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Spark Dolls Ultra Monster 500 Series
#7 King Joe
5.5 Inch Scale
By: Bandai
$5-$20

As part of the new Ultraman Ginga TV series, Bandai is rolling out a whole host of classic characters in new 5 inch form. Along with classic heroes, comes vintage villains such as the nefarious robot monster, King Joe. This giant robot has been popular since his first appearance in Ultra Seven and has returned in various forms through the years. He seemed like the perfect foil for my Ultra Seven in this scale.

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King Joe has been recreated in dozens of action figures and vinyls through the years. The Japanese seem to have an obsession with this character and he’s become an enduring part of the Ultraman franchise. This week’s topic in the League of Extraordinary Bloggers is about Robots, so King Joe is the perfect fit. As is always the case, with King Joe figures, he’s very interesting to look at from a visual standpoint. But does he have anything else to offer?

Packaging:
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As with the rest of this series (and almost all Japanese vinyl) he comes with nothing but a tag.

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The tag has details about the character and his special features. It also has classic images from his Ultraseven TV show appearance.

Sculpt/Paint:
This version of King Joe has all the classic detailing of the character. He’s very stunning, with a myriad of bright colors and a matte metallic paint color. This is one groovy robot!

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I’ve always thought King Joe looked a bit like a boombox that’s gone mad. Bandai has definitely recreated a King Joe that packs in all the details of their larger, previous efforts, but has some differences to stand out on his own. This sculpt is very similar, but has been remolded a bit and many believe this is the strongest King Joe figure from Bandai in a long time.

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One of the elements that I really think is neat, is the folds and wrinkles in his “suit”. Although he’s a robot, this figure definitely looks like the costume from the TV show. So instead of making this Ultraman villain look perfect, the imperfections of suitimation on are display. It’s something Bandai has done pretty well through the years.

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That sort of mentality you just don’t see in US toys. I suppose it’s because there’s such a different market in Japan. That said, this guy has serious robot stalwart elements as well. With some big bolts and classic 50’s B-movie robot aesthetic. I think that’s part of what has made King Joe such a popular character through the years.

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The paint is impressive, with a variety of colors on his front panels. This is always one of the most visually striking elements of Joe. The rest of the paint is pretty basic, but nailing those panels is the most important part of the character’s paint.

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At the bottom of his foot is a special “Live Sign” barcode thingy. This can be used with the Ginga Spark toy and when you strike the toy on his foot you’ll hear his “monster” roar. Basically King Joe’s noise. One of he feet on mine is a bit warmed, leading to him to sort of lean. I doubt that’s a design or a universal thing, probably just a bit of vinyl misshaping. I might could fix it, but he still stands well enough.

Articulation:
This series has less articulation than previous Ultraman lines. What stands out is that the monster characters don’t have articulation at the legs, which traditionally they did. However it should be noted that no Bandai King Joe figures have articulation at the legs, so it’s a moot point here. This Joe has as much articulation as his bigger counterparts.

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The arms are a little better constructed here, so that they don’t turn so far out as some of the other King Joe figures do.

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You’ve got articulation at the arms and at the waist. That’s it. Just a few simple swivels.

Accessories:
Nothing.

Value:
The 500 Series is designed to cost around $5 in Japan. You’ll pay more in the States, but King Joe is a must have at this scale if you’re collecting the series. He’s one of the coolest robot designs in history. He has a neat sci-fi feel and he’s just one groovy robot. I wouldn’t pay more than $15 for the figure, though.

Score Recap:
Packaging – N/A
Sculpt/Paint – 8
Articulation – 4
Accessories – N/A
Value – 7
Overall: 7.5

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King Joe is a fun robot and the toy is a nice recreation of him. This guy adds some nice diversity to your shelf and he’ll appeal to vinyl collectors, robot collectors and of course anyone who has an interest in Ultraman Kaiju. For such a cheap price, it’s hard not to enjoy having King Joe around the house.

If you’re interested in more of the world of robots, check out some of my fellow League members posts about their favorite robots…. Elsewhere in the League:

Pop Rewind takes a look at a couple of my favorite robots from the 80s and 90s.
Erik Johnson has some robot illustrations to grease your gears.
Dorkette has a fear of the mechanical men, largely thanks to Superman 3. Can’t say I blame her.
Random Nerdness does a robot top 5 list.

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