Review by The Enthusiast
The Metal Hero genre is not unlike other Tokusatsu series, featuring endless variations on a space-cop hero battling monsters. The space-cop typically operates from a spaceship base, and this spaceship base typically transforms into a humanoid robot. Grandbirth is the base for Space Sheriff Sharivan, the second of Toei’s Metal Heroes.
The Metal Hero designs are among the purest of the eighties aesthetic. Think Space Shuttle Lander, Lamborghini Countach, and Delorean. Hard lines; a white, black, and gray color palette; chrome; and the discreet use of saturated color all characterize the look of this era. Grandbirth is right at home with Laserion, Vavilos, and Juspion. Collectors, in general, aren't particularly fond of these toys. The designs are more eccentric than mainstream mecha before or after, eschewing the classic sentai or super robot proportions. Vavilos has a flat heat, giant legs, and tiny little arms. Laserion is built from hollow cages. Grandbirth has an abstracted head, weirdly faceted arms, and a big protuberant belly. That belly, more than anything else, makes Grandbirth an acquired taste.
Grandbirth comes in a largish box (measuring 12"x13"x3.5") with a nice photograph of both modes on the front, a rainbow border and an inset photo of Sharivan himself. The back and sides are similar. The toy comes in spaceship mode, rests in a Styrofoam coffin, and comes with very little in the way of accessories - just a few missiles and three tiny yellow ships. A manual and decal sheet are provided. The decals are not pre-cut.
The spaceship mode (measuring 12" long with an 11" wingspan) didn’t break any new ground, but it looks good. It's boxy yet sleek, and the blue-gray finish has a "real robot" feel to it. It is heavy. The entire Middle section is diecast, which is the only metal in the toy except for screws and wheels. The body is detailed with panel lines all over the place. The trapezoidal wings with chrome cannons at the tips are reminiscent of an X-Wing. Cannons on either side of the middle section are spring activated, popping out from a recess in the body. These fire the included missiles. A detachable, smaller ship attaches at the rear, forming a conning tower. The ship rolls on tank treads with metal wheels.
The tiny yellow ships included with the set can fit into three small hatches which open from the front section of the ship.
Transformation is straightforward. You fold down the legs, push in the cockpit and cannons (both spring activated), fold up the wings, fold up the conning tower, and pull out the arms from the bottoms of the wings. The robot stands at 10 inches tall.
The arms are beautiful. They fold and collapse like a puzzle into a cavity in the wing. The joints and articulations (shoulder, elbow, and wrist) are a work of art, like something Syd Mead would design. The hands are just abstract paws, without any finger articulation.
The legs are chunky, but surprisingly well-proportioned. The legs twist at the hip so you can splay them. The knees bend, but the detents are so stiff that I haven't felt brave enough to force them. The head can swivel on a peg. The chest is attractive. The composition of the colors and details is really sophisticated, and creates just the right emphasis for the figure in robot mode.
Grandbirth is really meant to be viewed from the front. The back isn’t really detailed, and you mainly see the cavity left by unfolding the legs. Still, it doesn’t look too bad from behind.
And how about that belly!? Grandbirth is criticized for looking a little half-assed, like a ship with a torso and legs growing out of it. I partially agree, but I also think that the concept makes sense. I think a giant base should look clunky and ungainly when it becomes a robot, it’s more realistic that way, and realism was a hallmark of this variety of eighties mecha design. I love that Grandbirth is fearlessly and uncompromisingly ugly.
I’m not sure how rare this piece is in Japan, but I almost never see it on ebay in the states. I can’t really speculate at what a good price would be, but something in the range of 100-200 bucks seems reasonable. Bandai also made a huge "Big Base" version, as well as two variants of the ST size.
|Posted 31 March, 2009 - 21:13 by The Enthusiast|
Comments16 comments posted
I am in love... I just got the Chogokin Sharivan figure, and now I must have this to go with him. You are right that it is uncompromisingly ugly, but really, that's what Metal Hero designs were all about... dudes in awesome armor kicked monster butt with stuff that was way closer to live action Real Robots than sentai or super stuff. Amazing.
I saw the 'Real Color' version of the DX on TBDX, which is a horridly wonderful green color, but I can't find any info about the Big Base one or the STs... I love ST Chogokins and would love to see a review of that if you have it.
Whoa! Far Out Dude....you got an interesting collection. I respect a person who values hidden gems and appreciates the aesthetics of a design like this with a REAL OPEN MIND.
(Take a BIG NOTE of that American Fanboys. I'm talking to you too TFormers.com...Use your 5 senses for a change.)
BTW...where the hell did you get that machine from? Also that Big Base version you've put right next to the GrandbirthDX toy...is it also made from the same materials as the DX toy as well, or is it just all plastic?
Is this the show where the hero is a rodeo cowboy or somesuch during the day?
I saw the first episode,but I wasn't aware the base became a mech. Awesome toy. I have to say,judging on that one picture,I think the smaller toy is far better than the big one even though it's lacking in size. The bigger one just seems,I don't know,"junkier" than the little one.
Are the guns on the sides supposed to be out in robot mode?
Yeah, the cannons should be out in robot mode. I first thought that they mainly filled the gaps between the wings and the body in ship mode, but the show (and the box, duh) has GB using the cannons as a main weapon in robo mode.
The Big Base version is much more of a toy. It's all plastic, and not as well detailed, but it's huge, so there's a trade off. I'll do a review of him in the future.
I haven't seen the ST either. Anyone wanna share?
This looks like a robot cash register!
There's no ST listed on TBDX, so I didn't know one existed...
I really like the design, but that is probably due to the "battleship with legs" concept Gurren Lagann used. Once you get used to that nothing seems odd!
i like it, how the little shiny spots on the black ship look like really beady eyes! i think it is also ready to help children learn about math.
especially of the other huge BIG BASE items from Bandai - Popy - nobody pays any attention to them in English.
There's one available today from Japan on eBay for about $170 shipped to the US. I'd say that this piece in MISB shape should be roughly around $130-150 is a fair price for this piece. It doesn't come up for sale very often at all, so keep that in mind when buying.
Plus, it's name is GRANDBIRTH, it's name is almost - almost! - as good as the epic, uber awesome best name in japanese toy history - the SPACE MAMMY !!!!
THANK YOU for this review, I'm a huge fan of the Popy bandai playsets, bases, and other wierd stuff. I've always seen the GRANDBIRTH on TBDX and other lists, and online, but it's great to get a legitimate review of the DX piece. PLEASE do the BigBase version soon, man!!!!
For whatever reason, US fans just ignore the GC series and the BIG BASE line of stuff. It's crazy, these pieces are AWESOME. I think it may have to do with the size, and the glut of cheap Shogun Warriors vehicles that were around in the 1990's. The vehicles were so common at one point, in 1997, I straight traded a case of 90's Star Wars figures to a comic store for a minty fresh case of Shogun vehicles. We're talking about 20+ diecasts in there. At the time, the guy thought I was insane, and he had that "ripped him off" smirk. Oh man, did I win on that one.
The Shogun vehicles did so poorly at retail, my dad, who managed a toy store at the time, remembers to this day, 30 years later, how bad they sold, and remembers getting the order forms for Godaikin, and ordering very little vehicles for the store, due to the Shoguns still sitting there 5-6 years later!
I haven't jumped into Big Base collecting just yet (i spend enough money on Y!J and good luck finding them on eBay or any english/french/spanish trade site) as I am still trying to find a few nice, boxed, complete examples- which is like looking for a needle in a haystack on eBay.
lol'd at Space Mammy.
I'll work on BBGB. Unfortunately, that's the only BB I own. Both of my Grandbirths fall into the "needle in a haystack" category, found by luck rather than design.
...of Metal Hero's, much more of a Super Sentai fan and years later the few Metal Hero toys I had I sold when I had the great toy purge in 2001 of Japanese toys I just didn't care for.
But man! This is one hell of a toy! I just love it and I've never heard or read about this toy at all. I would have bought this one in a second if I had known about it. I like the larger Big Base version more but either way it is a great design. Fantastic review.
CollectionDX Staff Writer-West Coast Bureau
Look... It's a pregnant Robot.
Well he is called grandBIRTH. He's also uniquely equipped to vend peanuts at a space sporting event.
Pyramidal things with giant circles in the side are basically Syd Mead's signature design feature.
Hello, thanks a lot for this review. Here a link for the Big Base