Tomy Sound Flasher IdeonHaving somehow ended up with the toy rights for Ideon, Tomy certainly made the most of them, providing various different figures of the titular mech. Considering the company's expertise with electronics (which, in terms of robots, would later catapult Dingbot and his small army of cohorts - the dog with the patch on its' eye, that one that ate the coins, etc. - into the collection of Western kids when the toy managed to come out around the same time as Short Circuit) it probably wasn't that much of a surprise that an Ideon emerged with light and sound features.

This wasn't an angle an awful lot of companies dabbled in at the time - electronics seem to have been too gimmicky for Popy, and only really ToyCo's Astro Magnum (later released in Transformers as Shockwave) stands out in my admittedly limited knowledge.

Tomy Sound Flasher IdeonThe Sound Flasher version stands just under 10" tall, and is made entirely of plastic - presumably to keep costs down. It's actually very nicely proportioned, possibly moreso than Tomy's other offerings. But in a strange way, this actually counts against it - the Ideon has unusual proportions anyway with its' long legs and huge shoulders, and this boxy figure is perhaps a little too normal.

Tomy Sound Flasher IdeonThe most bizarre thing about the Tomy Ideon figures is that none of them look particularly like each other. You can understand that the thing wouldn't look a huge amount like the robot as seen onscreen, but the figures produced by the same company at about the same time should surely look very similar, right? I mean, they're all recognisable as the Ideon, but the variance in terms of colour schemes and other details is amazing - on the plus side, it means at least you aren't basically getting the same figure oversized or undersized. The head cast on this one is probably the best of the Tomy figures- aside from the colouring it's very close to the cartoon and thus looks great. It's a shame they didn't chrome the antennae as well, though.

Tomy Sound Flasher IdeonDetail takes a bit of a hike - aside from the head, hands, feet, cuffs and a few minor parts, this one is all-red. The distinctive yellow collar is lost, while a pair of white stickers on the shins and a pair of (very thin) paint apps on the chest do their best as a secondary colour. There are a couple of stickers, though, and at least the hands and feet aren't blue this time.

Tomy Sound Flasher IdeonThe Sound Flasher feature consists of three moulded plastic buttons on the robot's back. Each one causes an LED behind transparent plastic to flash, with a simultaneous sound effect - one in the head, one in the upper torso, one in the lower torso. The head one is actually a passable stab at the visor flashing when the thing combines (for my money, one of the few faults with the Soul of Chogokin is that an LED wasn't worked for the head) - though this one doesn't combine, sadly. The others are a bit more random, while the sound effect is just noise... I didn't seriously expect the anime's superb soundboard to be incorporated into a toy of this age (okay, maybe I did, but then I'm like that), but these are just quite irritating.

Tomy Sound Flasher IdeonAmazingly, though, Tomy haven't just left this as the sole feature. Firstly, the robot actually has passable articulation. I'm charitably guessing making the head turn was too much for the electronics of the time, but the arts are jointed at the shoulder and elbow, while the legs move at the hip and knee. Due to the plastic construction and fairly small feet, the figure can actually hold a few fairly simple poses, and the hip design means the legs can move through a full 180°. The joints are all ratcheted, which robs the Ideon of a few basic poses, and considering the excellent balance and solid construction, though, they do seem a bit needless.

Tomy Sound Flasher IdeonThere is also a fair range of weaponry. Tomy include the obligatory chromed sword, of course, but there are three different types of spring-loaded projectile. Firstly there's the usual fists - however, in a nice twist, these are activated by the raised winglets on the wrists rather than additional buttons. The others are bit more interesting, and to the best of my knowledge only on this version of Ideon. The first is that the chromed blades mounted on the feet launch thanks to a pair of paddles on the back of the legs - that's certainly a little different. Best of all, though, are a pair of flip-down launchers contained in the bulges on either side of the torso. Similar weaponry was shown on the box of the Miracle Combination figure, but didn't make it to the figure - I wonder if this was an early location for missile launchers in the cartoon (Tomy's use of an early design for the Ideon Gun on the DX figure suggests they were working from early concepts) or just Tomy having fun. Neat feature either way, though.

[Click here to see the instruction leaflet]

While the lightweight construction won't be to the taste of many and the electronics themselves are primitive, there's more than a little fun to be had here. The figure is packed with gimmicks and looks rather nice - considerably more graceful than Tomy's other options, which is bizarre considering adding electronics to a toy is all too often an excuse to kick back and not bother with anything else. A pleasant surprise.