figure - all three configurations have serious flaws despite a few nice ideas, and none of them are particularly fun.

Godaikin Dancougar DX
Godaikin Dancougar DX
Godaikin Dancougar DX

COUGAR ROBOT

Cougar Robot and Liger Robot follow the same basic pattern, both forming Dancougar's feet. Like Mammoth Robot each has an animal mode and a tank mode. Cougar Robot's beast mode is obviously a cougar. It's actually an impressive piece of work, a nice mix of big cat and robot. The all-black scheme looks sharp and the thing has a taunt, dangerous feel to it. The mode also has decent articulation in the legs and neck, allowing for some good poses. On paper, Cougar Robot's tank mode follows the same pattern as Mammoth Robot - it's the animal mode with the legs flattened. However, the mechanics and colour scheme, not to mention the shape of the cougar, are much more suited to this arrangement. The whole thing is rather effective and the little gun turret on the back is a great feature.

The robot mode is once again a little squat, though the proportions aren't bad - the catlike hindquarters are in evidence, but it's not much of a problem - together with the chromed claws it lends him a bestial look. The head cast is good, and the black/silver colour scheme is a beautiful look. The toy is very solidly made, and has excellent articulation - at the shoulders, elbows (in four directions), wrists, hips, knees and ankles - not bad for a 5.5" figure really. One complaint would be that the hands are tiny but overall Cougar Robot is great - not good enough to justify getting on his own, but probably the most effective of the individual Dancougar robots.

Godaikin Dancougar DX
Godaikin Dancougar DX
Godaikin Dancougar DX

LIGER ROBOT

Liger Robot is much the same again. However, Bandai have made a few changes to the actual mould as well as the colours. Sadly most of them are not for the better. The Liger mode is where the rot starts. The colours just don't mesh well - the seemingly random decision to add some yellow (unseen on the rest of the set apart from on Mammoth Robot's beast ears) is a bad one - it looks tacky and too bright compared with the other figure and in fact strongly reminds me of the 1988 Transformers figure Catilla. It just looks really cheap. Until I had a nose around I had no idea what a Liger looked like, either - a quick nose on Wikipedia does however reveal that the don't have Pharaoh head-dresses. To be fair the mode does again have decent articulation, even if the yellow parts hurt the look.

They hurt the tank a lot more - the feet especially break up the lines of the vehicle mode, making the toy's other configuration painfully obvious. The mane of the Liger forms a weird scoop-like device on the front. Even the turret's not quite as fun. However, he does get a good notice for the little corner guns that can turn through 90° - a sweet little extra compared to Cougar Robot. Liger's robot mode is probably his best - the yellow looks a bit better laid out here, and it's the only mode that makes halfway good use of the mane/scoop as it gives him a different profile to Cougar Robot. Articulation is again excellent, with fully jointed arms and legs. The head is a bit of a worry, though - Liger Robot can't actually see over his own chest if looking straight ahead, which is probably a bit of a problem for the chap. The design is generally competent but the colours and weird yellow front part scupper the mechanics.

Godaikin Dancougar DX
Godaikin Dancougar DX
Godaikin Dancougar DX

SUMMARY

The problem is that in contrast to other Godaikin the combined robot mode has been compromised in the design process. Whereas most of the previous figures in the range concentrated on a dynamite robot mode and then got whatever features they could out of it, in this case a lot of emphasis has been put on the individuals as well, leading to a figure that doesn't work as well in combined mode or as units. Sure for 1985 making a robot out of four transforming figures (three of which have two alternate modes) and getting it to halfway work is a respectable feat, but then something less complicated might well have had a better look. Dancougar is complex and ambitious, but ultimately a failure.