Kanji Update : 11/8/08
After waiting for what seemed like forever, I am happy to sit down with a significant update,
and an important part of Zoid history. I recently moved, long story, and in the process of taking on
a large design contract, moving my house and trying to put some time in to get my display cases
up and running, one thing remained on my mind, a box....
After a couple of sleepless nights of wondering not if, but how bad USPS screwed up my
address forwarding, I received the time honored note that a package was awaiting me
at the post office. It was then I knew that everything was going to work out, and the long awaited piece
would finally be "home". You see, this wasn't just the normal NJR, or even the shiny chrome of
an OJR piece that had constantly remained on my mind, it was a prototype.
Saber or perhaps more properly "Sabre" as dubbed in the Zoids 2 line. (More on this later)
With so many variations on the classic tiger, it seems as if even the designers knew was something timeless about this piece.
The box I had been waiting for:
Zoids Sabre Prototype Observations.
I had an idea of what to expect, but opening the box and looking at the contents far surpassed my expectations.
Laying eyes on the prototype Sabre was awesome, and the more I explored, the more I discovered.
One of the first things I noticed were the orange parts. I had thought they would be the same as the familiar Zoids 2 release. I was dead
wrong. The orange is deeper and more red. It does not give off the fluorescent
look as the official release does, instead its more of a cross between blood red
and dark orange. The green the body is finished in was also darker than I had originally thought.
It's more of a forest green with what appears to be some swirls of white mixed in. The swirls seem only to be present on the
body, and I don't believe that they are age or sun discoloration patches, but more of actual white plastic mixed in with the green.
It's subtle, but present. The whole piece has a more serious flavor, and is a better contrast than expected. A closer look below.
One of the first thing I noted was that the silver/gray pieces are actually painted. Underneath all of the grey paint lies the same blood orange
color as the accent pieces. Probably done last minute to match actual production color, perhaps an after thought? I toyed with the idea
of removing the paint, but decided to leave it be for now. Below are some better pictures where the orange shows through on certain pieces.
A few of the pieces show signs of overspray on the undersides as pictured below.
Some of the caps also have a bit of overspray. I have seen few caps that have an second inner layer, all of the caps that accompany
this piece have this "two lip" feature. The color of the caps is also not the same as the standard production. I had thought that some of these may have been
replaced due to the age of this piece, but on the two regular production Zoids 2 Sabers I own, the caps are lighter and less red than these, which leads me
to believe that these are all original prototype caps. Amazing they all made it through over 20 years.
My next step was to disassemble the body and search for any further significant differences. I managed to get
the back open, yet ran into a problem while trying to get the head apart. The head had been glued not allowing any
access to separate the piece any further than what I have pictures of below.
Although I did not pursue separating the head in fear of breaking anything, I did get enough access to peak inside and further
satisfy my curiosity of the possibility of paint on the body. The body is absolutely not painted, it's solid green plastic. Next I
checked the battery compartment. I wanted to see if there were any signs of wear, this is where I received my next
surprise. As I opened the compartment, a piece of paper fell out. It's a smaller piece of paper fitting almost exactly
to the dimensions of the compartment. I have seen these tags before, and was ecstatic that it actually came with the piece.
The production tag contains a few select notes on the unit. First Sabre in Kanji, followed by
the English word. The spelling in English is interesting, matching the Zoids 2 spelling of the word, below is an attempt to clarify.
The whole Sabre Vs. Saber Fang issue:
Designed after the ancient family of Saber-toothed cats, or more properly "Felids". I want to take a small look at the words Saber and Sabre.
Sabre is a French word that came from the modification of German dialect "Sabel".
Sabel originates from Middle High German and is probably of Slavic origin, as it is similar to
the Russian word "Sablya". This word dates back to approx. 1680.
Sabre has two definitions, and can be used as both a noun and a verb.
Used as a Noun, Sabre refers to either:
1: A cavalry sword with a curved blade, thick back, and guardm or a
2. Light fencing or dueling sword having an arched guard that covers the back of the hand
and a tapering flexible blade with a full cutting edge along one side and a partial cutting edge on the back at the tip.
Used as a verb, Sabre refers to:
The sport of fencing with the Sabre.
From these definitions we can assume that Sabre Tiger refers to either:
1. The teeth of the Zoids Tiger which are shaped similar to a Sabre, or
2. A fencing or dueling Zoids Tiger.
Saber is the US spelling of the French word. So in essence "Sabre" was used in production on units that were produced
by TOMY in Thailand and Japan. "Saber" came along when Hasbro gained control of the line, and was
packaging for the US market. Call it Saber Fang or Sabre Fang - you're saying the same thing. Technically,
both words are correct.
The Production Tag:
Thanks to Smeat's Zoido: I have clarified the tag, and the 2 actually denotes the Zoids 2 line, and not the battery capacity. Thanks Docker, I appreciate it.
Here is the clarification:
"The first part with three Japanese characters and a 2 is actually the word "zoids2". The first character is "zo", then "i", then "do", in the katakana alphabet."
Jammer Lea over at Zoids Evolution writes:
"I don't know if anyone's given you this info yet, but someone on Zoids Poison linked to your Prototype Saber Tiger page. Since someone else also asked about that last kanji character on the slip, I looked it up. Seems that last character means "edition" or "version". So I guess all together it's like, "Zoids 2 Saber Version 2". I hope that helps."
I am still unclear last part, and think it may be a signature. If you know or have an idea let me know and I will add it to this review
and, of course give you credit. Below is a closer look at the production tag:
The head of the unit contained a pilot. I do not see anything
unusual about this part of the unit.
From what I could see the head was glued on the inside just above the fangs. Separation is impossible without sacrifice,
and I am not willing to sacrifice this piece in any way. Below is a closer look at the head.
The main fangs are the normal bronze colored units we are used to. The set of back teeth are green and are
significantly less sharp than the official release. You can also see some "rough" areas on the head where
the plastic was not trimmed completely. The eyes pieces remain the same color and transparency.
All vents and ducts are the same as the official release.
Ultimately the mold remains the same, it's just a very "rough" version, and some of the pieces
do not align as well as the official release. Looking at the battery compartment we also find the same markings
as the original piece. Below are some comparison shots, although the copyright is the same the color variation I spoke of before
can be seen a bit more clearly on these.
Zoids 2 Sabre:
I wanted to try and get some better pictures of aforementioned white swirls on the body,
and taking a closer look at the on/off switch provided the perfect opportunity for this.
The on/off remains the same on Proto Sabre as it does on the Official Zoids 2 release. On/Off is clearly
marked on the main body and is also present on both sides of the switch. Below you can
see the swirls which have an almost "marbling" effect on some of the green plastic:
The measurements of the Prototype match the standard release, and there are no variations in size.
I have wondered if the green plastic of the Battle Rex is similar to the green on this tiger. I am honored as well as ecstatic to
have this piece in my collection. Saber has also been up there on my list , with Zoids 2 being one of my favorite lines, the origin of this
piece is a combination of the best of both worlds for me. During the acquisition process, I also met a new friend which is always
more awesome than any material possession. I rather enjoy the colors of this piece, and it makes an awesome display piece. I have yet
to figure out if this is simply an un-chromed version of the standard release, or it was just formed from spare plastic to test the mold.
The spray painted feet are an added bonus and bring character to the piece that gives off a feeling of either:
How rushed the designers were to present the piece?
How last minute changes were made into final touches?
Questions that will most likely remain unanswered, yet are fun to ponder.
In closing I would like to offer a few pictures of this wickedly unique piece of Zoids production history.
This has been a Zoid.US production. No image may be used without permission. © 2007 -WIKD