The Voltron toyline omitted one of the Popy Dairugger XV figures, as mentioned elsewhere. While the small diecast version and giant plastic version were given an American release, the midsize DX Dairugger XV remained a Japanese-only release.

It's thus a rather rare figure. Most of the DX figures of the early 1980s era were given a Western release in Bandai America's Godaikin series, while the presence of the larger plastic version possibly diluted the number made and sold even in Japan. Indeed, even the lovely Popy retrospective book The Chogokin largely ignored the DX in favour of the larger version (which was a bit off seeing as that one wasn't released as part of the Chogokin range...).

The upshot is you're looking at parting with about £150 for one of these babies. Having no concept of the value of money, I gladly parted with this much for a boxed example. And look at that box... Heavy duty card and a design that makes Godaikin packaging look like a colouring book. Textured brown card with gold trim... The thing looks like it should be kept on a book shelf and be there to look highbrow... Therefore I have never taken this out of its' box.

Oh, bollocks to that. I buy toys. The least I'm going to do is play with the things.

For a DX of the period, Dairugger XV is actually quite small, at around 8" tall. However, it's actually a nice sort of size when compared to the larger figure. It's solid and heavy thanks to some decent diecast on the legs and chest. It doesn't dominate a shelf, but the design is good enough that it still holds interest, and being compact makes it a more flexible display piece to boot.

Dairugger is scaled down almost exactly, the only real change being to the ankles. These are no longer flush to the feet. I can't really fathom why Popy chose to do this - the little metal flip-down hooks could have been made a bit shorter, or the runners in the feet a bit deeper. However, this doesn't look bad from most angles - why exactly Popy decided to adorn the box with a low-angle shot disproportionately exaggerating this feature I don't know, as it's really not so obvious from others. I mean, I've done it to the right, but I'm not trying to sell you this chap...

In places Dairugger isn't that secure. Those ankle hooks just slide in, and while it's not particularly unstable, the wheeled feet can slide forward slightly - if you put him on a slight backwards slope, the whole robot would probably slide right off.

The connections in general aren't as rock solid as the larger version, and you have to be careful where you lift him as most of the units come apart easily. The figure has no release catches or anything like that, relying entirely on physical force for separation. There is a rather galling exception - the connections for the forearms are very tricky, and pulling the arm things off probably puts a lot of strain on the shoulders.

The articulation is a weird mixed back. Dairugger has movement at the elbows - both hinging and rotating motion, while the knees also bend. Astonishingly, the shoulders are rock-solid though, as is the head. The wheeled feet do allow for a bit of movement in the legs, especially as the hip connections can move slightly. They're not intended to, but they do give a few degrees while still holding the legs in place. It's very strange that Popy went to all the effort on the the elbows and left the shoulders like that, though.

On top of this there are firing fists and a sword, though the former are hamstrung by the elbows not being able to move up to 45°. It's not that Dairugger's not any good; the robot looks marvellous and can attain a few useful poses, certainly capable of more natural poses that its' contemporaries. It's just that it wouldn't have taken much to make it a real masterpiece.

Dairugger only partially separates. The main feature is the ability for the robot to split into the three combined vehicles - Kurugger, Kairugger and Rickrugger, but a side effect is that certain individual vehicles can be formed due to the composition of the robot.

The Kurugger is presented well enough, being that it looks like a rocket, jet and two helicopters carefully carrying a big blue box. The only unit that can totally separate is the Falcon VT Fighter, as it has to turn around for this configuration. As well as this, a wheeled trolley on the bottom turns to form wheels for the Kurugger, while twisting the tip of Dairugger's head rotates the face, hiding it. What's more interesting is what isn't done. There's no way that removing the rocket and helicopters was beyond Popy's design department, so I'm guessing the money ran out or something. Very annoying, really.

The Kairugger is the best of the team modes, due to actually looking a bit like it might not just be five smaller vehicles thrown together in an arbitrary fashion. This is a decent representation, and like the other DX team modes does alright due to being a bit more cute than its' larger plastic brother.

Again, a lack of catches mean it doesn't hang together well. The only separate vehicle available is the Communications Module, the little submarine (this has a solid conning tower in this size, with the protrusion simply covered by the chest plate in robot mode). The Space Probers can't disconnect from the Multi-Wheeled Explorers, but at least this is a trade-off for the knee joints...

In a field of contrived, dodgy composite vehicles the Rickrugger has always stood out as being that bit more contrived and dodgy. For a start, the iffy scale of the vehicles is held out by the forearm tanks being held so close to the 4x4 units. Plus it just doesn't look like it has any practical use.

However, due to the design process of "let's just throw the leftover bits together" it does separate into all five individual units. They're darling at this size, and nicely detailed - I'm guessing the money went on things like the opening radar dish on the Jet Radar Station...

Despite several flaws, Dairugger XV remains a great figure. The look is excellent, while the thing has a lovely crafted feel to it due to the high quality materials used and the high level of detail. The robot looks great, and while the combination is botched to some extent, it's still a fun feature. That said, at the price this thing fetches the larger plastic version is the more essential figure, this one remaining more interesting to die-hard Popy collectors.