Last modified: Saturday, July 28, 2001 7:19 AM



Imagine that you make a really, really neat product, but it had just one tiny, but significant flaw: it can't be properly photographed, and has to be seen in person to be appreciated. That describes the quandry that Takara's Neo Henshin Cyborgs are in, and is probably the main reason why you find so few people outside of Japan who know anything about these figures. Admittedly, not everyone's into clear plastic. I'm not sure I am either, because clear plastic has a very toy-like look to it. However, it's unique and the concept is great. But that's not the best thing about the figure... Like I say, you have to see it in person to appreciate it.

Incidentally, Takara is no newcomer to the 12" articulated figure market. During the 70's, they produced a licensed version of Hasbro's original GI Joe and introduced the clear-bodied cyborg figures; during the 80's, they produced the highly prized "Combat Joe", eventually licensing the name "New Combat Joe" to Medicom (the figure was redesigned). As the name implies, the Neo Henshin figures are a late 90's reincarnation of the original.

CYBORG 99 This is the "Cyborg 99" model, which has some significant differences from last year's model-- most notably, the shoulder construction. As the back of the box shows, you get the innovative "Magnetic Joint System", which hold the arm shoulder joint together. I'm not sure why they put two extra magentic bays in the back, because the arms appear to be the only parts that fit. And it would be really hard for someone to remove both their arms and place them on their back, even if you had a reason to do this.

At first I was skeptical of this innovation, but those magnets are strong! They hold the arms in place and permit movement as well as any ball joint system I've seen. Long term, I'm not sure about the magnetism's strength though-- this scenario is roughly analogous to what friction does to plastic joints to make them loose. In the case of magnetism, I don't know what you do other than the tricks I learned in grade school to magnetize metal.

For me, the most exciting part about this figure is the construction of the figure. As you can see, it was designed to be disassembled. The parts of the arms & legs secure by a snug fitting-- the nylon pin fits down into the shaft, and the ringed notch "locks" with two sides of a metal clamp. Since the figure is assembled with screws, a deeper level of disassembly is possible.

Articulation-wise, this one's got all the others I've seen beat. The only weakness is that the hands (you get two sets) don't have a wrist hinge-- they're soft rubber and rotate within the wrist socket, but they don't pose up or down. However...

  • the feet are vintage-style (but hollow from the underside);
  • the knees and elbows are double-hinged, like the Dragon figure;
  • the hip ball hinge is similar to the Dragon's, but the leg "camber" is part of the ball hinge assembly, and allows the leg to be detached;
  • the lower torso (midriff) is ball & socket, with sockets on the hips and upper torso;
  • the shoulders have an angled rotation socket (like a turret) into which the shoulder's magnetic ball joint fits.
  • the magnetic ball joint permits the traditional motions (rotate & hinge), but also allows the joint itself to angle forward/ backward/up/down, like the Marmit figure. This is analogous to the double elbow hinge, but is a dumbell-shaped segment with a ball socket on one end and a hinge on the other (The double elbow hinge is two ganged hinges).
  • the neck has full range movement along the same axes as the vintage-style neckpin.

The result of all this is that you can get some poses that you can't get from any other 12" figure out there (that I know of).

This figure's incredible ability to scratch his back comes from the combination of the angled rotation socket and the ball joint. It also means that he can angle his arms across his chest like no other figure. Occasionally, the parts do pop out of their sockets, but the joints do have a quality, snug feel to them.

Here's a size comparison against CC & Dragon Joes-- (I'll bet you're shocked to see that I have CC Joes!) The height seems appropriate for this genre. In this photo you can also see the clear flexible rubber human head (It's what happens when you use too much Clearasil, yuk yuk.). This is very difficult to photograph, but it's a reasonable sculpt of a heroic young asian dude. (Bet he doesn't go out on many dates though.)

The photo at the top of the page shows the tiny cyborg head. It's vac-metalized chrome with one of those optic gizmos that makes the eyes glow when top lighted.

A companion "nemesis" figure named King Walder 2 was also recently released, and is similar in construction, with a transparent pink skin. Outfits are available for these figures: a Spectorman hero with suit, mask & chestplate, and an ape-like Alien Goli outfit for King Walder.

This photo's from the 05/99 edition of Hobby Japan, and since I can't read Japanese, I don't know what it's supposed to be (How am I supposed to read a Japanese copyright notice?). However, if I were to guess, I'd say that those look like Cyborg 99 style bodies on some really neat looking Alien figures! (The pink #3 dude is King Walder 2.) Cool!