Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Constructing a chronolgy of release for Mattel's Shogun Warriors action figures PART 3: THE END OF THE RODAN!

In 1977 and '78 Mattel introduced and developed the Shogun Warriors as a toyline of robots in three basic size classes-three inch tall figures, five inch tall figures and 23 1/2 inch tall giants. Rounding out the line was a handful of vehicles and perhaps the most famous Shogun, who was not a robot at all but the jumbo sized Godzilla. With the Shogun line's foundation in place Mattel would introduce new figures and vehicles but no new assortment types in 1979. Unfortunately retailer interest in the line was dwindling as evidenced by the smaller number of Shogun newspaper ads in '79 compared to previous years. A few ads from '79 feature the giant Daimos alongside the other jumbos but I've never found a newspaper ad from that year showing any other new figure or vehicle. There was a mailaway promotion in issue 10 of the Shogun Warriors comic (and presumably every other Marvel comic with a November 1979 coverdate) that is the only place I've ever seen line art of some of the new 1979 figures and vehicles.

Although stores were losing interest, Mattel was keeping the line alive in '79 with new additions. Unlike 1978 there were no brand new Shogun Warriors figure subsets, Mattel instead added new figures to existing assortments. What's interesting about how they did this was that although these new additions were spread over different assortments, the product numbers for the new figures and vehicles line up sequentially in an almost unbroken series of numbers from 2988 to 2999:

2988 Daimos (Giant figure Assortment #9861)
2989 ????
2990 Daimos truck (Vehicle Assortment #2734)
2991 Liabe (Vehicle Assortment #2734)
2992 Daimos (TWO-in-ONE Asst #2730)
2993 Voltus V (TWO-in-ONE Asst #2730)
2994 Voltus V (3 inch Collectors Series Asst #2518)
2995 Dangard (3 inch Collectors Series Asst #2518)
2996 Leopaldon (3 inch Collectors Series Asst #2518)
2997 17 (3 inch Collectors Series Asst #2518)

I haven't found a figure or vehicle assigned product number 2989. Gaps in product number sequences are not unprecedented in my research-I ran into the same situation with the Zargon and the U-Combine Combatra numbers from 1978. However, if 2989 is truly an unused product number and not just a hole in my research, and given how the new additions are grouped together by type, I'd say 2989 was meant for either another giant figure or a vehicle. Could 2989 be the number Mattel intended for a US release of the 24 inch giant Grandizer? Or if 2989 was a vehicle could it have been the Mattel release of the Popy GA-37 DX Grandizer set with the five inch Grandizer? Both the jumbo figure and the Grandizer Saucer saw release in Europe (scroll down about 3/4 way to see the euro saucers here) but no proof of a US version has popped up yet. I'm pretty sure 2989 wasn't just the 5 inch figure by itself because there were no product number additions to the five inch assortment and the new 2-in-1 product numbers fit sequentially between the new vehicles and 3 inch Collectors Series. Of course I may be interpreting all of this wrong but at least that's where I'm coming from. Unless someone who worked at Mattel comes forward we'll never know.

Now let's look at the new product numbers in the context of the assortments they fit in during 1979. It's my belief that the line was canceled in 1980 and none of the Shogun Warrior branded products shown in the 1980 catalog ever shipped that year. The majority of the assortments from 1980 looked to be unchanged carryovers from 1979 so I'll discuss those here, too.

1979 and 1980=====================

3 inch Collectors Series figures / Asst #2518

2512 Combatra
2513 Poseidon
2514 Gaiking
2515 Dragun
2516 Great Mazinga
2517 Grandizer
2994 Voltus V
2995 Dangard
2996 Leopaldon
2997 17

The 3 inch Collectors Series got expanded with the addition of four new figures in 1979. Interestingly enough the 1980 catalog states that there were 12 figures in assortment 2518 but only 10 are pictured in that year's catalog pages. Was that a mistake or did Mattel intend to have two more three inch robots made? It's a little strange that Raydeen and Daimos appear multiple times in other assortments but never at the three inch scale. Could they have been planned but never produced? Years later when Bandai would re-release these toys as Mini GoDaiKins no new molds surfaced so it may be that the mention of twelve figures in the 1980 catalog was a typo.

5 inch figures / Asst #2107

2103 Mazinga
2104 Poseidon
2105 Raider
2106 Dragun
2107 5 inch assortment

The same 4 figures carried over from previous years for 1979, but this assortment is not shown in the 1980 catalog. If the stand alone Popy GA-37 Grendizer were to be introduced as a Shogun it would most likely have fit here among the regular five inch series since it had no real transformation.

TWO-in-ONE Figures / Asst #2730

2727 Raydeen
2728 Gaiking
2729 Dangard
2992 Daimos
Carrs 11/22/79

2993 Voltus V
2730 TWO-in-ONE Assortment

Daimos and Voltus V join the 2-in-1 assortment in 1979, which is odd because Daimos is not identified as a TWO-in-ONE figure anywhere on his packaging and has no transformation ability so his inclusion in the TWO-in-ONE assortment is rather dubious. The '79 Mattel catalog even acknowledges Daimos' lack of transformation by describing the 2730 assortment as "Four Two in One defenders, plus Daimos". Perhaps at 5 1/2 inches it was Daimos' size that prevented him from being included in the standard 5 inch packaging. This assortment is missing from the pages of the 1980 catalog.

Shogun Vehicles / Assts #2522 & #2734

asst 2522
2519 Varitank
2520 Solar Saucer
2521 Vertilift
2522 Vehicle assortment

asst 2734
2731 Shigcon Tank
2732 Shigcon Jet
2733 Sky Arrow
2734 Vehicle assortment
*2990 Daimos truck
*2991 Liabe

Vehicle assortment #2734 carried over from 1978 with the additions of Daimos truck and the Liabe.

Gibson's 12/17/79
Giant 23 1/2 inch figures / Asst #9861

9859 Raydeen
9860 Great Mazinga
2440 Godzilla
2441 Gaiking
2988 Daimos
9861 Giant figure assortment

Dragun was dropped and replaced by Daimos in the giant figure assortment for 1979. The 1980 catalog showed a change where Godzilla would no longer be part of the Shogun mixed assortment and instead move off into individual cases as part of the World's Greatest Monsters series. The only problem is that no Godzilla has ever popped up in World's Greatest Monsters packaging, leading me to believe much of the Shogun Warriors product line from the 1980 catalog was never released.

Hard to Place and Unproduced Vehicle Assortments

asst 2901
2690 Bazoler
2691 Nessar
2693 Kondar
???? Assortment

asst 2902
2694 Cargosaur
2695 Heli-Capter
2696 Grand Car
2697 Sky Jet
???? Vehicle Assortment?

asst 2903
2698 Jet Car
2699 Dangard Launcher
*2900 Rydoto
???? Vehicle Assortment?

Assortments 2901, 2902 and 2903 don't follow the usual Mattel pattern of having the assortment number be sequentially after the last item's product number. I have my suspicions about where these fit but I don't have even the slightest bit of circumstantial evidence to back it up. It would be easy to say they came out in '79 but I have no real proof of that. They don't appear in the Mattel catalog and I've never found ads for them. The 2903 assortment apparently got the Rydoto added to it at some point so I'd assume it was out for a while during the life of the line. The release timeline of these remain a mystery to me.

asst 1681
1678 Leopaldon & Mecadragon
1679 Voltus V & Space Shark
1680 Dangard & Armor Crab
1681 Vehicle Assortment

Assortment 1681 appears in the 1980 Mattel catalog but no examples have ever surfaced and they are largely regarded as being unproduced items.

Playworld 12/07/80
Rodan / Asst #1323

1323 Rodan

Were it not for Rodan's inclusion in the comic book ad mentioned at the beginning of this post I wouldn't consider him a Shogun Warrior. Yet there he is at the bottom of the mailaway iron-on patch alongside Godzilla. Rodan is the only Shogun Warrior-related figure I have ever found an ad for in 1980 newspapers. I have never found any actual Shogun Warrior branded action figure ads after 1979. In my next post I'll take a look at the circumstances surrounding the end of the Shogun Warriors toyline and see what evidence exists to support the varying theories about its demise.


Bubbashelby said...

I had Rodan when I was a kid. He was awesome. One day I will have him again!

agentmorris said...

This is a seriously ambitious project, EKM. The robotarded thank you!

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Thanks for recognizing that. The list is only a couple paragraphs over two blog posts but I couldn't believe how incredibly tedious and exhausting it became over the two weeks it took to write it. It burnt me out on my hobby a little and I'm glad real life takes over for a couple weeks. I can't imagine how much effort whole books on these subjects take. Toy robots journalism is no joke!

I'm also glad I did it if for no other reason than at least my take is out there. Now anyone who wants a more reasoned answer than just "they came out in 1979" has another point of view to read. Hopefully whoever reads it in the future will see Shogun Warriors less as a big mess and more as a organized series of releases on an ambitious scale.

But probably the greatest benefit to come of all this is that I finally have an understanding and appreciation of that table Nala took a picture of at the Columbus toy show a couple years back. The one who learned the most out of all this was me and now when I see Shogun Warriors ships and robots and monsters at a toy show I'll really know what it is I'm looking at.


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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.