Combattler V vs Combatra

I got into a conversation with a local collector interested in putting together a Combattra figure. For the Shogun Warrior fan this would either be the 5 separate Shogun Vehicles that make up the figure or the acquisition of the Shogun Combatra Deluxe set.  For context, it's these vehicle sets (you can click on the captions of each to see the individual pages):
Battle Jet
Battle Craft
Combatra Deluxe Set
Part of the conversation lead to a discussion about the differences between the original Popy version vs the Shogun Warrior and GoDaiKin versions. I know through experience that some of the parts between the versions aren't interchangeable - the biggest differences are between the original Popy vs the Shogun Warrior and GoDaiKin bits as there are design differences - for instance, the Popy shooting fits have a flat cross section while the later has a "+" cross-section, meaning that the later fists won't work in the earlier Popy without modification. I turned to Combattler-collector extraordinaire John Olson as he's had more of these than just about anyone I know. He provided all the comparison photos that follow (some notes are added by me):

Popy PA-78 - note there are small paint and sticker variations (the "ear" pods are a darker blue on the Popy and GoDaiKin). From what I recall the winged piece that fits on the back is not interchangeable (shaped differently):
In these comparison photos of the Battle Clasher you'll see the paint differences - the original Popy is all red around the cockpit while the later version is painted red and blue. The second photo does a good job illustrating the differences in the cuff that shoots fists and various accessories. The Popy has a flat spade-like plunger for the fist while the Shogun Warriors and GoDaiKin has the "+" cross-section.

Here are some great comparison shots of the differences in some of the fists - note that not only were there changes to the plunger, there are also big differences in the actual molded parts, with the later versions bigger/heavier and changed in detail.

There's some variation to the waist stickers but it's difficult to see the differences without a side-by-side comparison. The Popy kana is a bit smaller than the Shogun/GoDaiKin.

Another difference is in the numbering - on the Battle Tank the Popy has a rounded "3" while the Shogun Warriors/GoDaiKin are squared-off (note also the white borders). On the Battle Marine the Number sticker has a red background while the Shogun Warriors/GoDaiKin has a blue background.

Battle Craft has some interesting differences - the Popy has blue parts where the top meets the legs while the Shogun and GoDaiKin have white bits. Also, the GoDaiKin has "Battle Kulaft" instead of "Com-Battler" on the side doors:
I think that covers the differences - hopefully this will help those trying to put together a complete Combattler V or Shogun Warriors Combatra figure. Once again, many thanks to John Olson for the many photos and information.

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel, all Popy images and captions are copyright Popy/Bandai and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2020 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here.

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