"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bandai's 3rd Diecast Version Is the Charm!

超合金魂 宇宙戦艦ヤマト2199が今冬発売!

New SOC Yamato 2199 brochure from the 2013 Tokyo Toy Show.

“Chogokin” is a magic word for a generation of children in the 1970s and 1980s, meaning “Ultra Alloy” — derived from the name of the metal used to build the titular super robot in MAZINGER Z (1972-74) — was a line of diecast toys jammed with numerous gimmicks hidden within their metal chassis (each having their own unique approach), igniting the passions of boys across Japan. Launched in 1972 by Popy, the character toy division of Bandai, the line has come to represent a timeless aesthetic, which was revived in 1997, with the launch of the “Soul of Chogokin” line, aimed at Big Boys (yes, we grown-up types).

The Soul of Popynica BPX-01: Space Battleship Yamato from 2001.

Continuing to this day, the SOC line has already introduced two versions of the Space Battleship Yamato — the first being part of the short-lived “Soul of Popynica” line (for vehicles and spacecraft) and code numbered BPX-01, released in 2001, which was an amalgam of Yamato designs based on a consensus of various representations of the ship. Since Yamato refuses to die, Bandai decided to release an additional version, in anticipation of the live action film, and so on November 27, 2010, the SOC GX-57 was issued, based on the classic animated version. Both featured a number of gimmicks, including light, sound effect, and music features.

The Soul of Chogokin GX-57: Space Battleship Yamato from 2010.

Now, with the success of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199, Bandai is giving the iconic ship another SOC treatment. This time, in order to achieve a more realistic proportion, since the original designs were contradictory, this version employs the same 3D modeling data used for the new animated series (employed on last year’s 1/1000 plastic model kit). Thus, boasting a completely new shape than the previous versions, overcoming problems inherent in realizing the old school 2D design into a 3D product. In this sense, the new SOC is perfect — especially when compared to previous versions.

The all-new Soul of Chogokin: Space Battleship Yamato 2199.

One of the new features of the 2199 version of Yamato is the radical difference of concept in terms of the fighter hanger and hatch. In the new series, in order to accommodate a large compliment of fighters in a limited space, they are stored and deployed from a mechanical ring and palette system. This is faithfully reproduced in the new SOC with attention to minute detail. The ring itself is made of metal, and features the same action as in the anime. Additionally, the exit and re-entry hatch opens, and has a working launch catapult for the Cosmo Falcons.

Detail of the Hanger, Ring System, and Hatch/catapult System.

As with the previous SOC editions, this version also features a range of gimmicks operated by remote control. In terms of playable audio, a wide range of sound effect recordings are used in the new series, and some of the key effects were chosen for solo as well as multiple playback, completing the image of Yamato. In particular, there are two firings of the main guns that can be selected: The positron cannons (Shock Cannons) and the artillery rounds (Type-3 Fusion Shells). When you turn on the main power, the Wave Motion Engine fires up, while the engine nozzle and bridges begin to light up.

Wave Motion and Sub Engine nozzles with animated LED gimmick.

The multi-colored LED light gimmicks, which can be controlled independently, also include the Wave Motion Gun firing sequence with a series of vivid lighting effects, and the signature build-up and firing sound effects. Another important aural element of Yamato is the music. As with previous SOCs, you can play five full cues from the score: 1. “The Yamato Advances”, 2. “Yamato, Into the Vortex”, 3. “Sortie of the Enemy Ships”, 4. “The Yamato Saga Theme”, and 5. “The Black Tigers.”

Improved Wave Motion Gun animated LED firing gimmick.

■ Set Contents
• Space Battleship Yamato
• Removable Stabilizer Wing × 2
• Replacement Rocket Anchor × 2
• Cosmo Zero × 2
• Cosmo Falcon × 4
• Carrier-based aircraft for Ring × 6
• Base Stand with Remote Control

Bow detail with CIC, Bridge, and Captain's Cabin LED lights.

■ Batteries (sold separately)
• AAA battery × 2 (main body)
• AAA battery × 2 (for remote control)

Detail of Smokestack Missile Firing Silo.

■ Product Specifications
Approximate length: 425mm or 17.75" (Space Battleship Yamato)
Materials: ABS plastic, diecast, etc.

SOC Yamato 2199 on display at the 2013 Tokyo Toy Show.

■ MSRP: 27,300 yen (Including 5% tax)
Release Date: Winter 2013

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