"The Prince of Darkness"
One of the classic Zoid pieces, Salamander has withstood the test of time. Originally known as a "Dragon" class Zoid, the Salamander was changed to a more accurate "Pterosaur" type early in it's release. This change might have been prompted due to the high sales of the line resulting in expansion. Salamander is a Republic Zoid used throughout the wars on Planet Zi, and is second only to the Gil Vader in sheer size of all flying Zoids. Able to fly amazingly long missions and equipped with a massively impressive arsenal, Salamander became the classic "bomber plane" that was known and feared throughout Planet Zi.
Lending to the Salamander's original "Dragon" class designation is the plasma flamethrower mounted inside of it's beak like mouth which was deadly both in the air and on the ground. Backing up the flame thrower are a set of Vulcan Phalanx, a set of Hyper Beam Laser Guns, four small bore Lasers, and dual Tactical Missiles. The unit also equips incredibly light and durable Magnesser Falcon wings that provide both lift and propulsion and is rounded out with a Multi-Blade radar system.
Initially the Salamander was semi awkward due to it's heavy armor resulting in it being less capable of fine tuned aerial movements when compared to smaller and lighter flying Zoids like the Redler. Due to the lack of airborne Zoids, the Republic's release of the Salamander was devastating to the Empire when it was initially released in ZAC 2030. It was Salamander that forced the Empire's creation of flying units in which they took into consideration the relatively low maneuverability of the Salamander and countered with both potent and smaller aerial units that would rival and eventually outdate the larger winged terror.
This prompted the initial re-creation of the previously highly successful Salamander. The second version of Salamander was nicknamed "Mercury" and sported a pair of Republic Super Cannons. Not much is known about project Mercury, and the next major change in Salamander's history came with yet another upgrade. This improved version of Salamander was used by the republic in the Original Battle Story along with the Mad Thunder to penetrate deep into the heart of Nyx. The F2 or "F square" version was lighter, and able to reach top speeds of an impressive Mach 3.5. The Salamander F2 units met their demise with a worthy unit, the Gilvader. The few that managed to elude the "Death by Gilvy" were destroyed by the meteor disaster of ZAC 2056, which effectively produced the cessation of existence of the Pterosaur type Salamander F2.
Along with the massive life lost with the cataclysmic meteor disaster were most of the Salamander and variants design plans. It is said that the Republic was successful in saving very few (secretive units) which would later be re-activated in ZAC 2101. Salamander would once again be used drive back the Empire, and prove to be vital in performing key missions like cutting off supply lines.
Salamander was released with the Robostrux line and known as "Radox". One of four larger, expensive, and battery powered Zoids the Radox was part of the Red Mutants. Some say the color scheme of this original appearance are some of the best ever sported by the unit. In 1984 Salamander was released as part of the OJR line and was colored in a dark blue and grey. (This version would later be mimicked with the NJR release.) In 1986, Salamander was released in Europe and was re-colored in red and known as "Krark the Prince of Darkness".
Krark was as unique as his title suggests, his views did not conform to the "standardized" Red Army Zoid philosophies instated by Red Horn. Rather than continuing to fight for environmental territorial rights, Krark believed that both the Red and Blue armies should unite (under his leadership, of course) and have a universal goal to dominate and conqueror galaxies beyond Zoidstar. Krark allied with the mighty Zoidzilla and was successful in taking down Red Horn. Krark had a powerful allure about his personality witch attracted many followers of both Red and Blue Armies. Krark was also notorious for leading the Blue Army in the infamous fight against the Black Zoid. Although Krark emerged victorious he suffered a devastating loss of Zoids in the process. It is said that during hid re-building process he gave rise to three new types of Zoids including the Helcat, Zsnake, and Scarab. Another bizarre twist in Krark's story line suggested that Krark was not the only Salamander in existence, and that at least more clones existed in hibernation. Krark's color scheme is excellent and his crimson pattern exudes ferocity and ill intent. In my opinion Krark's sub title "The Prince of Darkness" is one of the most awesome and daunting names to exist within any line of Zoids.
The next and most rare release was as part of the second wave OJR Zoids in 1989. Known as the "Salamander F2", this version was easily the most dramatic flaunting fully chrome gold wings. Salamander F2 was intended to be a normal release and not a limited piece, until the demise of the OJR line hit which halted production severely and effectively made the Salamander F2 one of the most treasured Zoids anyone could have the pleasure of owning.
In 2001 Salamander was released as part of the New Japanese Release. This version retained the colors of the OJR but hade a few structural changes. The first change was the switch over to the use of a single instead of the dual "AA" sized battery. Second, a clip shut cover replaced the screw on cover and, finally the foot stabilizer was elongated (probably to satisfy new safety standards). During the same year Salamander was also released stateside by Hasbro as part of the New American Release. Identical to the NJR version, it was re-named "Pteramander". Pteramander did not come with springs making the missile launcher inoperable. (This can easily be fixed with the insertion of a small ball point pen size spring.) Both 2001 version came with a dual set of stickers, one new style and the other old school paying homage to the OJR release. Below are some OJR vs. NJR comparison photos.
Screw Vs. Battery cover closure.
Single Vs. Dual Battery compartment.
Elongated Foot Stabilizer 1.
Elongated Foot Stabilizer 2.
The last incarnation of Salamander would come in 2004 in the form of a Yuji Kaida limited. Known as the Salamander "Bombvern" this version was re-colored in a beautiful powder blue and included the dual Republican Super Cannon set. This version could potentially be a representation of the elusive "Project Mercury" Salamander.
Salamander has also been included in both Zoids trading cards, video games, and Anime. Easily one of my favorite Zoids, at least one example of Salamander should be in any and all Zoid collections. The unit also had the honor of being mentioned in a 1987 Christmas speech given by Terry Pratchett who referred to Krark as "a chicken that's been dead for maybe three months." When activated, the Salamander moves very similar to how you would think a robot chicken should and is a very entertaining sight to behold. About mid difficultly as far as construction goes, the Salamander is rich in Zoids history and offers a little something for everyone. Do pick one up if you ever get the chance.
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