Pill Bug Type
Designated as GRZ-09 the pill bug typed Zoid deemed "Valga" is a very intriguing Zoid. Although at this point we do not have a clear background on the unit we can assume it must have been more of a stealth type with it's very minor front mounted cannons and it's thick and heavily spiked armor. Valga features a very prominent vintage Guylos logo on the cross bar beside the cockpit. It is said that this unit was used by both the Empire and Republic, and a valid theory (taking the Rebirth Century time period into consideration) is that the Valga may have been the pre-cursor to the Gusatv as they both represent isopods and were used by both Empire and Republic.
The building of the Zoid is unique incorperating three springs and a weight. The concept of having a massive robotic pill bug is just as awesome as it was back in the mid 1980's.. In fact one of my own personal most rare finds is a robot pill bug that was part of the great gorgon robots. The "RoboCaterpillas" is an impressive gakken, in fact it's worth taking a gander at, link below:
A large difference between the fully functioning RoboCaterpilas and the Valga was the exclusion of a battery powered motor. The concept of using a modified wind up motor was a good one yet, in the end it is far too underpowered to make the units features shine often locking up frequently or even actually tumbling the unit over to it's side where it is of no use. Valga also underwent several name changes before the name ""Valga" was actually decided upon. The first name could have been: "Zoids Death Kugel 02". A lot better than the Death Kugel was "Dango Mushi" or "Giant Worm". As illustrated below on the concept art it would seem that Valga may have had a quartet of re-positionable cannons, giving it a heavier fire power.
. As it was used by both Empire and Republic TOMY took an interesting approach to the actual release of the model. The "regular" version in black and purple is the Empire Valga. The limited release by e-Hobby is the Republic style Valga adorned with orange caps and finished in blue and white pictured below:
A third Valga is said to have existed. First seen on the popular hobby site "Hobby Link Jaoan" website under the title of: "Gravide Varuga". Below are the pictures taken from the HLJ website.
We can see some major differences starting with a second set of elongated front blades. This change would have possibly prevented the roll over issue mentioned earlier. The cannons also look as if they were designed from the concept art and are actually made of two different pieces. To me, the colors do not look like final versions but rather similar to test plastic used in prototyping. In addition to the spotting on HLJ this version was seen on another site YesAsia.com. The YesAsia.com website utilized the same pictures, but seems to have corrected the name which was now: "Gravied Valga". An odd name as the term "Gravid" is defined as "Carrying developing young or eggs", and is highly used in entomology which would make sense as we are dealing with a giant isopod. Strange to think of a pregnant pill bug rolling around blasting it's cannons in a war torn environment. Both sites reported a release date of February 28th of 2009. No one has found the Gravied Valga to date, and it's highly likely it will remain a prototype mystery for years to come.
Building Valga is an experience. The creation of a circular shaped Zoids proves to be a challenge. Although the manual suffices, I feel it lacks a bit of depth that could have made some steps a bit more clear. When wound the unit rolls around going between ball and elongated form. The wind up motor is terrible even with the newly incorporated flap the unit still fails to work properly 98% of the time. Keep in mind I am comparing and contrasting this unit to the Caterpilas Gakken mentioned above which is still far from flawless execution but works. Design wise Valga is bad ass. The cockpit design is esoteric and drives home the idea that piloting a circular machine is not an easy task.
The custom stickers work well and provide a nice little challenge in application. The larger stripes all must be cut to fit, and proper alignment could become frustrating with ease. I can see where they were going with Valga, I just wish they would have continued their flawless design scheme over to the actual movement portion of the unit. Valga due to it's poor movement wouldn't be my first choice to introduce someone into the hobby. It has the looks, is rich in history, and even has prototype mystique, it's really too bad the designers didn't hit a home run with the movement aspect making it the complete package.
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