If you’re like me, you’re a cheapass, home-bound fan of terrible anime and giant robots. And that means you use Google Image Search to look at pictures of various plastic model kits of your favorite terrible anime giant robots and go “hey, that red Zaku II would look great next to one of my piles of manga!” But you still have that “cheapass” label to contend with and spending $20 or more bucks on some official item that looks really good and will last forever just isn’t worth it to you. If only an enterprising group of toy pirates would create easily broken, ugly recreations of your favorite robots in the cheapest plastic they could find and sell it to you at almost half the price of the high quality, official product!
Gentlemen, your prayers have been answered. You have been given KING ROBOT.
I found KING ROBOT (“ROBOT KING” on the box, but “KING ROBOT” is written on the robot itself) at at BigLots, which serves up random-as-fuck merchandise from places going out of business. I had seen these sorts of things in the toy aisle before: cheap knockoffs of various anime robots, usually something from an aborted Transformers cartoon running at 5:00 AM. They’re packaged in over-sized boxes and priced at $10-$15 in the hopes that some kid will recognize one of them from some anime he saw once, perhaps, but couldn’t name it exactly and so the random Engrish on the box wouldn’t confuse the child or alert him to the fact that he was screaming at his mother to purchase what was bound to be uncool, shoddy merchandise.
I once saw a fairly good Gundam SEED knockoff toy at BigLots, which I remember only for the fact that the attempt was brazen enough to have the actual SEED characters plastered around the box. I’m all for kicking reason to the curb, but that just sounds like you’re asking for a lawsuit.
KING ROBOT, though, is something else entirely. Particularly astute or particularly Asperger’s-suffering readers will notice that KING ROBOT passes more than a close resemblance to ZZ Gundam‘s, uh, titular ZZ Gundam. An extremely good (but still poor) copy of the real thing. Dare to compare at MAHQ; not only is KING ROBOT a cheap plastic duplicate of the thing down to minor details, but it includes (a horrible, abortive attempt at) the transformation system that the original ZZ Gundam had. There’s even an alternate red color scheme, which I have affectionately dubbed the “KING ROBOT Char Custom.”
The ZZ (read as “Double Zeta”) Gundam is from a particularly un-Gundam series, so much so that the recent Z Gundam movies seem to write out ZZ Gundam from canon entirely. It’s mainly seen as a “joke” series that got made when the people behind Gundam were given the go-ahead to produce the much better, and much more serious, Char’s Counterattack. Kind of fitting in with ZZ Gundam‘s less-serious plot, the ZZ itself is kind of a throwback to the craziness of Super Robots— sure, it’s a Gundam, but it’s a Gundam that has an extensive, three-part “gattai” (that just means “combination”) sequence, kind of taking the “serious war story” of the Gundam series into the backyard and shooting it. Perhaps because it’s so gimmicky, though, the very same Gundam fans who hate ZZ Gundam the series love ZZ Gundam the robot, because it’s just so out of place. That doesn’t make any sense, of course, but that’s anime fandom for you.
Anyways, the toy is terrible on a whole bunch of levels in general, but for a knockoff, it’s a brave knockoff and I’m not even talking about having the team name “AEUG” on the robot with an M attached to hopefully divert suspicion (or having the official Gundam model number right on the goddamn box). It’s brave because even though this toy is the cheapest plastic and paint I’ve ever seen on a toy, it still attempts to give the ZZ Gundam the hideously complex transformation modes it has in the series.
The back of the box is given mostly to how to actually transform this piece of junk from one robot into one plane, which then turns into three separate planes. Now, with the whole cheap plastic thing going on, actually getting this to work is pretty impossible (such that I couldn’t get the G-Fortress one-plane mode to actually snap together) but still, for guys who are stupid enough to actually think that someone won’t immediately realize this is the ZZ Gundam, they tried to be pretty clever with the transformation sequence. It’s not a good toy by any means, but for a knockoff it’s at least a (theoretically) full-featured piece of crap.
And besides: why pay $20 bucks or more for something that will last you forever at an imported goods website when a seven-dollar terrible clone which will last you an entire 15 minutes before falling apart is available at a shifty resale store near you? KING ROBOT is the obvious choice.
Some of the later entries in the “anime robot knockoff clones” series have an actual Engrish story on the box, about five sons (who are also robots) fighting for their kingdom, so a Transformers knockoff might be in my near future. Usenet and Transformers websites also claim there’s a Gundam X KING ROBOT out in the wild, too, and I can’t not have that. Stay tuned!