Vintage toys and products

By the time Votoms first hit the airwaves in April 1983, systems and patterns for mecha anime merchandising were in full swing thanks to big success stories like Gundam and Dougram. This meant Votoms would have a healthy lineup of model kits, toys and other products to support its broadcast. But it was still a little too early to know exactly what age the core viewers were, so products were designed to appeal to children as well as teens and young adults, even if the show itself was over their heads.

Here’s everything I’ve found from the early years. Some items set new standards while others vanished from the playing field. Any time you go rummaging through early 80s anime merch, it’s a bit like revisiting your high school yearbook; fun and nostalgic with some amount of embarrassment.

Click here for a gallery of vintage model kits.

Toys by Seven

1/48 Scopedog “Perfect Pla Type”

Seven produced a line of three 1/48 miniatures that came with a small assortment of weapons that plugged into various attachment points. Each stood about 3″ tall. About 20 years later, Takara would team up with Tomy to create a much more elaborate line in the same scale called “Actic Gear.”


1/48 Brutishdog “Perfect Pla Type”

The Brutishdog had the same weapons assortment as the Scopedog, which was an odd choice since (A) it doesn’t have a right hand and (B) it never once picked up a weapon in the TV series.


1/48 Snapping Turtle “Perfect Pla Type”

The Snapping turtle suffered from an unfortunate “knock-knee” situation in that its legs weren’t far apart enough for the swamp clogs to clear each other. Thus, they always overlapped.


Battling Combination

Seven teamed up with another company called Poem to make this playset containing both miniature A.T.s and vehicles, though they were not in scale with each other.

These A.T.s were about 2″ tall with plastic limbs attached to a metal torso. Interestingly, they changed color from one set to the next.

It was also an unusual choice for the time: a Scopedog, a Tortoise, and a Fatty. The Fatty didn’t appear until the show was more than half over, so it may have actually debuted as a 2″ miniature before anyone animated it.

The four vehicles were the same from set to set, single-piece diecast miniatures. The space fighter (second from left above) was another mecha that didn’t show up until later in the series.


ST-Tortoise “Super Anime Model Series”

At least one of those 2″ miniatures was broken out and sold separately, also a co-production of Seven and Poem. It bears the distinction of using very rare art on the box, derived from development material as opposed to the finished anime design.


Votoms Pack Mini

One more item from Seven was this quick-and-dirty combo pack of gum rubber A.T.s…

…which may have come in a dizzying array of varieties and colors, or might have just been this triple pack all by itself. Further evidence has not yet been found.


Toys by Takara

As the master licensor, Takara made all the best stuff and gave permission to other companies like Seven, Union, and Kabaya to make toys and models in other scales.

Want to read an article about these toys? Click here for a PDF of Super 7 magazine issue 13!

Choro Q Scopedog

“Choro Q” was Takara’s version of “Super Deformed,” referring to a shortened, squashed, or otherwise re-proportioned version of a robot. “Choro Q” toys had a common gimmick in that you could rotate parts of the body to turn it into a roller-bot with a friction motor.

For the Scopedog, this gimmick had the added advantage of looking a lot like the “downform” version of the A.T.

In later years, Takara reissued four of its “Choro Q” robots in this amazing 4-pack…

…featuring the Scopedog, Giant Gorg, Galient, and Dougram all in one superstar box.


1/6 Chirico Cuvie action doll

Foot-tall action dolls were never as popular in Japan as they were in America or other countries, but Takara still graced us with this 12″ Chirico.

The main body was complete, but various parts still needed attention; they were all packed in “unfinished” form, needed to be sliced out of their vinyl molding and attached in one way or another. The Armor Magnum and air hose were nicely rendered in diecast metal.


1/6 Fyana action doll

Can’t have the guy without his girl to back him up. Fyana came with a hairless head that could fit into her helmet, but featured no other accessories.


1/60 A.T. Collection Series

Takara made seven miniatures in this line, all of which came in unique packaging and were a combo of plastic and metal.

See them all here.


1/35 Joint Models

These two sets were beautifully made with lots of option parts, essentially toy versions of Takara’s model kits in the same scale. Both had spring-loaded projectiles to sweeten the deal.

See them all here.


1/24 Dual Models

The Dual Models were Takara’s masterpiece, tough as nails and built to last. Standing 6.5″ tall, they were the perfect proof of concept for Kunio Okawara’s original intention to design an anime mecha that didn’t have to be modified. Multiple versions were made and reissued over the years, always manifesting the ideal combo of design and execution.

See them all here.


Ro-Warrior toy by Echo

This is definitely NOT a Takara toy, and you may wonder what the hell it’s doing here, but look closer and you’ll find the answer.

I first stumbled across this ugly brute in a local department store in 1985 or so, and was transfixed by its blatant cannibalization of the Scopedog’s head and leg parts.

Evidently, it could transform into several equally ill-conceived configurations, but would always look at you through a Scopedog’s visor as if to say, “Help…me…”

I can remember holding this box in my hand for far too long, studying it to see if there was any way to rescue the components and turn it back into a Scopedog, but it just wasn’t possible to undo the vile works of whatever Frankenstein was turned loose upon it.

Okay, clear your mind. Back to Japan we go.


Children’s books

Votoms put both war and nudity on the screen in the first half of the first episode, but that didn’t stop books like these from becoming the first you could buy. Needless to say, they strike a completely different tone and have almost nothing to do with the show itself.

Armored Trooper Votoms TV Book

Eikosha TV Book 22

装甲騎兵ボトムズ 栄光社のテレビえほん

Color, 16 pages
Eikosha, date unknown

See it from cover to cover here

Armored Trooper Votoms
Let’s Fight With Scopedog!

“Fun Kindergarten” TV Picture Book 114

「たのしい幼稚園」のテレビ絵本
装甲騎兵ボトムズ スコープドッグでたたかうぞ!

Color, 18 pages
Kodansha, Aug 1983

See it from cover to cover here


Coloring book #1 by Showa Note

Showa Note was a company that specialized in stationery products and school supplies for kids. They published four Votoms coloring books, starting with this one.


Coloring book #2 by Showa Note

This artwork in this one is all derived from the Uoodo City arc.

See it from cover to cover here


Coloring book #3 by Showa Note

A reprint of coloring book #2 with different cover art.


Coloring book #4 by Showa Note

The artwork in this one is derived from Sunsa and Quent.

See it from cover to cover here


Animetopia products

Animetopia specialized in “character goods” back in the 80s. They commissioned two pieces of original art from Character Designer Norio Shioyama and put them to good use.

Pencil boards

These were sheets of plastic to slip into a notepad or under a piece of paper to provide a hard writing surface. Called “shitajiki” in Japan, they were a very common form of merchandising back in the day.


Pencil cases

One for the guys, one for the gals.


Stickers


Shopping bag


Other products

Vinyl bags

The maker of these is unclear; they only bear a Nippon Sunrise copyright mark. Bags like these often accompanied new product releases and were made in limited quantities for collectors. These look just about right to contain an LP record or laserdisc.


Jigsaw puzzle by Kabaya

We previously saw Kabaya’s name on the Votoms Gum model kits; this was another product they released with candy inside. The box indicated that eight different puzzles were available, all bearing unique artwork that has never been reprinted.

The puzzle came with an insert that showed you the finished image and included a handy chart to tell you how dumb you were if it took more than 30 minutes to complete the puzzle.

This was another of the eight unique images created for the Kabaya puzzles. And, it turns out, at least one other product…


Metal can by Kabaya

Three of those images were pasted onto this handy metal can that could hold all sorts of your Votoms loot in style.


Mini-model by Kabaya

This one’s kind of an oddball, since it doesn’t match any of the model kits released by Kabaya. It was probably packaged with candy like those, but it’s much smaller and simpler in design. It looks a lot like an obscure Balarant AT called the Blocker, which only appeared in the opening war montage. As of this writing, others in this series have yet to turn up.


Scopedog figure by Yamaki

An unusual find, this appears to be a cheaply-molded, put-it-together-and-hope-it-doesn’t-fall-over figure from the Yamaki company. So far, no similar figures have been spotted.


Menko cards by Yamakatsu

Menko cards were a staple in kid’s entertainment for decades by this time; they looked like trading cards on the front and had various games on the back to extend the play value. They were printed on thick cardboard to stay durable, which gave them a very long shelf life.

These came 50 cards to a box, all with images from the first four TV episodes.

The same cards were also sold in smaller blister packs if you couldn’t pony up 50 yen for the box.


Sticker set by Yamakatsu

Yamakatsu got double use out of the anime images by also applying them to a sticker set. In this case, you’d buy stickers in packs of three and put them into a booklet that told the story of the first four TV episodes. There was some unique original art in this set that was never seen again.

Click here to see an almost-complete set.


Playing cards by Yamakatsu

One more item from Yamakatsu that used some of the same images and artwork…

…most notably on the outer box. This is another one of those blink-and-miss-it pieces that vanished in time.


Kite by Maruka

If you REALLY wanted to proclaim your Votoms love, you could hardly do better than to fly it over your neighborhood for everyone to see.


Slippers by Maruchu

After a long hard day of Votoms collecting, the Maruchu company had these to hug your feet while you watched the latest episode.


Back to the hub


This entry was posted in Uncategorized

3 thoughts on “Vintage toys and products

  1. David says:

    Is it possible that the ‘Mini-model by Kabaya’ is a Blocker?

    https://www.mahq.net/mecha/votoms/atvotoms/b-atm-01.jpg

    I’d love to think it’s the only Blocker toy ever made!

    • TimEldred says:

      I think you’re right about that. There are one or two Blocker garage kits, but no other toys that I know of.

  2. David says:

    There are many Blocker garage kits in various scales, but strangely, few, possibly none are based on the Dual Magazine lineart I linked to, except your Kabaya kit. I think the others are based on the design from the Playstation game Steel Force or some some earlier source that for some reason diverged from the Dual Magazine version.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *