D E N J I_ L I G H T A N

Chogokin Denji LightanDenji Lightan was one of Gold Lightan's team of robots on Earth. His name roughly means 'Electromagnetic Lightan', apparently - I have no idea why this one figure's name is constantly referred to in Japanese when all the others have English equivalents, but I'm not about to buck the trend.

The robot had the role of reconnaissance within the group. To this end, he is equipped with a compass and a set of miniature maps (with a magnifying glass), which he can access in either mode. The 2005 Hung Hing reissue featured smooth-faired metal surfaces.

Chogokin Denji LightanWhile it shares both being gold diecast and the raised pyramid textured pattern with Gold Lightan, Denji Lightan's lighter model is narrower, being a long, square device, measuring 2.8" x 1.2" x 1.2". It has the same fairly obvious join lines all over it, but in this case one does actually serve a function. The top inch hinges back as it would, but instead of a wick, windscreen, thumbwheel, and flint there's a tiny working compass, with a magnifying glass on a little arm above it. The compass ties into his reconnaissance role, but at this stage the magnifying glass is a little bit of a mystery. Chogokin Denji LightanWait and see, oh loyal readers, wait and see... The figure once again weighs in at 175g, nearly all diecast.

Denji Lightan's transformation is commendably different from Gold Lightan - indeed, the amount of variation Popy got across the line from the same basic starting point is worthy of some praise. In this case, the bottom 1/8" moves forward slightly, then folds back on ratcheted joints to form the two legs. Then you can access the hands, and via them pull the arms out of the sides of the lighter. Finally, the top of the lighter flips up, revealing the robot face. In addition to this, the lower torso can hinge down to reveal a compartment containing seven black plastic slides - these each have a black and white stickered map on each side.

Chogokin Denji LightanThe idea is these can be magnified with the glass, and with help from the compass, Denji Lightan can scope out the area the Lightan are working in. The only downside to this incredibly cute gimmick is that both magnifying glass/compass and the maps can't comfortably be accessed in one mode. The robot legs block the compartment in the lighter disguise, while in robot mode the glass and compass can only be accessed by hinging back Denji Lightan's head and shoulders. It's a bit of a shame, really, but the devices are cute enough that it's not particularly aggravating.

Chogokin Denji LightanAt 4", Denji Lightan's robot mode is slightly smaller than that of Gold Lightan. It has a slightly slimmer figure that makes it seem a fair bit smaller than it actually is. The robot is a little awkward looking, with the arms coming out from too far down his body, and the large hole in the chest where the head has come from is a little cheap-looking relative to the rest of them. However, the face cast itself is charming - Denji Lightan has a rather disarming smile, and the different touches (like green eyes) give him a surprising amount of personality. Sadly, there's next to no articulation - the arms can move but not without making the shoulders appear even lower down the body, which is undesirable. It's a neat robot mode, however, thanks to the unconventional looks.

While there are several better Lightan figures, this is more a sign of the general consistency of the line - among the first series, Denji Lightan is probably fourth best from the field of six. However, the figure is neat in both modes despite the slightly awkward robot layout (with the details countering this to a large extent), and while the transformation is uninspiring, the special feature is utterly charming. A credit to the innovation and quality of Popy's design team.