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Chogokin (超合金 Chōgōkin?, Sometimes Chougokin or Cho-gokin) is Japanese for "Super Alloy" and is a fictitious material which first appeared in Go Nagai's Mazinger Z manga and anime. It was later adopted by Popy in 1972 as the name of a new line of die-cast metal robot and character toys sold in Japan. The first of these toys was the "GA-01" Mazinger Z, which, in spite of questionable engineering that led Popy to offer a free replacement campaign, ignited a craze that changed the face of the Japanese toy industry in the 1970s. Bandai, the parent company of Popy, continues the Chogokin line to this day, branded under their own name.
Chogokin toys were generally produced in ST and or DX sizes. ST is short for "standard" and is usually in the range of 5" in height. DX is short for "deluxe" and is usually much larger. In addition to the larger size, the DX versions usually came with more features such as separating parts and more complex weaponry, usually with launching projectiles.
Many of these toys were re-released in the United States. Mattel sold a selection of Chogokin toys under the name Shogun Warriors in the late-1970s. Bandai America sold other Chogokin toys under the Godaikin line in the early-1980s. In the wake of a 1979 rumor of a boy choking to death on a missile fired from a Battlestar Galactica toy manufactured by Mattel, many of the later Shogun Warriors toys were modified to launch "child-safe" projectiles that would not injure children. The Godaikin releases were apparently targeted at an older audience and, as such, were largely identical to the original Japanese releases.
The use of die-cast metal in mass-market robot toys declined greatly after the 1980s, with PVC and ABS plastic becoming the only materials used in most cases. Chogokin toys produced today are usually fairly expensive, high-quality items aimed at collectors.
Bandai's Soul of Chogokin line is probably the most famous example of this trend, featuring updated versions of many toys first made by Popy in the 70s and 80s. The first SOC released was an updated Mazinger Z, and many other classic designs followed. The line is still going and has been recently expanded to include more modern robots, some of which did not have a pre-existing Chogokin toy. It is also a way to create new, more easily available mecha toys for older shows such as Dancouga- Super Beast Machine God and the Leopaldon from Spider-Man.
Debuting in 2000, the Souchaku Henshin series (also known as Armor Trans) is another contemporary Bandai line under the Chogokin banner. These action figures are made to a 5-inch scale, and feature tokusatsu characters from Kamen Rider, Metal Hero Series, and GARO. Souchaku Henshin figures feature multiple points of articulation, removable armor, and contain die-cast parts. Much like Soul of Chogokin, Souchaku Henshin features both recent characters as well as updates to classic ones.
In 2010, Bandai introduced Super Robot Chogokin, which is an affordable alternative to Soul of Chogokin. The SRC figures measure at approximately 140mm (14 cm) in height and have less die-cast parts, but boast more articulation and have a wider range of accessory options. The toy line not only features traditional robots such as Mazinger Z and Brave Reideen, but also robots from The King of Braves GaoGaiGar, Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation and the Super Sentai series.
Due to success and notoriety in the toy collecting hobby, the term "chogokin" has become somewhat of a representative format for Japanese die cast robot toys. However, as ”超合金”(Chogokin) is registered trademark of Bandai, other companies have used the "-gokin" suffix, such as Takatoku Toys' Z-Gokin or Max Factory's Max Gokin line.
- The ToyboxDX guide to Chogokin and Popinica
- Zinc Panic, a popular website with a Japanese toy database, with pictures of many Chogokin.
- Super #1 Robot, a book covering Chogokin and other Japanese diecast toys.
- CollectionDX, a Japanese toy web site with many Chogokin Reviews
- Super7 Magazine, a print publication dedicated to Japanese Toy culture, including die-cast, vinyl, vintage and new Japanese toys.
- Chogokin.net, a listing of Chogokin toys from 1974 to 2006
- Robot-Japan, a robot picture encyclopedia for Japanese toys.