This is me widening my horizons a little. Unlike the other Soul of Chogokin I have, and most of the ones I plan to get, Ideon was never part of Godaikin. The figure doesn't even have Popy ancestry. I've gone rogue.
The Ideon was the brainchild of Yoshiyuki Tomino, the follow-up to his groundbreaking Mobile Suit Gundam series. Once more Sunrise handled the animation of Space Runaway Ideon, and once more the thing was ended prematurely - after 39 of 43 planned episodes - only to be resurrected in movie form (with The Ideon: A Contact recapping the transmitted episodes, and The Ideon: Be Invoked finishing the series off).
The storyline followed the survivors of the Solo colony. They are attacked by another group, the Buff Clan (or Buffukran if you're Otaku scum), but survive the assault thanks to a mysterious mecha known as the Ideon, and an advanced ship known as the Solo Ship. Both are powered by the mysterious Ide, an incredibly powerful source of energy.
The show takes the concept of the Super Robot to the Nth degree; Ideon is stupifyingly powerful, armed with a gun that can take out numerous Buff Clan ships with a single blast, and a pair of energy swords literally capable of slicing a planet in half. However, this is set against the gritty tone that made Mobile Suit Gundam so groundbreaking - the Solo Ship spends the entire series being relentlessly chased by the Buff Clan empire (hence the series' name), while the central cast are regular casualties, culminating in the brutal death of every character in the second film.
While Tomino's writing continued in the same vein as his previous series, sadly so did his series' luck with toy companies. After his bad experience with Clover on Gundam, this time it was Tomy who ended up stumping up money in exchange for toy rights. That's right, well-known robot makers Tomy. Predictably their Ideon toys were multicoloured and misproportioned, though they have a Clover-esque charm to them.
Unlike Gundam, Ideon pretty much faded after its' acclaimed original run. The series has retained a cult following, with several small-scale DVD releases in Japan. Sadly, in the West it's not particularly well-known, though an extensive fan subbing project by ShinGetter.net has brought the series to a wider audience (and me). The character also features in several of Banpresto's Super Robot Wars video games, where it's accurately replicated power levels make using the character basically akin to cheating.
Toys-wise, things have been a lot thinner on the ground. Plastic model kits were produced, but didn't take off like those for Gundam had. In 2004, Yamato produced an 8" poseable version of Ideon, and then in March 2007, Bandai produced a new figure for the premium Soul of Chogokin figure. One of the largest releases to date, the GX-36 Ideon will set you back best part of £100, likely before shipping - I actually got mine for about that including shipping from Hong Kong, but it seems like I got a lucky deal.
Ideon is, in a word, huge. The figure stands 12.5" tall, and weighs a staggering amount - 3lb. without accessories. When Bandai do huge huge robots, they don't mess around. The robot is very imposing - even toys around the same height just don't have the same presence.
The design is beautiful, very uncluttered and simple without becoming bland and uninteresting. The figure looks exactly as the robot does onscreen, complete with the impassive face, huge powerful arms and bladed feet (which look fantastic). The matching of painted diecast and plastic parts is very well done, and there's no shortage of detail work. Despite being mainly red, the robot is good to look at, with lots going on to break up the scheme. Ideon is covered with panels and plates, without ever looking cluttered.
Ideon's articulation isn't staggering for a modern day figure, but is still very impressive. The head has a good range of movement, while the shoulders can move freely - ideal for replicating swipes at Buff Clan spacecraft (while the Ideon Gun and Ideon Swords would be produced for big threats like entire fleets or whatever insane device the Buff Clan had cooked up to destroy the Giant God that week, half the time the thing made do with swatting its' attackers).
The elbows aren't as dynamic as those on - say - Voltes V, with the joints meaning the only decent poses for the forearms are either in line with the rest of the arms, or facing forwards at 90°, but then this gels with the stiffness of the Ideon from the series. The legs aren't that dynamic in some ways, having limited hip movement, though the knees and ankles are good enough that Ideon can look natural.
However, there is something a bit different on the waist - a unique hip-joint that allows the figure to sit up. Between this and the thoughtful design of the component modules, it's possible to form Ideon in basically the same way as the series, with the three land vehicles combining to form the robot on its' back, which can then sit up. Similarly, the connections are sturdy enough for the mid-air combination to work in much the same fashion. It's a lovely touch. The downside is that the joint robs the figure of a little balance - if the robot is posed leaning very far backwards, the hinge has a tendency to open fully, swinging the top back and usually causing Ideon to topple over. This can be terrifying, frankly... This aside, the figure is incredibly sturdy - the three vehicles lock together very firmly, to the point of being near-seamless. Also, my cat recently knocked Ideon from my shelf - not only did the figure survive a four-foot drop unharmed, but it actually dented the floor.
Ideon comes with four pairs of interchangeable fists. One pair are slightly smaller than the others - these can actually flip around during the transformation and be hidden. They also have an opening palm, and look best. The other three sets are a little larger, and to my mind look a little oversized on the robot.
They include the standard Soul of Chogokin open palm hands, a pair of balled fists and a pair of fully open hands for propping up Ideon in the 'rising' pose (though the moving fists do a passable job of this, and work better if - like me - you tend to leave most SoC accessories in the box in favour of components that can be involved in all modes). Additionally, the robot mode has a rotating Glen Cannon turret on the top of the waist.
Each of the Mecha components of Ideon has two modes, one a truck and the other an attack vehicle. The 'standard' mode of A Mecha (mainly piloted by series' ginger afro-wearing lead Cosmo and the child Deck) is the Sol-Amber, which looks a lot like a futuristic missile truck. The level of detail and craftsmanship is still excellent, down to rolling rubber tracks. However, one problem is that it's difficult to get the two front halves of the vehicle (which cover Ideon's head) flush after the first transformation - the head (and its' very neat retractable antennae) are difficult to line up with the very precise space inside).
The attack form for A Mecha is the Ideo-Delta, a boxy-looking jet fighter. The changes aren't massive, but there are some nice touches (such as the pair of boosters behind the fuselage) to help the thing look like it can actually fly. Worth a further note for this module is the additional pair of 'cheat' panels for the combined mode - these flip around to cover what would otherwise be gaping holes at the top of Ideon's shoulders. These are really well done as you can choose what exactly you want from the figure - they can be removed for the vehicle modes and added on as part of the combination, left off entirely at the expense of Ideon's arms looking so solid, or left on for the whole process, forming an unintrusive plate under the nose of either vehicle. Very nice.
The Sol-Vainer (which, incidentally, seems to be a cursed unit - the pilot for most of the series, Moera, dies before the television series was cancelled, as does his replacement Gije, while co-pilot Bento is the first person inside the Ideon to die in Be Invoked - looks like Bes did the smart thing handing over to Moera early in the series...) is a boxy truck, with a prominent yellow cab that makes it stand out a little bit. The outrigging wheels don't look quite right, while some parts don't look quite right - notably the yellow notches under the cab that contain the Ideo Nova's caterpillar tracks.
The Ideo-Nova is basically the Sol-Vainer in a bad mood - the caterpillar tracks flip down making the front look a lot better, while the back opens out to reveal a pair of dangerous-looking Glen Cannons and a missile battery. It's a decent looking vehicle, and the cannon hide the awkward outriggers nicely. The module has a few paint apps on it as well, while this seems a good place to note the construction of the front - a band around the grille pushes down when forming Ideon, replaced by an identically-painted set of details (with the Ideon head) contained within the A Mecha - it's a nice touch that adds real detail to the robot form.
Doubling as Ideon's legs, the C Mecha (piloted by Kasha and Tekuno) is by far the largest (and heaviest) of the vehicle units. The Sol-Conver mode does look a bit too much like a pair of legs with wheels and a cab attached, but then I suppose you could argue that disguise isn't much of a concern when you can slice up planets...
Switching the Sol-Conver to Ideo-Buster mode is probably the most complicated of the vehicle transformations. It's still straightforward, but the flipping cockpit mechanism is a lovely touch. The main body is not so good - the legs need to be extended slightly (no easy task in itself - again, pulling out or compressing these requires a level of force that borders on uncomfortable), and the legs then clip together - the exposed legs don't lock into place, meaning this is largely done by guesswork.
Ideon doesn't come with a spectacular amount of weaponry (again, the robot rarely needed recourse for it), but this hasn't stopped Bandai packing the set with accessories. It's a bit of a shame, though, that they're largely a disappointment.
First up is the Ideon Gun (also known as the Wave Leader Gun). This is possibly the Ideon's most famous weapon, a giant cannon capable of wiping out whole squadrons of Buff Clan ships, or punching holes in planets and then wiping out whole squadrons of Buff Clan ships. The gun itself is lovingly executed, with a moving gunsight and a pair of wires than can be attached to a replacement chest piece for Ideon, perfectly replicating the look of the show. It even has a blue LED to simulate the firing. Sadly, its' use in regard to Ideon is less impressive. Due to the gun's design, it stands an inch or so away from the robot, and needs a transparent stand to balance on. And balance is the word - the handles don't really lock into the robot's fists, and the Gun only rests on the plastic stand - add in the relatively stiff connecting wires, and the accessory is a complete pain to attach and pose with the Gun - so much so that the above picture took several minutes and two cigarettes to realise, and was too soul-destroying for me to go back and redo it so the lighting was better, or to correct that I haven't flipped up the notch about halfway along the top.
Sadly, the other iconic weapon, the Ideon Swords, are flawed in much the same way. Being ~10" long plastic spikes is a decent design choice, and again for weight distribution reasons needing a stand for each 'blade' are understandable (incidentally, the base for these stands has a rather neat Ideon Gauge design, even if it doesn't show well on my picture). However, the base of the 'blades' doesn't lock onto anything on Ideon, more sort of resting on the fists and effectively balancing between them and the stands - once more, very frustrating to set up, and practically useless unless you're planning on displaying the figure in this pose only.
The other two 'weapons' for Ideon are much less complicated. There's the Mini Black Hole Cannon - this is one of Ideon's more bizarre weapons, and not often remembered. Basically, when under missile attack, the robot opens up a panel in its' chest and seems to produce a localised black hole, which then sucks up the missiles. This is represented by an 'open' chest piece that can be switched with the standard one (or the connections for the Ideon Gun). Not particularly exciting, but it's nice they bothered.
The other isn't really an accessory at all - the All Directional Missile Attack was Ideon's next step up from just punching Buff Clan ships out of the air, and basically involves the robot firing off a bevy of missiles from seemingly-limitless magazines in the outside of the legs and arms. While the batteries are detailed clearly in black, and I can't think of a single feasible way of actually incorporating something that would represent the attack, it's a little naughty of Bandai to cover the box and instructions with Photoshopped images of the figure actually firing off beams of light. The figure can do the usual All-Directional pose, but that's it.
While Ideon's weaponry might be a bit of a disappointment, the accessories aren't a total washout, as the set includes a flotilla of small craft, presumably in scale with Ideon. Best of these are the Jongu. Ten of these small Buff Clan mecha are included - these are the leaping tripod gunships, as seen in the assault on the Solo Ship during Be Invoked. These little plastic things look great scattered over Ideon (so great that the Jongu get two pictures), and with their tiny moulded pilots also add a real indication of the size of the robot.
There are several other mecha and ships included as well - these are shown to the left. The types are (clockwise from top left) a Buff Clan Kopola, an Earth Union Cavian-Crosus, a Buff Clan Gadakka (two of these tiny mecha are included - while they just about stand freely, a pair of bases are also provided), a Buff Clan Dekka Bau (the front missile actually separates; these are seen in the anime during the initial episodes), a Jongu and an Earth Union Tank. These are all made from soft plastic, with copious paint apps. It really adds to the set having all these things to interact with Ideon.
Like all Soul of Chogokin figures, Ideon comes with a stand. I haven't bothered covering these for Combattler V or Voltes V because theirs are just functional weapons racks; Ideon's stand, however, is modelled on part of the Solo Ship's superstructure. It can mount the Ideon Gun on the top, while small additional arms can hold the three largest spaceships. It can also open up to provide storage for whichever three sets of fists aren't in use. It's certainly the least frustrating place to mount the Ideon Gun, at any rate...
the disappointment of the weaponry, it's hard to find many faults with
Ideon. As I mentioned, I rarely use any accessories that can't be mounted
in the majority of a figure's configurations anyway - to me, the Ideon
Gun and Ideon Swords are bonus items that just don't come off. It's a
shame they aren't implemented better, but it's churlish to castigate such
a beautiful, well-made toy for overambition. Ideon himself, and his vehicle
modules, are worth the money alone, with the vehicles just adding to a