Tilly's Zoids

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Valga

The Valga is a state of the art mecha, which was developed and deployed as the main force of the Guylos Empire's army after the Grand Catastrophe. Made using the analyzed super-technology from the wreckage of the recovered King Gojulas, it's said to be a mecha of many mysteries. Its special move, "Gravity Attack", is a powerful mass attack achieved with the blessing of this technology, and tosses Republic forces around like rag dolls.

Initial concepts for Valga didn't interest me much, considering it looked to be posable. I love pillbugs, but I also love motorized Zoids, and I already had Gustav for my moving isopod action (insect type, my arse). And then it turned out to be a windup, when we haven't had new windup love since Snipe Master, which was cute but a fairly simple dinosaur derived from the same motion as the other windup dinosaurs in the NJR. And then Tomy posted a video of a prototype in action, showing it didn't just roll along wibbling some: nay, Valga stops, rolls into a protective ball, does a complete backflip, repeat.

Yeah. Like I could resist that. Besides, it's got a gravity attack. GRAVITY WOODLICE. THEY ARE THE ENEMY BENEATH THE GROUND.

Valga on a copy of Frontios

Like everything else Rebirth Century, Valga coms in a hard to flatten but pretty-looking top-opening box. These boxes' fairly standardized size makes for several cardboard padding bits, though to be fair, one of them is swaddling its complex motor, which is a fairly ordinary Hi-1000 affair (with a smaller knob) held in dark pinkish purple bits, many of which move. Besides that dark pinkish purple (which also forms much of Valga's inner bits and back), it's got black and silver-grey bits, dark greypurple caps, a weight, stickers (mostly uninteresting other than an old-school Guylos logo), and a Guylos pilotman. It amounts to a total of four frames, and there's a good number of pieces on 'em. I recommend cutting them off in stages as demanded by the instructions, or else you're going to be checking numbers a lot.

In fact, Valga is the first Zoid I've had to pay honest attention to the instructions for in a while. It's got a lot of little interconnecting bits that must be put together in the proper order, and missing one connection would be cause for much aggravating disassembly, considering how tightly some of the parts fit. The silver bits, especially, show mild stressmarks on mine. It's a good sort of having to pay attention, though, not the squinting at sadistically small diagrams the HMM kits unfortunately suffer from (oh, for slightly larger versions of your otherwise wonderful manuals, Kotobukiya!), and it reminds me of those days before I could put together Blade Liger legs without thinking and everything was interesting and new.

Kanji fun time: 小 for small and 大 for large springs; leg-wheel sides are 左 left and 右 right; and 前 labels which end is the front. The two added pieces of paper with the instructions are the advice to please add a cap to the marked bit to help Valga flip over, and an important correction: during the step where you attach the two large springs, the one should be above the shaft for the windup crank, not below as was originally printed.

Actual assembly is circular, building up the inner grey-and-purple moving bits of pillbug before giving it wheels and a shell. I don't have any pictures of it, because it was nighttime, but it's not a thing that can be experienced with pictures alone anyway. Use your imagination ;p. There's no "I want three hands" moments, though the springs are annoyingly twiddly to get on their little hooks. Once they're there, they don't escape—interestingly, the piece holding the two large ones in place comes with two extras. Just in case one catapults, perhaps? As I reached the end steps and was fidgeting to see my pillbug roll already, I was happy to find the black plastic easy to trim without an excessive number of attachment points to the frame. Oh hooray, no brittle flaky plastic! No Bloxesque "why do I have to trim four things on this little part"! In fact, my only real complaint was the missile boxes, which seem a mite tacked-on, but as Valga's got standard pegs there and elsewhere along its shell, they can be readily left off or replaced with something you find more suitable.

Assembled, Valga is about the size of a slightly pointified baseball, fitting nicely in a cupped hand and tempting you to toss and roll it about. It doesn't close into a perfect sphere, having to make some allowances for its in-motion need of wheels and motor bits, but the rest of the armor latches tight together into an almost Pac-Man shape. Wind it up (hold the main wheels to prevent escapes), set it down, and it rolls its way along whirr-clicking, moving forward normally for a bit, then curling into a ball, doing its little flip thing, and righting itself for another scuttle. I've found mine gets about three rolls per wind, then stops either right before rolling forward or while on its back, much like an actual distressed woodlouse. When picked up in that half-stuck state, it snaps forward into a ball, as if upset at being disturbed.

Some people have had trouble getting their Valga to roll, and I can only recommend checking the spring placement (make sure, also, that the little piece holding them in place is in front of them, not behind or in between) and just winding it up and trying repeatedly on a smooth, even surface. The motor has juuust enough power for that roll, so getting it to loosen up and removing any possible impediments may help. Mine doesn't like going "uphill" on a wood floor or on anything rougher.

From an engineering standpoint, I would call Valga one of the best entirely new Zoids in a very long time. It's easily worthy of standing alongside the OJR's innovative Hi-1000 designs like Bear Fighter, Redler, Gorhecks, etc. It's got new-release lotsofbits going on, but it doesn't feel excessively so. If you like your Zoids moving and long for something different, it gets my highest recommendation possible—seriously, if you can only buy one thing in the entire Rebirth Century line and don't already have Gilvader, Valga is the Zoid to grab. If you're all about the posability, it's got next to none, though it'll still look cool on a shelf if you're fond of the order Isopoda, considering its pleasing color scheme and faithful reproduction of the Armadillidiidae habit of rolling inna ball. It even has molded details like one of its little legs being held out of the way of the windup crank instead of just a hole where it sticks out, which make me suspect somebody on the design team really liked their pillbugs.

Shorter version: Valga is made of win, and well worth the (somewhat painful) list price of ¥2800. Get one before they get even trickier to find, because I have the feeling Rebirth Century didn't see a very large run.

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One Comment

  1. Posted March 25, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I think this is the only english-language review that goes into how tricky this thing is to build. I just had to look at the correction sheet, assume, and then hope for the best.

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