M E T E R_ L I G H T A N

Chogokin Meter 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 Light 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. Light Lightan was reissued by Bandai Hong Kong in 2008, as part of their second series of Lightan reissues.

Chogokin Meter LightanThe lighter mode for the figure is a smoothed rectangular block. It's not much to look at, lacking anything much to make it stand out in a range that, all things considered, generally did a good job of making lighters look different. Meter Lightan in this mode probablyChogokin Meter Lightan looks a little too close to Denji Lightan, while the look is spoiled further by the flush sides making the grooves for the arms and legs even more obvious.

He also suffers from the weird second series feature factor - in this case, there's a tiny wheel at the bottom of the lighter. Flipping up the lid reveals the head (more of this in a minute), and flipping that up reveals a little dial marked 'Route Meter' that indicates the distance you've rolled it for - the numbers seem to be at 5" intervals. It's a bit random, and it's hard to imagine it being a particularly useful skill on the battlefield.

Chogokin Meter LightanDenji Lightan is once again echoed in the transformation, with the base of the lighter folding down to form the legs, and the arms coming from the side. The head is where the main difference comes from, as flipping the lid open reveals it. The head part hinges up, and a small plastic door folds down from inside to give it a bit of clearance over the rim. And that's it. It's a bit of a shame the lid couldn't be rigged to take the head with it initially, and then it could be folded back down for robot mode but not get in the way ofChogokin Meter Lightan the dial in lighter mode. But there we go, life is just full of disappointments.

For the most part, the robot mode is pretty unremarkable. He shares large, barely separated legs with Denji Lightan, and outward hinging arms with Denji and the rest of the Plex designs. About the only remarkable thing is the slightly ugly, but rather striking, head design, with a single wide optic. It makes the figure stand out a bit if nothing else. Sadly, the rather awkward robot mode (the figure always looks ridiculously front heavy, and indeed due to the smooth metal finish leans forward slightly if left standing for long, while the massive lid hanging over his head hardly helps) isn't one of the line's best.

While Meter Lightan is better than the line's wooden spoon figure, Coin Lightan, he's still not much to write home about. The lighter mode is forgettable and bland, the action feature is bizarre and practically useless, the transformation goes over ground covered before by more interesting figures, and the robot mode is just too flawed to exude charm. One for the mad completists. Like me :\