Black Friday Retro Toys From The Super Groovy 70s: Shogun Warriors

Written By: Ken Hulsey

Imagine being a preteen boy in the late 1970s when Mattel unleashes a series of three-foot-tall Japanese robots that shoot missiles out of their fingers upon a generation that had just begun to discover quirky Asian sci fi via afternoon and late-night movie features (Godzilla, Gamera and Ultraman). Everyone I knew had to have one of these toys. Number one, they were huge, and two they fired stuff across the room. In a pre video game America this was the pinnacle of cool toys and it gave my generation the ability to wage giant robot wars in our living room. Insert some HO scale model train buildings and some Hot Wheels cars and you could recreate any scene from a Japanese movie ... if you imagination was good enough.

After the toys initially were introduced, Mattel inserted Godzilla and soon Rodan to the toy line, taking the product to a whole new level. The somewhat smaller Godzilla figure was an instant hit, and every kid had one at the top of their Christmas list.

I myself had several of these, including Godzilla, and to this day I relish my days shooting missiles and fists across my living room, scaring the crap out of my cat, and inflicting robot dominance over all my friends armies.

All will tremble before me!



History:

Shogun Warriors were a line of toys, licensed by Mattel during the late 1970s that consisted of a series of imported Japanese robots all based on then-popular giant robot anime shows. They were originally manufactured in three sizes, the 24-inch (610 mm) plastic versions, the 3.5-inch (89 mm) diecast metal versions and the slightly taller but much more detailed and articulated 5" diecast versions. There were also several vehicles offered and a set that could be put together to form Combattra (Combattler V).

The most attractive features on these toys were the spring loaded launcher weapons such as missiles, star shuriken, and battleaxes. Some robots were able to launch their fists. The later diecast versions of these toys were also attractive for the ability to transform into different shapes. Raydeen, for instance, was changeable into a birdlike spaceship. These "convertible" editions were the precursors to the "Transformers" line of toy robots but unlike the later toyline it was not unusual for minor dissasembly to be required to achieve the secondary form. There was even a robot named Megatron in issue #18 of the comic, then the name was used multipe times for the leader of the evil Decepticons from Transformers. Also, the second form was not always an apparently useful one, a "giant skull" for instance.

Like certain other toylines of the 70s, the Shogun Warriors came under pressure due to safety concerns regarding their spring loaded weapons features. Children would launch the weapons and hit other children or pets in the eye, or else they would swallow the plastic missiles. Toy manufacturers were facing new regulations due to reported child injuries as a result of playing with these toys. Consequently, many toy companies were forced to remodel existing toylines with child safe variations (such as spring loaded "action" missiles that would remain attached to the toy). For this reason, as well as decreasing sales, the Shogun Warriors toyline disappeared by 1980.

Several of the anime from this toyline were seen in the 80s as part of Jim Terry's Force Five series.



Shogun Warriors was licensed in 1979–1980 for a 20-issue series by Marvel Comics, which was written by Doug Moench and featured art by Herb Trimpe. In the comic, the Shogun Warriors were created by a mysterious group called the Followers of the Light. Human operators were chosen from all around the world to operate the massive robots in order to battle evil.

The series is firmly rooted in the Marvel Universe, as evidenced by their interactions with Doctor Demonicus in issues #12-14 and the Fantastic Four in the last two issues of the series. Issue #15 was a fill-in issue written by Steven Grant with art by Mike Vosburg. The series took a dramatic turn with issue #16, as the Shogun Warriors' mentors were destroyed by the Primal One and his followers. This alien force decided that Earth's technology had outpaced its morality, and so it was their duty to destroy the Shogun Warriors as well as other powerful humans, including Reed Richards and Tony Stark.

Though he never appeared in the comic series, Red Ronin (a robot created for Marvel's Godzilla comic) was mentioned occasionally and was frequently talked about in the letters pages. - Wiki

Shogun Warriors #1, February 1979 Issue - Marvel Comics

Story by Doug Meonch. Art by Herb Trimpe and Dan Green.

Introducing the Guardians of Freedom - the Shogun Warriors. Massive engines of power, forged by the technology of the future, and piloted by the bravest heroes the world has ever known. In the first exciting issue Raydeen battles the colossal might of Rok-Korr!

SEE MORE


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