Sunday, 7 March 2010

Kingdam 05 Robogun Browning M1920

I normally do my best to avoid knockoffs, not least because, when I've gone ahead and bought one, it's been hugely overpriced and terrible quality. Even so, once in a while, one does come along that I take an instant fancy to, and the idea of avoiding knockoffs because they've overpriced and terrible quality suddenly drops out of my mind.

So it's my own fault, really isn't it?

This little item turned up at Memorabilia some years ago, looking like it would probably be a huge waste of money (I shan't mention how much, but I certainly paid over the odds)... but it's a knockoff of the pre-TransFormers Browning. Alongside what later became G1 Megatron, there was the Browning and - believe it or not - a Colt 45 revolver. Both were eventually release as TransFormers in Japan, but only the Walther P38 got a release in the US and UK.

I briefly considered the likelihood of ever finding a genuine Browning, then how much such a thing would inevitably cost... And then forked out for the knockoff.

And, in fact, it's about as good quality as I would have expected the genuine article to be, just missing some chrome on the weapons.

Alternate Mode:
It's a gun. More specifically, it's a Browning Model 1920, as manufactured by Fabrique Nationale, Belgium. By a curious coincidence, the FN logo is suspiciously similar to one incarnation of the Fields of the Nephilim logo... but that's irrelevant here. In terms of detail, this is a pretty darned good - if a little undersized - model of the handgun. The whole of the top is chromed, and most of the rest is a plain, matte black plastic.

Unlike the Walther, this thing's spring-loaded firing action is more like the spring-loaded missile launchers used throughout G1 - a single plastic bullet can be pushed into the barrel, and is fired when the trigger releases the catch. It's not exactly elegant, but you're certainly never going to mistake this for the real thing.
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Robot Mode:
G1 Megatron isn't exactly a shining example of design - 'Trigger Crotch' has been a bit of a joke ever since, and has only recently been remedied by appearance of Classics (Nerf Gun) Megatron, on which the trigger ends up on his back, and the overengineered Masterpiece Megatron, which folds it away into his shins. Back in the early 80s, transforming a gun into a believable robot was pretty much a second thought. Of the three, this one probably came out the best - the Colt 45 revolver was a complete mess!

It's proportions are actually not half bad, and it's very stable. Ok, there's not a great deal of articulation, but what's there is functional enough. The oversized fists (one of which, being plugged into the barrel, is spring loaded) and clown shoes are larger than they need to be, and the hips are a bit on the narrow side, but rather that than Megatron's spindly arrangement.

The knockoff comes with two handguns - not chromed - which can be either hand-held or mounted on either shoulder. They're very weird-looking, with what could be a sight or some other kind of targeting system on top. In many ways, these guns are more sensible than the oversized arm-mounted thing and long spiky thing Megatron was packages with... but, on the other hand, Megatron's fusion cannon is iconic... and nothing about this model can be described that way.

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Transformation is almost elegant. It's similar to Megatron in some ways, but generally quite different - certainly far simpler. Basically, the barrel and hammer section pull out to release the body, which then twists 90 degrees. The legs extend from the grip, then flip 180 degrees (covering what might otherwise have been another 'Trigger Crotch'), the heels slide out and the fronts of the exceptionally long feet flip down.

The pre-G1 gun robots all had their limitations, but the Walther and the Browning were, by far, the most sensible of the two. I cannot imagine how the brand would have lasted had the Colt 45 become Megatron. As knock-offs go, this is pretty solid. Bright orange weapons don't exactly inspire fear, and it's not exactly the tallest TransFormer ever to appear but, of all the knock-offs I've bought, only one other beats this in terms of quality.

There's no date either on the model, or on the packaging, but it looks like it could be early-to-mid 80s, going by the state of the packaging.

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