TokuNet writer Malunis talks about some of the times when the Kamen Rider franchise could have released merchandise, but didn’t.
We all know that Kamen Rider is a toy-centric franchise – while TV ratings will tell their own story, toy sales give a better idea of how well a particular show is doing. I wrote a previous article about some of the less attractive attempts at product placement, but this time we look at the exact opposite problem: when they decide to not sell something that exists in fiction.
There are valid examples one could cite in order to say that these could still happen; Years after Kamen Rider W ended, they still made a Dopant Gaia Memory set on Premium Bandai. Thing is, by and large, all of these series have a window of time in which they are relevant. Kamen Rider W is a bizarre exception.
Like before, there are some rules for what counts. It isn’t a random gadget/weapon or what-have-you, and we can’t count small-sized merchandise like keychains. If that all counted then I could list most of the weapons from Kamen Rider Gaim as “Inflatable but not plastic”, and part of the disappointment here are the fact that sounds and props exist for many of these but no roleplay-sized toys ever came from them.
We’ll also be book-ending this list with items that almost did get toys, which is also an interesting subject.
Kamen Rider Gaim: Wizard All Dragon Lockseed
Here we have the perhaps least substantial item on the list, only because it is such a minor thing, but a weird one that always stuck in my mind from when I did news coverage for Gaim during my solo blogger days.
The release dates I’m about to provide are based on online shop listings from 6 years ago, so take this with a grain of salt.
Kamen Rider Gaim released many Legend Rider Lockseeds under the candy toy and Gashapon lines, and one of those was going to be Wizard in his All Dragon form. This Wizard All Dragon Lockseed was planned to be released in wave 14 in late April 2014, alongside Donguri Lockseed (Oren Voice Version), a gag item from one fairly recent episode. Had they come out, the Donguri Lockseed would’ve had a metallic variant, while the Wizard All Dragon Lockseed would have an LED variant like other Gashapon Legend Rider items.
April would come and go with no new Gashapon Lockseeds. The wave prior to this whole thing, as I recall, was mysteriously delayed as well. Adding to the mystery, wave 15 – which was scheduled for May – was delayed until July and was renamed to wave 14. For those interested, this wave included the Skull Lockseed, and an exclusive Kachidoki Lockseed that uses a standard Lockseed case. More importantly, it means they actively skipped a wave – this, as far as I’m aware, never happens.
So, that’s a bit confusing to explain. Let me try to explain it with a little chart:
The apparent plan, before things changed:
- Wave 13 (Matsubokkuri Lockseed, Durian Lockseed): March 2014
- Wave 14 (Donguri Lockseed Oren Voice, Wizard All Dragon Lockseed): April 2014
- Wave 15 (Kachidoki Lockseed, Skull Lockseed): May 2014
The actual releases:
- Wave 13 (Matsubokkuri Lockseed, Durian Lockseed): April 2014
- Wave 14 (Donguri Lockseed Oren Voice, Wizard All Dragon Lockseed): Unreleased
Wave 15Wave 14 (Kachidoki Lockseed, Skull Lockseed): July 2014
Premium Bandai would eventually do the Oren & Gaim-Yami Set that includes the Donguri Lockseed with Oren’s voice, as well as the Black Orange Lockseed and Black Lemon Energy Lockseed that are from Kamen Rider Gaim The Movie and used by Kamen Rider Gaim-Yami. An odd set of unrelated Lockseeds.
Here’s what makes this set weird: These are Gashapon Lockseeds, complete with the removable hook piece that allowed them to fit inside capsules. While Premium Bandai would also go on to do non-DX style sets that use candy toy style functionality, this set is uniquely Gashapon based.
It really feels like you could fill in the blanks and suggest that something went very wrong in production. It’s possible that these delays happened enough that they had to cut out some content from wave 14 and a hypothetical wave 16, then release the important items from those waves to Premium Bandai. That may be why the Black Orange Lockseed and Black Lemon Energy Lockseed both have the Gashapon style hook. We know one of these 3 was going to be on retail, so maybe all three were supposed to happen.
In a franchise that moves like clockwork, year after year, seeing these odd choices is fascinating. I think that’s why it’s fun to speculate – it’s such a rare mystery.
Kamen Rider OOO: Kamen Rider Aqua’s Belt
For a long time, I was disappointed at the lack of Aqua merch, and I was understanding of it since he was a minor one-off hero. These things happen.
But then we have the massive Kamen Rider OOO release under the Complete Selection Modification line, which not only includes every single O Medal used in fiction, it also had Poseidon’s belt from the same movie Aqua appeared in, and even included O Medals that didn’t previously exist. You could argue that there wasn’t much for it to do but play a sound, but the same could be said for Poseidon, and they managed to make that work somehow.
It’s sad and further leaves the character with very little merchandise to his name, even after being made relevant again by his appearance in Kamen Rider Zi-O. It seems his window of opportunity may be gone.
Kamen Rider Ghost: Yuujou Burst Eyecon
One character I always hear being brought up in the context of “Should’ve had a power-up” is Kamen Rider Necrom – and he did apparently receive a weapon of his own in response to popularity with the fans. It wasn’t until the Kamen Rider Specter special that he got his long-awaited chance with the Yuujou Burst Eyecon, transforming into a fiery form representing friendship.
For whatever reason, this Ghost Eyecon was never released. I guess it just wasn’t as important as Specter’s form which did receive a toy, but it’s a shame, considering the irony of Necrom’s fans wanting a new form.
While probably not a limitation since they’ve done this before, it is worth noting that the Eyecon would have had to provide its own transformation sounds, and I’m not sure if the Mega Ulorder device is programmed to be silent during transformations. This is a thing several transformation belts have programmed in for those special power-up items that provide their own sounds.
Either way, enough time has passed that it isn’t relevant to receive a toy now.
Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Bang Bang Tank Gashat
The Kamen Rider Snipe spin-off has a bit of a confusing opening, starting at this unspecified point in the show’s story where Snipe does a finisher using this Bang Bang Tank Gashat. It comes and goes very quickly, and seems to have absolutely no relation to the proceeding backstory that the spin-off provides. We would later find out this was a scene in the Another Ending trilogy and is introduced here in a clever way.
The point, however, is that the Gashat has not received a toy. Sure, a keychain, but when something has sounds attached to it, you would hope for more. It didn’t have a worthwhile role in the Snipe spin-off, but considering it gains significance in the Another Ending trilogy, you would think it had the perfect opportunity for a release.
Kamen Rider Build: Killbus Spider
We talked about how Necrom’s power-up probably wasn’t as important as Specter’s since he’s the star, and the same is probably true for the villain of the Kamen Rider Cross-Z V-Cinext release, Kamen Rider Killbus. He transforms using an item and Fullbottle similar to the Cross-Z Dragon, where the side parts are folded up before being inserted into the belt along with the bottle.
This proves to be a bit perplexing as we move into the Kamen Rider Grease V-Cinext release, which features the Grease Perfect Kingdom gadget that does basically the same thing – it seemed like the parts were there, there just wasn’t any interest in releasing Killbus Spider.
Probably why we have yet to see anything about the two black Tank Fullbottles used by Kamen Rider Metal Build in the latter release.
Kamen Rider Ghost: Heroic Movie Eyecons
One of the most interesting things that this series did was the contest held for Kamen Rider Ghost The Movie; Fans could submit their Eyecon designs for the many historical figures that would be appearing in the movie. They were likely mostly submitted by children, which honestly makes it even more special, leaving our own mark in history just as the opening theme encourages us to do.
Now, I don’t have to tell you why it would probably be unreasonable for Premium Bandai to make a 72 Ghost Eyecon set, but I suspect that having fans design them may tread into “Who owns what” territory that is best left alone, but now we’re getting into guessing about how copyright works in another country.
A more down-to-earth theory is that the Ghost Eyecons largely don’t have electronics, and they sure wouldn’t have any unique sounds programmed into the Ghost Driver, so it presents a problem of how to make that all work. Do you make the set even more expensive by adding electronics to 72 Eyecons, or just have a set of 72 Eyecons that all play one generic sound on the belt?
As an aside, here’s some trivia about those Eyecons: You can see them in the movie, and the casings used for them are actually existing Gashapon and candy toy Ghost Eyecons – like, there’s metallic variants and Legend Rider Eyecons which are known to have multiple colors on them. They just slapped on a new label on top – it’s a neat shortcut.
Kamen Rider Zi-O: The Movie Rider RideWatches
Time will tell if this remains unreleased, but as of posting this article, no news has surfaced for it.
Kamen Rider Zi-O was a time for celebrating the Heisei era, and it did so in excess with its RideWatch releases. However, what has yet to see a release are those used by Barlckxs, Zonjis, and Zamonas. These three movie villains represent “unofficial” Heisei Riders, who were made during the era but aren’t counted in crossover material:
Barlckxs: Black RX RideWatch, Robo Rider RideWatch, Bio Rider RideWatch
Zonjis: Shin RideWatch, ZO RideWatch, J RideWatch
Zamonas: Amazon Omega RideWatch, Amazon Alfa RideWatch, Amazon Neo RideWatch
As is the case with any DX transformation belt with content built into it, fans were able to trigger text scrolls that had not yet been used by any existing toys, and we can confirm that all of the Showa Riders are in there, along with the Amazons trio. All of these seem viable for release, especially since a few even get used in the movie to give these villains special powers.
To date, the Amazon Omega RideWatch has seen release as a special movie ticket item, but there’s been no word on the rest.
Kamen Rider Build: The GoldScorpion Fullbottles
We started with skipped toys, now we end with skipped toys, but this one is a bit more important since it was very much intended to appear in the show. Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about GoldScorpion Form.
The second quarter of Kamen Rider Build‘s toyline was overflowing with Fullbottle releases and promises of a YouTube spin-off that featured various forms. February 2018 would mark part 1 of the spin-off, featuring PhoenixRobo, SmaphoWolf, and GoldScorpion. The latter two, along with some others, would see DX Fullbottle sets released in the same month. The toy catalog showed us images of the Fullbottle sets, as well as concept art of the forms that would be making an appearance.
However, once we got closer to that month, things changed. Instead of GoldScorpion, we were seeing a new form, RoseCopter. Not only that, various toy sites that previously held pre-orders for the GoldScorpion Fullbottle Set were now selling the RoseCopter Fullbottle Set instead. It seemed as though GoldScorpion had been swapped out practically at the last second.
This is even stranger than the situation with the Wizard All Dragon Lockseed at the beginning of this article. We had placeholder images, but they were more complete – whether those Fullbottles were physical toys or 3D models, they were finalized. A design was drawn GoldScorpion Form, which also seems to be missing from the artbook released after the series ended. It’s a lot of content to just inexplicably scrap, and it’s anyone’s guess why they seem to have swept it so far under the rug.
Unique to these cases, we do have an official word on it, albeit vague. Tokusatsu toy importer and TokuNet sponsor CS Toys International made a statement on the situation, explaining what they had heard from their wholesaler, who themselves got word from Bandai:
They told us that there was a slight change of the direction for Kamen Rider Build episodes and Bandai had to swap “DX GoldScorpion Full Bottles Set” with “DX RoseCopter Full Bottle Set.”
I tried to reach out to other importers, but their responses suggest to me that they only know about this from CS Toys, so it seems like we were lucky to have an answer at all thanks to CS Toys’ desire to provide clarification to its customers. Those who pre-ordered the GoldScorpion Fullbottle Set would be getting the RoseCopter set automatically.
The wording, keeping in mind it’s a Japanese-to-English take on the situation, suggests that something changed narrative-wise. Normally I think of it as a situation where Bandai gives Toei things to write for, so could it really be a situation where the writers are so sure of a direction that they influence Bandai to swap out a fairly inconsequential collectible?
I have a theory, but it doesn’t hold too much water: In some cultures, scorpions act as an embodiment of evil. Toei/Bandai happens to enjoy using venomous creatures on the whole for their villains, don’t they? There are some who are more like anti-heroes at best, such as Kamen Rider Kabuto‘s Sasword or Kyuranger‘s SasoriOrange, but then you also have Kamen Rider Zero-One‘s Horobi, or going back to Kyuranger, SasoriOrange’s villainous brother Scorpio. We also have the main villain of Kamen Rider Build, Blood Stalk and later Evol, who uses a cobra motif.
If we combine that with the idea that the show has changed direction, it could be that the writers have been embracing the idea of Build’s love and peace heroism, and felt that a venomous motif in GoldScorpion might send mixed messages, especially when its debut would’ve been with him fighting the villain.
Alternatively, if we had a clearer image of the form, perhaps there were enough new parts there that they were forced to settle on something easier on the suit budget. As they say, sometimes the easiest answer is the right one – it’s just more fun to think about the story aspect.
There’s a lot of mysteries surrounding why unrelated merchandise happens when we can somewhat quell with these theories. What makes GoldScorpion interesting, and a bit sad, is that it feels like a loss that we never got it, since so much work seemed to be put into it.
With the Kamen Rider Grease V-Cinext now behind us, it’s not likely we’ll ever have a chance to come back to this series and see this idea be salvaged. We can only move forward and see if any more interesting omissions like these will occur.