Shogun Warriors (toys)
The Shogun Warriors were the central characters of a line of toys licensed by Mattel Inc. during the late 1970s that consisted of a series of imported Japanese robots based on anime and tokusatsu shows featuring giant robots. Originally manufactured in three sizes: the 24-inch (610 mm) plastic versions, the 3.5-inch (89 mm) diecast metal versions and the slightly taller but much more detailed and articulated 5" diecast versions, several vehicles were also offered as well as a set that could be put together to form the super robot Combattra. Midway through the line Mattel introduced some original plastic vehicles, exclusive to the U.S. for the 3.5" figures to ride in.
These toys featured spring-loaded launcher weapons such as missiles, shuriken and battle axes. Some were able to launch their fists while the later diecast versions also had the ability to transform into different shapes. Raydeen, for example, could become a birdlike spaceship. These "convertible" editions were the precursors to the Transformers line of toy robots, but unlike the later products, it was not unusual for minor dissasembly to be required to achieve the secondary form. There was even a robot named Megatron in issue #18 of the comic, a name subsequently used multiple times for the leader of the evil Decepticons from Transformers. The second form of the toy was not always functional, one example being Gaiking's "giant skull," which was actually the head for Daiku Maryu, a space dragon toy not actually released in the U.S.
Several of the anime-based toys from this line were seen in the 1980s as part of Jim Terry's Force Five series. A single movie version was edited from each series and sold on Home Video. These features aired on the cable network Showtime in 1981 under the name "Shogun Warriors".
The Shogun Warriors name was revived by Toynami in 2010 as an all-new toy line.
Giant robot characters that featured in the original toy line were:
- 17 Robot
- Daimos (Called "Dynamo" in the US version of the anime entitled 'Starbirds'.)
- Dangard Ace
- Grendizer (Also called Grandizer.)
- Great Mazinger (Called "Great Mazinga" or simply "Mazinga" on some of the packaging.)
- Raiden (Called "Arrow" in the Force Five TV series.)
- Voltes V
- Raider (Sold only as a plastic model kit.)
In addition, two giant movie monsters from Toho were added to the line:
Like certain other toy lines of the 1970s, the Shogun Warriors came under pressure over safety concerns regarding their spring-loaded weapons. It was feared that children might launch the weapons and hit other children or pets in the eye. There was also a risk that children might swallow the small plastic missiles and other parts. Toy manufacturers then faced new regulations due to reported injuries received as a result of playing with these toys. Consequently, many toy companies were forced to remodel existing toy lines with child-safe variations (such as spring-loaded "action" missiles that would remain attached to the toy). For this reason, as well as declining sales, the Shogun Warrior line had disappeared by 1980.
Shogun Warriors were licensed in 1979–1980 for a 20–issue series by Marvel Comics, written by Doug Moench and featuring art by Herb Trimpe. In the comic, the Shogun Warriors were created by a mysterious group called the Followers of the Light. Human operators were chosen from all around the world to operate the massive robots in order to battle evil.
Marvel was only able to license three Shogun Warriors for the comic:
- Raydeen, piloted by Richard Carson, an American stuntman,
- Combattra, piloted by Genji Odashu, a Japanese test pilot, and
- Dangard Ace, piloted by Ilongo Savage, an oceanographer from Madagascar.
The series was firmly rooted in the Marvel Universe, as evidenced by their interactions with the Fantastic Four in the last two issues. Issue #15 was a fill-in written by Steven Grant with art by Mike Vosburg. The series took a dramatic turn with issue #16, as the Shogun Warriors' mentors were destroyed by the Primal One and his followers. This alien force decided that Earth's technology had outpaced its morality, and so it was their duty to destroy the Shogun Warriors as well as other powerful humans, including Reed Richards and Tony Stark. Between February 1979 and July 1979, Marvel had the comic book rights to both Godzilla and the Shogun Warriors. While the characters never crossed paths in their respective comics, artist Herb Trimpe (who did the artwork for both of the series) drew a variation of Godzilla and Rodan alongside Daimos, Great Mazinger, Raydeen, and Gaiking on the top page of a comic book ad soliciting the Shogun Warrior toys. Mattel, which had the license to the Shogun Warriors, also had the licence to produce toys based on Godzilla, and Rodan at this time.
After Marvel lost the rights to the characters, they had a huge robot called The Samurai Destroyer destroy the three robots offscreen before encountering the Fantastic Four and robot pilots Richard, Genji, and Ilongo.
In 2010, Toynami revived the Shogun Warriors name with a new toy line, consisting of 24-inch (610 mm) Jumbo Machinder toys. The first two robots in this line are GoLion and Dairugger XV, both of which were adapted in the Western world as Voltron.
- Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. Dorling Kindersley. p. 188. ISBN 978-0756641238. "Writer Doug Moench and artist Herb Trimpe created Shogun Warriors, a Marvel comics series based on a line of Japanese toys imported by Mattel."
- Shogun Warriors at the Grand Comics Database
- Moench, Doug (w), Trimpe, Herb (p), Esposito, Mike (i). "Death of Innocence" Shogun Warriors 16 (May 1980)
- "Shogun Warriors". TinyPic.
- "Mattel No. 2440 Godzilla!". WildToys.com. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012.
- "Rodan!". WildToys.com. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012.
- Moench, Doug (w), Sienkiewicz, Bill (p), Marcos, Pablo; Patterson, Bruce (i). "The Samurai Destroyer" Fantastic Four 226 (January 1981)
- "NYTF 2010: Toynami". Collectiondx.com. February 17, 2010. Archived from the original on June 15, 2012.