I can probably trace the entire basis for my interest in giant fighting robots back to a few years of my childhood in the mid 80’s. As a kid, I lived in a small town in Texas a few hours outside Amarillo. I don’t know how he did it, but somehow my dad found this eclectic little Japanese import toy shop on one of our many trips to the “big city”. He knew I’d love it as I was obsessed with Transformers and Voltron, probably the two most popular robot franchises at that time to most kids my age in the states. But this little toy shop had things I’d never seen or heard of. They had VHS tapes full of this stuff called, “anime” and shelves full of these little backwards comics called “manga”. Most importantly of all, it had shelf after shelf of incredibly, mind blowing giant robots. The existence of that shop hooked me onto everything from Gundam to Godakin! I was instantly obsessed. That shop became a regular weekend destination for us, so much so that the shop owner had a small list he’d keep of all the bots I told him I wanted so my dad would know what to look for if he happened to be hunting a Christmas or birthday gift for me. Life was good and my plate was steadily full of random anime, manga and die-cast giant robots for a solid year. We eventually left the Texas pan-handle and moved away to the Eastcoast.
Despite not having access to a similar, amazing Japanese toy import shop anywhere near our new neighborhood, I maintained a fascination with Japanese robots, watching cartoons and movies that featured them as much as possible. Voltron, Transformers, Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, Gundam, Giant Robot and the ‘bot known here in the states as Tranzor Z.. the mighty, Mazinger Z.
I’ll admit, it’s been FOREVER since I’ve watched or read anything about Mazinger Z. But the instant I saw him teased by ThreeZero so many of those memories came rushing back. I knew I’d have to have him in my collection.
I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to preview him while he’s still up for preorder at ThreeZero’s shop. I find it a little ironic that the same toy company who is largely responsible for reawakening the toy nostalgia within me a few years back is the same one responsible for bringing such an iconic super robot from my childhood back to life.
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As usual, since this is a prototype of ThreeZero’s MazingerZ, they didn’t ship him an official retail box. For all I know, it’s probably not even designed yet. That being said, it worked out pretty well for me as they DID send him in a rather beaten up Real Steel Atom box. We reviewed ThreeA’s Real Steel Atom a while back and he too was sent to us without an official box. Whelp, now I have one!
The first thing I want to make sure everyone understands is that this is a prototype that ThreeZero sent me for review. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, stuff may change. Unlikely as it is that everything I observe will be vastly different than what you experience once these start shipping later this year, take what’s written herein with a few grains of salt.
Eds note: Mazinger Z is available for preorder for a limited time as of the publish date of this post at ThreeZero’s online shop. He will be available for purchase from online retailers as well. Also, if you have questions about companies providing us with things to review, please see our “About Us/Disclaimer and Disclosure” section for more deets.
After I picked him up from the post office in the AM, I was so excited to get home to see what he could do. To my chagrin, I still had a full day of work at the office ahead of me before that could happen, so I spent my lunch break playing around with him in my car.
First impression? MazingerZ is a big, beautiful looking bot. ThreeZero squeezed so many amazing tiny details into this guy. I’ll probably still be discovering some new detail on him a year from now. Every gear and sculpted feature on him looks believable and highly realistic.
The broad strokes of his colors scheme are exactly what you’d expect for Mazinger Z, though the bright blue and red color scheme from the series has definitely been given the ThreeZero treatment. Rust, dings and scratches run all over the paint job given him a more realistic look. While I tend to prefer my robots looking “lived in” like this, I am happy to say that despite all the grime, his colors still remain vibrant and bright on display.
One thing I was concerned about before I received him was how he’d be constructed. I have a few other big robots from ThreeA (one part Ashley Wood/one part ThreeZero) and they all seem to rely on large ball socket joints stuffed into soft vinyl. For example, Ash’s re-imagined Gundam Zaku figure. I still love that figure and the unique design Ash gave him but, the reliance on those type of joints and the vinyl at his hips and shoulders make him unreliable to pose. His legs will basically flop around like a limp doll if shook as there’s little to no friction holding them in place. That being said, Zaku is saved by his huge feet base which is also fairly heavy, making him really easy to stand up without a secondary support.
I was instantly relieved when I unpacked Mazinger Z and stood him up on the counter next to me. It was the first indicator that he wasn’t only good looking, but well made as well. He stood up, solidly balanced with zero fuss. While there’s probably a few parts on him that are vinyl, the vast majority of him seems to be made out of a much sturdier, solid plastic. His hips have hard, clicking joints that ratchet and lock into place, giving him a very secure base. The same sort of joints seem to be used in his shoulders, clicking and locking in whatever pose you move him to.
Mazinger Z is probably the most poseable big robot, I’ve ever seen. Sometimes, the bigger the toy, the more difficult it is to pose and balance… particularly big robots with limited articulation. But thanks to Mazinger Z’s human-like build, I ended up being able to pose him almost exactly as I would with any standard 1/6 figure.
In just his legs alone, you have the clicking ball joints in his hips, a very forgiving mid-thigh rotating joint (you can rotate it 360 degrees if you wish), a knee joint and a very flexible ankle ball joint. His toe pivots up and down and his heel extends to give him just a little more support. Moving to the arms you’ll find they rotate and twist at the shoulder, bicep, elbow and wrist. Of course, this is ThreeZero, so his fingers are articulated as well. His waist rotates around and his chest gives him slightly more movement by twisting side to side and front to back. His head moves around on a standard ball joint that sits on a second, rotating neck joint. I will say that this design struck me as a little odd because the neck joint only rotates left and right. As the ball joint his head sits on already gives him plenty of movement left and right, it seems a little pointless. If anything, a little more front to back motion would have been more useful.
I was able to get some really dynamic, balanced poses out of him which he could hold like a champ. While very flexible and fun, there are a few areas of his design that seems to inhibit the potential of his articulation. I found myself wishing they’d made some small adjustments to allow for a little more flexibility. The most obvious is the new hip design. I’ve read some people bemoan the look, but I actually think it looks better than the original version. The ’85 Mazinger Z, basically looked like he was wearing white tights tucked into boots. ThreeZero’s take feels more realistic in comparison. However, since the leg post protrudes up, you can only kick his leg out so far before the top of it is bumping against his side.
The accessories Mazinger Z comes with are pretty nice as well. He gets these two cool.. what should I call them.. wrist blades(?) that are actually articulated themselves! They connect by simply snapping them to his forearms. It took me a minute to figure this out since there’s no super obvious “peg” or “hole” (there are some, they just work with the design so well, they blend in) on his forearms to guide me. They just snap in place when you have them lined up correctly. The blades tuck into the side of each gauntlet and can be pulled out and forward to connect together in the front. I really had fun playing around them.
The sword, as you’d expect any self respecting Japanese robot worth his salt to carry, is huge. It’s a fairly simple design but lovely all the same. It actually reminds me a little of the big flame sword that came with Daltanias, one of the Godaikin robots I had as a wee child… at least in scale.
While giant swords are awesome in their own right, I should note that posing him with it did highlight the only real issue I found with his joints. His wrist are fairly loose, which is in stark contrast to literally every other joint on him. The weight of the sword would pull his fist down, making it a little difficult to hold it in certain poses. His fingers are bigger and their joints sturdier than I’ve seen from most of 3A/ThreeZero’s bots so I was at least able to ensure he had a firm grip on the hilt.
As much fun as I’ve been having with Mazinger Z, there was one thing that I’d say was missing from the package. Unlike the original, ThreeZero’s version cannot fire off his fists. They’re only attached by a balljoint and you can actually pop them off and pretend it’s by design, but with the wrists already so loose on this prototype, I think doing so would only make the problem worse. Lets be honest, in a real world scenario, a robot shooting his fist at something, thus leaving himself hand-less and weaponless is probably the dumbest wartime design ideas ever.. but I feel like that feature is to Mazinger Z as marijuana is to Snoop Dog. It’s hard to imagine one without the other.
The last bit of accessory is the cool little hover jet with folding wings.
You can take that dude out and buzz him around if you like, but he looks best docked in the hole atop Mazinger’s noggin.
Speaking of noggin, Mazinger Z has some working electronics coursing through his brain. In fact, I’m pleased to say that he has the easiest to access light operating switch from ThreeZero yet.
They designed this cool little back-plate that sports a small notch and two magnets to hold it in place. You can quickly pop it off and access the tiny switch from there.
This is a far cry from some of the earlier designs which required you to remove a battery cover with a screw driver just to flick the switch on. The batteries are still held in place under a tiny screw laden backplate, but once you have them in place.. you shouldn’t have to sweat digging out a screwdriver and messing with it again for a long time.
As you can see, the eyes light up nice and bright. It looks like the hover ship was designed to benefit from the light as well since the notch it attaches to on his head is clear (to allow light out) as is the ship’s windows. Unfortunately, the light doesn’t seem to be quite strong enough to affect it very noticeably. Still, the eye-lights look great and give him some convincing life.
What else can I really say about Mazinger Z? ThreeZero kept true to the original enough so that he’s instantly recognizable. The updated version has him looking a little more dangerous and realistic; benefits of their more grungy and rugged redesign. He’s a top quality, great looking, nicely articulated and beautifully sculpted robot collectible that anyone who loves giant super robos will surely appreciate.
The feeling I got from posing and photographing Mazinger Z today took me right back to that little shop in Amarillo, TX from my childhood. It’s the kind of feeling that sorta defines everything that has anything to do with why I love collecting toys today.
- Fantastic looking sculpt
- Great weathering details
- Solidly made with sturdy joints
- Good articulation
- Easy access to light feature switch
- Good, but not GREAT articulation
- Ball joint at wrist is a little too loose to support the weight of his sword in some poses
- The light in his head isn’t quite strong enough to illuminate the ship cockpit, despite the apparent intent
A huge thanks to Kim, Cody and all the wonderful people at ThreeZero for sending this guy out to us to mess with! For more info on ThreeZero, please check out their site and follow them on their Facebook page!