Saturday, February 19, 2011

Soul of Chogokin GX-48 The Big O Part 1

The Black Megadeus

Starting the review on what I would say is one of the most special items in my collection: Soul of Chogokin GX-48 The Big O ^^

Apart from being the first and only Soul of Chogokin figure for me so far, I have a special liking towards this title robot from its TV anime series. It has a very distinctive look and feel that I find absolutely hard to get off my mind after watching the show. It's still a humanoid mecha, that's for sure, but some of its design elements like the bald head, monstrous forearms contrasting with tiny upper arms and the huge feet are quite uncommon in most other robot shows. On top of that, it's piloted by Bruce Wayne, oh I mean Roger Smith, XD and the story is set in a very obvious Western styled fictitious world.

To me, Big O has a prominent vintage feel to its design, and together with its massive size, has a somewhat consistent feel to the setting of the show. In the anime, you get to see skyscrapers and big cars everywhere, which are reminiscences of how cities in America looked like back in the 50's or the 60's I suppose. Going through the stories, I always felt that the robots that appeared and fought each others, including Big O definitely belong in that world, even though folks who aren't into robot anime would definitely disagree. ^^; I even think that the design of Big O can be linked to elements from the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago, where a large portion of the world's image is painted by giant machines and giant man-made entities that are totally opposite to what we are heading to nowadays.

Apart from the look, on a slightly minor manner, I find the sound effect made by Big O, as well as most other robots in the show rather unconventional as compared to other shows. They are always being shown as slow-moving machines, even during combat, which helped to emphasize their size and power even more, but the sound they make is what I find most interesting.

Video clip is from Youtube. Follow this link to the website if you can't see anything.

A giant step with a squeak for Big O? XD

Being a "godly" machine, it's also interesting to see the maintenance done on Big O in certain episodes. A mecha is still a mecha, and while we don't get to see most its mechanical details, a glimpse on this and that does make the robot more likable in my opinion. ^^

Having said all that, I really love the anime series. Just like the robot design, the show has a very unique feel to it. The characters especially, has a somewhat rough look in their designs that are very distinctive for a Japanese anime. Minus the robot, it feels more like an America super hero show to me instead, and because of the overall lighting and the similarities between the characters, the connection to "Batman" is most obvious to me.

The show was first released in 1999 and 2003 for Season 1 and 2 respectively, but I just watched it three years back, so you could say that I was 10 years late to the party. XD However, I still find the story very interesting. It aged pretty well I suppose. ^^ A city with mass amnesia, where mighty robots exist without anyone knowing their origin or purpose. When that premise was introduced in the first episode, I always knew that that has great potential for a lot of brilliant stories, and the show didn't fail to deliver them at all. Episodes like "Bring Back My Ghost", "A Legacy of Amadeus", "Missing Cat", "Enemy is Another Big" and many others are great standalone episodes. The writing is great, the fight scenes are very detailed, with elements of humor, suspense, horror and sadness inserted at just the right moments. It's a fabulous series in my opinion.

Overall, I like Season 1 more than Season 2. There's a central plot line that build towards the grand finale in the second season. Most of the episodes can't be watched independently as you could for Season 1 because of that, so the feeling is a bit different. Season 2 is also trying to provide some sort of explanation for the world before everyone lost their memories. I really like the idea of how the world is presented to be a huge stage with actors and players, but the way it's shown in the final few episodes is a bit confusing to follow. ^^; I would like to tease that the ending is truly unbelievable for those who haven't watch the show. ^^

Anyway, some of the moments in various episodes are really over the top, especially the moments featuring the emergence of The Big O XD There are scenes where you know they are just exaggerated showoff for no reason at all, but they look cool, and that's all that matters. XD

Intimidation before combat is always important, even when the butler forgot to replace all the firearms in Big O, giving it a total disadvantage against another Big. ^^;

Apart from the story, I like the music used in the show as well. Although the clips are often reused between episodes, they always kick in at the right moments. The music's overall theme in my opinion is classical and jazz, which is very suitable to the vintage feel of the city, and the sense of emptiness from everyone who lost their memories and have to live on in a vast city. The music definitely compliment the story for "The Big O".

There weren't many merchandises released for "The Big O" during the decade, even when the anime was airing in 1999 and 2003. I believe there were one or two action figures released - U.S. based if not mistaken, a few figurines, gashapon, resin kit from various companies, and one model kit by Bandai.

Plamo kit of Big O - 1,500 Yen (exclusive of tax).
Images are from Hobbylink Japan.

I'm not sure why, but Max Factory seems to be picking up on "The Big O" this year, with the announcement of the mighty hefty Max Gokin version, to be released in April at the awesome price of 39,800 Yen (inclusive of tax). ^^;

The price is totally out of my reach. ^^;
Image is from Amiami.

Surprisingly, Big O is not an isolated release, as Max Factory also announced the release of two of its rivals in big sized figures at this year's Wonder Festival [Winter], held on the 6th of this month.

Soft Vinyl Figure Big Duo and Big Fau will be released in May and June respectively at 12,800 Yen each (inclusive of tax).
Images are from GA Graphic.

At the same event, the Figma version of Roger's female android sidekick, R. Dorothy Wayneright was shown as well.

June release, price TBA.
Image is from GA Graphic.

Like I said, it seems that Max Factory is very much into "The Big O" this year, for reason beyond me really. Then again, circling all the way back to this Soul of Chogokin version released by Tamashii Nation, I would say that its announcement in August 2009 was just as unpredictable as well. ^^

And I went through a lot of searching before finally getting it in October 2009. ^^

Introduction of the figure on the back of the box.

"Cast in the Name of God, Ye not Guilty"
It's great to see that this mysterious message from the anime is faithfully emphasized on this merchandise release as well. ^^

Apart from being the message flashing across the cockpit screen when the Bigs are activated, it's also the tagline that opens the entire anime.

Alan Gabriel in Big Duo Inferno is the only one getting the "Ye guilty" message. Having the ghost of Schwarzwald reading the verdict before Alan's undoing is one of the most memorable scenes from the entire anime for me.

"Sudden Impact", "Chrome Buster" and "Cannon & Missile Party" are just some of Big O's attacks as seen in the anime. "Chrome Buster" is actually the only attack move with the name mentioned by Roger in the show.

Mirror image of the figure's red silhouette on the box side, faithful designed after the opening sequence from the anime.

Scene from the opening sequence as a comparison.

Top and bottom views of the box.

Closeup on the figure's head sculpture and details on top of the box.

Box open.

The figure and all its parts are stored in two sets of containers of equal dimensions: one set of two plastic trays and another styrofoam container.

The two plastic trays, with one stacking on another are holding ...

... the arms, hand units and accessories of Big O ...

... as well as the display base.

Information booklet/manual that is included.

A thinner, somewhat tired-looking Roger Smith and a smiling Dorothy (super rare!) on the cover of the booklet.

Comparison with the characters' image from the anime.

Some pages from the booklet.

The original design of Big O?
Luckily he didn't turn out to be like this ...

... but this instead. ^^
The illustration shows the proportion study of Big O for this Chogokin release.

Comparison with the proportion from the opening credit.
Not a good comparison since the proportion is never that consistent between all the episodes in the first place. ^^;

Full color pictorial instruction on how to realize all the gimmicks and features.

A promo leaftet for Tamashii Nation 2009 in Taiwan, which was held in Taipei City between August 7 and the 30th, 2009. ^^;

The stylofoam box contains an "arm-less" Big O.
Plastic wrapper and styloform bars are used to protect and secure the figure inside the box.

Very precise cutting inside the styloform box to contain the figure, and a rough estimate of its size using my hand. ^^

A closer look on the figure in the next posting.

1 comment:

reeoyuy said...

I like styrofoam packaging. It's not environmentally friendly at all, but it's very classy and old-school. It has old gokin toys feel to it. And it's far more secure than plastic tray (and much easier to unpack without those twisty wires).

You should get that Max Gokin so we can have a comparison with SOC version^^