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I ended up with more photos for this than my last three Transformers reviews combined, so I'm going to break this up into two parts.  So this is part one of my Soul of Chogokin GX-71 review: the Lions.

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Black Lion.  With these guys in hand, it's interesting to see how similar the sculpt is on the Playmates '84 Lions.  I wonder how much of that is because they're obviously both referencing the same source material, and how much of it was Playmates actively copying Bandai's sculpt?  Regardless, you're not likely to mistake one for the other.  Despite Bandai's lions being smaller they're significantly heavier.  I didn't bother to put anything on a scale, but I'd venture that the Black Lion (maybe the Yellow or blue) are heavier alone than the entire Playmate's Voltron.  I don't have any patented Cold Touch technique, but off hand I'd say that on Black the lower legs and feet, the hips and shoulders, and at least parts of the pelvis and chest are diecast.  There's more paint on the SoC, and it's cleanly applied (unlike the Playmates).  There's gold paint on the hips, ears, and eyes, silver paint on the waist, hips, and mouth (no white).  Plus the lower legs are chrome.  As a child of the '80s the mix of chrome and diecast is hitting all the right nostalgia notes.  But more than that, the tasteful use of diecast and chrome combined with judicious use of neatly-applied paint gives this set a premium feel.

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Red Lion.  Again, gold eyes, lots of silver paint, and chrome legs.  Little black on the nose and collar, and metallic blue on the stripe on his back.

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Green Lion.  Silver paint and chrome legs, gold eyes and the circles on his jaw.  Black and red paint on his back.  Red and Green have diecast legs and the base of their tails, as well as part of the joint in their waists.

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Blue lion.  Chrome legs, gold eyes, some silver paint.  I think the black is paint, too, except for the big circle in the middle of his torso, but the blue, red, and yellow seem like bare plastic except for a few spots like its butt flap and neck. 

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Yellow Lion.  Chome legs, lots of silver paint, and blue eyes.  The black is painted, except of the circle in the middle of his torso.  The red on his face is paint, but the red parts on his back are plastic.  Blue and Yellow have diecast legs, and while they seem to be primarily blue/yellow plastic on the outside at least some of their inner workings are diecast.

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This set comes with a ton of accessories, so I'll try to break them down by lion.  For starters, there's a sticker sheet with toy-style numbers to put on the lions.  I had Voltron toys when I was a kid, so I'm sort of tempted, but even quality stickers feel like they'd cheapen the premium feel of these figures.

As for the other accessories, the manual has names for them written out in English, but the English doesn't match the katakana.  Differences between Voltron and Golion, maybe?  For simplicity, I'll just use the printed English names.  So for the Black Lion, we have the Black Lion Mouth Blade and a pair of Rotary Cannons.

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The mouth blade has notches that fit around the Black Lion's teeth, but no mechanism to lock it in.  The rotary cannons simply plug into the ports on its shoulders.

As far as articulation goes, it can rotate its head, look up and down, and open its jaws.  It's shoulders rotate on ratchets, and some extending hinges allow you to splay them out or butterfly them in a bit.  Its ratcheted elbows can bend about 45 degrees forward and, for whatever reason, over 90 degrees backward.  Its front paws tilt up and down on ratchets, plus the front of the way is on a ball joint for some extra tilt or as ankle pivots.  It has a very limited waist swivel, but it does have a bit of forward ab crunch and a little sideways waist tilt.  Plus, part of its butt unlocks from the waist and can tilt further down.  The tail is hinged at the base, then about halfway along its length is a ball joint.  Its ratcheted hips can bend forward or backward, plus extend about 45 degrees laterally.  Its thighs swivel, and its knees can bend a little forward and well over 90 degrees backward.

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Red and Green both come with their mouth blades.  Then Red has Lava Cannon (top) and Plasma Flash Cannon (bottom), while Green has a Laser Cannon (top) and a Shooting Star (bottom).  Note that the Red Lion's gear has round pegs, and the Green's has tabs.

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Both the mouth blades have tabs that fit into slots on the roofs of the lions' mouths.  The other accessories fit onto their shoulders, using pegs and peg holes for Red and tabs and slots for Green.

Red and Green have the same articulation, which is to say that their jaws open, their necks swivel, they can look up and down and tiny bit to the side.  Their shoulders and hips rotate on what seem to be diecast balls going into plastic sockets.  That gives them some ability to splay their legs as well.  Elbows and knees are friction hinges that bend as much as you could want in the correct directions, and about 90 degrees in the wrong direction on the back legs.  The feet tilt up and down on a friction hinge with a swivel to give them ankle pivots.  Their tails have an up/down ratchet at the base, with a ball joint between the diecast and plastic parts.  They have swivels on both sides of the silver section in the middle.  Aside from using one as a waist swivel, this allows you to use the joint in the middle as an ab crunch, a back arch, or a sideways, serpentine bend.

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Blue and Yellow come with their mouth blades, then Blue comes with a Triple Barrel Mortar Cannon (top) and Shoulder Cannon (bottom).  Yellow has Dual Shoulder Blockbuster Turrets (top) and a Radial Shotgun Shoulder Blaster (bottom).  Once again, one lion has pegs and peg holes (Blue) while the other uses tabs and slots (Yellow).

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And just like the Red and Green, the mouth blades have tabs that fit into the roofs of the lions' mouths while their other accessories attach to their shoulders.

The Blue and Yellow lions have hinged ball joints in their necks, so they can actually look up or to the sides better than the other three lions, plus a ratcheted joint (probably meant more for transformation) rotates their entire neck up on the torso.  Unfortunately, they can't really look down.  Their shoulders and hips rotate on friction joints, and hinges allow them to splay their legs.  Their elbows and knees bend on ratchets, with a range similar to the Red and Green in the anatomically correct direction.  Their front legs also bend nearly the whole way up the wrong way, too.  Their feet bend up and down on friction hinges, and can swivel to provide ankle pivots.  Their tails are hinged at the base, with a ball joint near the base.  The round part of their torsos have a hinge to allow a slight bend to either side, and a ratcheted hinge allows you to arch their backs.

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For the most part, the articulation is good enough to get all five lions into sitting poses.  The tails get in the way a little on the Red and Green.  Black can't quite get its butt down low enough, so it looks a little like it's squatting to poop.

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All five lions have weapons in their mouths.  For the Red and Green, the double-barreled guns are a separate piece that's hinged inside.  For the other three the missiles you'll find in their mouths don't move.

The cannon on the Yellow Lion's back can swivel up.  Blue, Red, and Green all have hatches that open to reveal some kind of weapons inside.

As lions, my complaints are very few, and it basically comes down to I wish they had a little more articulation in the necks and tails.  Blue and Yellow can't look down enough, Red, Green, and Black can't look sideways enough.  If you try to go too far the heads will pop off of every lion except the black.  As for the tails, the lone ball joint in each of them doesn't offer much range.  Oh, and I wish the Black Lion's wings didn't sit so far up from his back.  But despite these minor quibbles these are by far the most articulate, highest quality lions I've handled.  They marry the diecast and chrome of the '80s with modern toy engineering and aesthetics that carefully blend the old Bandai/Matchbox toys with the animation.  I'm already prepared to say these are excellent toys, and I haven't even got to the combined mode.

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And now the second part of my Soul of Chogokin GX-71 review- Voltron.

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Again, I'm struck by the similarities in sculpt between the SoC and Playmates '84 Voltron.  The biggest difference is in the proportions of the torso; SOC is a bit shorter and wider proportionally, and then partly for better animation accuracy and partly to keep the arms proportional the Red and Green lions' necks collapse.  These improvements are for the better, IMHO.

But as with the lions themselves, there's no mistaking the significantly higher quality on the SoC.  The chromed diecast parts gleam under even minimal lighting.  Voltron's ears, plus the gold on his chest and belt, are gold chrome.  None of that unpainted gray plastic that's so abundant on the Playmate's is visible on the SoC- if it isn't chrome, it's silver paint.  It's pretty heavy, weighing a little more unarmed than MP Ultra Magnus, but you don't even have to pick it up to know that it's heavy.  It just looks heavy or dense, if that makes sense.

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There are a few more Voltron-specific accessories in this set we haven't talked about yet.  There's a Spinning Laser Blade (aka the shield) and a handle for it, two Solar Combat Spears, an alternate "roaring" face, and (of course) the Blazing Sword.  I included the Spinning Laser Blade and Blazing Sword from the Playmates version for comparison, and it's really no contest.  The blades are chromed instead of unpainted gray plastic, with sharper details and a more refined sculpt.  While both Spinning Laser Blades sport some gold paint, the SoC also has some metallic blue and red.  As for the Blazing Sword, the Soc has red, silver, and gold paint.  As for the blue, I'm not totally sure that it's paint, but it's at the very least a finish on the plastic.

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If that were all the accessories I'd say it'd be more than enough, but Bandai also included these parts to make a stand.  They're molded a bit to look like the Castle of Lions, although I'm not sure that it's totally successful.  There's also no paint on these pieces, but complaining about it after all the paint and chrome on everything else would be like a car dealer offering to throw in a branded jacket for buying a Ferrari and then complaining that the jacket is a windbreaker instead of leather.

One thing I absolutely love is that Bandai included two name tags for the stand.  One is the Golion logo, which makes sense since Bandai technically makes the Soul of Chogokin line for Japan.  But, fully aware of the international popularity of Voltron and the willingness of fans to import figures like this, Bandai also included a tag with the Voltron logo.  (And actually, if you bought yours from an American store, the Golion box comes with a Voltron slipcover over it.)

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My biggest complaint about the Playmates Voltron wasn't that the paint was kind of sloppy, or that it was covered in unpainted gray plastic.  You get what you pay for, after all.  My biggest complaint was that it had fairly limited articulation.  I'm happy to say that while their are a few concessions to the fact that Voltron is made from five combining lions articulation generally isn't a problem for the SoC Voltron.  It's head can turn about 45 degrees to the left or right (unfortunately up and down tilt is one of the aforementioned concessions).  The shoulders rotate and can extend 90 degrees laterally, both on ratchets.  And something I like is that there are sliders that lock the Black lion's legs in place, so Voltron's chest doesn't turn with the arms.  As mentioned previously, the arms have bicep rotation above the elbow joints, and a second rotation below it should you need it.  The elbow has a ratcheted hinge that, by itself, seems like it won't quite get you 90 degrees of bend.  However, you can pull the forearms to reveal a second friction hinge, and combined you'll get over 90 degrees of elbow bend.  Although the lions' necks collapse Voltron still has wrist rotation, and the lions' jaws open and close to allow Voltron to grab objects.  Voltron's waist swivel is, unfortunately, fairly limited.  However, you do get a modest ab crunch and even a little sideways bend.  His hips are ratcheted forward a little under 90 degrees and backward about 45; do note that even though they're ratcheted they can't really hold up the weight of the diecast in his legs.  And his hips can only go about 45 degrees laterally.  This is good enough for some action stances, but don't expect Voltron to do a high kick or anything.  Voltron's thighs swivel, and his ratcheted knees get a little under 90 degrees.  The sideways bends in the Blue and Yellow lions make for modest ankle pivots, and if you need more your can turn the lion's heads.  They also move up and down for foot tilt.  Unlike the Playmates version you're not relying solely on the lion's legs for heel support, either, as there are little fold-out spurs on the lions' chests.  As a result, Voltron is very stable.

Voltron holds the Blazing Sword the same way as the lions hold their mouth blades; a tab on the handle goes into the roof of the lion's mouth.

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The additional joints that give the Black lion some spread and butterfly on its front legs also gives Voltron a slight butterfly joint as well.  Between that and the elbows you can get the heads of the Red and Green lions to touch, although it's a little short of the "form Blazing Sword!" position.  And although the lions have the limited ability to look left and right, a little more range would have been better for some sword-pointing poses.

Voltron can hold the Spinning Laser Blade by plugging the tab on the handle into the roof of the lion's mouth, then plugging the Blade onto the handle.  The top of the handle swivels, if necessary to get the pose you want.

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And of course Voltron holds the Solar Combat Spears exactly the same as the Blazing Sword or Spinning Laser Blade- insert the tabs on the handle into the roofs of the lions' mouths.  Personally, although I'm sure I'll end up displaying Voltron with the Blazing Sword, I do really like the dual-wielding swords look.  You'll notice, though, that one of them has a tab on the bottom.  That tab fits into a slot on the other one, and calling the resulting double-bladed weapon a spear starts to make a little more sense.

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Now, while the SoC Voltron comes with just about every accessory you could possibly want, as a collector of 3P MP-style figures I often find that I'll display my figures posed on a shelf with one or two signature accessories while the rest end up in a box in the closet.  It could easily have been the case here, where I'd pose Voltron with the Blazing Sword and have a box full of mouth blades and shoulder cannons in the back of my closet, but Bandai really went the extra mile with the castle-ish display stand.  See, it's not for Voltron, it's for the accessories.  You start by putting the spare face and Spinning Laser Blade on the base.  The sides and "stairs" sit on the base.  The Blue and Yellow lions' shoulder weapons and the Spinning Laser Blade's handle fit onto the sides of the stand.  The Black, Red, and Green lions' shoulder weapons plug onto a tray that sides into notchest on the back of the stand, making a little shelf.  Then the Solar Combat Spears and five mouth blades go up the stairs, leading to the the Blazing Sword on top.  It stores essentially every accessory.  Really, the only thing that it doesn't have storage for is the alternate name plate (which is mildly disappointing, since I think a spot on the underside could have been made to accommodate it).

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The stand actually has one more little treat.  Remember I said the heads of the Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow lions popped off?  That's not a loose ball joint or something, it's an intentional design to reference times in the show when Voltron would fire off a fist or foot.  Now, if you pull out the shelf that the Black/Red/Green lions' shoulder weapons plug into and flip it over you'll find a quartet of circular pegs.  These pegs fit into the lions' severed necks, and on the other side is a smaller peg hole.  Those peg holes then let the heads fit onto a Tamashii Nations Act 4 clear display stand, allowing you to pose Voltron in a post-fire position.

So, I don't collect Soul of Chogokin figures, or even very many non-Transformers figures.  I can't tell you that the SoC Voltron is the best Voltron ever, because I know there are a lot of other Voltron toys that I don't have experience with.  Some of them are bigger, some of them have better articulation.  Some of them combine, some don't.  And maybe one of them might tickle your fancy a bit better.

What I can tell you is that this set delivers five solidly-built lions with good articulation that isn't compromised too much by the fact they transform.  And they combine into a Voltron toy that's not so huge that it's hard to find a display space for, but not so small that it's lacking in shelf presence.  It's got proportions that instantly recall the cartoon I loved to watch as a kid, with the diecast and chrome of the toys I had as a kid, but with the engineering and articulation of a modern toy designed for adult collectors.  It's got all the accessories you could possibly want for both the lions and Voltron, plus it gives you a display-worthy place to put them all.  So while I can't declare this the definitive Voltron toy, I can tell you that it feels like something special.  I can tell you that it's an all-around excellent toy that's an excellent representation of a beloved childhood icon.  I can say that, despite being one of the most expensive single pieces in my collection that it looks and feels like it's absolutely worth the asking price.  And if you're a Voltron fan then I highly recommend this piece.  In fact, I had a FOMO preorder on the GX-88 Soul of Chogokin Vehicle Voltron/Dairugger.  I was recently thinking about cancelling it; $350 is a lot, and it's coming awfully close to the holidays.  And I'm just not as strongly attached to Vehicle Voltron as I am to Lion Voltron.  But now that I have GX-71 in hand all I can think about is how good GX-88 is going to look with it.

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6 hours ago, mikeszekely said:

Some of them are bigger, some of them have better articulation.  Some of them combine, some don't.  And maybe one of them might tickle your fancy a bit better.

@mikeszekely Thanks for the review. 

What Voltron's are bigger?

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7 hours ago, sqidd said:

@mikeszekely Thanks for the review. 

What Voltron's are bigger?

Offhand, the Playmates '84 and the Toynami Ultimate EX for transforming Voltrons, the Titan Power King of Beasts if you don't mind one that doesn't turn into lions.

There's also the Toynami Masterpiece 30th anniversary and the Mad Toys/Icarus Voltrons, but AFAIK they're about the same size as the SoC.

Of all of those, all I personally own are the SoC and Playmates.

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13 hours ago, sqidd said:

@mikeszekely Thanks for the review. 

 

What Voltron's are bigger?

The biggest combining Voltron is the Mattel Club Lion Force Voltron. Though we'd all be forgiven for trying to forget it.

voltron-comparison.jpg?resize=475%2C800

(Photo nabbed from TheFwoosh)

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While I'm very much looking forward to SoC Vehicle Voltron/Dairugger, what I'd really love is an SoC Legendary Defender Voltron. Does anyone know if LD was well-received in Japan? I'm pretty sure it was on Japanese Netflix.

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Un-boxed this guy. I love how it looks. But, it feels a bit chintzy. Certainly not SOC quality. I'm 50/50 on if I regret buying it. I guess I've spend more money on dumber things.:p

 

 

Evil Voltron.jpg

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I wished they did the same  internal packaging  style for the GX 71, Car Voltron is looking sweet!

image.png.9efbb7f827ff9de02705cc454f936024.png

 

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On 9/21/2019 at 9:44 AM, mikeszekely said:

While I'm very much looking forward to SoC Vehicle Voltron/Dairugger, what I'd really love is an SoC Legendary Defender Voltron. Does anyone know if LD was well-received in Japan? I'm pretty sure it was on Japanese Netflix.

I really hope SoC LD happens

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On 9/30/2019 at 5:46 AM, Silverstreak said:

I really hope SoC LD happens

I have no idea where I'd put it. 

But if they make a SOC Legendary Defender, I'd hope they make the Sincline combiner too.

And while we're at it, it'd be awesome if they did the Fleet of Doom robeast combiner.

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Rushing around this morning. Will take better shots later but this is so awesome and amazing. 

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Nice!

Where did you order him from?

I’m still waiting for some sort of shipping processing notice from NY. <_<

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eBay. Paid a little more but not bad overall and got him in 3 days from japan 

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I got my preorder in at Amazon, and they're saying it's not coming until late November. Fine with me, I need the time to save up.

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17 hours ago, mikeszekely said:

I got my preorder in at Amazon, and they're saying it's not coming until late November. Fine with me, I need the time to save up.

How late in November?

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59 minutes ago, Mommar said:

How late in November?

32nd

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15 hours ago, Mommar said:

How late in November?

My order says "arriving by the 27th," so I've probably got until the 24th or so to save.

EDIT:  Or not. Amazon emailed me to day with an "actually, it'll arrive on the 26th" message.

Edited by mikeszekely

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On 10/31/2019 at 11:59 AM, kanedaestes said:

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I've been tempted- the articulation for it looks decent given what they had to work with, especially since this seems to cost in the same range as people selling the old non-articulated Matchbox version.

Granted, with the rest of my stuff coming in over the next couple of months, I've been holding off on this one.

 

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The articulation is actually pretty awesome. Better than the GoLion version in some ways

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Looks great. I’m still waiting on the “waiting for NY to ship” train. Weird how they do business when you can already buy one at a marked up price but they can’t ship for the the original pre orderers 

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Dairugger thoughts:

This guy is very fun to combine in all of his modes and there's a high sense of satisfaction when doing so. The paint is beautiful and it has a ton of details picked out on each vehicle. Articulation in combined mode is pretty good, but I'm not sure how long those hinges at the ankles and torso will last before they need some super glue for tightening. The hinges are tight for now. All of the modes are pretty solid with one exception. In full Dairugger mode the blue copter does not connect as solidly as the red copter does to the right shoulder. When you manipulate the left shoulder it stays in for the most part until you use the outward (abduction) motion of the shoulder. The outward motion of the shoulder is a double jointed hinge and ratchet that is pretty tight when you want to get the joints to end range. However, once you get the arm posed it stays on Dairugger without issue. I would also be careful when bending the right knee. You want to make sure the bottom knee block is aligned before bending the actual knee otherwise it could catch at a point and it will make it difficult to bend the knee without the connection coming undone. Finally, taking the red jet off of the chest is a little scary tight . I recommend, to apply force on the red jet in and up to release the top connector first. While I appreciate the elbows being double ratchet joints, I wish they would have worked in some more range as the elbow probably bends about 70 degrees.

So far a pretty good effort from Bandai to realize a fully combining and articulated Dairugger XV. Bandai brought their A game here on the engineering and accessory end. I do wish the left shoulder connection was tweaked a bit more to withstand the outward shoulder joint's tight tolerances. For now enjoy some pictures and some examples of the articulation you can pull off. 

IMG_20191101_231958246_HDR.thumb.jpg.eb1c9b5dff129002532f502d4a9e3fae.jpg

 

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Beautiful fun pictures there @SuperHobo! I would have never attempted poses like that if you didn’t make me aware of them. Excellent review. 

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30 minutes ago, Grey728 said:

Beautiful fun pictures there @SuperHobo! I would have never attempted poses like that if you didn’t make me aware of them. Excellent review. 

No problem. I always enjoy trying to show-off what a toy is capable of to really get the fully experience out of it. One more pic to get the Obari sword pose. 

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Jealous.  I’m hoping Amazon Japan has more to sell later on cause I’m refusing to pay NY markup pricing and eBay scalper markup.  

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7 hours ago, SuperHobo said:

 

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$$$$$$ SHOT!!!!! :wub:

 

I told the wife tonight that I really wanted to just hand her the shipping box when it gets here and find it under the Xmas tree a few weeks later, just like so many years ago when my parents got me all 3 sets of the Matchbox one.  (which I still have today)

Edited by derex3592

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I had to cancel my pre-order at BBTS due to some sudden financial issues, hopefully we eventually get a re-issue like Lion Voltron. 

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