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Time Robo 3D Formation DX

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Timeranger

Rumor was, the forces that produce Japan's annual Super Sentai offering wanted to do "something different" with Mirai Sentai TIMERANGER. Toei/Bandai's decades old gravy train had been losing steam over the years. Tales of an all-girl show, a "cute" show, and a Time Bokan spin-off had floated around.

TimeRanger, as it turns out, is not ground breaking by a long shot. Five heroes clad in spandex vanquish the beast du jour with mechanized weaponry designed to execute a single mission with precision: sell toys. Our heroes' giant robot comes to us in a toy form that faithfully reproduces what we see on television. Or, is it the other way around?

Time Robo

TimeRobo consists of five small ships, TimeJets, sent through time from their base in the future. The TimeJets may merge into any of three combinations: TimeJet Gamma, TimeRobo Beta, or TimeRobo Alpha.

TimeJet Gamma is the stereotypical arrowhead shaped ship. TimeJet 1 forms the nose, and the other four jets plug into the back to create a flying wedge design. Any student of sentai will immediately recognize TimeJet Gamma as a shameless knock off of JetMan's Jet Ikarus. While this is hardly original, TimeJet Gamma arguably looks and feels better than Ikarus. Of course, the target audience of this toy has never heard of JetMan, so the kiddies shouldn't mind a bit.

TimeRobo Beta is the team's first "power up" in battle. TimeJet 1 forms the body, and the other four jets create the arms and legs. Tactically, TimeRobo Beta is probably analogous to Getta Ryger. He looks like Ryger, anyway: skinny and blue, and 2nd best.

Beta's weapon is the Flyer Magnum, a pistol weapon formed from the team's aerial personnel transport. The Flyer Magnum is sold separately from TimeRobo DX.

TimeRobo Alpha is the team's finishing transformation. Robust and red all over, he looks like a stocky fighter. Alpha is formed similarly to Beta, with TimeJet 1 as the body, but the transformation sequence is very different.

Alpha's weapon is Jikuuken, the obligatory sword and sure-kill weapon. Alpha also equips the ChronoShield, a large blocker made from the air cowlings of TimeJets 4 & 5, and a bit of TimeJet 1.

All that forces the owner to use the right weapons with the right robots is the size of the robots' hands. Alpha has big hands made for the sword and shield, and Beta has tiny hands made for the Magnum.

The Bad

The die-cast metal content is sparse. One will note that this is the first sentai robot ever to not carry the Chogokin label. In all honesty, the sheer complexity of this toy prevents much practical usage of heavy materials.

There are no spring gimmicks. Further, the Jikuuken sword follows the contemporary trend of bendy, rubbery, gray cop-outs.

The ChronoShield is hollow. An extra bit of TimeJet 1 is used to fill in the center of the ChronoShield, but it just doesn't come off right. The shield needs a solid core. Also, the ChronoShield has no home in TimeRobo Beta mode. In TimeJet Gamma mode, the shield becomes the jet's undercarriage.

The Good

All five TimeJets have individually opening cockpits. However, to get your hands on the five little TimeRanger figures that occupy those cockpits, you'll have to buy the TimeFlyer, sold separately.

The TimeJets all have landing gear, which are retractable where applicable.

TimeRobo Alpha's face guards pop open with the flick of a switch on the back of the head.

The toy looks good without decals. Already trimmed in a fair amount of chrome, adding decals might actually detract from its appearance.

TimeRobo is a marvel of typically Japanese engineering. The toy looks good, in all modes, and feels good. TimeRobo does not constantly threaten to come apart in your hands, and can be played with without fear. This is an achievement for a toy this complicated.

The keen sentai afficionado can recognize most robots' transformations on sight. The toys usually aren't so complex that the basic pieces aren't recognizable from one mode to the next. This isn't so true with TimeRobo. The designers did a really superb job here making a sturdy, complex toy with non-trivial transformations.

The designer is complimented for giving each play mode a distinct look and feel. TimeRobo Beta is not a simple re-hash of Alpha -- or Alpha turned upside down, or backwards. It is a different toy. Better: each robot has his own color scheme, which I consider a feat. Alpha is trimmed in red, and Beta is trimmed in blue. Further, the toy is certainly not guilty of the "box for a body" styling that so many sentai toys of the past fell into.

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