Robotech Changers

In France, Blockman was marketed by Ceji-Revell as Robotech Changers in late 1985 through 1986. Releases were stratified into four groups: A System, B System, C System, and D System. Most of the A series and C series sets marketed in Japan were released, along with the new B System, which has no corresponding Combination Warrior Blockman or Robotech Changers equivalent.

 

I haven’t focused on collecting the Robotech Changers line for now. Aside from the sun-damaged A2, the rest of the product photographs are mostly from Tom Jouets, which I believe is a Paris-based toyshop. They have some cool stuff on their website, so check them out! The B1 and D10 photographs are from old eBay listings.

 

Manufacturing Quality

 

The Robotech Changers were apparently manuafactured in France rather than being imported from Japan. You will sometimes see Robotech Changers criticised as being inferior to the Japanese and US releases in terms of the quality of materials. A Robotech Changers Blockman robot can be distinguished from other releases due to the lower quality metal used for the torsos, which is more prone to corrosion, and the different plastic, which has the gloss of a new stick of chalk, making the robots more vibrant in colour than other releases. The accessories are likely made of a slightly different mix of plastic, as they appear glossier and more brittle. That said, I would not be confident of being able to distinguish them from other accessories if they were all mixed up in a container together.

I would suggest that any decrease in quality is actually due to the moulds rather than the materials. The torso metal is not so poor as to affect anything, and the colours are simply slightly different, rather than being better or worse. However, the robots themselves are harder to fit together and often need to be forced, as arms and legs may be at slightly incorrect angles. These mould inconsistencies mean that the hole on the rear of the Blockman robot legs and the hole in the middle under the feet are relatively useless, as because they are formed by both legs they are too loose to hold a peg effectively.

 

As my understanding is that the most expensive part of any toyline is the production of moulds, perhaps Ceji-Revell made use of cheaper secondary moulds shaped using the original higher quality moulds, with this process leading to slight errors. In spite of this, Robotech Changers are still quite functional, and they are quite compatible with the other Blockman releases.

 

The Packaging

 

Manufacturing quality aside, I do take issue with the Robotech Changers packaging. The boxes feature too much fluorescent pink and powder blue in my opinion, making them look fairly naff (although I acknowledge that some might say that this adds to their 1980s charm).

 

There is one positive element to the Robotech Changers packaging. The back of each Robotech Changers release shows a visual contents checklist that consists of photographs of the parts with all parts still on their original sprue. Although these photographs are quite small, this is a great record of how the parts were shipped fresh from the factory, and can be extrapolated to the sprues used for Combination Warrior Blockman and Robotech Robolinks.

 

Perhaps the strongest deterrent of the French packaging is the ridiculous modes depicted on the boxes. Each box pictures a vehicle mode and a “robot” mode, and whilst the vehicle modes tend to be as per the Japanese releases, some of the “robot” modes seem a bit like the photographer just stuck random parts and Blockman robots together as quickly as they could (hence the inverted commas for “robot”…).

To me, the highlight of this “robot” packaging stupidity is D1, which presents kind of a jet with legs. The C10 and D10 giftset photos are also ridiculous. These packaging oversights become even stranger when you stop to think that all of these sets had clearly defined robot modes emphasised in their Japanese releases!

 

As a final ignominy, A1, A2, and A3 are the only sets across all Blockman lines that have a flap, providing the joy of a flap crease and making them harder to wrap up in clear cellophane and bubblewrap for display, storage, and preservation.

 

Colours

 

The French Blockman robots are more uniform in colour scheme than those in other releases. They tend to be identical in colour across torso, arms, and legs. The red Blockman robots are even an identical shade of red across the torso, legs, and arms, unlike the Robotech Robolinks equivalents, which always have darker red arms. To my knowledge there is only one multi-coloured Blockman robot in the whole Robotech Changers line. This is a light-type Blockman robot with a dark blue torso and legs and regular blue arms.

 

As well as being predominantly single-colour Blockman robots, the other noteworthy point about the French releases is that the heavy-type Blockman robots always have factory-applied chest decals identical in colour to the Blockman robot itself (e.g., a red heavy-type Blockman would have red chest decals). This is in contrast to Combination Warrior Blockman and Robotech Robolinks, where heavy-type Blockman robots would typically have differently coloured chest decals to the Blockman robots colour scheme.