Saturday, June 12, 2010

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, Part I

So here's a post about something other than RxH. I realize I've been inundating you, good readers, with quite a bit of 真 頭 trivia and musings, so tonight we take a break. I will let you know now that I am running on fumes and only have an hour to crank this out, so this should get pretty wild.

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Servo

Let me take you back... back to 1993 when Transformers turned into animals and when spandex was cool, as long as there were 5 people in different colors and 2 of them were girls. IT'S TIME TO SAMUUUUUURAAAAAAIZE.

Yes, Tsuburaya Productions, the famous studio behind the Ultraman franchise came up with a series that couldn't miss- a slight riff on Ultraman with a little bit of Transformers and sentai thrown in. They even brought in Takara to make the toys! And thus was born Denkou Choujin Gridman [電光超人グリッドマン]. Tsuburaya kaiju for the monster kids, Takara-made transforming mecha for the robot kids. Of course, since Power Rangers was an enormous hit at the time, Gridman was imported here by DIC Entertainment (you know you giggled at the kid that said "DEEEC" at the end of every show) and Playmates under the obnoxious-long title of "Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad."

I don't know about Japan, but Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad (SSSS) tanked over here. It's barely a blip on the cultural radar of most 90s kids. Heck, I bet more of you even remember the Masked Rider abomination that was on TV for a bit... or what about Big Bad Beetleborgs? *twitch* From what I can gather, the plot revolves around the main kid going into his computer and fighting virus monsters as Servo, assisted by the robot and dragon robots and his stoner band friends, Amp, Syd and Tanker. Something like that right? Who cares.

On to the toys. I got most of these in a 3-foot square box that I bought from an Internet friend in a parking lot. I can only imagine what people think when they see grown men exchanging wads of cash for boxes and bags of merchandise brought from the trunk of a car.

So here are the toys that you have probably seen:

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Servo

Servo. This is the 9" DX version of the main hero from SSSS. Servo is a crucial toy because he combines with his companion robots to form larger... robots. I ended up with 4 separate Servos in various stages of packaging. Not crazy.

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Servo

The original Japan version of this toy, DX Gridman, was a little more high-end. Servo still retains the battery casing on his back and the translucent plastic panels on his head and chest, although all electronics were removed when the toy was sold here. Servo also comes with a fair number of plastic accessories, which are attached to a plastic sprue in-package.

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - DX Zenon

Zenon. The DX version of Zenon, known as God Zenon in Japan. This is an absolutely enormous toy, if you can get a sense of size based on the Glyos toy next to it (assuming you know how large Glyos figures are). Zenon can both disassemble into 3 vehicles, as well as become armor for Servo, forming "Synchro."

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - ST Servo Synchro

Pictured here is the ST (i.e., Standard) version of Synchro. ST Synchro simply consists of armor that can be clipped on to the 6" Servo toy. I believe they were sold separately, but am not certain how the Zenon parts were packaged.

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - DX Drago

Drago. DX Drago is gorgeous, gargantuan combination of plastic and metal that puts most toys of the same era to shame. Seen here in a combination of his Jamb and Torb jet components, Drago can also transform into a robotic dragon AND become armor for Servo, forming "Phormo."

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - ST Servo Phormo

And this is the ST Phormo set. Interestingly, Phormo does not use the standard 6" Servo toy that forms the base for ST Synchro, instead packaging the extra parts with a cheaper version of Servo.

More on the DX and ST mecha later.

Now on to the toys that you may have seen.

Amp, Syd and Tanker were the Servo kid's friends in the show. I suppose they were given some sort of pseudo-Servo power-up armor in SSSS, since these 3 are called "Samurizing Battle Uniforms." In reality, this was a clever way for Playmates and DIC to sell the same toy over and over again in different color variations.

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Amp

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Syd

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Tanker

The 9" Amp, Syd and Tanker are identical in sculpt to the 9" Servo, except that the head crest has been removed. These characters and toys were only seen in the U.S. TV show and toy line, and have no counterparts in Japan.

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Digital Night Servo

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Electro Grid Servo

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Neutron Armor Servo

The American line also introduced 'mission' armors for 9" Servo, much like how Iron Man has armors for very, very specific situations (i.e., fighting Thor). The silver armor is "Digital Night Servo," gold is "Electro Grid Servo," and the half-assed red is "Neutron Armor Servo." I don't know if these were seen in the TV series. The gold and silver armors are quite nice, if not exceedingly flashy.

You probably have not seen these before. In fact, when my friend contacted me regarding these toys and told me that he had "most of the chrome ones," I had no idea what he was talking about. Taking a dog-eared page from the 90s toy playbook, Playmates apparently resorted to coating everything in chrome shortly before the line ended. This sub-line was known as "Metal Samurai."

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Metal Samurai Supercharged Amp

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Metal Samurai Supercharged Syd

Amp, Syd and Tanker were given "Supercharged" versions of their original uniforms. The slightly muted pink and olive chrome colors are really, well, interesting if nothing else. You may notice that they have helmet crests, unlike their non-chrome counterparts. The chrome has also held up extremely well over the years and has not flaked or bubbled (cross my fingers) like so many of Beast Wars toys. Unfortunately, my friend was missing the blue chrome Tanker. So I have something to look forward to.

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Metal Samurai Ion Array Servo

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - 9inch Metal Samurai Data Matrix Servo

Similarly, Servo's mission armors were expanded to include a silver chrome Ion Array armor and gold chrome Data Matrix armor. These are the true gems of the 9" line, in my view, as they take the classic hero colors of Servo and add matching chrome colors- these almost feel like they could have been Lucky Draw items in Japan. In any event very, very nice. I want to combine these with Zenon and Drago, but I am afraid of chipping the chrome. The plastic feels a little more brittle than normal on these chrome versions, so I would think twice before moving around stiff joints.

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - Metal Samurai accessories

The Metal Samurai series also came with a new accessory, which was a spring-loaded launcher with a couple different missiles.

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad - Metal Samurai co-sells

On the back of the box are listed the co-sells for this lineup. A Syber Sounds series was apparently intended to follow Metal Samurai, but the line was dropped before it could be released. Too bad, as these look to have been clear plastic versions of Amp, Tanker and Servo (and Syd?). Click on the photo to see the full-size version on my flickr page.

Aside from the 6" line and the 9" Metal Samurai Tanker (sob), these are essentially all of the larger toys from Playmates' Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad line. I had absolute no idea that about 75% of these existed until recently, and had never see the chrome versions until they came out of the box. So a big, big thanks to my friend that sold these to me. I hope this sheds a little more light on a fairly obscure- but worthwhile- toy line.

1 comment:

FortMax said...

I know this is an old entry, but I have some info on the ST Synchro armor.

ST Synchro was sold as a set, and used similar packaging to the ST Phormo.

As for the Servos from either set being sold separately, information on Syber Squad is too sparse for me to say they weren't, (also, you can never tell with Playmates), but I haven't seen any packaged.