When I first laid eyes on this piece, I was intrigued. Not believing what the description said, yet being too interested not to pursue it. Presented as two mint in box Demon Lizards one regular release, and the other housed in a “prototype” box. I knew the source did have access to unique Kenner items, and it was stated that this piece came from an ex-Kenner employee. I decided there had to be something unique about the piece in order for a non-collector to hold onto it for so many years. I successful obtained the piece, and invite you along on the journey to unravel the mystery of the Techno Zoids Demon Lizard……
At first, all I could see of this mystery box was that it was white with minimal color print.
When the box arrived I became even more confused. The box is indeed white, but does tell an interesting tale of a Japanese Toy. I don’t know if it ever made it into production, but the box features a mother cat (laying in a bed) with a brood of suckling kittens.
There looks to be about 11 items in the line, including a turtle with aquarium.
The print is offset, and the color is only two tone. Unfortunately all of the writing is in Japanese and I cannot read it, yet I did discern an important clue. The maker of this toy was the infamous T.N. Toys. Better known as Nomura, TN was a company that produced vintage robots. Thus began my search to find out exactly how a Demon Lizard ended up in a Nomura box, or even if it belonged there. I started to think that I may have been duped. I started to dig deep into the roots of the toy companies.
Nomura was purchased by Hasbro in 1992. Kenner (the producer of Techno Zoids) was purchased by Hasbro in mid 1991. Kenner remained a division of its parent company Tonka until Hasbro fully closed the Cincinnati offices in 2000. Demon Lizard was released in 1994. So Hasbro had control of Kenner and was actually producing Zoids
unofficially before the release of the “Hasbro” Zoids.
Now knowing that Kenner, under the reign of Hasbro, would have had access
to old Nomura goods, it started to make more sense of how a Kenner Techo Zoid
could possibly end up in a Nomura box. I started to take a look at the dimensions
of the official release compared to the prototype box.
The length, with, and height are an exact match. I also found it interesting that the box is a finished product in the sense that the flaps and folds are attached and complete. I was expecting more of a pieced together mock up. As pictured below:
Now it was time to examine the contents of each box. First observations denote the outer packaging differences as well as the inclusion of a sealed zip lock type style bag with an envelope.
The outer packaging on the regular release version is clear, while the package in the official release contain the standard warning about suffocation. The official release bag is pictured below on the right hand side, the proto bag is to the left, It's interesting to note that while both bags have the same width, the proto outer bag is a full 2" shorter.
Examining the envelope reveals nothing more than a satisfaction survey, complete with a no postage necessary stamp on the upper right hand corner.
There are seven questions that are generic in nature, and do not even include the word “Zoid”,. Oddly enough the envelope does have an interesting fact where it informs the consumers that the envelope is supposed to be returned to: Attention: Mr. Walter Davis in the Marketing-Services division. The envelope is dual sided and does not open. Why would someone have saved this piece inside this box?
Now lets take a look at the accessory pieces and see if we can find anything unique to give us more insight into this piece. As with DeadBorder I can see differences in the hoses. The Demon Lizard in the Prototype box has slightly thicker hoses than the regular release Demon Lizard hoses. The Proto Demon Lizard's hoses are black rather than the ash grey of the regular release. Both hose sprues are marked © 1988 TOMY.
There are also some slight differences in the caps. Both sets come with a total of 6 caps, yet again we see slight color variations. The proto Lizard's caps also have a wider opening diameter.
Moving on to the cockpit canopy. The built Demon Lizard that appears below is the first one that I acquired and will be used as a comparison along the way.
As you can tell, the shades of the cockpits are different. The one that came with the Prototype Demon Lizard is much darker than the standard cockpit color.
The pilot is also a much lighter gold than the regular release.
The receiving peg and slight indent are all identical.
The Demon Lizard inside of the protobox did NOT come with instructions nor stickers. Now, let's take a look at the sprues and motors that accompany both sets.
Taking a look at the motors, I did not notice anything on the surface. A closer inspection reveals a number on the inner wheel on the opposite side of the wind. The normal release has the number "2" while the proto box version has the number "3". Checking the built Demon Lizard revealed it also has the number "2" on the wheel, which is a concrete difference.
The sprues have minor differences as well. The green sprues that come with the regular release are a brighter green, while the green sprues that came in the protobox are lighter. This is harder to see in the pictures below, but the contrast can be noticed. I do not think there was enough time for this to be sunlight exposure damage as it likely remained in the box.
The rest of the sprues also offer a little variation. The proto box sprues have a more grey tint, while the regular release remain more of a true black. Again harder to capture in pictures.
I will finish up here with a step by step build review of the Demon Lizard, and see if any more differences can be found. Lets take a look at the step by step building process.
Demn Lizard / Hel Diguner consists of:
1 Motor (wind up)
1 Instruction Booklet
1 Hose Sprue
1 Sticker Sheet
First, the motor is inserted between the two green body halves and the cannon support is also placed.
The top, front, and back plates hold the iner frame formed above together.
The first tail segment with gun turret is then constructed.
Next, the tail is finished.
The next step places one body half over the two axels that cnnect to the motor and provide movement.
At this step I noticed a minor difference. The proto box version had a large piece of extra flash in
the large hole on the side, see below:
I am also noticing that the proto version has the same nicks and marks one the insdes of the piece. The odd thing is that the proto Demon Lizard mold looks "tired". The proto version is not as clean and sharp with very minor differences noted in the fine details of each piece. The next step places the other side of the body, one more axle, and the lower jaw piece.
At this step I nticed another difference. The proto Demon Lizard is missing the rows of teeth that reside on the inside of the lower jaw piece, see below:
A closer look:
Next the canopy is placed, pilot seated, and hoses are set.
With the hoses attached, I was able to capture a better look at color difference in the hoses. The prototype hoses are black.
The straffer cannn is then assembeled. Two sides of the cannon attach, and two supports are held in place on the main frame via two caps.
With the canon in place, the final step is to place the legs that are held on via one cap per piece.
The other set of legs are attached.
The unit is complete and ready for stickers. The Demon Lizard Techno Zoid version has some of the coolest stickers including a swordfish logo that adorns each side of the straffer cannon.
With stickers on the unit is ready for display. The proto did not come with a asticker sheet.
Currently I do not have the OJR version of Demon Lizard. Honestly I don't know what this prototype piece really is. I have a couple of ideas of what it could be:
1. An OJR version which was used for quality control purposes. The green sprues DO NOT glow in the dark, and I have always been under the impression that the OJR version had this capability.
2. A test shot to determine final color. This is close to the final version yet is still noticeably lighter and with different colored hoses.
I do not believe this piece was kept for the box alone. Building the unit revealed nothing more than a couple of minor differences. The dark cockpit, black hoses, and lack of lower teeth I think qualify this piece for the "prototype" category. I cannot remember where I saw the black tube Demon Lizard listed as a "variant" but I can confirm that this is true.
This has been a Zoid.US production. No image may be used without permission. © 2007 -WIKD