Thursday, July 24, 2014

Henshin Robo: Tomcat

One of the things I like best about blogging is discovering new things and then sharing my findings. As you may know by now I really enjoy other transforming robot toys. While Transformers will always be my first love, I find some of the smaller lines from the 80's to be intriguing. Trying to find out the history of some of these smaller toy lines has been challenging and I still feel there is a lot I don't know, but part of the fun is searching for the information.

I'm not really sure how I came across this toy, but when I did I knew immediately that I wanted to know more. What is it's history? Who made it? Are there more in the series called 'Henshin Robo'?

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I'm hoping someone will come along and can shed some light on these toys for me as I sadly don't have much background information. Henshin Robo. Never heard that name before. I've seen the red Excite logo that is partially hidden behind the Osco price tag. The bottom right corner has the Excite logo along w/ Gakken. Hmm. As you can see the character's name is Tomcat and the alt mode appears to be a Tomcat F-14. The artwork of the jet is nicely presented and reminds me a bit of the G.I. Joe Skystriker or even the Go-Bots' Leader-1.

Henshin Robo jet photo 100_6647_zps8e82eb9a.jpg

The back of the packaging isn't much to look at honestly, just the transformation instructions printed on the back of some very thin cardboard.  Still no clues about the toy or it's history really.

Henshin Robo jet photo 100_6648_zps2e9bf392.jpg

Made in Japan...well at least it's not China or Taiwan. That should give me some clues, right? Copyright Excite, 1984 - Dallas, TX. There is still a company called Excite that operates in Texas and according to their website I found, it says they are an importer of toys. OK, that makes a little sense. They have offices located in Dallas, TX as well as in Hong Kong. Alright so the pieces are coming together slowly. Now all that is left to figure out is what company in Japan made this toy. My early thoughts were on Mark, the company behind many of the toys under the Convertors label, but the toy has absolutely no markings on it anywhere. Do you know?

Henshin Robo jet photo 100_6650_zps7ac072ab.jpg

I carefully open the 30 year old toy and the plastic bubble all but falls off the card. The figure comes out easily and immediately I can feel the die-cast metal and I know this isn't some cheaply made toy. It would be easy  to disregard this toy as being a knock off or of dollar story quality, but this is nicely built.

The chest is painted die-cast metal, while the rest of the jet is made of plastic. I was surprised to see that most of the joints were still tight and the quality of the plastic is very good. The plastic feels a little light, but not thin or cheap. I never once felt like I was going to break the toy during the easy transformation sequence. Even the stickers appear to be of good quality. All of the stickers are still firmly attached to the toy.

Articulation wise is limited, but that is expected of a 30 year old toy. The arms can rotate a full 360 degrees, but the legs are static. The fists can be moved at a 90 degree angle, but that is more due to the transformation. The missiles that you see on the forearms and legs are permanently attached. Size wise, the toy is in scale with Go-Bots. I apologize for not supplying any comparison pictures as my Machine Robo / Go-Bot collection is currently packed up in storage.

While Tomcat may not have the most original robot form here, it works.  t's very simple a la Machine Robo or Go-Bots. Going from robot to jet is easy. Simply push the legs up and into the body. Flip in the fists and fold the arms into the body, starting at the top with the shoulders. Flip up the nose of the jet from behind and your done. The head does drop into the chest cavity a bit, but this seems optional. In fact if you leave it extended up a bit you'll get a fuller look in jet mode.

Henshin Robo jet photo 100_6652_zpsb65d31d9.jpg

Here you can see the robot bits are basically pushed in together to form the jet. Snazzy, eh? You can also see that one of the missiles is slightly crooked. I tried to correct it, but they are firmly in place.

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Jet mode is where this toy shines. I think it's a relatively realistic looking F-14. There aren't any paint apps on the jet, but at least the NAVY wing stickers help complete the authentic look.

Henshin Robo jet photo 100_6653_zpsf622c4e3.jpg

Remember the name Gakken that was on the bottom of the packaging's front. Turns out they are a publishing company based in Japan (1947). While most of their efforts were in books and magazines, they did manufacture a few toys. Most of us here in the US will recognize the name Robotech, where many of Gakken's toys would end up being used - primarily under the Robotech the Next Generation banner.

I find it odd that such a giant publishing company would manufacture toys such as this, but apparently they made many toys and action figures. I'm told that Gakken used the Henshin Robo banner to release many of their toys to foreign markets. That's were Excite comes in as they were the company responsible for working with Gakken and importing these toys.

In my research I've only come across one other packaged Henshin Robo toy. That is of a yellow dump truck that was manufactured by Mark. Look for more of that toy coming soon! I really don't know how many of these toys Excite may have imported under this Henshin Robo name, but I'm eager to continue my search.

** UPDATE 01/30/15 **

Turns out this was another to made by the Japanese toy company Mark. Most people are familiar with Mark's designs as they were used by the company Select as part of the Convertors. However Tomcat Robo (as he is known in Japan) was never used in the Convertors line.

2 comments:

  1. Never seen this one before pretty awesome can't wait to see the other one.

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    1. I love finding oddball stuff like this!

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