Chogokin Tower of the Sun Robot Jr.
Designed by Japanese Artist Taro Okamoto and built in 1970 for Expo 70, the tower is located in Expo Commemoration Park in Osaka, Japan. The actual tower spans 70 meters tall.
The figure sports some very impressive finish work.
The tower actually has three faces. The top one represents the future, the face in front is the present, while the face on the back represents the past.
The Tower of the Sun is a pretty popular landmark in Osaka. The tower has appeared in various Japanese pop culture media. Bandai actually released a bigger figure of the tower a while back. It was so successful (in Japan), they decided to roll out a half-sized version of the toy, which we have here.
The toy actually has an action feature, by pressing on the back of the figure (the “past” face), you eject the “present” face. It’s not really spring-loaded though, so the projectile doesn’t fly far (more like drops out). In the original, bigger Chogokin toy, the face opens up and reveals cannons instead.
The “Tree of Life” is depicted on the side of the toy as a sticker. In the actual Tower of the Sun in Osaka, the Tree of Life is a huge piece of artwork inside the tower. The artwork was produced by Tsuburaya Productions, the studio behind Ultraman TV shows. Various creatures and miniatures from Tsuburaya Productions are suspended from the actual tree.
In 2014, Bandai decided to make a transforming toy based on the Tower of the Sun. To hype up the toy’s release, they produced a short ad which romanticized the Tower as being able to transform into a robot and battle monster menaces ala Ultraman (Bandai owns a huge stake in Tsuburaya Productions).
Diecast parts of the toy include the feet, and the front half of the tower (the back half feels to be plastic, I think).
The display base actually opens up to accommodate the toy’s robot mode.
Overall, I like it, it’s a quirky and it is a big pop culture thing in Japan, I didn’t really go for the bigger sized version since I wasn’t familiar with the Tower at the time, but this one really fits the bill budget-wise.
I guess I’ll have to go back to Japan one day and visit the actual tower. Maybe it actually does transform?