Monday, September 29, 2008

Cancelled Action Figure Cavalcade: Dragonball

Welcome to the first installment of Cancelled Action Figure Cavalcade. Check out the introduction if you haven't already. As hinted at in a previous post, we're going to start off with Dragonball.

Dragonball's short run in syndication was accentuated by an equally short lived toyline produced by Bandai. When they decided to skip ahead to the Dragonball Z episodes, Bandai followed suit. Originally Bandai planned a very extensive toyline for DBZ. The line was revealed in the catalogs packaged with other Bandai products. However very little of it would actually reach stores.

The casualties included a basic assortment of figures that were similar to other Bandai lines at the time such as Power Rangers and Beetleborgs. The figures would have featured simple action features.

Also unreleased were these eight inch figures with light-up energy balls. Years later when Irwin Toys acquired the rights to produce Dragonball toys they would release similar figures in their five inch line.

These Blasting Energy figures actually were released with two exceptions. The Gohan and Krillin figures were not included in the final assortment. Irwin eventually produced a Krillin with a Kienzan (Destructo Disc) feature but it was a new original mold.

Under Irwin Toys the Dragonball toy line flourished. One figure planned by Irwin was Super Saiyan Goku wearing a jacket and slacks as seen in the period before the Cell Games. The figure was originally delayed from its assortment and eventually replaced by Angel Goku. As you can see prototypes for this figure still exist and some pieces have fallen into the hands of collectors.

IF Labs was an offshoot of Irwin Toys in which they collaborated with Funimation. To this day I have no clue just what exactly was the nature of this collaboration. Under IF Labs a new line of figures were produced based on the original Dragonball. These figures were in a larger scale than the five inch Dragonball Z figures. The third series was to include Chi-Chi, Ninja Murasaki, Jackie Chun and the Ox King. They were never released and in fact only the Ox King was ever shown.

Instead the plan was to skip to the fourth series which included General Blue, Giant Pirate Robot, Android #8, and a powered-up Master Roshi. These figures were scaled down to five inches so to be compatible with the main DBZ line. However Irwin declared bankruptcy before this happened. Jakks Pacific obtained the Dragonball license and released these figures. However Android #8 was replaced by new figures of young Goku and Krillin. Android #8 was never released.

There were several Irwin concepts that were scuttled when the company went under. They were planning to return to the early episodes and release unproduced characters such as Tien, Zarbon, a Saibaman, Guldo, and a HFIL demon. The whole line would have adopted a "Blasted" theme and many toys were to be re-released with new battle damaged deco. I think we might of dodged a bullet on that front.

Jakks Pacific had their fair share of cancelled figures as well. In the above picture you can see a pair of figures of Oozaru, the Saiyan's ape form. Neither ever came out which is a shame. I would have also loved to have seen an adult Oozaru wearing Saiyan armor. The yellow Shenron dragon in the background was also canned. Fortunately the red Shenron and Porunga dragons did make it to stores.

As the line went on Jakks' releases became more erratic. Sometimes a figure one assumed had been long cancelled would arrive on toy shelves with little fanfare. One product shown at a toy show but not released in its completed form was Frieza form I riding in his hover chair. The Frieza figure was released but his hover chair was banished to toy limbo.

Jakks' toy line limped to an end and now Bandai has reclaimed the Dragonball license. If history has shown us anything it's that the Bandai line won't happen without a few cancellations along the way.

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