Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Toy Review: The Brave of Gold Goldran DX Advenger

As with the last review, I am focusing again on one of the very best toys in my collection.  There's a good deal of interesting back-story about the line of toys from which this fantastic specimen stems.  The Transformers, a franchise of toys and television shows which has had worldwide success since its introduction in 1984 (the roots of this franchise goes back even further, but that's a discussion for another day), had begun to see its better days in the early 1990's.  In Japan, sales were down, as was viewership for the television programs.  A change was needed to help bring toy sales back to a properly profitable level.

The Japanese manufacturer of the Transformers toy line, Takara, partnering with the animation studio, Sunrise, decided to take things in a new direction.  Thus the Brave series was born.  The concept of robots that changed into vehicles and other forms was left intact, but the story lines and characters were much more aligned with the Super Robot genre.  Generally, this meant that Brave characters were usually of a legendary nature, often with mystical powers, rather than the more science fiction elements associated with the Transformers line.  The toys in the Brave line fall into two categories - Deluxe (or DX), which are large and capable of full transformations, and the smaller and simpler Standard (or STD) toys.

Released in 1995, Brave of Gold Goldran (Ōgon Yūsha Gorudoran) was the sixth Brave series show and toy line to be produced.  Written primarily as a comedy, the show nonetheless had a good deal of hot-blooded robot battle action.  As with Gold Lightan, this show also featured a gilded main character.  Dran, a magical alien gold chromed sports car (a perfectly normal sort of thing for the Brave line), spends most of his time being the servant and protector of three sixth-grade students who must travel around the globe in search of Power Stones which will awaken other Braves in order to keep the powerful robots out of the evil hands of Prince Walter Walzak.  In all the Brave series, the main robot character is able to increase his power by combining with some form of support robot or mecha.  When needed, Dran is able to merge with a giant golden Godzilla-like robot called Golgon (who seems to have no other purpose at all in the show) to form the title character, Goldran.  Dran and Goldran essentially are robot samurai, and their attitudes and attacks reflect this.

This leads us to the introduction of the subject of this review.  Advenger (a portmanteau of Adventure and Avenger)  is the second robot hero character to appear in the show.  As a huge black steam locomotive (which, incidentally, can fly and travel in space), he provides the main mode of transportation for the team as they engage in their quests.  In robot form, he initially provides muscle to back up Dran and Goldran.  Later, it is revealed that he has powers far in excess of what are initially shown.

The DX toys in the Goldran line really are wonderfully made, and though Advenger is pretty much always relegated to a support role in the show, his toy incarnation is arguably the best of the line.  His construction is primarily of hard, durable black plastic, with some highlights of pale blue, red and gold chrome.  As was normal for the time, paper labels were used to further enhance the look of the toy.  The transformation hits a sweet spot by being both simple and quick, while being involved enough to keep you wanting to play with him.  The overall look in robot mode is imposing, as one would expect from a gigantic steam engine that suddenly could alter its shape into a thirty foot high robot.  In this form, Advenger is a serious foe for anyone or anything foolish enough to try to harm the rest of his team.

At around a  foot tall, Advenger is blocky, but with a fairly proportional build.  The use of accent colors is quite pleasing and breaks up the large amount of black on the toy.  I never would have chosen pale blue to go along with black, but it certainly works here.

Note the gold chrome chest piece and head side panels.  Gold or silver chrome accents such as these are common on Brave series DX toys.

A side view really is Advenger's worst angle.  Here he looks ungainly, with a forward-slung torso, and wide lower legs.  The less said here the better.  On a more pleasing note, we do see more gold chrome accents on his wheels.

A look at the rear of the toy reveals a plethora of "hidden" weaponry that is not shown initially in the show.

The ability to display Advenger in either his normal or armed-to-the-teeth modes is one of the special features of the toy.  With a few flips and twists, Advenger is ready to kick some enemy patoot.  The likelihood that he will not prevail in any given battle is slim indeed.  There are short red missiles that can be fired from the two shoulder launchers.  These missiles are actually standard across many of the DX toys in the Goldran line.

Articulation is extremely limited here.  The shoulders can move out to the sides, and the elbows can swivel, but you don't even get any rotation at the shoulder.  Oddly, there is rotation at the elbow so that Advenger could reach across his chest.

To begin the transformation to steam engine mode, one must remove his hand-held weaponry.  As with many other Takara toys, these attach via five-millimeter pegs.

Turn Advenger around to reveal the weapon attachment points on his back.  His large shoulder-mounted cannon needs to be pulled down to get it out of the way for further twists and turns.

The other shoulder-mounted launcher needs to be rotated down and the missiles removed.  There is no place to properly store these missiles on the toy, and this is a bit of a disappointment, as literally every other weapon or missile on Advenger can be safely stowed away as-is.  The hand-held weapons need to be attached to the five-millimeter peg points and swung down into the underside of the lower legs.

Moving to the upper part of Advenger, his head needs to be folded down to show his smokestack, and his chest must be rotated upwards.

Following this, there are three panels at Advenger's waist that must be flipped down to form the engineer's cab of the train.  

Just below Advenger's chest, there is a rotational joint, and the entire upper section must be turned one hundred and eighty degrees to fully align the engine mode's wheels.

Fold in the long shoulder cannon at this point, and begin to bring down the shoulder joints.

The arms become the lower front portion of the engine, fitting snugly into a compact form.

Moving to the rear of the train, the lower legs need to be pressed together and the red feet flipped down.

The light blue panels on his lower legs should be swiveled around to reveal nicely-detailed coal tenders.

This is, to my knowledge, the only transforming robot with coal molded in.  There's some nice detail there, and it's a neat touch that didn't need to be added.  It's just another reason why I feel this is such a superior toy.

Advenger forms a striking old-fashioned steam engine.  Little of the light blue accents are visible in this mode.   The toy rolls freely on multiple wheels.  Aside from the four missiles noted above, all aspects of the robot mode are completely contained within his steam engine form.

Advenger sports a couple surprises beyond all his other armaments.  He has more missile launchers hidden in his lower legs, and a super powerful blaster in his chest.  Open the chest compartment, and wind up the orange spinner located inside, then press on the red "light" at the top of the compartment and away it spins!  It can fly quite a distance and when it lands, will continue spinning for some time.

Here you can see more detail of the spinner and firing button.   Advenger is just packed full of gimmicks!  

Note here that the missile launchers on the legs are actually fired with a sliding tab.  As you move the tab along the track, it pushes against the rear of each missile in turn, causing it to shoot forth.

The missiles on his shoulder launcher are fired in a similar fashion.  None of these will fire a very great distance, so it's possible that the design was intended as some form of safety measure.  At the very least, it's a novel way to add a launching feature in small or unusually-shaped parts of a toy.

In the show, Advenger's primary role is transport, for all his offensive capability.  The train mode has a compartment for carrying Dran.  There is a hollow space inside of each leg, along with a ramp that can fold down.

Dran can roll in or out easily.  I only wish I too could travel in a golden automobile.  Lucky kids.

But wait, Advenger actually has even more features!  He has a coupling hook that can fold out from underneath the rear of his train mode.

Why?  To connect with his accessory train cars, of course!

Firstly, there is what appears to be a automobile transport car.  This car is even longer and wider than Advenger himself.  Its purpose is to transport the component vehicles of Silverion, another Goldran combining hero robot (the subject of a future review, I'm certain).  Here we see Dran riding along inside.

Beyond this, Advenger comes with two other transport cars. Each is intended for a different robot from the toy line - one for Golgom in his dinosaur form, and one for Leon Kaiser, a giant golden Lion robot.  

Advenger's train mode actually sports a final way to carry another robot along with it.  There are two five-millimeter posts on the top of his cab.  These can be used to connect Sorakage, a golden ninja hawk robot, to the top of the cab.  Advenger is able to haul around just about every other DX toy in the line all at once.

This toy is one of those that I come back to often whenever the kids and I visit my toy room.  With all the features and gimmicks that Advenger has packed into him, the play-ability is just out of this world.  He's of a pleasingly large size, and solidly constructed for rough play.  This is a kid's toy after all!

On a personal note, Advenger was the final toy in the Goldran line that I managed to get my hands on.  This guy does not show up on sites like Ebay very often, and when he does the price is quite high.  My quest to acquire him took me not to English-speaking proxy-buying sites, or to Yahoo Japan's auctions (in Japan, this seems to be the primary online auction site), but instead directly to an overseas seller.  I am lucky to occasionally converse with others on the Brave forum at TFW2005.com, and the seller was recommended as someone who might be able to get a hold of hard-to-find items.  This gracious person was fluent enough in English (note that I have no such corresponding ability with Japanese) for us to come to an arrangement that ultimately led Advenger to my toy shelves, and for an excellent price.

Ultimately, if you like robots that turn into trains (or just about any transforming toy), you can hardly go wrong with Advenger.  He's a toy to rival the very best of the old Transformers line, and his various features make for great fun.  Highly recommended!

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