Saturday, January 26, 2013

Toy Review: Popy GB-37 Gold Lightan (2007 Bandai reissue)

For my first review, I'm starting off with one of the gems of my collection.  I was lucky enough to become aware of Gold Lightan back in 2006 when I received Bandai's GX-32 Soul of Chogokin Gold Lightan as a much-appreciated Christmas gift from my wife.  Any description of that toy is for another time and review, but it sparked a real appreciation for the character.  

Gold Lightan is the titular character from Golden Warrior Gold Lightan (Ōgon Senshi Gōrudo Raitan), a 52-episode show that aired in Japan during 1981 and 1982.  I've never had the good fortune to see an episode of the show, as my ability to understand Japanese is absolutely nil, and I'm unaware of any English subtitled translations.  Basically, Gold Lightan is a pocket cigarette lighter that shape-shifts into a gigantic golden robot.  Kind of ridiculous, but then suspension of disbelief is required for pretty much any giant robot show.  A few clips of action from the show can be found on YouTube, including the show's opening.  Oddly enough, there may be more awareness of Gold Lightan in the USA than at any previous time due to Tasunoko vs. Capcom:  Ultimate All-Stars, a Wii video game released in 2010.  

Enough preamble.  Let's move on to the toy.  Gold Lightan has two forms - robot and lighter.  Starting with his lighter mode, Gold Lightan is basically just a golden brick about three inches high and two wide.  

There are tiny pyramids adorning the surface, which are described as having been "crystal cut."  There's a good deal of weight here despite the small size - Gold Lightan is almost entirely created from gold chrome-plated diecast metal.  

To begin the transformation to robot mode, pull down the top front panel.  The hinges on Gold Lightan are nice and tight and move smoothly.

  Next, fold up the robot head.

Then swing each arm out to the side.

Flip the hands out horizontally.

Move the arms down to the side.

Flip the chest panel back up.

Now the lower front panel gets raised.

The legs need to be pulled out one by one.

Do the same for the second leg, then stand him upright.

Fold down the lower front panel, and there stands Gold Lightan in all his brilliant glory.

Gold Lightan features a nicely-detailed facial scupt.

Proportions, as was fairly normal for a toy from 1981, are blocky and chunky.

Articulation is limited to swiveling shoulders, as well as bendable elbows.

Note the red button.  This allows the toy to launch its fists via a spring-loaded mechanism.

The fists are quite small and easily lost unfortunately.  The reissue came with two sets as I remember.

A launched fist can travel quite a long distance, as you can see below.

Gold Lightan also features two missile launchers hidden within the lower front panel.  

When raised, the launchers can be fired using two red tabs located to either side.

These missiles are even smaller than the fists.  I've swallowed pills significantly larger than these.  Clearly this is a Japanese toy.  No toy produced for sale in the USA after 1979 (Mattel's Battlestar Galactica toys were famously involved in the death of a child due to launching missiles) would have included what has been seen ever since as a choking hazard.

These missiles do launch with another spring-loaded mechanism, but in this case, they seem more to just fall out, rather than properly firing.

In today's adult-oriented toy-collecting world, many of these old chogokin (a term frequently associated with Japanese die-cast toys) are collectors items.  It's sometimes hard to remember that they were originally released as proper children's playthings available in regular old toy stores.  Gold Lightan is a great example of such.  He has great play-ability and is just the size to be carried around in a pocket by some entranced ten-year-old.

Seen from the proper angle, one might be able to see Gold Lightan as if he truly were a towering giant.  He is  exactly that in the context of my own collection.  This is a toy that often gets played with when I or my kids are in my "Office."  He sits proudly among his Lightan brethren on my shelves.  You'll come to know more of them in future reviews.


  1. Great review, and makes me kinda sad I never got one of these toys.

  2. I got mine in 1981 and it looks the same, but of courses misses the red missiles, so it's good to see them here. Thx!