Gojulas Zoidzilla

TechnoZoid

Inspired by Godzilla,  Gojulas is a Tyrannosaurus type Zoid. The Gojulas was created by the Helic Empire, and has been used throughout the wars on Planet Zi. Produced after Mammoth and Giant Zrk Gojulas took the positive aspects of both of these Zoids and further improved them considerably. With it's heavy armor, Gojulas was considered the most powerful Zoid to inhabit Planet Zi for many years.

Gojulas is a slow moving unit, that despite it's low speed is surprisingly maneuverable, and can even function while submerged. Gojulas packs a wide array of weapons including it's infamous tail which has been used to topple more than one medium sized Zoid. Gojulas has seen several updates throughout it's time on Planet Zi. The first improved version of Gojulas was Gojulas MK II, which added a mount to fit a pair of Republic Super Cannons. This made Gojulas even more feared as it could now strike from long distances. In order to carry the cannons, Gojuals MKII, sacrificed a considerable amount of speed. When Gojulas was first deployed by the Helic Republic it was unmatched by any Zenebas Empire unit. The introduction of the Red Horn even failed to combat the beast known as Gojulas. Eventually Gojulas met it's match with the introduction of the Iron Kong.

Gojulas underwent further evolution in the rarely seen Gojulas MK II Ltd. Additional weapons systems were mounted on this unit, as well as extra systems that further enhanced it's performance, and also addressed the aforementioned speed sacrifice. Gojulas MK II Ltd. also sported extra fuel tank, and more room to hold additional ammo for the Super Cannons. The Gojulas MK II Ltd was expensive and took a great length of time to produce, therefore not many units were actually made, forcing the production of "regular" MK II units as opposed to MK II Ltd. units. The Gojulas remained in Republic troops until the end of the war.

After the meteor strike the Republic again began production of the Gojulas, this incarnation was known as the "Gojulas the Ogre". The Ogre version incorporated an Organoid System and an expanded arsenal. This version of the almighty Gojulas was so powerful that only highly skilled pilots could attempt to control the unit, therefore not many of these units were produced.

The building of any Gojulas model is not to be missed. It's a classic design with a good amount of build time, and when complete the unit stomps forward, raising its arms, opening it's mouth, all while the eyes are glowing. There are several version of the model including the early Robostrux version known as Terox, the Yuji Kaida version Gojulas Mariner (which is finished in sea worthy colors and was more adapt at under water combat), Gojulas Holotech, and even a green Forest Gojulas. Gojulas is a classic model that tends to stand tall in any Zoids collection, all collectors should seek at least one example of this unit. The more common forms of Gojulas can be found with ease online, while the vintage versions commend high prices when and if they can be located. With so many parts, it's hard to find a complete version of any vintage Gojulas.

ZoidsZilla is one of the last (officially released) few Techno Zoids I need in order to complete the entire line. We all know how difficult (not to mention expensive) it is to put an Evil Pegasus into our collection. ZoidsZilla is a couple rungs higher on the rarity ladder than Evil Pegasus, and not too many examples are ever seen. In, fact this is only the third piece I have ever laid my eyes on. Those that are found do not have the box, making it very hard, (if not impossible?) to distinguish them from the Zoids 2 Gojulas.

I would like to take some time to go over some of the more interesting features of this unique beast, as well as unravel some of the mystery that surrounds it. The biggest clue as to why this piece is so rare is given on the upper right hand of the box which displays not the Kenner logo, but rather the IRWIN logo with it's tagline:

"We remember when we were kids!" 

So let's step in our way back machines and hit the toy companies hard once again as we did in the Sea Panther review and see if we just can't get a better handle on why these units just don't seem to turn up all too often. If you take a look at any regular release Techno Zoids box, there is no logo on the front - in fact, the only logo you may find is the familiar Kenner logo on the bottom (usually right) of the box. So let's take a look at this mysterious bringer of Zoids dubbed IRWIN.

IRWIN Toy Company History

IRWIN was started in 1926 as an importer and distributor of dry goods and clothing. The company was formed in a house owned by a couple with the last name of Irwin. Originally the business sold souvenirs business eventually became so good that IRWIN started to sell wholesale to many retail companies. The operation expanded in size and soon required a warehouse. The Irwin's moved their operation to a warehouse at the west end of Toronto, and began to focus solely on toys. After a few years, the Irwin's two sons came aboard as managers, and went on to become full fledged owners. It was not until the 1950's that both son's decided to add toys to Irwin's strictly souvenir line up. It was not until 1984 that Irwin began to developed their own toys in house. Probably the most remembered Irwin developed toy was the "Pound Puppy".

IRWIN profited by distributing other companies toys, which translated into almost all popular toys available in Canada until the 1990's were distributed by IRWIN. This was the result of many major American toy companies wanting to sell their toys in Canada, however it was not seen as a useful business practice to open up a Canadian branch because of the smaller population and taxes, which would generate less income. IRWIN's success came from their licensing and contract manufacture of American companies like Kenner/Parker and also some Japanese companies namely TOMY where IRWIN served as the Canadian importer and distributor of their products.  

In the 80's and 90's, some major players in the toy scene including but not limited to Hasbro, Mattel, and Kenner acquired many of the companies that IRWIN did business with. In the 80's with the introduction of the Free Trade Agreement and later NAFTA, it became less expensive for American companies to form Canadian branches. In conclusion, IRWIN lost many business deals and major toy companies began to distribute toys themselves. With the new millennium approaching, IRWIN was facing both business and financial difficulty, and was sold to a private investment group for approximately $55 million. 18 months after the buyout  IRWIN declared bankruptcy. The original factory was sold to developers for $10 million and was eventually converted to a condo. The End.

IRWIN, the Techno Zoids, and Zoids 2

Irwin plays an important role for Zoid Collectors, and also adds to the mystery of the Techno Zoids line. As we all know the majority of Techno Zoids were released by Kenner under the control of Hasbro. However, there seem to be few pieces that have the Irwin logo. The Irwin produced pieces seem to be on the rarer side of uncommon. I have heard some discussion that Techno Zoids may have been re-packaged Zoids 2 pieces. This is invalid as the Techno Zoid line was released before Zoids 2. 

Techno Zoids were released by Kenner/IRWIN in 1994.

Zoids 2 were released by TOMY in 1996.

So it could be that Zoids 2 are repackaged Techno Zoids?

Update (1/2/2009):

After speaking with Lionel over at Ultrasaurus Red and some discussion on Zoids Poison we have come to the conclusion that both lines were released at almost the same time. Check the updated time line below:

It seems as almost as if the Techno Zoids known to be released by Irwin were not released by Kenner. Take for instance Zoid Zilla and Dragon Fly which were released by Irwin but did not seem to be part of the official Kenner line up.

 Sabre and Claw were part of both line ups, and Battlesaurus and Demon Lizard seem to be exclusive to Kenner. Please see the chart below for complete release notes. 

Kenner Vs. Irwin Techno Zoid Releases

Zoid:

Kenner:

Irwin:

Armored Gator

X

-

Demon Lizard

X

-

Iron Kong

X

-

Battlesaurus

X

-

Evil Pegasus

X

-

Evil Scorpion

X

-

Evil Pegasus

X

-

Zoid Zilla

-

X

Sabre

X

X

Claw

X

X

Storm Tiger

X

X

Dragon Fly

-

X

Another school of thought is that Irwin may have released a small number of prototypes with sample packaging. This could be valid save for the fact that I have seen pictures of the proposed release of Gojulas and the unit was green and red, almost Battle Rex like colors. I do not know for sure that this was intended to be the Techno Zoid release, but the color scheme seemed to fit more properly than the actual release of Zoid Zilla which has chrome reminiscent of the Zoids 2 line. I wish I had the pictures to post, alas I forgot to copy them from the auction. They were from the same seller that I purchased the Thunder Tri-Tops (Mad Thunder) stills from. If anyone has a copy, please email it to me so I can include it here for reference. Other unreleased Techno Zoids include: The previously mention Mad Thunder, Venom Snake, Brachios, Mammoth, and Doberman.

Zoid Zilla

Let's take a few moments to look at the Irwin Zoid Zilla. I am not doing a full build review, but if you are interested in see the process of building Gojulas (along with instruction manual) please click here: Gojulas Build. The Irwin logo is in the upper right hand corner of the box and is a small square with blue text and a white background.

The front of the box look like a normal release and features the built Gojulas within a yellow circle. The box front:

The sides, top and bottom also feature the norm:

The back of the box features the finished product with highlights, again as normal.

The highlights of the unit include:

Powerful gripping talons

Flip up canopy lets pilot "take the controls"

It depicts one of the back fins as a "Reactor"

Rotating pulsar cannon

Rapid Fire Quad Cannon

Motorized "charging" leg action

and finally

Directional tail gun.

As you have probably have noticed each phrase is also written in French, obviously intended for the French Canadian market. Upon closer inspection, another interesting fact is that this unit actually bears the TOMY logo alongside the Irwin logo on the back of the box.

Moving onto the bar code we also see that it states that this unit was made in Thailand. It's also printed in black instead of the usual blue.

Oddly enough the Kenner version do not state this fact as seen below in a sample assortment of bar codes from official Kenner releases.

The final difference comes with the color of the box. The Irwin release is noticeably lighter in color than the Kenner releases. This difference is clearly obvious when the boxes are placed together and observed. See below:

 

Opening the box, it was awesome to find the manual. The manual is poster style not unlike the Zoids 2 Manuals. The only change is the addition of basic warranty information by Irwin.

I removed the pieces from the box, and first observation led to examination of the foot assemblies. There is a slight difference in the molding of the inner foot, and the TZ version is lacking the molded support on the outer side, see below.

Below is the contrast between the TZ Zoidszilla, Proto Zoids 2 Zoidszilla, and Robostrux Terrox.

Moving on to the battery compartment mark, we see the Thailand copyright.

Next up, the cockpit.

The chrome on TZ Zoidszilla has a dull finish. The mold also look very tired, with many a dent and scratch on the inside. The odd thing about this piece is that it appears as if the plastic underneath is black. It's not the greenish white color that usually resides under the surface of Zoids 2 and the chrome almost looks as if it were sprayed on. This is most obvious under the top half of the head. 

The odd thing about this black material is that the piece displays the opposite on the shoulders. It looks as if the black was oversprayed on the shoulders of the piece. Again this is on the entire piece but the most prominent is pictured below.

Perhaps the victim of overspray from a different project on the spray table before I bought the piece? The bottom half of the jaw offers no variation with the same number of dual teeth and pattern marks.

The canopy is really light, almost clear.

After finishing building the unit, I saw another difference. On the box the super cannon mounts are backwards. This mold change was made approx. 1987 with the release of Gojulas MKII. This is similar to the error on Storm Tiger's box.

The manual does not feature the pegs in either position as it was never updated with the change.

Probably due to a lack of proper assembly knowledge it makes for a nice oddity. Techno Zoid Zilla has green eyes and the same sticker sheet as the Zoids 2 version. The piece I have did not come with stickers.

The Techno Zoids Zoidzilla makes an interesting addition to any collection. I do not have the Zoids 2 version to do a full comparison with as of yet. I can say that the sloppy dull chrome job leaves something to be desired and it look more like a test shot than an actual release. An interesting piece of Zoids distribution history, and still a mystery behind the IRWIN mask.

This has been a Zoid.US production. No image may be used without permission. 2008 -WIKD