This marvel of modern machinery is a laser framed robot,
a 12-unit robot or a flying command ship!
One of the later Bandai Chogokin designs, Laserion was released in America at the start of the third series of Godaikin figures. Both the ST and DX versions were part of the line (most of the toys released in the range by this time followed this pattern) - the review covers the latter.
I've owned the Laserion ST figure for a little while now, and quite like the thing for what it is - a beautifully-made non-transforming small figure. The star of Video Warrior Laserion was also made in DX size in the Chogokin series, now under the guidance of Bandai rather than Popy. A second version included an extra suit of armour for the figure. Laserion tanked in Japan as the Super Robots craze faded in favour of Real Robots (not actual real robots, but the concept of robots built by human technology for military or industrial purposes - e.g. Gundam or Macross - rather than the one-of-kind Super Robots that often had a mystical or alien origin) and so large numbers of the figures were shipped over to America and sold as part of the Godaikin range. Laserion and Vavilos were the last figures in the American range to be released in large numbers - after vast quantities of both were remaindered the line was rebranded as Godaikin Forces and shipped only in small numbers.
The DX Laserion is still quite hard to find. It had a unique construction whereby internal sections could be pushed out of the figure. These parts could then form a smaller robot or spaceship, leaving a very flexible exoskeleton. However, the latter is very fragile and the former is made up of a wide number of components so complete and unbroken ones can be tricky to find. Sceptical of the design, I went for a £4 version missing many of the accessories, including the little pilot capsule, one of the Warp Robo wings, the sword and missile launcher, the knee-mounted lasers, the forearm and thigh components for the smaller robot and all the little connectors for the component robot. I'll be bearing this in mind for the review, and the pictures for the component robot use a bit of sleight of hand and a bit of Blu-Tack. That and the names 'Exoskeleton' and 'Component Robot' were made up by me.
Measuring in at 10.5" the figure is certainly imposing. Assembling the components and the skeleton is straightforward - the neat concertina parts allow them to be slotted out easily, but also held in position firmly when required. Indeed,the whole thing is surprisingly sturdy considering its' make-up - the arms on mine are a bit of a pain, but this is entirely because I don't have the internal components - it's difficult to keep them rigid when this is the case. There's not a lot of diecast - only the upper arms, knees and the flat base of the torso are metal - but this doesn't really hurt the figure.
The design is fantastic - very much of its' time, with lots of straight edges and flashes of colour and very arresting visually. The figure is also absolutely peppered with detail from the heavily ridged chest to the large number of panels, drums and boxes moulded onto the legs. The scaffolding-like limbs are also a nice change, giving Laserion a semi-realistic robotic look without costing any style. There's not a huge amount else to do with him - at least, not without his weapons. However, for a DX the articulation is superb - not quite on the level of the ST version (which was seemingly engineered with an eye on articulation, seeing as it's the toy's only real feature), but still very good - the arms can move at the shoulder or the elbow, while the fixed fists can rotate (and even have a moving thumb and fingers), while the knees and feet bend. The lack of hip movement hurts the latter a bit, but there's still a few poses for the guy.
I'd always had trouble getting what exactly the DX Laserion does. Now I have it I know what it does but now I'm not especially sure why it does it. The exoskeleton is a marvellous piece of engineering, with two collapsible sections on each limb, one on each foot, plus the head and the chest have similar mechanisms. It can compact down from 10.5" high down to just 4". It's a fun little process, but I'm not exactly sure why Laserion would do this, except for maybe storage.
The device does have an incredible mount of flexibility due to its' design but it also looks very weird - the empty hexagonal 'head' is actually slightly spooky. Still, it's something a bit different and is fascinating in an executive office toy sort of way.
The plastic parts that fit in the exoskeleton can be cobbled together to form a simple figure. They can be formed into either a spaceship or a robot. Both unsurprisingly are just a collection of blocks. The spaceship is one of those Chogokin designs where it's just something else to do for the robot - even though mine's missing parts (the Warp Robo bit at the front would be properly mounted on the robot thighs and the pilot capsule on a complete one) it's easy to tell the thing wouldn't be any great shakes.
The robot is slightly better, though the combination of a very boxy shape rendered out of hollow plastic parts and the uninspiring expanse of grey make for a very ugly figure. The thing isn't quite wider than it is tall but it's a close call, and the weird shape lends the impression regardless. It's a novel way of keeping all the internal parts together I suppose, but there's not much to do with it (it doesn't even conventionally transform - instead parts are just removed and swapped over) and it looks terrible in either 'mode'. In short, it's not one of the most successful Godaikin ideas.
is a really interesting figure. A very odd figure, but interesting with
it. The mechanics are like nothing else and the engineering imagination
of the compacting exoskeleton has to be lauded. However, the component
robot is useless and there just isn't a huge amount to do with Laserion
himself. He makes an imposing and impressive display piece, but I'm
glad I opted to go with the cheaper route rather than tracking down
a complete one which would still have many faults. To be honest, the
ST version handles most of the plus sides without being overcomplicated.