197?
Meet Granfighter. What, never heard of him? Join the club. A refugee from the cast of a totally forgotten animated show called "Super Combining Magical Robo Gingaizer," Gran-Fighter's about as obscure as they come. Fittingly, this sorta-Jumbo (it's actually called a "Big Robo" and clocks in at just over fifteen inches) was created by an equally obscure toy company: Takemi.

Takemi's never really been known for spectacular engineering, and Gran-Fighter's no exception. The arm-springs are about a hundred times too strong for the tolerance of the plastic material. Which is kinda cool from from a blatant-disregard-for-safety-standards standpoint, but not so great considering that tiny firing pin on the fist probably broke the first time the sucker was "locked and loaded." Thus, every Granfighter Big Robo I've ever seen sports rocket-punches that can't lock into place -- including the one you're looking at now.. (All's not lost, though. Takemi also made several other "Big Robo" toys, including one -- Boss Palder from the Machine Blaster series -- that seems to have red fists that are identical to Gran-Fighter's. If I'm ever lucky enough to get my hands on a specimen, I'll let you know.)

Granfighter also "transforms" (sort of) into a truck (sort of) using this big external prosthetic truck-thingy that you slide him into. (I suppose this makes him the sort of bastard cousin of Daimos, or a crusty great-uncle to Optimus Prime.) It's far, far groovier, grubbier, and funkier than it has any right to be, and it totally drives me wild with toy-lust. It even fires a pair of missiles, enhancing the eye-damaging fun of the overpowered rocket punches. They just don't make 'em like this anymore, for better or for worse.

Unfortunately, Takemi declined to make Big Robo toys of any of the other main robots from "Gingaizer" (in the show, Gran-Fighter was flanked by a pair of similarly groovy buddies -- "Bull-Gator" and "Spin Lancer.") Or then again, maybe they did -- the Granfighter is so insanely difficult to find, it wouldn't surprise me if portrayals of the other characters turned up as well. The hunt continues. May it never endl.

Matt Alt