Mattel 3-Inch Collectors Shogun Warriors Figures

Mattel Collector Mazinga
The Mattel Collector's Shogun Warriors provided an inexpensive way for 70's kids to own examples of their favorite Shogun Warriors at a fraction of the cost (they're also fun to collect and make a great mini-display). They have metal bodies with plastic limbs and body parts, painted in the same colorful patterns as their giant Jumbo Machinder (2 foot figures) and mid-sized Chogokin (Action Figure and 2-in-1) offerings. They also provide some insight into what could-have-would-have been had the toyline remained successful and continues past its short run with Mattel.

There had always been rumors that the Collector line only existed in the US as a Mattel offering but some boxed figures with Japanese markings started showing up in various online auctions - I'm not sure if these smaller figures were ever released in Japan by Popy - they may have only been offered by Popy in other Asian Markets. They definitely appeared as GoDaiKins after Bandai absorbed the Popy line and severed connections with Mattel.

As toys these are heavy, small (about 3.5-4 inch) tall examples of our favorite robots. There are a few packaging variations (I only show the US packaging here but I know that they were also offered in some European markets with slightly different packaging. There's also the Nacoral "Robots del Dr. Infierno" set from 1981). I've listed them as 4 separate releases but suspect that the 1st and 2nd co-existed (they have separate Assortment IDs) - the 2nd may have only had limited regional distribution.

 Mattel 3-Inch Collector's Figures by  Product Number

European Catalog image of unreleased Mattel Collectors Shogun Raydeen (mislabeled as Grandizer) - image from John Olson

1st Release

Initial 6 "Skinny" Mattel boxes
The initial release of the Shogun Warrior Collector figure series featured six Shogun Warriors in skinny boxes that were slightly wider than the figures, which stand 3.5-4 inches tall (the figures were on a small white cardboard insert with a blue twist-tie holding it in place in the window box. The back of the box has images of all 6 figures): Combatra, Dragun, Gaiking, Grandizer, Great Mazinga and Poseidon (noticeably missing is Raydeen - I'm not quite sure why - it could be that the molds no longer existed by the time these were offered or it may have been a licensing issue). The packaging had a tall flap with figure branding and a hang-hole - the smaller packaging may have been a ploy to fill gaps on shelves between larger carded figures. These were offered as art of Mattel Assortment Number 2518 (printed on the front and back of the box). Note that the boxes were interchangeable (they weren't individually marked for each figure, rather there's a single image on the back that shows each figure with an individual stock number).

2nd Release

There appears to have been a modification to the first series release where the skinny boxes were added to a backer card - it's a somewhat cumbersome modification as the header was clipped from the smaller box then slotted through the wider backer card with clear tape. I'm wondering if this variation was the result of shoplifters taking advantage of the small original packaging size? Or it may have been that as the peg gets emptied it's difficult to see the remaining figures. 
From what I've seen this variation seems somewhat scarce. Some collectors consider this a second release so I'll call it that. Note that the smaller box still reflects the original Assortment Number as Mattel Assortment Number 2518 but for some reason when offered on these expanded cards, the Assortment Number changed to 2545 (printed on the back of the card). It's difficult to determine what was going through the heads of Mattel Toy Distribution at the time. I have not seen this Assortment Number solicited in Mattel Catalogs so they may have only been available in specific regions or test markets.
Skinny Mattel Boxes on Backer Cards - Top

3rd Release

The third release was to get the original 6 figures and put them into wider packaging. This ends up being the packaging for the figures going forward, with this 3rd release retaining the original 6 on the back like the skinnier initial packaging.
Comparison of Mattel Wider Boxes to "Skinny" Boxes

4th Release

The final release added Dangard, Leopaldon, Voltes V and 17 (Daitetsujin 17 in Japan), and re-released the initial six in the new, wider window box style. The back of the box shows all 10 collector figures as opposed to the original 6.

Packaging Back Comparison

European and Asian Releases


There appears to be a few separate Mattel figure releases in Europe - the most common packaging is the skinny and wider boxes similar to the Mattel figures, these appeared in the late 70's and sold particularly well in France and Italy. Note that instead of "Made in Japan" they have "Made in Hong Kong on the packaging, and also on the figures.  Images below are from Dave Keymont (I don't currently own any of these variants).

Euro Skinny Boxes

Euro Box Right

Euro Box Left

Euro Box Right

Euro Box Left

Euro Box Right

Japan-made Left - Hong Kong-made Right

Euro Wide Boxes 

Wide Euro Box Right

Wide Euro Box Left
Wide Euro Box Right

Wide Euro Box Middle

At some point narrow-boxed figures were released under the Popy logo in kana boxes - note that the figures have the extra stickers found on Mini-GoDaiKins (see below) - I suspect that these were made in Taiwan and distributed to Asian markets only. I have yet to own an example - photos sent to be by John Olson.
Popy Kana Box back and detail


It seems a company called Intercards obtained a license to produce these figures in Spain through Marvel Comics. Later the molds were shared or sold to Bisanti and distributed by Nacoral - at least two different assortments that display trademarks, so presumably they were licensed:
"Robots Articulados" under a Coleccionismo de Juguetes marquee - presumably these were wide boxed figures similar to the Mattel release. I haven't seen a packaged one but found this image that shows graphics identical to the Mattel wide box, only with a Nacoral logo.
Nacoral 10 figure Image (package back?)

"Robots del Dr. Infierno" marquee in 1981, initially by a company called Intercars Industrial S.A. but later reissued by Nacoral (see image below). The full copyright of the display reads: “Intercars Industrial S.A.Made in Spain. 1981 Marvel Comics Group. All rights reserved by agreement with Promcvip. Manufactured by Intercars Industrial S.A. Zaragoza, Spain." - this seems to be a Marvel Comics deal that was leter picked up by Nacoral
Info below grabbed from different sources including a Spanish language blog post (figurasdeaccion), an auction and worthpoint (I don't currently own any of these variants), both for two different versions of a store display (the display was a 21" x 12" card with figures rubber-banded on the corresponding image of the figure). What's interesting are the variations in paint (check the yellow Gaiking chest), the changes in the molds (Mazinga has a molded chest "v") and the inclusion of Raider (Getter Robo Liger). The packaging suggests that the figures weren't sold individually boxed - rather would be pulled from the card and paid for loose.

"1981 Nacoral, Spain, "Robots del Dr. Infierno" store display with 10 original figures. Mattel mini Shogun Warriors Spanish counterparts. 21X12" - 56X30 cm cardboard display in very good condition. Original rubber bands still hold the figures. All figures are unused and in very good condition. 1 Getter Robot figure is missing one silver sticker on right leg. 2 figures were missing when I found the display and I replaced one missing Grendizer figure by an original Mattel mini Shogun Warrior. The other 10 are original Nacoral spanish made figures."

2 variations of the display (has Apollo capsule and LEM above earth at card top) - Nacoral logo lower left.
Variant 1: with names under "Robots" logo

    • Mazinger (Great Mazinga)
    • Cuerninger (Gaiking)
    • Granizer (Grandizer)
    • Poseidon
    • Vampiro (Getter Liger!)
    • Dragun
Intercars Industrial S.A. (from Worthpoint) Unused Robots card missing a Mazinga figure

Worthpoint Unused Robots card missing a Mazinga figure (Detail)

Variant 2: without names (Nacoral Logo)

"Serie Robots" by Bisanti marquee (Venezuela?) - not sure where this fits in between Intercars and Nacoral (Image from figurasdeaccion).
Bisanti carded "Mazinger"
Appears Bisanti issued these as individual carded blister packs (above) and as a boxed set of 6 figures.

What makes these Spanish releases interesting is the 1981 data as it sort of bridges the time between Shogun Warrior Collector's and the GoDaiKin release. Also, there are several differences in the figures:
  1. Mazinga is a new sculpt with an integrated chest "v"
  2. Gaiking is painted yellow instead of gold
  3. Belly and other stickers are a bit different
  4. The existence of Getter Liger as a figure - as far as I know  it only exists via Nacoral.
  5. They don't appear to have a "Made in" embossed on the back so there's speculation that Nacoral made these in Spain. 
  6. Variations exist (Poseidon can have a blue plastic head and launchers, Gaiking's head can be molded in red or silver plastic, Grandizer's head can be molded in blue plastic, etc.)
  7. I don't own any of these so I can't do a direct comparison of the figures to see if the Nacoral were molded from Popy originals, or if the molds were licensed from Bandai.

Bandai GoDaiKins

Many of these figures were later released as Mini-Godaikins (there is virtually no difference in the actual figures (GoDaiKins have "Taiwan" in stead of "Japan" embossed on them an also are covered with additional, somewhat goofy metallic decals) and due to this confusion, prices on loose figures vary quite a bit - in general the Taiwan-made GoDaiKins are considered inferior to the Shogun Warriors versions although ironically, they may be rarer). I grabbed some images from the web - still looking for examples for my collection.
Mini GoDaiKin Great Mazinger Card Front

Mini GoDaiKin Great Mazinger Card Back
From a card back photo there appears to have only been 6 figures offered:
  • Great Mazinger
  • Combattler V
  • Voltes V
  • UFO Grendizer
  • Daitetsujin 17
  • Leopaldan

Mini GoDaiKin Set

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Carlos A Medina Rivera said...

I have 7 of them,though I did some heavy playing on most. Missing Dangard, Leopaldon and the 17

oscar uribe said...

creo que encontre a dangard, pero con los pies de leopaldon, que tan difici es encontrar estetipo de figuras?

Darth-Kriss said...

All the NACORAL figures were MADE IN SPAIN and their molds are totally different and taller than Mattel ones. There were at last not less than 3 different Cardboards versions, with some different colors and labels on figures, I hope to show them all, someday.
Last, but not least, there are also YUJIN KOREA similar figures in boxes with endless colors variants and final versions on blister cards (for US market)......Thanks me later....LOL