12/31/05- This is a little embarrassing: In earlier reviews I said I didn't want these two releases from Medicom on the grounds that their designs didn't appeal to me. Maybe it's something about critical mass (buy them all!), or it's that Collector's Dementia that I keep talking about (buy them all!), but I felt compelled to buy them. The truth is that I still don't like the unartistic, bug-like design of Zetton, and I still think Metoron Seijin's color scheme is garish and ugly. More than anything else though, it was the recent Ultraman Max episodes starring these two creatures that pushed me over the edge. They motivated me to rewatch the original Ultraman and Ultraseven episodes, which made me realize how iconic these two guys were. I stopped seeing them purely in terms of design: they've got rich backgrounds, and nostalgia weighs in heavily. Given that, I now feel hopelessly doomed to Buy Them All!
I'm reviewing both of these together because they're very similar in construction and properties. They're both nearly full rubber-suited dolls (like Medicom's Jamila) with non-removeable suits, and suffer from the usual poseability restrictions that full rubber suits impose at the 12"/30 cm scale.
Zetton... hey, I like breasts, but not yellow ones on giant bugs, and especially with lights inside. Some folks like the design and I will agree that it's certainly a distinctive design. It just looks "soulless" to me, with black holes where you expect eyes. This happens to match the style of his relentless and machine-like attacks on Ultraman, and maybe deepens the sense of sorrow when Ultraman is defeated. When it's all over, the soulless creature stands there like a machine that's completed its task, with its motor still idling.
In the original episode, the relationship between the giant creature who battles Ultraman and the human-size alien who infiltrates and sabotages the Science Patrol headquarters was a little unclear. They look completely different, but both say "Zet-ton", and the big one was called "Zetton". I don't think we were supposed to analyze it beyond that. The Ultraman Max episode makes it clear that the human-sized one is Zetton Seijin (the alien), who controls the large-sized Zetton Kaiju (the monster, or "Space Dinosaur"(???)). No matter. The Zetton kaiju isn't a lithe and limber street-fighter; he basically stands there, stepping forward and backwards, lifting up his arms, shooting rays, and forming energy shields. This conveys a machine-like aura of invincibility, but it's no wonder-- his costume's a rubber straitjacket! Medicom's version is therefore an accurate rendition of the costume, especially when it comes down to replicating the very limited amount of poseability. Unfortunately, it's even a little less poseable since all the bellows and folds in the casting add up to a fairly thick wall of rubber for the articulation skeleton to fight against: Human muscle-power does a much better job at that in a 1:1 scale rubber suit. You certainly won't be posing this guy lying on his belly sighting down the scope of a Springfield. The doll wears a full rubber suit, glued together so that it's non-removeable (or intended to be), with a rigid plastic shell glued to his backside.
12/09/17- I've had a number of Medicom's inner figures (armatures) spontaneously break without cause, but this isn't one of them. In fact, this one held up perfectly during the brutal suit extraction... I was astounded!
I recently replaced King Joe's RAH armature (which had broken) using a Phicen female figure with stainless steel armature. Size-wise, it was a good and easy fit, and greatly improved the the arm poseability. I liked it so much that I bought some more Phicen figures and scoped out candidates for armature replacement. Besides improving the poseability, I wanted to replace plastic figures that might break before they did.
Zetton was a good candidate because its arm poseability was pretty limited; more importantly, it was relatively easy to disassemble the doll to replace the figure. Some aren't so easy: First, you have to locate the main seam and figure out how to open it without damaging the suit. They're usually glued together with a rigid-cure glue, like Superglue (not a flexible contact cement).
Zetton was easy: The head's a rigid plastic casting that's glued to the flexible rubber suit at the shoulders. Once the head's removed, the armature figure is inserted through the opening at the shoulders, the legs and arms are aimed through the openings in the suit . The rubber suit is stretched so that the figure and limbs can be "wiggled" in. Once it's in, the boots are heated and wiggled onto the feet and the head is glued back onto to suit. The Zetton suit has attached arms with hollow hands, so the Phicen figure with default hands can be inserted without any modification (some dolls with vinyl gloves require fingers and thumbs to be snipped off).
The suit is roomy enough so that you can add padding after inserting the figure. The suit's wall is thick enough so most sections hold their shaping without padding; the only section that needs it is the crotch area. The Phicen female figure has long legs. so there's a big empty void where the "package" would be.
The hardest part is removing the RAH figure. It's dressed in a nice zippered lycra suit, with foam padding taped all over its body and limbs. To remove it intact, the arms have to be wiggled out, one at a time, while stretching the opening and wiggling out the rest of the figure. If you go slow, you eventually get there. (Breaking off the arms would probably make it go faster if you're in a hurry.)
With the Phicen armature, the arm poseability is definitely improved. The Phicen figure's stainless steel skeleton has tighter joints than any plastic figure I've run across; it's required for posing the soft rubber figure that's poured around it.
While other joints in the armature hold poses better than the plastic one, that doesn't necessarily translate into visible improvements in the poseability in other areas of the rubber suits. Unless you add padding, Zetton's legs have a lot of empty interior space for the armature to move, but that doesn't produce a change in the pose of the leg. Add padding if you want better armature tracking.
There are areas where padding and a strong armature doesn't matter: The suit's thick rubber wall can only stretch so much, and even the most robust articulation can't overcome the resistance of rubber stretched to its limits.
I also converted Medicom's Ultraman and Ultraseven, both with zippered suits. Ultraman's head can't swivel because the rubber suit covers the back half and the rubber doesn't stretch sufficiently.
12/25/17- (Merry Christmas) Since I had Zetton's head off and was working on lighting gimmicks (as CCP calls 'em) for another project, I decided to install Dale Wheat's TinyCylon kit. I bought the kit a long time ago and recently experimented with trying to reprogram the ATTINY13A microcontroller chip. I couldn't figure out how to do it, but at least I didn't blow out the chip.
Sorry, the video isn't very impressive (the audio track is dubbed from an mp3 file). It shows TinyCylon's mode 2, which is an upward sweep of 5 LEDs. They're placed at a distance behind the yellow nose, so the light from the individual LEDs is diffused and blends together: It doesn't show the sweep very distinctly. The sweep is also very fast.
The head flips forward, giving access to the circuit board and its mode switch. I think the random modes looks more interesting (looks like he's talking) but they're awfully fast and jittery. The glow modes are more mellow.
It's powered by three 1.5v 357 coin cells on a plug (no switch). Everything fits inside the head, but it's more convenient to hang the battery out the back and plug/unplug it to switch it on and off. That way, the cells don't get left in, plus they're usable in other similarly configured projects. I later found out that it also works off of a 3.7v 150mAh LiPo, but this works so I'm not changing it.
(Sorry, but I was not at all tempted to light his tits...)
12/31/05- Metoron Seijin-- or "Metron" as it's named by Medicom (despite its 3-syllable pronunciation in the shows), first appeared in a classic & artfully-done 1967 Ultraseven episode. It gave us the memorable image of the alien and hero, seated cross-legged at a table discussing their situation before the final showdown at sunset. Variations on Metoron Seijin appeared in a few other less-than-classic Ultra series episodes, including the made-for-video Ultraseven show of 1995. The Ultraman Max episode is an homage to, and is a continuation of the original Ultraseven episode, set almost 40 years later. It's quite a treat seeing the stitched-back-together alien (who was sliced from head to crotch in the original episode) back at the table, gleefully offering Ultraman Max some delicious Metoron tea.
Medicom's version is a reasonably accurate rendering of the show's costume. Bear in mind that the costuming budget for the shows wasn't huge-- consequently, the costume is relatively simple, and packs as many bells and whistles as the budget and pre-CGI times could afford. It's basically a rubber suit decorated with some textural/detail castings, painted vivid colors, and topped off with an oddly-shaped head, fitted with lighting effects. Medicom's rubber suit has some faintly visible seams which appear to be deliberate, to replicate the construction of the actual costume. As with the actual costume, the head is a large rigid piece with fur stuck along the bottom. It's unfortunate that Medicom doesn't put electronics in their dolls since often in the shows, the creature costumes' lighting is one of their most prominent gimmicks to indicate their alien-ness. The only thing that I noticed which seemed less-that-accurate was the integrated casting of the suit's backside detail (n.b.: It's not, it's just really tightly glued!). In the actual costume, the backside detail appears to be a separate piece.
The Metoron Seijin doll is marginally more poseable than the Zetton doll: Although the suit doesn't have as many folds and bellows, the suit's wall is fairly thick and significantly restricts the posing of limbs. At least this one has an articulated neck, which permits a limited amount of side-to-side, front-to-back, and rotation posing of the head. The result is that most of the advanced super articulation of the RAH301 figure inside the rubber suit is wasted. There hasn't been a figure made that can hold a pose against the tremendous kinetic energy potential of a giant rubber band (suit).
Once again, I'm compelled to comment on the "bang-for-the-buck" factor, especially after a recent purchase of DID's WWII Luftwaffe Manfred Boelcke doll. To put it bluntly, there's no comparison, or perhaps only an unfair comparison. If I can figure out where to categorize and file a DID review, maybe I'll do one: In the meantime, take my word that DID's doll is a superbly detailed product with realistic sewn leather boots, wearable gloves (that don't look funky when worn), two replacement heads, a cast pewter sword & dagger, tons of medals, a cape, and an exquisitely tailored uniform-- for half the price of a Medicom Ultra creature. Admittedly, it's apples and oranges since I don't know too many people who cast rubber suits, and there are lots of people who can sew and fabricate small accessories. In addition, DID is a young and hungry company which prices their stuff for a wide international audience, whereas Medicom historically hasn't looked for sales beyond their native borders. The fact remains that for Westerners, Ultraman is eclectic stuff and collecting it sometimes comes with a high price tag.
There are less costly alternatives for the 12"/30 cm scale-- many Ultraman heroes and creatures are available as vinyl figures and garage kits. However, they're not the same thing as a rubber-suited doll. Garage kits can look very good, but have fixed poses, and vinyl figures with limited articulation tend to look toy-like and aren't nearly as true-to-the-costume as Medicom's seamless rubber-suited dolls. Medicom's dolls aren't nearly as poseable as dolls that wear cloth outfits, but strike the best balance they can between poseability and seamless authenticity, given the limits of scale and material properties. I'm a sucker for that kind of thing.
--12/31/05 Happy New Year!
PHICENIZED METORON SEIJIN
12/16/17- Yes, this one can be "Phicenized" too. (Sorry, "TB-Leagued" just doesn't sound right to me.)
I was stumped because I couldn't find an easy-to-open seam to extract the Medicom RAH figure (which had a broken shoulder joint). The most likely place seemed to be the light brick-colored back piece because it was a separate piece. I tried, but that sucker was glue-welded to the the blue suit. The only way it was going to come out was if it were cut out with scissors. If I'd done that, it would have been hard to glue back together because the edges would have to be glued butted together (which makes a weak, ugly joint), or an inside lip would need to be added.
The only other way seemed unlikely: Extracting the figure through the neck hole in the suit. The neck hole isn't that much bigger than the size of the figure's neck. To do this, the neck hole would need to be stretched to over twice its size, out to the width of the shoulders! I'd made it more stretchable by cutting out the thick reinforced edge at the back of the neck opening. My fear was that the rubber suit would tear, making me regret that I'd ever attempted Phicenizing this doll.
I could reduce the amount of stretching by removing the broken arm; even then, it wasn't easy to stretch the neck hole enough to free the other arm. I could get the other arm only about halfway out... and then the figure helped out by breaking at the elbow! Now the neck hole only had to stretch the width of the torso. That was nerve-wracking, but I came away from the experience with great respect for the toughness of the rubber suits!
As with the Zetton doll, a lot of padding had been taped to the figure (or placed in the suit). My original article claimed that the suit's rubber was thick and limited posing: Actually, the suit's wall is fairly thin and the padding is what limits the poseability. After replacing the figure, I only added padding where absolutely necessary, and used memory foam. Memory foam is much softer than the plastic foam padding that Medicom used.
I hadn't been concerned with this before, but the Phicen female figure, while the same height as the RAH figure at the shoulders, has very long shins so the crotch and knees are higher than the Medicom RAH figure. The Metoron Seijin suit has fitted "pants" (unlike Zetton or King Joe) and the knees are obvious in the empty suit. I thought having the knee articulation above the sculpted knees would look bad, but it doesn't look that bad. It's a worthwhile sacrifice, IMO.
Now that we finally have worthy armatures, it's a shame that Medicom stopped making these rubber-suited dolls!