While the 1970s will never quite live down the marriage of orange and brown as a color scheme for absolutely everything, it was also the decade that brought us one of the best toy concepts of the 20th century. While Bandai ruled Japanese TV with countless anime shows about giant robots, its subsidiary Popy decided to create a toyline that would incorporate all these popular mecha with the feature kids wanted most in their giant robot toys — giantness. Most Jumbo Machiners stood over two feet tall, and it wasn’t hard to guess that they’d be as popular outside of Japan as they were in it.
Mattel eventually imported these hulking creations, which took the U.S. by storm as Shogun Warriors. With their massive size, fun extras like firing missiles, wheeled feet and rocket fists, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many American children exploded in delight upon first sight of these. While this line has no duds, here are 10 that stand out as being as awesome as they were giant.
Part of the Mattel Shogun Warrior family, Rodan was only available in the United States, making it the rare occasion when Japan got screwed out a cool Japanese toy. When these do surface on eBay, you can enjoy a healthy fight from a bidder in the East. As a toy, he doesn’t do much save for flap his wings, which is pretty much all the original Rodan did anyways.
9) Kamen Rider V3
An important Machinder for a number of reasons: Kamen Rider V3 was the first non-giant and the first non-robot character in the toy series. What’s nice about this character is he also proves to be a bit of a pallet cleanser in a collection; his curved features stand out amongst the angular robotics quite nicely. Not to mention the fact that Kamen Riders are kick ass characters to begin with.
8) Getter Robo G
Number eight is a three-way tie because Dragun, Ryger and Poseidon worked as a team and should remain as such (U.S. kids would know them as the Spaceketeers). The loving features on these figures such as giant missiles and fold-down treads (just like on the cartoon) is what makes these three special.
7) New Tetsujin 28
Known on this side of the world as Gigantor, Tetsujin 28 was the grandfather of giant robot animation, so it’s fitting that he would receive the Machinder treatment, even if it’s his revised 1970s form.
Not only is Raideen a spectacularly designed robot, but if you lay him down he goes into “Bird Mode,” making him arguably one of the first transformers ever. A transformer that probably wouldn’t present a challenge to a sleeping baby, let alone a 6-year-old, but that doesn’t really matter. Besides, look at how excited the man in the commercial is!
5) Ultraman Leo
Another in a small pool of Machinders based on live-action characters, Leo has the distinction of being one of only two Ultra brothers in the entire toyline as well as (sadly) being one of the hardest Machinders to find on the planet.
There should be nothing surprising about the inclusion of Gaiking on this list. While the dragon face on his chest is awesome unto itself, there are two words that put him over the top: Nipple Rockets. That’s right, Gaiking unleashes mass destruction from his pectorals, and that is buckets and buckets of win.
As fun as Mattel’s U.S. version was of this character, he pales in comparison to the amazing Japanese original, which has a stronger resemblance to the Gojira of screen legend. As happy as your childhood memories of playing with the U.S. version of this, the discovery of the original can make you mad at your parents for not having the foresight to visit Japan.
2) Super 7 Storm Trooper
Admittedly, this giant Stormtrooper was made in the ’70s and wasn’t part of the Jumbo Machinder line. But Super 7 clearly made this guy as if Popy got the Star Wars license in the ’70s, and thus deserves inclusion in this list just for that. Super 7 has announced that their next release will be Boba Fett, who will likely have that rocket firing back pack a generation got ripped off from in 1978.
1) Mazinger Z
First place has to go to the one that started the ball rolling. Mazinger Z was the first Jumbo Machinder designed; he was actually supposed to be even bigger, but got cut down for safety concerns. It didn’t matter in the long run, as having a two-foot tall robot toy was more than enough to blow kids’ minds. When Mattel brought the line to the U.S., Mazinger Z was among the first releases and won the hearts of children across the world, and then shot them with his rocket fists.