VARITANK Go Ranger PA-64 Toy DieCast Plastic transforming loose 1980s Takara Tomy Doreen Popy Shogun Warrior GoDaiKin Chogokin

$ 49.00

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VARITANK Go Ranger PA-64 Toy DieCast Plastic transforming loose 1980s Takara Tomy Doreen Popy Shogun Warrior GoDaiKin Chogokin

Very Nice!

Previously played with but in remarkable condition. I am rating it as Very Good+++ to Near Fine

See image.


Popy's legendary diecast toys are a ubiquitous presence on the Japanese toy scene. If you've ever bought a Shogun Warrior, you've bought a Popy toy. If you've ever bought a Godaikin, you've bought a Popy toy. If you've ever bought ANY Japanese diecast robot toy from the 1970s, well, you might as well have been buying a Popy toy. Popy's Chogokin and Popinika diecast toys set the standard that everyone else tried to imitate.

Legendary, defunct Japanese toymaker Popy launched the Chogokin series in 1973. Much like the words "Xerox" and "Band-Aid," the brand name has become a generic catchall term for robot figures molded out of diecast metal. Indeed, the very word itself, a semi-fictional term taken from the animated series Mazinger Z, means "super-alloy." Much to the surprise of many collectors, however, Chogokin toys weren't the first items Popy created and sold.

World-famous toy company Bandai founded Popy in July 1971 as a spin-off devoted to the creation of toys based on characters licensed from films, television, and comic books. Popy scored a grand-slam hit the very next year with their innovative Kamen Rider Henshin Belt, a vinyl-and-plastic replica of the one worn by the hero in the popular Kamen Rider television show.

As popular as the belt became, however, the major reason for Popy's success was a gamble on a material that hadn't been widely used for toys up until that point: diecast zinc-alloy. The British company Dinky had tried selling diecast space vehicles and cars in Japan, but had suffered sluggish sales due to the high price of the imported toys. It was still an open-ended question as to if Japanese children raised on a diet of tin and vinyl would take to solid metal, but Popy took the chance. In April of 1972, Popy released the "Mini-Mini Cyclone," a palm-sized metal and plastic motorcycle based on Kamen Rider's favorite vehicle. The Cyclone proved as successful as the belt and firmly established a market for diecast character toys.

Building on the strength of their previous successes, Popy obtained the rights to a new character, an animated giant robot known as Mazinger Z. Realizing Mazinger Z's charm as a towering robot of justice, Popy released the first piece in what would become a long running series of large-scale toys: the Jumbo Machinder Mazinger Z. Standing at two feet tall and constructed from a nearly indestructible material called polyethylene, the Mazinger Z would rack up sales of an astounding 400,000 units within five months.

It was probably only a matter of time before someone at Popy put two and two together, combining the best aspects of two of their most popular toy lines. In February of 1974, Bandai unveiled what would become a near-universally regarded classic of toy design, the Chogokin Mazinger Z. Molded from nearly solid diecast metal and featuring spring-loaded shooting fists, the five-inch-high figure would set a new standard for character toys. Although not as large as its Jumbo counterpart, the diecast Mazinger Z featured a satisfying metallic heft. And perhaps even more importantly, Popy sold it as a "Chogokin" toy -- that is, a toy that was made from the exact same "super alloy" as the robot in the animated series. Children couldn't get enough, and an entirely new concept was born.

Popy reigned as the undisputed king of the Japanese toy scene throughout the 1970s. Their Chogokin diecast robots and Mini-Mini (later to become "Popinika") diecast vehicles proved so popular in Japan that American toy firm Mattel imported and repackaged many of them as "Shogun Warriors." Parent company Bandai would get in on the act as well, repackaging the Deluxe Chogokin pieces as "Godaikin" for resale in America in the early 1980s. Other Japanese companies -- Takatoku, Clover, Takemi, Bullmark, and Nakajima, among many others -- tried to imitate Popy's diecast paradigm with varying degrees of success. Very few managed to reach or maintain the level of quality maintained by Popy's crack team of toy engineers.

All good things come to an end, however. Children's ever-changing tastes led to decreasing sales of diecast robots towards the end of the 1970s, and by March of 1983 Popy found itself re-absorbed into parent company Bandai. Popy's efforts had legitimized and validated the character-toy industry; the influence of their many innovations can be felt in Japan and across the world even today. And while Popy may be gone, the brand they created endures. Bandai has continued using the Chogokin name near continuously since Popy's demise. In 1997, they unveiled an all-new series of toys, dubbed "Soul of Chogokin," to snare nostalgic adult collectors of Popy's toys of old.

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