A superior robot that's formed when two smaller figures are stored within his mighty form.

Gardian artworkGardian was the fourth figure from the first series of Godaikin figures, released during 1982. The toy was a homage to Russian matryoshka dolls, being a nested series of robots that could either be used individually or held in one unit.

The toy actually dated from 1979, being merchandised from the successful Anime series Gordian Warrior . Popy released two versions in their Chogokin range. The ST version was the usual ~6" tall, while the DX version was ~10" tall. Both sets were allocated three serial numbers (GB-06/07/08 for the ST version; GB-09/10/11 for the DX version) - the figures were only sold in sets featuring all three codes on the box, however. The largest robot was named Garbin, the middle one Delinger and the smallest Protteser. As best as I can work out the ST version omits the tiny figure of the pilot (Daigo, plus the similar model of his pet bionic leopard Clint) and the sizes roughly match up so that ST Garbin is the same size as DX Delinger, ST Delinger is the same size as DX Protteser, and ST Protteser is about the same size as Daigo.

The DX version was released in the Godaikin line renamed as Gardian (though this is also often given as an alternate spelling for the anime series). In 1987, the DX toy would get a second lease of life when it was retooled by Bandai as the Machine Robo figure Baikanfu. The redesign was quite significant, with most of the external details on all three figures being changed - generally being made a little more boxy all round. Protteser became Rom Stol and was made 'solid', no longer opening up for the rubber pilot figurine. Delinger became Kenryu while Garbin became Baikanfu himself - in the Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos anime, the two larger forms are 'upgrades' for Rom rather than independent units that can merge. Oddly, it was Baikanfu, not Gardian, who received an upgrade in 2007 for Bandai's prestige Soul of Chogokin line. The GX-39 version of Baikunfu followed TV Ashii's stylisation and also included a figurine of Rom's frankly useless sister Leina, but still retained the basic nesting system introduced on Gardian. The original character was eventually updated for CMs' Brave Gohkin line, though sadly the toy cost about the same as the Apollo programme.

I picked up a semi-complete version of the Godaikin release on ebay - as with Golion largely for a relatively cheap super robot fix. My version has breakages on Protteser (missing both forearms) and Garbin (head snapped off, but easily repaired), and is missing a few parts (the right fist, the Shine Shield and Protteser's weapons, plus the missiles).


GARDIAN

Looks-wise Gardian isn't entirely to my tastes. The sleek, humanoid shape is possibly more realistic for a robot but lacks the boxy style of the better Chogokin. The metallic blue/white scheme also isn't particularly eye-catching sadly - I do think Bandai made a good call effectively switching Garbin and Delinger's colour schemes for Baikanfu, while the blockier retooling also look more appealing (in pictures, anyway).

The beauty of the engineering can't be faulted, however. The nesting mechanism is just gob-smackingly well done with the heads all lining up neatly (you can imagine Daigo peering through three visors), while the way the arms retain decent articulation through the incredibly well thought-out way the joints of all three robots line up. However, the fragile nature of Garbin undermines much of this - I don't trust the head, I don't trust the arm joints, and I really don't trust the knees. Forming the full thing is almost an ordeal, and I can't actually display him - I'm too worried he's just going to topple and shatter, and I can usually only leave him standing for a few minutes before pre-emptively panicking and putting him back in his box. It's a great shame as the central idea is fascinating - the solution would have been a total bulking up of the Garbin module - the knees should have a little clip to secure them (omitted in order to accommodate some rather silly shin-mounted missile launchers, by the looks of it), making the whole unit out of diecast would have made it sturdier and utilising thicker joints on the arms would have made moving them less stressful. Sure, it would have been prohibitively expensive, but it would have worked a bit better.

Godaikin Gardian
Godaikin Gardian
Godaikin Gardian

PROTTESER

The three individual robots all have similar basic attributes. The 3.5" tall Protteser is no exception. The humanoid-style robot has a head that hinges back with the chest hinging up and the plastic thighs opening up, allowing the tiny rubber figurine of Daigo to nestle inside. The 1.5" figurine can't stand by itself, and has comically long arms so as to fit securely into Protteser but it's a nice little extra to have wrapped away in there. I do love the impressive set of dials and keys printed inside Protteser as well - it's a nice case of something Popy really could have not bothered with, but they have and it adds that extra bit of quality.

The plastic thigh covers work entirely down to malleable thin plastic hinges, and are thus a little suspect but otherwise the engineering is sound. There is some articulation with the shoulders moving in two directions - I think the elbows move as well, but obviously mine's down a pair of forearms. Oddly the knees also hinge, and I'm not 100% sure. I've seen the whole Gardian figure laid on its' back, knees bent, to show off the nesting mechanism, but I don't think it worked that way in the anime. It's not a problem on Protteser but it is an odd feature (albeit one I've taken advantage of for some of the pictures).

Godaikin Gardian
Godaikin Gardian

DELINGER

Delinger is basically Protteser scaled up to 7" tall. For me, this is the optimum size for the basic design - maybe not from the visual point of view but certainly for the engineering to hold up. The head, chest, thighs and arms all open up in a similar fashion, albeit with some extra moving parts - the chromed elbow rings hinge up to allow Protteser's arms to easily fit in (not a problem with mine, obviously) while the larger size means Popy can install a pair of Rocket Punch fist missiles.

The design is still very sturdy, with the larger size meaning even the thigh covers seem that bit easier to trust. The scarlet and white colours also work well and there's a nice pair of weapons for Delinger to wield - the Red Light Sword and the fantastically named Magnum Hatchet. He's also got the same unusual knee joints - again I can only guess this, together with the flat section on the back, is to allow display of the mechanism. Which to be fair does look rather good.

Godaikin Gardian
Godaikin Gardian

GARBIN

So Garbin is the same basic robot scaled up to a massive 12". Looking at him reminds me of that bit in The Ultimates where The Wasp comments about the human skeleton only being able to grow to a certain height while still supporting the weight of the body. I have no idea whether there's any basis in science for that - it's probably something to do with density. However it certainly applies to Garbin. While the giant hollow robot can support its' own weight, it really is frighteningly thin and fragile-feeling. The head is insanely brittle having to be spacious enough to house that of Delinger too - this was broken on my example. After twice gluing it on to the (thankfully intact) joint, I realised the problem - the head has to be clicked into position, which results in a fair amount of pressure being placed on a very thin brittle neck joint. So I basically removed the black notch that locked it into place, as the 'thorax' piece balances the head in the correct position.

While Delinger just about displays nicely without Protteser at this enlarged size the hollow arms look awful. And I'm not sure if it's just mine, but the possibly useless knee-joints seem especially loose. I basically handle him like he's an unexploded bomb. I'm not sure what the correct ordering is, but Garbin gets the White Light Sword from me, due to Gardian using the Laser Screw on the front of the box - obviously though Garbin can hold anything Gardian can.

Godaikin Gardian
Godaikin Gardian

SUMMARY

I don't regret buying Gardian per se - it was worth finding out about the figure's defects without one day going mad and spending four times as much on one. While I'd be interested to see if I ended up with a flawed one - looking at the neck joint it seems to be something that would break very easily anyway, and the knees really do seem badly designed. I'd recommend the Taiwanese bootleg for anyone interested, assuming the quality is comparable with the God Marz knockoff that seems to share the same manufacturer. I am very interested in finding the Chogokin ST version too, as I feel tailored to the smaller size half of the problems wouldn't arise. Sadly due to the lack of Western release, this tends to cost a fortune.