Friday, 10 March 2017

Legends LG-35 Super Ginrai

Legends LG-35 Super Ginrai

The original Powermaster Optimus Prime and it's Takara counterpart Masterforce Super Ginrai are the same basic toy with different design choices made at crucial points so it's somehow right that Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime and Legends Super Ginrai should take the same approach. A modified toy was first hinted at in a silhouette image that I suspect the retailer in question wasn't meant to release and then revealed in prototype form in a Japanese toy show presentation where photography was forbidden. The prototype was revealed to the world in a video recorded at Wonder Fest 2016 released on July 24th 2016 with official coloured images released the same day and scheduled for a Christmas 2016 release.

Straight out the box certain changes are obvious to the vehicle mode. The cab has a new front with larger windows and a smaller grill, more closely mimicking the original Optimus Prime. The red plastic used is redder than on the western version and there's more of it on the front of the trailer, making it look more like the arms at the front of the Powermaster Prime/Ginrai trailer even though they're still safely tucked inside the trailer. Other than that the trailer is very similar until you get to the rear when you notice that the back of the trailer is flatter and no longer has the Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus feet sticking out the back. Gone too are Ultra Magnus' weapons, replace by a pair of very nearly mirror image guns which are pegged into the roof. Like many Titans Returns weapons they peg together to form a seat for the Titanmaster to sit in but, like many of the early combining weapons, the gun handles stick out to the sides to do this so the combined weapon can't be held with the Titanmaster sitting in it. The handles on the guns are different too and are now traditional 5mm pegs which is a bit of a relief for those of us who hated the Ultra Magnus style hands that Prime inherited with the guns.

The Titanmaster has in turn been extensively redecoed in robot mode to closely resemble Hi-Q or more accurately his Japanese counterpart Godmaster Ginrai. They've done a superb job too, with a white head, chest & legs. The majority of the legs are painted, the lower legs black and the upper legs red with just the knees left bear to simulate the screws on the original. There's even a round detail on the knee which was seemingly absent on Apex but was actually there on the back of Apex's legs thanks to an assembly error! The arms are the same red plastic as the cab with the image complete with some paint on the Titanmaster's face. Superb job. Transforming the Titanmaster to head mode reveals a new face. Gone is the Orion Pax style open face. I got what they were trying to do on the Titans Return toy, with the helmet covering the Orion Pax head turning the toy into Optimus Prime but never felt it really worked there with the peaked cap and crest in those colours reminding me of Postman Pat! Instead we get a traditional Optimus Prime head here complete with faceplate and I'm not complaining!

Transformation of truck to robot mode is broadly similar with two major differences. When you get as far as folding up the the truck's roof you'll discover that the lower arms have been extended along the underside of the roof and need to be retracted with the roof panels folding up on the underside. The smaller panel folds up first with the larger panel folding back on top of it, though sadly not quite flat. Then there's the feet, which are brand new and seem VERY complicated even though they're not. Start by getting the rear of the truck into leg mode then turning the toy over so you can see the underside of the feet. Fold/slide the whole foot down out the bottom of the leg: it's on a double jointed hinge so will move with some wiggling. Some more wiggling will move it 1cm towards the front of the leg. Fold the big blue panel down at the rear of the foot. Swing it out 180° so it points out the front of the foot then fold it up 90°. Fold the red heel spur down at the back. My toy sat on the shelf for a month or two in robot mode till a friend worked out how to transform them back! So this time I wrote the instructions as I transformed the toy, backtracking every step to make sure I got it right!

Other smaller points to note from the transformation: I had real trouble extending the cab when returning the robot to truck mode, far more than I'd had with previous versions of Prime/Magnus. I'm on my fourth version now, Generations and Legends versions of both, and hadn't noticed that the cab needs pulling down slightly first before being pulled forward. Also the sides of the super robot chest piece now rotate forward and back: when returning to truck mode the idea seems to be that they're rotated back 90° so the windows look out the rear of the vehicle further obstructing the internal space.

The super robot mode has three major areas of change: the chest, the arms and the feet.

The main purpose of the chest changes are to make the front of the super robot look much more like the original Super Ginrai but I suspect there's an element of functional necessity in there too to accommodate the retooled cab. I haven't yet tried a parts swap to check for comparability. The only real problem with this piece is the cab windows look recessed too far compared to the small side windows on the chest piece, but the Titans return version had that problem too.

The lower arms look much more streamlined than before. Gone are the Magnus style opening hands replaced by a closed fist with a 5mm peg hole in the middle of it and a rotating wrist. For my money the Magnus hands were a mistake on the original: Prime could only use the weapons he or Magnus came with and he frequently dropped those, though was better than Magnus. He also couldn't hold the Titanmaster size class weapons which is a major flaw given these weapons exist in this line: a similar fault afflicts many Armada toys. There's an additional 5mm peg hole on the front of the arm. That, and the extending arm used in the transformation, are believed to form part of the toy's ability to merge with Legends LG-42 Godbomber to form Legends God Ginrai with the arm armour pegging into the hole and the extending arm allowing Ginrai's fists to serve as GodGinrai's. The panels on the back of the lower arms are a bit unsightly with the larger panel sticking out at a slight angle. That's been inherited from the Titans Return version, the other two are new. I can't help thinking that a new piece with a double joint so it folded flat over the smaller ramp would look better.

Then there's the feet..... The feet inherited from Ultra Magnus were large and provided a certain amount of stability. There wasn't an obvious reason to change them but change them they did into something that's a lot more complicated. They're trying to look like the feet on the old Powermaster Prime/Super Ginrai toy but really needed to be a lot bigger in height and projection forward to do that which is impossible given the space they unfolded from. The 1988 toy's feet were also up against a substantial background of lower leg. These new ones have nothing behind them for the most part make them look very odd. There's some added articulation there: they bend to the sides for wider, legs open, stances and the foot bends to the side but unfortunately the red heel spur folds in far too easily. It's necessary to support the toy's weight and accidentally folding it in slightly seriously affects the toy's balance. I'm not keen on the new feet but I can see why they have been changed as it looks like the modifications once again make it possible for him to combine with Godbomber.

The base mode is broadly similar to how it was before. The ability to fold back the side windows on the chest plate give more vertical structure to that part of the base. Unfortunately the large rear panels from the top of the truck can no longer be folded flat against the tower arms so they either have to be folded at an angle or project, facing the wrong way, out the top which is a shame. The hands turning sideways to provide a side mounting point for the weapon is scant compensation. But, let's face it, the base mode wasn't much cop anyway and your toy will be spending very little time in it.

By itself Ginrai is a qualified success. I like the upper body changes to the robot, I don't like the feet and if I was keeping it by itself I'd look into swapping the feet, or even the entire legs, with the Titans Return version. But The whole story of this toy can't be told on it's own so to fairly assess the changes we'll need to wait for Godbomber.

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