Friday, November 27, 2009

Big-O Toys: A History

The Big-O has been one of those characters that was destined to be popular in toys. It is just a shame that it never came to be. From the very beginning it was meant that the Big-O be released as a figure with the anime just acting like a publicity vehicle. But it just never happened. There were fans, of course, but there wasn’t enough die hard fans like what you would see with Gundam or Godzilla to warrant a large selection of merchandise. So many, many figures that were to be produced ended up not being produced beyond a hard copy. So, without further to do, here is a history on toys based on the Big-O.

The first toy to be release on a large scale had to be by Bandai in their "Anime Collector’s Set" series. It was released twice in the series. The first was part of a two part series dedicated to the Big-O, in which the first figure in the line was Big-O accompanied with figures of Roger and Dorothy. The second figure in the line would be Big Duo with figures of Angel and Roger (in a different pose). Big-O would be re-issued in 2003 in a line of four "Anime Collector’s Sets" in a limited quantity. The Big-O figure, at seven inches in height, comes with 19 points of articulation. The two smaller figures, four inches tall each, have no articulation (except that Dorothy can move her head around). The figures have become a rarity and the most popular version of Big-O in a toy/model kit form as of date.

Little known to the rising fandom - due to the long time for the series to gain momentum in America - vintage toy company Bullmark made a Big-O sufubi AKA a large, Super deformed, soft vinyl figure around eight inches in height. The figure is taller than the "Anime Collector’s Set" figures and is made of a purple vinyl with glitter mixed in. There is little to no paint on the figure, except for the helmet which is painted silver with the two screws on top of Big-Os head painted red. The eyes were colored yellow.

In the time period between the first and second seasons, three model kits were produced. Bandai produced a model kit, a snap together kit made of black plastic and scaled approx. at a 1/100 scale. As an extra, it came with a figure of Roger. Once put together, the kit had many points of articulation and the ability to mode the upper neck piece to show the cockpit. Then Max Factory released in March of 2000 released a pre-painted model kit. Lastly, a company called Kotobukiya produced a "non-scale" kit made of white resin. It was released July,2000 As an extra, Big-O came with a figure of Dorothy with a clear base. The Big-O model was sculpted by Tetsuo Isudate with KAME while Dorothy was sculpted by Satoru Adachi.

More merchandise was produced when the second season was produced. Though no real hyper or gashapon figures were produced, Kotobukiya (who made a white resin kit) made some solid coin figures. About only three inches tall, figures of Big-O, Big-O using his guns, Dorothy 1, Big Duo, Norman/Dorothy, The Griffin, and Scharzwald were produced. Originally, the figures were sold in boxes and the figure you got was random. But later, they would be released in two box sets. A limited edition bronze variation of the figures would later be released.

But with the new season came a lot of promise for new merchandise. Bandai showcased at the 2003 Toy Fair - among other things - a whole line of Big-O toys. The line was going to consist of accouple of 6" figures, including re-releases of Big-O and Big Duo with altering paint jobs from the "Anime Collector’s Set" releases. Other figures included Archetype, Roger, Dorothy, and the Griffin. Sadly, some web sites actually give the description of these toys mixed those of the "Anime Collector’s Sets". Each of the 6" toys were to go for $9.99 plus tax. A 12" Big-O toy with electronic features (such as talking) was also showcased with a price tag of $29.99 a unit plus tax. Sadly, they were never released to the public for unknown reasons.

Time went by before another company decided to take a chance at making some Big-O merchandise was the Japanese company Max factory. In 2006, Max Factory announced that a re-release of their previous model kit of Big-O was coming up along with model kits of Big Duo and Big Fau under their Max Gokin line. The release date for the figures kept getting pushed back until 2008 when it was officially cancelled with the only proof of their existance laying in photos of the prototypes.

Then a miracle happened. Coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the iconic mecha, famous toy company Chogokin - owned by Bandai - released a Chogokin version of the Big-O. Many toy magazines published photos of the three main prototypes of the figure - one colored white, one colored grey, and the other colored silver (for metal effect, since Chogokin figures are made out of mostly metal and some parts PCV - I should know, I own a Chogokin figure). The prototype was officially exhibited early in March 2009 with tons of magazine coverage coming in at April. The figure would be officially released in September of 2009. The figure has become a highly talked about figure. To tie in with the figure’s release, a crystal with Big-O etched inside of it was released by Chogokin separate of the figure and the Tamashii Japanese Toy store released an expansion set with the toy, adding extra arms, fists, and everything one would want to re-enact any feature of the Big-O from the show except for the laser-based weapons, the final stage form, and the giant train which carries Big-O. The foot tall figure is - with all of the stops pulled out - around $275.

The Big-O has - toy wise - been cursed. It is filled with a good amount of merchandise that was never produced though hard copies exist. It is filled with model kits which are rare, toys which were not produced on a large scale, and other little things. Not to mention two SD figures which were made along with Big-O’s inclusion in accouple of the Super Robot Wars (Super Robot Taisen) games. But now with the release of the new Chogokin figure, hopefully all fans of the Big-O can achieve the dream to become a dominuse of a megadeus and be deemned "Ye Not Guilty".

1 comment:

  1. I seek The Big-O Kotobukiya and Max Factory. Or to find them ???