Review by JoshB
I had never even heard of the ‘Tomics line until I saw one brought to the Summit last year. It felt like the unholy love child of LEGO and ZOIDS and I think I fell in love.
Of course there’s almost nothing out there about ‘Tomics – it’s the toy line that even the internet forgot. Here at CollectionDX we have all the details for you on this long lost line.
Tomy released the ‘Tomics line in 1987 with little fanfare. Intended to be a competitor to LEGO and the other sci-fi building kits CONSTRUX, CAPSELLA, ROBOLINKS, and ROBOTIX, ‘Tomics gained little traction and quickly disappeared from the shelves.
Like any awesome toy, the origin of ‘Tomics lies in Japan, a year earlier in 1986. The line was originally called SCITEX (サイテックス) and consisted of several building sets in “real type” color schemes. Scitex was developed to be a companion line to Tomy’s ZOIDS line in that the parts from Scitex sets could be used with ZOIDS sets. The small pilot included with the set is in scale to the Zoids pilots, so the two lines are in the same scale. Little is to be found even on the web in Japanese, so it appears this line was unloved on either side of the world.
image courtesy http://zoidsocean.blog26.fc2.com/blog-entry-2847.html
The kits varied in size and complexity, from basic sets to full-on motorized deluxe sets.
Treadmaster is one of the larger sets with only Rotary Commander being bigger. It’s based off of the Japanese Scitex set “Groster”, but the colors have been changed for the US release. The original kit had a grey and green color scheme where this version has gone with blue and tan. When the toy shipped new, most parts were on sprues that you had to remove.
The assortment of parts is varied and complex. Darker grey blocks have gears in them, while lighter grey do not. Dark blue parts act as connectors and accessories, and blue and tan parts are mostly decorative. Also included are an assortment of wheels, hoses, weapons, and connection points. In fact, the toy includes small adapter panels that allow the parts to be used with the LEGO system, a fact proudly boasted on the box.
The main gimmick here is the motorized engine system. This consists of several gray blocks connected with power cords.
The main core block has several geared points, and a series of levers on the back. Each lever controls a connection point, and when the unit has power it controls the various action features. Power is provide by a “remote” that uses two AA batteries and has a long line to connect to the core. An extension is provided for an even longer reach. The engine’s direction is controlled by a three-direction switch on the remote.
So what can you do with the motor? Of course, the first thing is that it moves. Amongst the four wheels is one geared wheel that allows you to turn when put in reverse. Also, a winch with a string and hook can be attached to a connection point to act as a crane.
Putting this together is fun, but time consuming. The instructions are an invaluable tool, and you will need them if you want to build the designs on the box. There are a few problems, however. One, the designs the instructions show you how to make are NOT exactly the same as the ones on the box. In some cases they are similar, but compare the two and you will notice they are not the same. Secondly, each diagram has a nice drawn instruction page with a small photo in the corner representing the finished product. Unfortunately, the photo depicts the Japanese set, which appear to come with more parts than the US release. Way to tease us, TOMY.
Like any building set, the point is not to build just what is on the box, but to explore your own imagination.
Several additional parts not used in the shown designs are included. My guess is the Japanese sets had more suggested designs and that the US catalog makers just got tired and gave up. After three nights of building the kits shown I was pretty much exhausted. Keep in mind I am a 38 year old man with dwindling patience and coordination. I’m sure if you were a kid you would have loved these.
A small 'Tomics robot is included! He's cute!
I built the five "suggested" designs. As you can see there are big differences as to what is shown on the box and what you actually make.
So now I am on a hunt for these. For those keeping track, the US released sets were:
- Rotary Commander
Their Japanese Counterparts, in order:
- Back Fire バックファイヤー
- Space Ship スペースシップ
- Sand Cruizer サンドクルーザー
- Groster グロスター
- Heli Bot ヘリボット
- Gun Truck ガントラック
- Work Dozerワークドーザー
Tomy also released three parts sets, used to enhance existing sets.
Happy hunting, but don’t bid against me!
|Posted 4 February, 2012 - 22:48 by JoshB|