Yamato Supermodels: Characters

One of the nice things about Japanese garage kits is that they don’t focus only on mecha. In fact, at least half of them are exquisitely-designed statues of popular characters. While not uncommon in standard plamo [plastic model] form, figures aren’t what plamo does best. The tools and materials of garage kits are much better suited to rendering the human form since they are, at their most basic level, sculptures.

Yamato characters haven’t been turned into garage kits as often as those of other anime productions, but enough of them exist–of one standout character in particular–to fill up a skilled modeler’s shelf.

First up is Yamato‘s number one hero, Susumu Kodai [Derek Wildstar]. Surprisingly, only two Kodai figures are known to exist, one from Liberty Planet (above left) and another from Megahouse (above right) with helmet and gun. Each figure stands just under a foot tall. Both are from high-end toymakers and neither needs assembly or painting, so strictly speaking they don’t even belong in the garage kit category. But here they are anyway.

Dessler usually comes in second after Kodai for favorite character, but his figure count is slightly higher. To start, here’s the intensely focused Megahouse Dessler, which comes with an Ultra-Menace Missile.

Denboku soft vinyl makes an entire line of Gamilons which, if not for their double-size heads, might just be taken seriously. Just to be clever, Denboku released both blue and Caucasian Desslers to match the changeover in the first TV series.

From two unknown manufacturers we have a pseudo-Greek bust and a double-figure pack with both Dessler and Captain Okita. Being forced to share a box, the two have gotten on each others’ nerves and are insulting each other on the box label.

Speaking of the good captain, he got an early start as a garage kit from no less than Bandai, who released this 3″ metal Hero’s Hill figurine with wooden pedestal in March, 1979. It was an unusual product for them at the time and is extremely rare today.

The Hero’s Hill motif was used again by the Time Warp company, who released the 1/8 soft vinyl figure shown above left. They also made a Captain Okita costume set in 1999 for an pre-existing action doll, Kankichi Ryotsu from the police-comedy anime series Kochimame. The kit included an unpainted Okita head and the full costume shown on the doll above right. Time Warp also made a Dessler version.

Garage Kit giant Volks released a dignified-looking Okita figure at the 1993 Jaf-Con hobby show, and another company named Time House took a dramatic route when they paired up a battle-weary Okita with a large vinyl version of his battleship. They were released as a set in early 2001. See more photos of the set here.

Japan’s Plex Company (formerly known as Popy) has released several sets of Yamato miniatures in their “Mechanical Collection” series, but this figurine of the Hero’s Hill monument was a bit larger. Standing almost 8″ tall and 6″ square at the base, even the plaque at Captain Okita’s feet is readable. It was released in March, 2010.

Along similar lines, what could be easier than a straight-up sculpt of the Captain Okita bust that appeared on the bridge after Series 1? This has been attempted several times with varying results. The makers of the two versions shown here are as yet unknown. Both are metal, each just under 6″ tall.

The single-piece plastic version is also a mystery; its exact size is unknown, but it looks to be about the same as the first two. More authentic and larger versions have also popped up; above center is Liberty Planet’s 2006 Okita bust, and at right is one from hobby company Aoshima, released September 2010. Both stand just under 16″ tall. It will be difficult to resist asking the Aoshima bust for advice in hard times…

As a robot, our buddy Analyzer was a natural choice for modeling many times over. The first was, of course, the standard plamo version from Bandai, which started out in 1974 with a windup motor and then got a reissue four years later without one (though there was still a coin-sized slot in his back). The proportions of this kit are a little off, but it’s big enough to customize nicely in the hands of a pro.

See two examples of “detailed-up” Analyzer kits here.

Bandai’s toy division, Popy, was big on soft vinyl figures, and made this mini-Analyzer in three colors. It was part of a misguided early attempt to make Yamato appeal to the younger set, but its lack of success made toys like this into collectors items in later years.

The Nomura Toy company went all out during their tenure as a sponsor for Yamato 2 in 1978 and ’79. They came up with four different Analyzers for any occasion. From left to right, they were: a 5.5″ diecast metal action figure, an 8.5″ “Mystery Analyzer” with a reactive motor that allowed it to rebound off walls, a 4″ windup, and a 2.5″ windup. See the entire Nomura Toy line here.

Bandai struck again in 2000 when its Banpresto division made a 4″ plastic Analyzer that could light up, but was no match when pitted in battle against Nomura’s diecast version.

Designer toy maker Liberty Planet finally gave the world an almost picture-perfect Analyzer in 2007 (the arms are a little thin) that stood about 8″ and outdid all others in terms of detail. They released a bronze-colored version in tandem with another company called Zero Goods Universe in the Analyzer/Yuki “1974 First Design Version” set (above right).

See all the Yamato products released by both of these companies here.

An actual garage kit maker finally got everything right in this version. Unfortunately, no information is currently available about who made it and when. Isn’t that always the way?

It shouldn’t be surprising that not every garage kit is made equally. Case in point: this truly grotesque resin kit of “doughboy” Dr. Sado. This is a case where it’s not necessarily a bad thing to not know who made it. Then again, it’s under 3.5″ tall, so you can’t do much with that scale.

On the feminine side of the ledger, we have the ever-popular Sasha, rendered in resin by garage kit maker Grenade…

…an unbuilt 1/8 scale kit released by Time Warp in 1992, and a super-slinky Playstation version from more recent years. (Photo by Patrick Macias.)

But no character is more beloved than Yuki Mori, whose garage kit renditions far outnumber all others. We’ll start with the 1/8 resin cast kit from Grenade, which is simply too fetching for words.

Grenade’s Yuki is shown here with Banpresto’s Analyzer, who is about half the size required to be in scale. Grenade also issued their kneeling Yuki in translucent material, as shown above right.

AH26’s 1/8 resin cast Yuki tolerates no monkeyshines from boys while patrolling the corridors of Yamato with her cosmogun at the ready.

Here’s another 1/8 Yuki which comes with optional eye decals to suit personal taste. The maker is unknown.

This 1/6 scale nurse Yuki from Tsutsuji Studio is just what the doctor ordered, and is also a ripe target for a skirt-hungry Analyzer.

Tsutsuji Studio also makes a standing 1/6 Yuki that is the very definition of statuesque.

Another company that didn’t forget Yuki’s origins in the medical community was MRD, who released this version of Nurse Yuki Mori in December 2013. See more photos of her at the MRD website here

MRD also made this fetching version of Yuki in her EDF uniform as seen in Be Forever.

Two other versions, both 1/8 scale, include a reclining Yuki from GoGoHobby (which comes with an optional head you can use to turn her into Cosmo Tiger pilot Shiina from the Playstation 2 games) and a simple standing Yuki from J. Factory.

A girl likes to sit down after a long hard day fighting off Gamilons and skirt-chasing robots, as demonstrated in these two kits. The maker of the kit at left is unknown, but the one at right (called “Mori Yuki Warp!!”) came out from Katakamu in 2004.

Then there’s the record-setting 1/5 “Cosmic Beauty Yuki,” whose uniform appears to have just come out of the washer.

But if pre-built and pre-painted Yukis are more your style, there are plenty to choose from at either Liberty Planet or Zero Goods Universe. See their complete lineups here.

Family photos? The basic unspoken agreement between different manufacturers means a lot of figures with different pedigrees can share a shelf and not look out of place. Unless you’re Time House’s Captain Okita, that is.

But lest you think this page represents the entire world of Yamato character figures, new ones turn up at the many yearly hobby shows in Japan and show no signs of slowing down. Which isn’t bad for an anime series that began before most of the garage kit makers were born!

The End

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