Soul of Chogokin Spec Layzner Mark II by Bandai (available as a Tamashii Webshop Exclusive)
In another brief departure, we’re going to review another Tamashii Webshop Exclusive. This being the much sought after Soul of Chogokin Spec Layzner Mark II. A very interesting design from the hugely influential anime Blue Comet SPT Layzner, interesting in the sense that it was never animated. So the fact we have a toy of this at all is pretty amazing, really.
Layzner as a series is one of the most interesting in the mecha pantheon. Created by mecha magnate Ryousuke Takahashi, it was very much a real robot show and followed on from his similarly gritty works, that of Dougram and VOTOMS.
It featured the then future Cold War between Russia and the US relocated to Mars, however a bunch of aliens turn up (from a pretty brutal planet known as Grados) and all hell breaks loose. The series was renowned at the time, and even now, for its taut pacing, solid characterization and very diligent approach to the mecha, in that they had to worry about fuel running out and other real world concerns.
It was also hugely popular, but unfortunately in the middle of the second season one of the main sponsors dropped out (they made kerosene heaters in Japan that suffocated people). Without one of the main financial backers, the show folded and was abruptly ended in a bizarre final episode that was then moderately fleshed out in an OVA.
The E-MF-LZ-00X-2 Layzner Mark II came into all of this as this was meant to be the mid-series upgrade for the SPT-LZ-00X Layzner. Instead Eiji (the series’ protagonist) only managed to get the moderately upgraded E-SPT-LZ-00X-B New Layzner, as seen in the third OVA.
The main reason for this pimped-up version rather than the Mark II was that the latter featured an all-new transformation sequence that was likely too complex/expensive to be animated for a one-off OVA.
The series, despite its unceremonious cancellation, has managed to influence all manner of anime and games over the years. The Scouters in Dragonball Z? Layzner. The Zone of the Enders games? Layzner. Remember Omega Boost? Layzner. Even the likes of the awesome Bangai-O had a massive amount of content influenced by Layzner. As you can imagine units like the Mark II have also been a staple in many a Super Robot Wars game, too.
As an aside, my day job is that of a game designer. One of the games I’ve led was that of Strike Suit Zero and the mecha in it were heavily influenced by Layzner, especially by the Mark II. So this toy is also a pretty personal one.
It’s also one of the shows that Japanese animators rave about even today, with good reason. For a TV series it had an abnormally high amount of animation frames. This meant the mecha combat, which was choreographed brilliantly, looked absolutely stunning both then and now (something the lovely BluRay box set clearly demonstrates).
So when Bandai asked what fans wanted in a questionnaire a few years back, pretty much the entire rallying cry was for a Layzner Mark II. toy. Much of this was down to the fact that Bandai had already done a really great Soul of Chogokin Spec Layzner toy already but also because the love for the show is such that you can’t keep the Blue Comet down for long.
Well, now we finally have the Mark II toy all Layzner fans have dreamed of!
It’s a very pure toy and doesn’t come with a lot of options but the transformation and gimmicks are all great. It also has a lot of diecast too. Anyway, keep an eye for our follow on review!