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Sabre – Tilly's Zoids

Tilly's Zoids

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While Claw is more classy (as far as the bright-colored Zoids2 schemes go), Sabre is probably best described as though the early 90s exploded on a cat. Every frame is a different color, and those colors are chrome lavender (making up the body, and shown as pale blue on the box), black (the legs), slightly coral red (underbits), shimmery gold (pointy bits and guns), grey (feet and more underbits), silver-grey (small guns), and navy (caps). All at once. With pure (clear) red eyes and a gold chrome pilot...and gold swirl stickers. Nothing matches or makes any real sense, because this is the 90s and we have chrome.

jaeger with box nothing matches - guns nothing matches

It's kind of a love it or hate it thing. If you like the tacky 80s-transitioning-into-90s era colors or want a Tiger that did campy with face markings long before Stinger who just wants to be Yuda anyway, Sabre is exactly what you want.

I picked mine up in a surprisingly near-mint box while in the UK; the lavender often ends up faded on built Sabres, though, and with a MIB one I was surprised by how vivid it was. It's a rich color, more pink than BF's lavender and more saturated too. There is nothing else motorized Zoids this color!

Since I've never really talked about building a Saber Tiger variant, I'll have a go. They're Zoids' first motorized large cat—in fact, their general structure and a few of their parts would later become the Shield Liger (and that would become the Blade Liger). If you've built anything in that family, the general pattern will be familiar, even if the end results are very different in looks. It's a testament to how clever Zoids engineering could be, I think, that they could pull off turning the same mechanics into two very different designs.

You start by putting together the bits that move the jaws and head—one moves back and forth thanks to a spinny bit on the top of the motor, moving mechanical details on the neck and pulling two levery pieces in and out for the jaw chomping. The tail slots in two, and then the other body half. Sabre goes together pretty smoothly here despite the plating adding bulk, with the only tricky bit being sliding on some of the little bits that hold the sides together.

jaw 1 jaw 2 jaw 3 jaw 4 jaw 5 jaw 6

The head comes next, and here's the one bit to watch out for: take the pegs on the top part of the canopy, and strip all the chrome off them (but not the rest of the piece!) with a knife or other suitable pointy object before you try and put them into the hinge holes and force the head together. If you don't, the canopy will be so tight it won't close all the way, and you'll get annoyed and have to slowly, carefully pry the head back apart to fix it. If you do have to pry it apart, by the way, you can try a flat metal object, like the (non-pointy) tip of a nail file in a small pocketknife. You'll save your fingernails and (hopefully) not scratch the chrome or break pegs.

excuse you jaw innards tigerpillar and jaeger

The fun part is after the head and assorted body bits, though—the legs! Sabre's legs are nice and simple but mechanically interesting, going together in a few pieces connected in pegs and slots. The forelegs have this bit that attaches them to the body with multiple peg-slot/hole parts to line up that likes to escape while you put the rest of the leg together, but gently guiding it through imaginary strides should get the leg lined up on it and moving right if it's being a pain.

front leg back leg

I also ignore the instructions and put the hindleg together and then over the body peg and connecting piece. I personally find that easier than lining the lower parts up while it's on the body, and I've built a lot of Saber Tigers anyway. One part to watch for: the parts that move the hind feet. Swap their sides around, and things won't quite go together. Thankfully, Sabre is from the era that parts were labeled in number of assembly and included L/R a lot of the time, making confusion minimal. The later kits (and HMM line) could learn from this.

two legs three legs finished with butt

Also, since you attach the legs a side at a time, you can set Sabre down and turn it on, watching it scoot along like a weird tigerpillar. It can also stand on only three legs, thumbing its nose at people who mock motorized Zoids for not standing evenly. (Though it does tilt if stopped wrong; if you want a cat that's always on its feet, try Kingliger.)

Legs fully attached, you just have guns to add. They're a bit underwhelming compared to later releases—the main back guns are used on Shield Liger as tail guns. I wish the Attack Unit had been issued in gold at some point, both my Blue Command Wolf and Sabre would really appreciate it. You could swap stuff out for the Assault Unit (what Great Sabre uses) or other guns pretty easily, though, given Sabre's back weapons peg is a regular small one. Too bad CP-02 didn't come in gold either.

close face looking up generic tablet photo 3 generic tablet photo 2 generic tablet photo

Motorization-wise, Sabre does what would later become commonplace but was cool when it was released: it plods along with an alternating gait like a proper cat (just with more shuffle) and chomps its jaws. The moving mechanical bit on the neck is more visible than on Shield/Blade Liger, and its head moves along with the jaw more than their heavy ones do. Best of all, because this was before safety rules led to screw-shut covers, adding a battery to Sabre just takes clicking its belly open and closed.

Less fortunately, my Sabre limps a little and swerves to the side of the wobbly foreleg. This happened to my NJR Saber Tiger too; it seems to be random whether your Tiger will limp, and it's always in the forelegs. Ah well.

Its hind teeth are sharper than the later blunted Saber Tigers'. The Great Sabre reissue is particularly guilty of that one; the change seems to have been introduced after the US Holotech and is present in new Europe release Tigers and later Japanese ones including their version of Holokitty. Meanwhile, the sabres themselves have sliiightly blunted tips. Was this added for Zoids2, or have the teeth always been this way? I'm not sure. Send me an old Sabre Tiger and I'll check ;p.

side front face side-recolor roar

One more difference with new Saber Tigers: the molding quality. There's a few flashy bits, but it's definitely better than the Saber Tiger mold got by the end, especially in the gun frame. The plastic quality was passable too, though the fact I'm complimenting Zoids2 quality control versus now is probably more of a slam on newer Zoids than a true compliment (they're know for widely varying plastic colors, among other things). Speaking of consistency, my lavender had a dark black...ish color under it, not milky white translucent. People looking to strip down to "ghost" Zoids, be warned, the Zoids2 line varies in what color you get underneath! They likely just used whatever they had on hand, not expecting collectors to later want the milky white translucent plastic for customs.

glow-particles glow-particles2b glow-line2 glow-rainbow glow-side

...actually, make that one final difference. With how the newer Tigers have gotten scarce too, I'd say Sabre has become one of the cheaper ones to pick up along with the neon yellow Team Tigers variation, especially if you're okay with already built. They're not dirt-cheap, but your chrome cat fix won't break the bank an inordinate amount either. Get one before that changes if it tickles your fancy, or don't. Sabre doesn't mind either way, it's too lavender and fabulous to care.


Jaw mechanism

Direct Youtube link (in HD)

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