|An old toy and the reason Zoids are out there today, Geruder is a small, simple, easy-to-assemble dinosaur-like robotic dinosaur that's sure to please fans of such things. $10.50 at a Phoenix area gift shop, secondary market prices will vary but usually hover in the $20-$30+ range.|
With Zoids having been returned to the USA in the early 21st Century, the bulk of the line consisted of old molds. Or, to be more precise, Japan's old molds. The bulk of the toys were previously unseen on these shores, and the older lines from which they were based were more or less forgotten. While some have new, ornate sculpts and electronic mechanisms, Geruder is about as old school as you're likely to get.
The most amazing thing about Zoids is that virtually all of the wind-up kits on the market today are derived from molds that are nearly two decades old, and for whatever reason, they held up to the tests of time. Geruder comes from the early Zenevas Combat Team* sets, which are sort of like the Decepticons to the Helic Combat Team's Autobots. While the TransFormers were primarily cars against jets, the Zoids were mostly dinosaurs or prehistoric-inspired animal mecha, but the early Helic kits were more skeletal and the early Zenevas sets tended to be a little more fleshed-out, as it were.
The early wind-up kits, and even the early battery-powered kits, were overwhelmingly simple compared to those that would come later, especially when compared to today's larger sets. A newer design of roughly this size might take up to 40 minutes to assemble, but because of the bigger pieces and pre-cut labels, the older kits can be done in 20-30 minutes.
If this set looks familiar to you and you've never seen a Japanese Zoids kit before, there's a good reason for that. Tomy licensed out and released these kits under many different names and brands under the years.
In the United States, he was cast in blue plastic and sold under the RoboStrux brand name as Batlar. He may have also been sold under that name in his original colors. In Europe, the original Japanese toy in his original colors was sold as Zaton under the normal Zoids brand name. In all instances, they were distributed by Tomy.
*- The Japanese names for many 1980's Zoids items were Romanized in different ways on different boxes and product catalogs. Zenevas was also written as Zenebas, and Helic was also written as Heric. To take it a step further, the toy's has its name written as "Gelder" on the labels and is called "Geruder" on the box.
In the early days, the very first Zoids shared a lot of parts and mixing-and-matching them was encouraged so that bigger, more interesting kits could be made. Of course, with a lot of similar parts, there wasn't much you could do. Even though his cockpit, horns, tail, and legs are very similar to those found on other kits, he's still an incredibly distinctive little toy kit.
The sculpting is fairly clean cut by today's standards, but surprisingly detailed for its day. A lot of ridges, vents, and armor plating on this set are sculpted rather than just represented bya sticker, which is a shortcut much more frequently taken in those days. Also, the modular design of this kit allows for customization without much in the way of dirty work, and it's easy to remove pretty much any component for "play damage."
For better or for worse, what you see is pretty much what you get. It isn't overly sturdy as it was meant to be a model kit, but that doesn't mean they didn't work in elements for play value. In the crest above the horns, there's a trapdoor that blends in incredibly well that masks a weapon otherwise left concealed. The hidden weapon feature was common in many of the kits from this design period as can be seen on other sets that also just happen to use this same cockpit piece, like Zatton (Brox in the US, Zander in Europe) and Molga (Kreep/Molga in the US, Slither/Slitherzoid in Europe.)
In this image, you can see the toy in a top-down view with the weapon concealed on the left, and with it deployed on the right. While not an especially menacing firearm, it does add a little extra charm to the toy. Also, please note the lever that moves from one image to the next and the aforementioned hatch.
The stickers exist as one of the many things that one can mention when bringing up "the good old days" of Zoids. Rather than requiring additional trimming, these labels are constructed of a foil-like material and cut the precise shape you'd want for your model. The end result looks better, and is significantly less frustrating to deal with than the modern transparent labels that require considerable cutting. The translucent and transparent labels were not introduced until the New Japanese Releases starting in 1999.
Like all Zoids of this era, Geruder included a small, chromed, nameless pilot. Also known as Mind Riders for reasons unknown, these came in silver or gold depending on the set. This one is silver.
Newer Mind Riders are cast in a color and do not sport the metal appearance of the older drivers, with the exception of the new release of the Salamander/Pteramander (Japan/US) set which, for some reason, includes the vintage style label sheet and two gold chrome Mind Riders. The same pilot figures were also used with Tomy's Starriors toy line.
There were a number of kits one could buy for Zoids to add additional weaponry to a kit, but none were made specifically for this set. There is one hardpoint behind the lever for the weapon on which an additional armament can be placed should you have one handy. (Shown here is the CP-04, currently available by itself or with the Command Wolf AC import sets or with the Command Wolf kit by Hasbro.)
Given the size of most expansion kits, though, odds are you're best off leaving those on the larger Zoids.
Even by the standards of its day, this was pretty bland and thin, not standing out much, but being just large enough to house its contents.
Still, boxed toys from two decades back don't show up every day, and as such, seeing such a thing is a real treat. Old Zoids had alternate models for the kits on the back, presumably showing what you could do if you had a little modeling skill you felt like showing off. No additional parts were included or, as far as can be determined, developed for these particular alternate modes.
This is a kit that, most likely, you will not have the opportunity to snag anytime soon. It's not particularly ornate and as such is unlikely to be reissued, but Tomy and Hasbro have been pulling out some surprises as of late. Older fans of Zoids and RoboStrux may wish to track this one down, though, as he's a quick toy to assemble and as he walks quite nicely, he's also a lot of fun.
As a toy from the era when Toys Were Real Toys,TM he would make a great gift for kids and nostalgia buffs alike. If you have the means, track one down and you probably won't be sorry.
Reviewed and photographed by Adam Pawlus
Sample found at Phoenix area gift store in July 2003
Reviewed on October 8, 2003.