Sunday, September 4, 2011

[Mospeada] (Lan)Say What, Gakken?

Gakken/Lansay - 1/35 Legioss Iota

Gakken/Lansay - 1/35 Legioss Iota

Let me take you back to the year 1993. Bill Clinton had begun his first term in the White House, the world acclimated itself to the shiny, new Windows 3.1 environment, “Bobbitt” entered into the national vernacular and Magic: The Gathering saw its first general release as 3rd Edition. (I’ll let you guess which of those facts was not entirely sourced from Wikipedia.) But more importantly for us, 1993 was the year that my friends and I discovered Robotech.

The local video rental store, which carried all three Robotech series and The Sentinels movie in VHS, provided my weekly fix. They also had edgier stuff like Clash of the Bionoids (aka, Macross: Do You Remember Love) and Macross 2, but the restricted content stickers (cartoon boobies) on the video boxes removed any hope I might have had of seeing them at the time. My friends and I also pored over The Sentinels art books- checked out from our library- and Palladium RPG (yes, a Robotech RPG) sourcebooks. Video rentals and libraries; these were different times, friends.

Unfortunately for us, it was nearly a decade since anything Robotech had actually aired in the U.S. and new merchandise was few and far between. Playmates Toys did us a solid when they released reproductions of the original Matchbox toys under the brilliant-but-doomed Exosquad line. But in Hawaii, we got something even better. Back in the 80s and 90s, a store in Honolulu called Jelly’s was THE place to get your comics, gaming and anime merchandise (they sell mostly used books and music these days), and around 1993, someone unearthed a bunch of dead stock Gakken Mospeada toys. These were the overseas versions made in Singapore with garish boxes ambiguously marked “Mospeada / The Henshin Robo.” I remember seeing both the DX and smaller transforming Cyclones; not sure if any of the Alpha/Legioss turned up. At $15 a pop, the smaller Cyclones satisfied my need for some transforming motorcycle hand candy; the $50 DX Cyclone was unfortunately beyond my means. It’s hard to imagine now, but these sat around in the Jelly’s stores for a year or more before completely selling out.

I didn’t know until fairly recently that these were international versions of the Gakken Mospeada toys (sold without reference to the Robotech name), and had believed them to be high-quality bootlegs. Even more strangely- these overseas versions were also distributed in France by a company called Lansay Toys. (Lansay is also the source of the mythical TLEAD toy.) So, in summary, you can find Mospeada toys from Japan, U.S. and France, with varying forms of packaging.

While I still lust after the DX Cyclone in my dreams (where it is still sub-$200 MIB), I had a nice stroke of luck recently when I found this unopened 1/35 Gakken/Lansay Legioss. This is more of a packaging variant than anything else, and is generally not highly sought after (most collectors prefer the version that was made and sold in Japan). However, it is something that I’ve wanted for a while and the price was right. (Can’t say that the tacky chrome-gradient lettering doesn’t make me wax a bit nostalgic as well.)

The 1/35 Gakken Legioss is the best rendition of the Alpha Veritech to date, in my view. Toynami and CM’s Corp. have both released updated toys of this mecha, but neither really captures the delicious blocky aesthetic of the Gakken- show-accuracy be damned. And man, this thing is even bigger than I thought! The Glyos figure next to it is about 2.5” tall and could almost stand in for the pilot.

So knock another one off ‘the list.’ If you’ve read through this wall of text, thank you for indulging my bout of collector’s nostalgia. Now how 'bout that DX Cyclone?

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