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DekaBase Robo Giant Launch DX

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For some, the "Sentai Transport" is a staple of the Super Sentai toy franchise, important as the feature robot itself. In the early 90's, we saw the once everpresent transport give way to the giant base robot, and finally fade from the limelight almost entirely. From time to time, the legacy of the transport would be resurrected in the form of ride-on "robot chariots", such as King Brachion and V-Rex, or off-scale miniatures, such as Gigabitas and the Abaranger Brachiosaur, but it was never quite the same.

In the last decade, the true transport found its way back to us only twice: in Carranger and GoGo Five. The transport has evolved a now standard robot mode -- VicTrailer possessing a token robot form, but Grand Liner being a collosal sensory treat of design.

In 2004, the Sentai Transport reasserts its iconic status in sentai design with Dekabase, and the enthusiast is left wanting for nothing with fully implemented transport, base, and robot modes. Borrowing heavily from the "sit up" transformation pattern of Gigabitas, one might theorize Dekabase was an apology for (or revenge for) Gigabitas' off-scale toy incarnation. Dekabase also seems to share some common design with Tomy's Magnum Rescue transport robot base, even if only superficially.

True to its genre, Dekabase is large, bricklike, simple, and sturdy. However, in uncommon fashion, Dekabase is quite visually detailed, and in many ways features construction and detailing more associated with series' primary robots than bulky oversized transports. Function is not sacrificed in the design of the toy, but its "playset" nature is well disguised in favor of aesthetic form and that true-to-video magic that Bandai, and especially the Super Sentai franchise, is well known for advancing. The tastefully integrated carrying handle and abundance of wheels hidden in faux treads allow the owner to reimagine the toy as a display model or a playset as appropriate. Beyond the more mundane visual tricks are the hidden transport compartments for the five Deka Machines.

The front and sides of Dekabase are styled to look alternatively like the windows of a modern building or solar panels, depending on the toy's mode and the owner's frame of mind. These detailed panels assist the visual parity between the toy and the on-screen character, but also completely hide the transport bays. There are no externally visible "hatches", the entire side panels of Dekabase open to reveal the launch compartments and extending ramps.

Gimmick and engineering enthusiasts will find delight in Dekabase Robo's hands. The hands are attached to the ankle area prior to robot transformation, and act only as visual styling. Upon transformation, they are raised to the wrist attach point via a boom arm, and, with a twist of a red knob, lock to the wrist and unlock from the boom arm. The parts transfer is done cleanly without the disconnected attach/reattach drill frowned up by many. Dekabase Robo, Takara's original DX Gaogaigar, and the Micron Legend Ultra Magnus are a few toys in an elite club that pull off this gimmick.

The observant is forced to take note of the many ways in which child safety has become more blantently promoted in toy design, sometimes sacrificing the visual. There are many opportunities for fingers to get pinched in Dekabase, with massive front and back haves of the toy unlocking and relocking against each other. Bandai is very conscious of this, and goes to great lengths both in the instruction guide and in various warning inserts to point out the danger. On the black central arm that connects the front and back halves of the toy, there is an obnoxious yellow warning decal that is not subtle. Also, on one of Dekarobo's two chromed "knees", there is an embossed Japan Toy Association warning mark that is, again, not subtle. These distractions, while perhaps necessary, clash mightily with careful attention paid to obscure the "toy playset" nature of the design.

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