The third and, would you believe, final installment of director Tadao Nagahama's 'Robot Romance Trilogy' was Tôshô Daimos, which premiered in 1978.
The show moved away from the combining robot theme of its' predecessors (Chôdenji Robo Combattler V and Chôdenji Machine Voltes V) by making the robot a single unit, the transforming Daimos of the title, with a single pilot, one Kazuya Ryûzaki. The anime was something of a success, notably exported to Italy (as General Daimos) and America (where a selection of episodes were grafted together as the home video feature Starbirds).
The original figures for the line were handled by Popy, who produced the robot in ST, Jumbo Machinder and transforming DX versions, as well as producing models of the Transer (Daimos' vehicle mode), Tripar 75S (a car driven by Kazuya that docked with the Transer in the cartoon) and the orbital Daimovic Base. The ST figure, Jumbo and Transer toys were released by Mattel in America soon afterwards as part of the Shogun Warriors line, while the DX version would eventually come out in 1984 as part of Bandai America's ill-fated Godaikin range.
In 2008, Bandai finally gave the figure a much-needed update for their prestige Soul of Chogokin range. In 2009, prices dropped enough for me to be able to afford one to go with the Combattler V and Voltes V figures...
I'm not mad on the original DX Daimos. I was actually a bit easy on the thing in that review - even allowing for the poor state of my example, the thing has a comedy oversized head and pushes kibble to the next level, however neat some of the transformation is. One thing that did imprint on me, though, was the colour scheme of the Chogokin, with the silvery-grey and yellow. I was thus initially a little cool on the Soul of Chogokin incarnation - the line tends to follow the anime incarnations (which doesn't mean much difference on most of them - Popy have a great record for getting things like colour schemes right), and thus the aforementioned hues have been replaced by white and some green. However, it works nicely on the figure, and crucially I don't think the silvery-grey would have worked on this toy. A pair of yellow wrist-blades would have been nice as an option, perhaps. Will there be a toy-accurate version of Daimos as there has been for Voltes V? Who knows. But this one does look good as it is, so it's not really worth waiting on the off-chance they do.
Daimos is very svelte, especially compared to the blocky original. It's got minimal kibble - even the backpack can be switched for a flatter version (see the Weapons section further down), though I prefer the full version as it's required for the transformation. The figure has a great colour scheme, with red, black and white all vying for space - plus smaller patches of yellow, green and metallic blue - without making the toy look too busy.
The basic design is a great one, too. Daimos is a pleasing mix of solid blocks and more rounded segments, making him fascinating to look at. Much of the Transer tucks away in a variety of innovative ways, but I do like the way there are still wheels on the back. The head design is great too - the face is actually a little more visible than the shadows on my pictures make it seem.
Even the basic poise of the figure is great - Daimos just looks dangerous, very fitting considering the robot's martial arts prowess in the anime series. There are some neat touches that aid the look - I especially like the way the arms can be folded back on themselves by a few degrees, allowing the figure to adopt a boxing stance. Articulation in general is something of a mixed bag, and probably Daimos' only real problem.
Above the waist, it's very well done, with a dynamic set of arms (the rotating wrists are great) and head. Below is a little more of a muddle - there are plenty of joints, but not that many are of particular use. The thigh design allows for movement, but too much makes it look like Daimos' legs are falling into component parts, as if José Delbo drew them. The ankle joints are only of limited use too, while the figure doesn't seem to be able to hold the roundhouse kick pose that made so many of the official pictures - that said, I'm naturally cautious with an £65 figure, so it could simply be that getting this requires more nerve and patience than I have.
There are a few weapons that are 'built in' to varying degrees - some are removable parts, but they tend to be easily retained on both modes. Simplest is the Freezer Storm attack, which involves tilting the two small pods on Daimos' antennae so they face forward. Easy. Then there's the Double Blizzard weapon, which simply involves hinging the front of the chest forward, and flipping the yellow/green segment of the upper torso around to reveal a pair of turbines. These are removable (they can be switched for the larger Fire Blizzard nozzles, see below), and tend to fall off, which is a shame.
My personal favourite of the 'basic' weapons are the pair of wrist-blades that are stored on Daimos' shins. These slide off and then fit in housings on the outside of the robot's fists, and combined with the excellent arm articulation look very cool. There are also a pair of missiles that can be attached to rotating panels on the outside of the legs - they don't fire, unlike the rough analogues on the original, but they do look great, especially as they don't leave whacking great big holes in the figure. Daimos comes with four sets of fists - three in PVC (closed, open and flat palmed) and one in hard plastic (which have a hinge and are used for holding most of the additional weaponry).
The transformation isn't hugely complex, but will take a few tries to get down pat. There isn't a lot of variation possible, everything has to be done in a specific order, which does sap the fun a little bit. Bits to watch out for are storing the arms (only the closed fists fit inside), the missiles (which must either be on show or removed entirely right at the start of the transformation - the panels no longer rotate in this mode) and the rear doors for the Tripar 75S to dock, which can be a bugger to line up. On the other hand, there's some very, very slick engineering involved, from the magnificent chest that contains a more proportional Transer cab down to little touches like the sliding doors on top of the feet. Just the way it all condenses down to a solid vehicle is impressive.
The Transer itself isn't the prettiest thing to look at... It's basically a brick with a few baubles on it. The join lines are a little obvious, but aside from that it's all very slick. It's a shame the articulated cab of the original couldn't be reproduced, but then if that's the price to pay for the rest of the figure, I'll pay it gladly. Daimos probably won't spend much of his time in this mode at all, but firstly it's a nice option to have there rather than a non-transforming version, secondly it is a very neat sequence once you get the hang of it, and thirdly the toy's impressively well engineered.
Daimos has a truly stupefying amount of extra weaponry. The original DX had a lot of options for the Chogokin line of the time, but even that's nothing compared to this thing... I researched the names of the various weapons from the Wikipedia article, so don't blame me if they're wrong =) In the cartoon, Daimos produces most of these weapons from various hatches about his body, but they can't be stored on the figure - Bandai's design team might be excellent, but they're still bound by the laws of physics. For now, anyway...
Firstly there's the Double Dragon Blade (sic, presumably) - a pair of double-ended swords. They're gripped by the opening hands, and like the wrist-blades they suit Daimos' arm articulation. They're probably my favourite of the additional weapons (these are more or less listed in order of awesome factor), hence why they get two near-identical pictures.
Next up is the Triple Dragon Stick. This again uses the hard plastic fists, and comes in five pieces (yep, an accessory on this guy is made up of five parts). The really neat part is that the Stick can either have a pair of solid connectors, or a pair of rubber-type ones that allow it to be flexed. The only downside is that the lack of a turning waist limits the number of poses Daimos can pull off when holding the thing.
Next up is the Daimo Shaft, which is basically a great big pike. This is formed from a paltry two pieces, but extra cool factor is added by Daimos having the articulation to actually form the thing, with a little help from the overgrown child holding him. It can also be brandished in a few interesting ways, and fits in nicely with Daimos' whole 'martial arts to the Nth degree' style.
The Daimo Gun are a pair of small machine guns that attach to the robot's hips. They're really just small bits of plastic painted silver, but they do the job. The thing that impressed me most about these parts is that the holes they attach to aren't obviously holes when they're not present.
Next is the Chain Shark, a pair of grappling claws on, well, chains. These slot into the little ports on the outside of the fists, and are nicely done. However, they suffer from the same problem as other chain weapons - the chains are lovingly made real diecast things, and thus tend to just hang there unimpressively in practice. I'd much have preferred some sort of PVC in place of the metal.
Then there is the Snake Lock - a pair of discs, each with three moulded PVC 'heads'. These are throwing weapons, and can either be stored on Daimos' elbows or in the opening fists - the flat palms can also be used for a 'just thrown' effect. Rather cool, truth be told.
The Cross Boomerang is another throwing weapon, which again can be held by the opening fists, or used in conjunction with the flat palms. In the cartoon it's formed by snapping two small blades together, but the toy version is a single moulded throwing star.
The Battle Break are a pair of short swords with baton-style handles. It's the sort of weapon that no doubt looks impressive as Hell in a melee, but on a static toy they don't come off so well, merely looking like Daimos doesn't really know what he's doing and is about to take one of his own eyes out.
One of the most simple accessories is the Drill Anchor, which conversely is one of the trickiest to add on. It's simply a smaller backpack for the robot with some raised missile ports on the top, but involves removing the larger transforming backpack, and the Transer cab in the chest. As well as representing on of Daimos' numerous attacks, it also reduces the kibble on the robot mode for display, albeit at the cost of having all the Transer parts mounted.
Much more simple are the Foot Cutter, a pair of blades that easily slip into small grooves on the outside of Daimos' feet. These actually look a little weedy, truth be told, barely protruding beyond the front of the foot. Add in the figure's trouble with holding decent kicking poses and they're pretty useless.
Then there's the Five Shooter. In the cartoon this is a sheaf of five small throwing knifes, and here it's represented as a hinged set of blades than can be cradled nicely in the open palms. This looks decent, but it would have been nice if the top one could be disconnected and held in a throwing pose in the other hand. And yes, I'd like the moon on a stick as well.
Finally there's the Fire Blizzard. This is really just the default Double Blizzard with larger moulded turbines, but does look a little more impressive, and wins points for being able to stay in place during the transformation to Transer mode.
Daimos of course comes with a stand for all this stuff, and very impressive it is too. The back section resembles a weapons rack, and mainly holds the hand weapons in a neat way. The base is tailored to fit the Transer, though as it's basically a flat surface Daimos can stand on it as well. The base opens to hold the smaller parts such as the fists (much nicer than having them actually stuck to the base as on some figures) and vehicles. There's also a pole to mount the Galva FX II fighter as if in mid-air, which looks very neat when shown next to the Transer.
As mentioned a couple of times above, Daimos not only comes with enough weapons to keep you busy for hours, but support vehicles as well.
Firstly there are two miniature versions of Kazuya's Tripar 75S car - one with the wings extended, one with them folded. These are very detailed considering they're only three quarters of an inch long. The version with the wings down can dock with the Transer mode, nestling between two ridges behind a pair of opening doors in the rear. This little housing then rotates into Daimos' foot, and the Tripar can remain inside during the whole transformation. Very nice.
There is also a little model of the Galva FX II, a jet fighter flown by Kazuya's sidekicks Kyoshiro and Nana. Going by the size of the cockpit, I'd guess it's in scale with the Daimos figure. As mentioned above, it can be mounted in a 'flying' position on the stand. It's not really much to look at, being a very generic design, but you can't argue with a free jet fighter, can you?
Finally, there is also a larger scale Tripar 75S, around two inches long. This is really nicely detailed, with a little Kazuya sitting inside, a hinging canopy, and the ability to switch between the two configurations. I do like the way the engine moves up to a higher position when you open the wings out. It really is a nice little version of the vehicle, and while it might not be able to interact with Daimos, it is again a really nice extra to have.
is an unqualified success in many fields - it's an almost-faultless
interpretation of the anime character, an excellent toy and a shining
example of Bandai's craft. Not only is there a fine transformation and
a dynamic robot, but the sheer number of accessories is exhaustive.
There are some minor faults - the articulation is a slight disappointment,
though perhaps more due to the incredibly high standards Soul of
Chogokin has set for itself - but these are more than compensated
for by a figure that goes above and beyond. The price isn't cheap, but
you get what you pay for, and in this case £70-80 gets you an