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  1. It all started with an infrared toy gun game (similar to Lazer Tag) that Sega had created during the mid-80’s called Optical Trigger Zillion. The toy grew so popular that Sega worked with Tatsunoko Productions to make an animated series which centered on the Zillion guns. And so began the anime, Akai Koudan Zillion. Among the subcontractors who worked on Zillion were producer Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, and character designer Takayuki Goto. After making Zillion, Ishikawa and Goto would later form anime industry giant Production I.G. Incidentally, Mamoru Oshii also scripted three episodes of Zillion under a pen name, and would later work with Ishikawa for Patlabor: The Movie. Mecha designers included the studio responsible for Southern Cross designs, and rumor has it that Zillion mecha designs were originally made for the scrapped Robotech Sentinels project. Zillion ran for 31 episodes during 1987 and spawned an OAV, Zillion: Burning Night. Sega would further capitalize on Zillion by producing two video games for their Mark III/Master System. Sega even molded their new light gun accessory for their game system to look like the Zillion gun itself. It was during this time that Sega also released toys based on the show, including the original Zillion light gun toy, with new packaging based on the anime. The only way to buy the toys in the US was to rely on some specialty import shop, and even then one would be really lucky to see such a shop sell them. That’s exactly what happened when I was around 10 and saw toys of Champ and Apple, two protagonists from a Zillion video game I was really into at the time, inside an import hobby shop in LA. My uncle kindly bought me the Champ toy, and I remember the store owner saying that he used to sell the “bike and other vehicles from the show” too. “Bike?!” I thought to myself. “Show?! What show?” It wouldn’t be until a couple years later that I learned of the Zillion anime and its associated merchandise. The desire to get the other toys that store owner mentioned just grew into a small obsession through the years and even with the internet, it was still hard to obtain Zillion toys. Well, that obsession has finally come to an end as I have finally acquired a nice little set. So let me share my joy by showing off this little gallery I’ve prepared of some rarely seen toys. The first few pictures are of the transport vehicles used by the main characters of the show, the “White Nuts”. They are usually flown into their mission areas by a huge, white VTOL jet-the Big Porter. The Big Porter then drops off another vehicle that carries the White Nuts which could vary from an APC, a submersible, and even another jet. Just like in the anime, the smaller vehicles fit in the Big Porter quite snugly. The red APC features foldable winglets and pull-back motor for the center axle. The yellow submersible has a wind up motor for the main screw, and according to the instructions, can be placed in water. I haven’t tried this, and I don’t think I will in fear of rust damage, but the motor still seems very strong even after all these years. The blue jet features a small ramp and storage area for the tiny replica motorbikes the White Nuts use. The last picture of this set shows these motorbikes still on the sprue inside a plastic bag. I will probably lose them if I remove them from the sprue as they are just as long as my pinky nail. The next four pics are of two of the White Nuts themselves, Champ and Apple. Each comes with their own respective Zillion gun, eyepiece, and shoulder pads. Also included are instructions and a sticker sheet for the fine details. Of note is that Apple’s head, neck, hair and torso are all one piece, so no neck articulation for her. They are just a tad taller than the standard 3 ¾” GI Joe figure, and feature just as much articulation. I was real happy to get Champ back as I lost my original one during a move. Next up are pics of the White Nuts’ main combat motorbike, the RidingCeptor. The tires are made of solid rubber, which surprisingly had not degraded one bit. Included is a sidecar which houses a pull-back motor and a hidden machine gun. According to the instructions, the sidecar features a mechanism which allows it to separate from the bike once it’s in motion. I tried this out, but the sidecar would not separate. It did travel at a good clip across the kitchen table though. Also included are parts to attach a huge honking cannon to the sidecar. The cannon also comes in handy later, as you’ll see. The last piece of the set is a toy of the Tri Charger, the White Nuts’ transformable ATV. Also included is figure of the third member of the White Nuts, JJ. As an ATV, the Tri Charger is solid except for the front metal arm that is attached to the front wheel. The joint for the arm is simply not secure enough to support the front of the ATV, so it collapses when placed on the ground. It was quite an ordeal to actually make this make this thing look the way it should, without a tilted front wheel. Each rear wheel also has a strong pull back motor, but this feature is rendered useless because of the weak front wheel assembly. As a suit of armor though, the Tri Charger really shines. Transformation is easy, and the legs are strong enough to support the top half. The only problematic areas I found are the plastic links which hold the helmet to the chest piece. The links are segmented to allow some flex, but too much stress on it leaves a stress mark, as the ninth photo shows. Despite this, it’s still a pretty cool toy, especially when the cannon from the RidingCeptor is mounted on its shoulder. Just a few pics of JJ and his ride. It seems both the RidingCeptor and the TriCharger are portrayed much larger than their animated counterparts. This is especially true with the Tricharger; just watch the anime’s opening and compare its relative size to the rider. Overall, Sega did an excellent job with these toys, especially how they put in features even for the smallest ones, and the Tricharger is just on par with the likes of the Gakken Ride Armor. I’m real happy to finally have obtained my grail; my curiosity has been fulfilled, and now I feel if I had to stop toy collecting at this point, I wouldn’t have a problem...I think.
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