Aoshima Dogg MackThe Japanese toy market has never really gone in for villains. In relation to most animes, one reason is that they tend to be less long-lived than their heroic opponents - for example, Gold Lightan would be a constant for 50 episodes, but whatever villainous mecha he was up against would have its' mechanical heart torn out and stomped on within an installment or so. The exceptions are rare, being either really big enduring names (such as Black Ox from Tetsujin 28), anti-heroes with a following (Char or other Zeon units from Gundam - however, even most of these have come from more modern, fan-orientated lines, with the early toylines focusing on the good guys' mechs), or things like the Destrons from Transformers (who tended to have recurring roles in the series rather than villain-of-the-week status, something foisted on them by the Western origin of the media - and the numbers tailed to a trickle a couple of years before the line was cancelled anyway).

However, plastic injection-moulded model kits were a much cheaper medium for this sort of thing. Their use as a tie-in had been around for years, usually just being a simple way of drumming up a little more sponsorship cash for animation studios. The medium came to the fore with Gundam in 1979, Bandai's model kit series appealing to the more mature fans of the anime who liked the idea of putting together a show-accurate squad of Zakus or GMs. Since then, model kit lines have been successful for many Real Robot series. For Super Robots, not so much. Ideon's always managed to fall somewhere between the two, and fittingly had a moderately successful model kit line.

Now, here's where I'm really signposting my ignorance. There were a number of Ideon model kits made around the time of the series by a company named Aoshima (better known for their kits of contemporary cars). A load of kits were also released in 2004, including this Dogg Mack - I'm not sure if these were all reissues, all new toolings or a mixture of both. I decided the weird Buff Clan mecha were interesting enough to warrant a purchase, seeing as Soul of Chogokin seems determined to avoid design classics like the Giran Dou and the Rogg Mack. I plumped for a Dogg Mack because it's a) cheap and b) seemed less complicated than some of the later types. I haven't made a plastic model for years, and I was shit at it then. I'm still a bit shit now.

Aoshima Dogg MackThe Dogg Mack only actually made it properly into a couple of episodes, where it revealed itself to be not much cop (though it actually escaped destruction at the hands of the Ideon, instead getting pecked to death by sentient robotic birds... it's that sort of show early on). It's a fairly basic tripod design (whoever designed the Buff Clan mechs had a bit of a thing for tripods...) with three spindly legs and a round body/cockpit.

Aoshima Dogg MackThe kit was surprisingly tricky to make, though this was probably my inexperience - model aircraft tend to have spinning propellors and maybe a moving turret or two, but this one has four moving joints on each leg and moving mandibles. As a bonus, you can also not glue the 'eye' segment in place, and thus recreate the mecha's escape pod. For painting I went with a darker scheme than shown in the show, simply because I thought it'd look a bit better.

Two configurations are possible at the construction stage - either legs extended, or crouching. I went for the former (I chose the former; the latter is shown on the front of the box, and seemed less flexible unless you're intent on recreating "Duel in the Sandstorm"). The Dogg Mack is pretty difficult to stand due to the three thin legs and all the joints - I came very close to gluing them in place just for stability.

Aoshima Dogg MackThe legs can be posed pointing backwards for the figure (as seen in flight, the rocket underneath also moving to a horizontal position), while the arms can rotate and the claw can spin and open/close. Sadly, the claw arm has a tendency to droop - in retrospect I probably should have put some nail varnish over the connection to make it a little thicker.

The level of moulded detail is high, but there are well details to paint on (only really the red 'eye') and the model looks pretty functional as a result. However, it lacked much individuality in the series, so it'd be churlish to quibble about that. The kit also contains a pair of Bajin, the aforementioned sentient robotic birds - it's a cure little extra, though I didn't notice them and thus didn't buy the right paints to colour them. As you can tell, I'm a professional...

Overall, I had fun making the Dogg Mack even if my end result isn't going to win any prizes. The kit is challenging for a novice like me, and I'd guess its' unconventional layout would make it trickier for those more used to humanoid robots. However, it's about the closest thing to a Dogg Mack figure out there, and is well-made without any needless complications.