The line was simple and almost appeared to be humor based. Each release featured a small poem about the robot that was contained inside. There were no elaborate battle stories, no magna, and anime was not nearly as prevalent as it is today. It's unknown if the line was eventually planned to harbor some type of story line, or was merely presented as a drug/toy store oddity. The Original American Release was the first line to lay claim to the title: "Zoids" pre-dating even the "OJR" or Original Japanese Release Zoids.
Zoids ranged in price from about $3.00 to $6.00, and seemed to have been promoted semi-heavily near the end of 1983 just in time for the Christmas season. The perfect "stocking stuffers", in addition to the 5 units, 2 special releases were also released. Known as the Tank and Serpent, this pair of "Power Zoids" are covered in a separate section here at Zoid.US as I believe that they were responsible for actually giving birth to what would become the identity of the line.
All OAR Zoids featured the white cockpit and did not feature any vivid color schemes. Sometimes referred to as the "White Heads", all of the first Zoids were powered by small coil wind up motors often referred to by wind up collectors as "White Knobs". The box art was minimal and featured a stark mountain landscape background with a picture of the built Zoid in the foreground. There were no "types" or even names for the units, the front of all the boxes featured the same small promotional poem which read:
"Put Zoid together
part by part.
Then wind him up
and watch the action start."
The OAR Zoids were sparse units, typically with 3-4 sprues, a sticker sheet, caps, and a gold chrome pilot. Presented as simple yet intriguing tokens, below are the first five Zoids along with the original poems that introduced them.
The bird or duck type Zoid we know as "Glidoler" could be considered the great, great grandfather of all Zoids. With a pair of wings and pontoon style feet, the Glidoler unit was also a part of the original Mechabonica and would later become known in Europe as the Terrazoid. His construction is covered over in the Robostrux section of this site. His poem was as follows:
“This Zoid has wings that flap and monstrous feet. He’s a monster machine that’s hard to beat.”
Next the elephant type Zoid was released. With an odd design he would later become known as Elepantus in the Japanese release or Prototzoid in European release. This Zoid was part of the original three Mechabonica Zoids. His design was as awkward as his movement, and his design would eventually be dropped. The idea of a Zoids elephant would later be reinstated on a larger scale as Mammoth two years later in 1985. It is conceivable to speculate that this design gave rise to scale which would be implemented later in the line. His promotional poem was as follows:
“This Zoid has 2 huge ears and is sturdy and strong. He fills the land with fear as he walks along.”
After the elephant came another archetypically significant piece. The first true representation of a "common" dinosaur was finally upon us. A tall and spindly reptilian unit that was almost utilitarian in design that would later become known as Garius in Japan and Tyrannazoid in Europe was released. The T Rex was the last of the original Mechabonica (or core) Zoids. His poem was as follows:
“This Zoid stands tall and lean. He’s strange and strong, ferocious and mean.”
I call the next piece innovative. The first manifestation of the insect world into the Zoids line would be a spider. His walking mechanism was so simple yet complex it made the Zoid a true piece of engineering art. The spider would later become known as Tarantulon in Japan and Spiderzoid in Europe. His poem was as follows:
“This Zoid has terrifying black legs that walk him along. He looks like a spider that’s fearsome and strong.”
The last release of the official Zoids bestowed another surprise. A frog type machine, this model was actually able to operate on both land and in water. Two styro-foam blocks inserted into each air tank made the unit buoyant in water, while a set of small wheels allowed the frog to roll across the floor. Propelled by a set of flippers, this amphibious Zoid would later become known as Aquadon in Japan and Aquazoid in Europe. To this day the construction of this Zoid really gives the builder an appreciation for the engineering of the line. His poem was as follows:
“This Zoid swims on the water and roams on the ground. He’s the creepiest Zoid that’s yet to be found.”
Along with the set of five Zoids a "Zoids Remodel Set" was also released. The first actual CP set contained a set of weapons designed to be interchanged with the three Mechabonica (Bird, Elephant, and T-Rex) core Zoids. The set was produced for about 2 years before being discontinued. Pictures of this set are as elusive as the set itself. The next two "Power Zoids" that would be issued would forever change the focus and direction of the Zoids line.
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