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Star Wars & Shogun Warriors

June 3, 2012

The 35th anniversary of Star Wars occurred last week and made me reminisce of the great toys I loved growing up. I was only 4 when the movie came out, but I loved it, forcing various family members to take me back to see it again–I think I saw it 5 times during the original run.

My neighbor was a year-and-a-half older than me, and between the two of us, we had most of the toys in the commercial below. He had the Death Star playset featured in the commercial and it was awesome:

After Star Wars came out, American boys went nuts for space toys, comics, movies, cartoons, etc. American companies couldn’t create original concepts quick enough and searched for existing properties elsewhere. One country ripe with material was Japan, which had already had a few imports in the previous 30 years. Toy giant Mattel latched on to a concept by Toei Animation and created a line of toys called Shogun Warriors. Basically collecting 5 different properties of giant-robot series, Shogun Warriors brought them together for release in the American market. Large scale plastic robots were imported from Japan and small die-cast metal versions of the same robots were also sold–I had the small Gaiking, which had a dragon-face chest and huge horns. The animated series were released as Force Five in parts of the U.S., with a different show airing each weekday. For a grade-school kid, this kind of stuff was awesome

The commercial for the large toys, sold along with Godzilla, who was also making a comeback at the time. I had the large Grand Mazinger for years:

In 2010, a feature-length movie of Gaiking was announced and this trailer was released. Initial reports said it was going to be released in Japan in 2011 and the rest of the world in 2012, but updated info is hard to come by and it doesn’t appear it was released in Japan yet.

And while comparisons to Transformers are obvious, these Japanese anime preceded the Transformers.

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