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Deadborder – Tilly's Zoids

Tilly's Zoids

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This mecha belongs to the Dark Continent's armored forces. It carries out defense of the Dark Continent's outskirts, and in wartime becomes the army's advance guard. Its back-mounted gravity cannons (aka G-Cannons) use powerful energy stored in its luminous body, made possible with the effects of a material unique to the Dark Continent. Their destructive power far exceeds existing weapons. Its head shield, which contains high efficiency omnidirectional radar, also plays the role of protecting its weak optics in direct sunlight. Furthermore, it excels at producing instantaneous force, and is also skilled in close combat.

I bought my Deadborder right before the rerelease was announced, and for a lot more money—isn't that how it always works? But my rule with Zoids is to not regret pre-rerelease purchases. Nothing quite beats the feeling of setting something free after so many years of it locked away in a box (and finding it loves your water bottle).

Deadborder is already weird variation-wise. Just before the NJR, a few OJR Zoids were put out, prerelease-style, and Deadborder was among them. Wikd has this review showing many of the differences between his OJR and prerelease Deadborders. Problem: mine seems somewhere in between, with wrapped clear bits, blotchy stickers, lighter dull grey hoses...and, well, I can't speak for the inside of my motor. My catalogue was Dark Horn versus Gunbluster rather than the early-Dark Army-era catalogue with Deadborder on the front, which makes me suspect there were multiple runs of Deadborders, with the various differences likely coming from growing differences along the way. Maybe the prerelease was even leftover stock from one of these late runs.

Regardless, if you get an old-school Deadborder, it'll be pretty similar to any other old-school Deadborder. The TDP is quite different: a battery case that screws shut instead of clicking open, larger foot stabilizers, more blue-tinged clear bits, sparklier tubes, less sparkley silvergrey bits, and a more anemic glow. The gravity cannons are missing the little wibbly tubes on their backs: think Gunbluster's back-to-guns tubes for another example. Like Gunbluster, this doesn't look weird until you've seen an older Deadborder. It's then you turn to the newer version, pondering for a moment why something appears missing.

To make sure you've got an old Deadborder and not the TDP rerelease, look for a Toy's Dream Project sticker and a blue Tomy logo on the lower right of the box front. Academy's 2010 rerelease/leftover TDP stock release has no sticker, from what I hear, but I assume it has the blue logo.

Anyway. Back to my Deadborder.

Mine was MIB in a reasonably mint box, a rarity for me and old-school Zoids. Said box was around the size of Shield Liger's, and was happy to inform me in bright green Japanese that Deadborder has ~glowing parts~. It also shows off its stats and weapons for the kana and basic kanji-inclined, complete with fluff text and a snippet of the battle story for that era, and tops it off with a few nice diorama pics from the days before impossible poses and Photoshopping aplenty.

Pop the box open, and you get Deadborder bits! The tail and and sides for mine had escaped their frames, but the whole thing was thankfully intact. The frames were black (a wonderful easy to trim black, none of that flaky stuff), glow in the dark neon green (#00FF00-level eye-searing type), clear smoky charcoal (like the Clear Black Geno Saurer, but cooler), and a shade of charcoalsilver that's surprisingly metal flake. The resulting color has a shine to it that I can best describe as pencil lead with a twitch more brown and a more speckley sparkle.

Deadborder box contents spread out in front of it

The tubes are ones you'll recognize if you have a Heldy, but seem to be sturdier stuff. My old built Heldy and other old built Deadborders I've seen don't have the tube-cracking problems NJR Heldies tend to, and my Deadborder has held up wonderfully so far. I still wouldn't leave one in the sun. The caps are black, the pilot black Guylos chrome (not to be confused for Zenebas silver), and the stickers glowy green.

Saberlion gets revenge, part 1Saberlion contemplates stomping on Deadborder's pilotSaberlion decides to eat the pilot insteadSadly, the dark chrome pilot is almond-filled, not mint.

It's been a while since I built my Deadborder, so I can't cover exact details. What I can point out, though, are the highlights:

The legs are simple but effective, managing a layered effect without a bunch of excess. They go together with minimal fiddle, and are easy to trim despite being shades of plastic that are often frustration-inducing. The level of molded detail on these pieces is downright fantastic, contributing to Deadborder's organic look while still making it clear it's a machine. And it's got two fingers!

The head is a thing of beauty, with an equally glorious level of molded detail half-hidden under that charcoal shield the puts Death Saurer and Gilvy's facemasks to shame. It's not just lots of lines in the plastic, it's all sorts of raised pieces at different levels and depths. Whoever sculpted it must have been damn skilled.

Closeup of deadborder's head, showing off the detailDeadborder's tubesReally bright DeadborderDeadborder with a lens flare

The coolest thing about building a Deadborder, though, is the way they used the other clear pieces. They don't just sit there and be clear, they're layered over the glowy green. Not only does this give a striking stripey depth to those places, the real treat is when it's glowing: the clear bits scatter the light and look all eerieshiny. All of Deadborder's green is well-patterned, mind, giving an idea of flowing power more than decoration. The only Zoid that's come close to this level of cool glowy is Rayse Tiger...and it's not still neon green when the lights are on.

Overall, Deadborder makes for an engaging build with a very satisfying end result. The Gravity Cannons and legs suffer from hollow on the reverse side syndrome, but even that is positioned in a way that looks pretty neat, so I don't really mind. The foot stabilizers are very unobtrusive, but its walk is as solid as the rest of it, and it gleefully shuffles along without falling or dancing. Like Aro Saurer, it has the look of something that'd actually run in a proper dinosaur stance, with the walking upright more for the model's stability (and begging for food).

Deadborder looms ominouslyDeadborder's also-ominous shadowDeadborder from behind

While Deadborder is simple shapes to start, it's waiting to suck in artists with its detail...and that's why I love it. Like many Zoids of its era, it's very aesthetically pleasing yet obviously well-armed, as if its creators spent that little extra bit of time getting it to look kickass too. It's a complete contrast to the practical skeletal Republic look that I also love, emphasizing the then-alien feel of the Dark Zoids.

So is it worth getting an OJR Deadborder now? They sell for less than they once did, so if you've got the money to burn, give it a shot. Otherwise, pick up the TDP (or Academy's redistributing of it) and enjoy the design. In a world where the theropods mostly use a variant on the same legs we've all built a thousand times, it's something different in a very good way.

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