Metamor Force Dancouga by Sentinel (Available From HobbyLink Japan)
Much like the Dinogetter I reviewed previously, this Dancouga falls under the the same toy line but is far more involved. Not only do each of the mecha transform themselves, but they also combine to form the Dancouga.
Over the years I have bought numerous Dancouga toys and this is arguably one of the best. The closest competitor to this figure is the 2003 Soul of Chogokin Dancouga, as it too has multiple mecha that transform and then combine together. It was also slightly larger but the engineering behind it is now over a decade old.
To clarify, the Soul of Chogokin Dancouga has much more limited articulation and actually less diecast than this offering from Sentinel. However, the overall detailing of the older toy is still very good and the clear canopy for the Big Moth is actually something I prefer. The tank tracks on the newer Sentinel toy are also fixed but even with that I still think I prefer this new version.
In any case, on with the review. I’ve broken it down into the individual mecha and then as the Dancouga towards the end, with a few videos interspersed to help give the toy some context (though they come with an obvious SPOILER warning).
The Soul of Chogokin Dancouga (left) next to the new Metamor Force Dancouga (right).
The biggest improvement this new toy has is its articulation. From the individually-jointed fingers to the very clever ankle joints, you can really get a wide range of poses out of this figure. Considering the Masami Obari lineage and his predilection for dynamic poses, it’s very nice that you can now recreate many of them. However, there is one major caveat to all of this: the shoulder and crotch joints have had reports of issues. While I have not seen or experienced any problems I’d be remiss in not mentioning what I’ve heard. Personally I think that careful handling, as with all toys of this type, will likely assuage any issues as the plastic and metal used is clearly quite durable.
The other big improvement is that this toy uses a lot of diecast across the body, so it is quite weighty. The detailing is broader compared to other releases but the sculpt is very good. The additional head with the open mouth is also a nice touch.
The booster pack at the rear connects nicely and the cannons flip down, which is a big advantage over the Soul of Chogokin version. While I think the wingspan is a little narrow on this new toy, it does still look the part. Admittedly this booster pack doesn’t appear until quite late in the series, and the sword, only really in the last OVA episode, but the fact they are present is most welcome.
The reduced size does affect the detailing in general though and does especially limit the Eagle Rider in terms of the figure’s overall complexity. While it looks okay in vehicle mode, the mecha is a bit basic. That said, unlike the Soul of Chogokin version you don’t have to remove its arms when you transform it into Dancouga’s head. What’s more the arms, while simple, have been designed to act as the head’s “neck” and afford a greater range of motion than previous toys.
The really big advantage this toy has over all else though is that Sentinel is planning to release a Black Wing figure at some point in the future. This will mean owners of this toy will be able to combine the two figures to create the mighty Final Dancouga. Considering the only real toy we’ve had of that was the limited edition Gigabrain release, which didn’t combine from disparate figures and was basically a standalone toy, the fact Sentinel will finally do a proper figure of this important mecha from the series is reason enough to invest in this Dancouga.
Admittedly the Black Wing never actually combined with Dancouga in the series but for fans of Super Robot Wars the Final Dancouga combination is something of great importance, as it has become sort of Dancouga’s ultimate form in a variety of the games.
Overall then this new Sentinel toy of Dancouga is genuinely magnificent. It captures the 80’s styling brilliantly and couples that with modern day articulation and manufacturing. This figure also has more gimmicks than earlier releases and in my mind is arguably the most definitive version to date. While the price is quite steep, Sentinel has delivered an excellent toy and as such it comes highly recommended — doubly so if you’re a fan of Dancouga.
Update: Sentinel did a post on the Dancouga’s arm joints.
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