Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Greatshot and The Super Robot Factor

- Ben Watson

I'm now the proud owner of a glorious Takara LG EX Greatshot and I felt it time to tackle a particular concept that he and very few other Transformers come hand-in-hand with: the idea of "The Super Robot". 

It's widely accepted Transformers are a breed of super robots, the term even acting as descriptor of what they are in the original Japanese series' title - but to what extent in this space year 2018? In the past thirty years (probably more like forty if you want to properly chart the rise of the Super Robot) many franchises have flared to life and faded away within the stable of the concept. Some much more noticeably "super" than others that - at least in my mind - contribute much more to the overall nebulous mental image than Transformers ever has. So let's explore the concept through my admittedly novice experience (Bowing to RRCo colleague Dan as Master) and see how it's intersected and influenced the long standing brand we're all here for down the years. 

To begin, what qualifies Greatshot as a Super Robot to me? If I had to put it into words, this figure exemplifies it more than most by its particular set of colours first. The heroic staple of red, white and blue sings its debatably dated song of freedom to the eye but this isn't necessarily any different to any Optimus Prime or Ultra Magnus - two robots who in my headspace aren't capital S Super (Unless we're talking about a super mode...). What really brings the *clench fist* oomph to Greatshot is - and I'm sure your eyes have already been drawn to it - his big gold on black chest motif. In a better age it would have been glittering chrome but that right there is what elevates Greatshot to greatness. That extra layer of bombast and over-the-top styling incorporating an oddly mixed visual message. Does he turn into a bird like the big insignia across his pecs? Hell no, but it looks cool and that's what the Super Robot is all about. 

Standing proud as an ultimate force for good, swathed in red and gold and generating a silhouette dominated by upper body spikes, the spirit of other Super Robos is conjured in my mind. GaoGaiGar, Thunder Gridman, Gurren Lagann, uh... one of the Gundams (hey that's a lot of G's) Greatshot joins the pantheon of these most mighty mecha and in doing so, kind of does himself a disservice... 

All of those "OG's" I listed are the central, most powerful and righteous robots of their respective series. The be-all-and-end-all of the protection of the innocent and spectacular destruction of evil. Is that Greatshot? Really? Arguably one of the most obscure Transformers characters of all time, one that I had no idea existed until about two years ago, he hardly fits the bill. Add to that a shady heritage (this figure's pack-in manga says he's just Sixshot? What?) and in terms of portrayal, Greatshot is really only a pretender to the mantle of Super Robot. 

But hold! Perhaps a redemption arc is in the cards for our hero, because like most of those G-men I named, I haven't actually taken in any of Greatshot's appearances in fiction. Yeah ok, I'll go and watch Brave but this is another facet of the Super Robot vogue for me. A veiling in mystery, a cladding of awe. Knowing that this particular robot I'm looking at right now looks really damn cool and I love what I'm seeing even though I know practically nothing about it. That's the only reason I bought Greatshot. I don't give a monkey's about... *checks the wiki* Victory or what he did in the episodes of it he appeared in. All I need to know is I want this robot in my house because he exemplifies all of that forceful aesthetic that only Japan could provide. 

Right now I'm realising how much that aesthetic really gets to me. If it transforms and powers up in a lengthy and detailed motion-line abundant stock sequence, I want to know about it. I'd go as far as saying I'd watch a show that was just that and thankfully, there does exist an animated short commemorating Gridman that I've watched over and over. Nothing quite like that distillation of pre-21st century mecha stirs the blood quite so. I could have been hunting for missing Armada figures on ebay recently but instead chose to track down every listing for Gridman toys because by god, Zenon is a robo I need in my life. But in the west such paragons of power are hard to come by in plastic. (Unless you're blessed with wherever sells those chrome-tastic KO's in the US... Like Dan is.) So to be present to watch a release come to fruition in the line my eyes are seldom not trained on, I simply couldn't pass up Greatshot, by virtue of everything I imagine he could be, rather than anything he probably is. . 

Yes, I will hold my hands up and say, it wasn't cheap. Being not only a Japanese exclusive figure but one exclusive to a particular store within Japan, Greatshot did come at a price approximately 1.5X the average Generations Leader. He is essentially just red Sixshot and I've been trying to enjoy that figure more than I do for a good year now. Greatshot does however have an advantage in-hand thanks to much better joint tolerances. Of course some parts are new and add a lot to push Greatshot far and away from his precursor, including new robot and animal mode heads and more ostentatious chest and shoulder adornments but all six of his modes (including "submarine") tell the same rote tale. While Sixshot's existence in Titans Return was an ultimate surprise, it was certainly foolish for any of us to expect a different six-changing mold anywhere in the vicinity of the next decade. At the very least however, this is of course G1 accurate and lets the figure play to that particular retro charm the original possesses in such a large amount.

Mild misgivings aside, I really feel like Greatshot will be one of the top figures of the year. Birthed in that limited foreign release mystique and filling a unique niche in my collection he's certainly a piece I'm very proud to have. Statistically speaking, few Transformers are released each year that really resonate with what I want my collection to be. Yeah, I buy em all the same but your RID Paralons and Legion Dragonstorms don't stand a chance in the wake of a release with this kind of mental heft. This robot is simply, super. 

What makes a robot "super" to you? Leave a comment and let us know!

Follow Ben on Twitter @Waspshot23 

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