C O I N_ L I G H T A N

Chogokin Coin LightanShortly after Popy completed the first series of six Lightan, Popy were taken over by Bandai, and their design team were broken up. However, Lightan had been a successful line, and another design studio - Plex - were handed the task of designing the second series of robots. Four new moulds were produced, and one of these was Coin Lightan. It would seem none of these arrived in time to feature in the Golden Warrior Gold Lightan Anime series.

The Plex figures were issued a predominantly white box that clearly distinguishes them from the Popy figures. Coin Lightan was reissued by Bandai Hong Kong in 2008, as part of their second series of Lightan reissues.

Chogokin Coin LightanCoin Lightan's shape is a simple cylindrical design, less ornate than Time Lightan - this really is just a cylinder. Sadly, the detailing is much reduced compared to the earlier figures, largely concentrated around the middle. Chogokin Coin LightanThus the grooves for robot mode are more obvious than they perhaps could be.

The top of the lighter (which measures 2.8" tall) has a large dollar sign on it, emphasising the lighter's true function (or giving it away, whichever). When the lid is flipped up, it reveals a spring-mounted plastic coin holder. This can only really take very thin coins (the only British fit is the one pence piece) so you can hardly carry a fortune around, and while it is cute, unlike most of the other gimmicks from the line it's difficult to see how this one would transfer over to a valiant robot defending Earth from otherworldly invaders.

Chogokin Coin LightanWhile the lighter mode and special feature might have taken a slight downturn in imagination, at least there's still a somewhat inventive transformation sequence in there. The bottom fifth or so of the lighter slides down and splits to form the feet, enabling you to get at the hands and sue them as leverage to pull the arms out from the sides - these can then bend at the elbow. Then simply flip up the small hatch on the top and you're there.

Chogokin Coin LightanCoin Lightan just scrapes 4" including his 'cap' (the figure is closer to 3.5" discounting that). Considering the robot chest is basically hollow (from the coin holding mechanism), the figure is still pretty heavy at 150g. The robot mode isn't one of the line's best looking - too simplistic and chibi to look as impressive as, say, Gold Lightan or Time Lightan, but a little too clumsy to be as cute as IC Lightan or Denji Lightan. The face is almost the same width as the torso, and despite being quite a detailed bit of plastic (with painted eyes, a nose and a mouth), it looks rather oversized - from a design point of view it wasn't even necessary to make the face as wide as the helmet. Articulation is limited by the arms only hinging at the shoulder, rather than pulling all the way out - if you don't have them sticking put by at least a couple of tenths of an inch, the mechanism pops them back into the body. They only move away from the body too, meaning Coin Lightan can't reach forwards, and the joints at the elbows just doom him to be forever reaching for his six-shooters, like a still from a Sergio Leone film. If that sounds cool, remember that he has no six-shooters and is not from a Sergio Leone film .

To be fair to Coin Lightan, he isn't a bad figure, he just pales a bit compared to the quality of the first series. Aside from possibly Print Lightan (who I haven't got - the figure was inexplicably omitted from the reissue series - maybe the mould was damaged?), this is the weakest of the Lightan figures, with a weak special feature and a decidedly average robot mode. Not recommended as a good place to start.