Tilly's Zoids

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Blade Liger (NJR blue)

The Blade Liger needs no introduction to Zoid fans. Besides its starring roles to various degrees in all anime series but Genesis, it has seen much merchandise, much recoloring and rereleasing, and much debate over whether Bit would kick Van's ass or the other way around. (The winner in that situation is, of course, Arthur Borgman.)

Regardless, this blue Liger should not be judged by its anime counterpart or the more overzealous of its fans, as it's a fine kit. It's also a very unusual one, sporting a curious amount of known variations, many of which seem very odd in their application. There's no real way to tell which one you'll get short of pinpointing it to the same run as another built Bladey or opening the box. The variations I've seen run as follows:

  • Tailfin: Can be either left grey with painted white trim, or painted blue with the same white trim. The former seems restricted to the first run.
  • Claws and teeth: The big one. These can be pale gold metal, brighter gold metal, or gold plastic. Most plastic feet have been UK Blade Ligers, though some may be Japanese and/or Academy (Korean) runs (can anyone confirm?). The paler metal feet seem to be earlier Bladies and the bright gold later, but who knows.
  • Cockpit: Can be yellow-orange or bright orange, possibly with some variation in yellowness. Like the pale feet, the yellow canopy may be tied to earlier releases.
  • Ankle armor: Can be attached to a blue frame and painted white, or molded as a separate small white frame (with the ankle parts of the blue frame removed). The painted approach seems to be early runs only.
  • Head: Varies in fit, with some Ligers being very tight and not quite working right. The best solution I've found is to widen the holes the various pegs go into a little, making the head go together better and the shield panels stick less.

My Bladey was bought from HLJ back in 2002. Too late to be a first release, in other words, but likely from an earlier run. It thus sports a lucky combination of blue and white painted tailfin, pale gold metal claws and teeth, yelloworange cockpit, and separate ankle armor, all my favorites of the above. I seem to have gotten one of the dodgy heads, though, as the middle portion of mine never quite meshed despite my best efforts. The resulting gap in the cockpit floor doesn't get along well with the anime pilots, but that's what spare gold shiny ones are for!

Blade Liger would have been the second Zoid I built, but thanks to a speedy Liger Zero X it ended up being the third after Command Wolf AC. I managed to slice my hand with a pocketknife opening the shipping box it came in (go me), and spent a good amount of time fidgeting and waiting for my finger to heal up so I could get to the building of pointed cat already.

A Blade Liger's box contains many bits that'll be familiar to Shield Liger owners, as they share legs and a body. The colors of these frames are different, though—the body is a paler grey, and the legs black instead of dark blue. In place of Shieldy's medium blue boxy pieces, you'll find sleek frames in a wonderful turquoise blue, complete with painted white details. There's also the blades, of course, and a new swishier tail tipped with a fin rather than guns. The other obvious differences are the motor (which is faster and takes 2 AAA batteries instead of the 1 AA of Shield Liger) and the feet, which are diecast metal...or at least a different shape and on their own frame, if you got one of the plastic-footed ones. Finally, for the anime's sake, you get a grey unpainted sprue with figures of Fine, Bang (Ban, Van, potato?) Freiheit, and Sieg. One each of the Bang and Fine ones are standing, and the other pair are supposed to fit in the cockpit. Mine don't do a very good job of it and like to fall over.

Despite all their shared bits, Blade Liger and Shield Liger are satisfyingly different builds. Like Glidoler and Cosmozoid, they are a great example of how to reuse parts without it being annoying. Unlike Glidoler and Cosmozoid, there are some bits left over in the upgrading that you won't really have a use for: a Shield Liger tail, one shield flap, back guns, and missile pods. I find the guns look rather nice on Rev Raptor if you cut off the peg joining them, and the missile pods are good for custom work.

As you build on, Shield Liger-y detailedboxy underneath bits are rapidly covered by lots of sleek turquoise—the Blade Liger is a streamlined critter. Heatsinks and shield generators are styled as fins, and the back guns are replaced by rocket boosters. The side foldy-downy pieces have become sleeker too, and instead of missiles you get the blades that give the Liger its claim to fame. Besides flipping down, they're attached at their base by a peg mounted on the end of the side piece. This grants them a great degree of articulation, letting you pose them all over the place: stabbing, slicing, firing the bladeguns slung over the Liger's shoulders, whatever. If you're expecting them to be as long as the glowing arcs of charged laser slicey in the anime you'll be disappointed, but that's what imagination is for!

Blade Liger is fun in motion as well: flip the switch and it sets off in the usual Liger shuffle-trot, metal feet clunking satisfyingly on wood floors. They seem to grant it some stability at its faster pace, as my plastic-footed ones have a rather drunken wobble to them instead. It doesn't do anything that special beyond that and I'd say Shield Liger's more fun to stare at, but the metal feet are a really nice touch.

On display, Blade Liger eats shelf space thanks to its aforementioned long swishy tail, but thanks to its wide back is also useful for stacking smaller Zoids on. Thanks to its various fins and shield panels and whatnot, it can look anywhere from calm to angry and bristley. All in all, it's a very worthwhile kit for the pointed cat fan, and one that might appeal outside of "it's a cat and was in the anime" too. Don't think you've got the same experience from building Shield Liger or vise-versa—give both a try if you can. Color is all up to preference, but I really do love the blue on this guy.

A final bit of amusement? My original review, eight years and many Blade Ligers ago, ended with the following sentence, in part: I'd probably buy another one of these, since it's so spiffy...

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