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Liger Red Hiou – Tilly's Zoids

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Liger Red Hiou

Among Hasbro's many planned releases that died in the collapse of TOYLINE CANCELED, SHOW'S OVER FOLKS was the Holotech Liger Zero. Much to the disappointment of fans (many of whom were quite content to bash Hasbro otherwise), it only surfaced as an action figure, the actual model gathering only a few unconfirmed sightings. Nobody, to my knowledge, ever saw a completed kit beyond the prototype in Hasbro's catalogues. More's the pity, as the Holotech Zero figure is one of my favorites despite the rather disappointing mold the Zero figure itself sports, and the model Zero is one of the better-designed cats.

Fast forward a while: with the Hasbro line long dead but things like Power Mammoth and Mantis still coming out of the woodwork, it's little surprise a clear red-over-burgundy Liger showing up on Japanese sources caused a bit of a stir. Was this our Holotech Zero at last? Not really: it was something much better.

Zoids Generations fans will recognize it as the Liger Red Hiou. Like the Souga before it, it's a Japan-exclusive mail-order limited. Also in the style of Souga's stylized 青牙 blue fang, its kanjified name is on some of the included stickers, which gives us 緋桜 scarlet cherry blossom for the reading Hiou. It's the scarlet what matters, as there's none of those soft sakura colors here, nor is it clear red like early prototypes. In fact, it's bright translucent pink (a bit like pink lemonade) laid over what I'd call crimson.

Two boxesBox frontBox sidesBox back

The box makes it darn clear this is a Generations tie-in, right down to the Mercy Rabbit art (some of which looks a bit dodgy...ooer) and the character. Some of the box blurb itself mentions the shrine maiden-style armor seen in a few pics - perhaps it'll get a resin cast release like the Souga's samurai CAS, but I don't think I'll go in for that. (How could I possibly want to remove all those sprues of tasty translucent pink?) I don't follow Generations (the lack of furigana is a big hurdle, for starters), so I sadly can't say much else here. One of the characters still looks vaguely like a young Camford to me, though, and considering this is like one of Rantinan's Princess Zoid customs gone canon and classy...

Box contents, with parts

The contents, on the other hand, are very much stock Liger Zero: the instructions are even exactly the same, the only change being a quick note that the included stickers are different. No Caution No Step Spac Cockpit Ejection This Side Up Vent here, you get yourself a couple markings and some cherry blossoms, and you'd better like them, 'cause that's all. The main body, as was said, is a medium red (comparable to OJR Dimetrodon with more orange and more saturation). Everything white on the original Zero becomes clear pink with the exception of the body markings - unlike the Holotech action figure, they're not clear with colored paint. Even more strangely, the markings are still white like the original...though it does help break things up. For accent colors you have goldish silver teeth and booster detail, darker silver guns and boosters, silverish gold claws, and bright blue eyes and caps. The eyes are translucent as usual, which looks all kinds of awesome. The motor itself is clear smoke ones instead of solid black, and the pilot white. You would think shiny would look better in the clear head, but my experiments with a spare Gordos pilotman left me preferring the original.

Head-and-front shotCockpit openFront view

Once freed from its box, the Hiou assembles like any other Zero - yeah, yeah, I'll do a proper construction summary someday. Besides the red plastic being a bit soft for my taste (I will, however, take that over 'annoyingly brittle'), I noticed some flash and general signs of the Zero mold getting on a bit. It's still stable, but here's to hoping Tomy doesn't let it get to the level of the late NJR Gojulas reruns. Nobody wants that kind of flashy mushy fail, and if Gojulas' mold was fixed up some for the TDP Mk.II onward, Zero deserves love too. Market oversaturation aside, it's a very nice kit, different to the Saber-Shield-Blade crew and especially clever in the leg department. There's a reason future Zoids cats mostly borrowed from the Zero in their construction.

Front-side shotFlank, showing stabilizersRed nightshot

My only real frustration besides the steadily fading light ruining my build-in-progress pics? The clear plastic. It's pretty good stuff, definitely less brittle than the old Clear Zoids, but the placement of many Zero armor components on the trees doesn't leave much maneuvering room. Some of the pieces (especially the sides of the face and lower leg bits) are an utter pain to get free, and despite careful knife work I have a few scars and one minor crack to show for it - plus a small stab wound in my hand. Bring a new xacto and/or a proper sidecutter for this thing, and don't even think about twisting the pink bits.

As I said in my initial reaction post on LJ, I have to wonder if this contributed to Hasbro not going forward with the Holotech Liger Zero, which must have seen at least a catalogue prototype production-wise. Besides the line's death, can you see the current generation of target kids and their rapidly degenerating tolerance for model kits having the patience (or even tools) to get one of these things off the frames alive? I can't.

The end result after all the flailing, however, is a thing of pink shiny beauty. At first glance, it is terribly lacking in contrast...and indeed, many photographs don't help. Lower artificial light doesn't either. Give it night and a backlit screen or the day and sunlight and things become an entirely different matter.

Cockpit openFront the side againNight shot with USB hub lightRoaring

Hiou comes alive with pink, and the low-contrast red goes dark in shadows and angles. It just wins, for lack of a more eloquent descriptor. It begs you to photograph it, then follows your camera around and whispers of upgrades.

Is it worth buying? If you like pink, the answer is yes, unless you're so sick of Ligers that hearing the word "Zero" makes you start grumbling about sixteen golden toes. Even then, there's always bribing someone else to do the red bits to consider. If you like translucent Zoids, yes again. If you're on the fence, possibly—with all the fees entailed in ordering from Japan, it might prove a bit too spendy for those not so enthused. The only real no situations, I'd say, would be those who don't want to deal with the armor, and those who take their Zoids as gritty war machines. Hiou is translucent pink, after all, and may aggravate Serious Business allergies.

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