Continuing the theme started earlier in the week, today we’re looking at another gun mold from the Microchange line; MC07 Browning M1910.
Browning is one of a handful of toys (alongside Reflector and the first wave of Autobot cars) which have been distributed under the big three Takara banners: Microchange, Diaclone and Transformers branding. Before we get into the details of the toys and comparison images, lets have a quick look at the different ways Browning has been released over the years.
First off, we’ll look at the Ceji Joustra distributed Diaclone version known as Robocolt, purely because – in my opinion – it’s the most visually impressive of all the packaged versions. Featuring stunning character art from the Brizzi Brothers, it draws you in and makes you want to own it. More so than any other release, this packaging has made me want to purchase this item again just for the box art, but that’s an expensive and dangerous path to venture down.
Next up, we have the Gig Trasformer release, prevalent in Italy. This version features the Pistola Robot sub-theme branding, as opposed to the Japanese “Gun Robo” theme. This is also the packaging that the Kingdam KO borrowed from.
See?! This version was actually my first experience with the mold way back in 1999 or so, before I really knew what I was doing with collecting. Other than the non-chromed weapons, and a slightly cheaper build quality, this guy is mostly the same as the general release Microchange figure. Although there are variations which I’ll explain as we move on, but the more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that the flash of colour visible on these toys has been alternating between red and blue…
The official Japanese Transformers release! In the TF line, he became Browning, without the M1910 postfix, or a new name pulled from the ether. What is really interesting about this gun is when he was released; in 1988 – there have been other times when pre-TF Takara figures have made it into Transformers packaging as sub-sets, such as the Microchange Orbs being released in Beast Wars and Kiss Players, or the Watch Robos being reborn as G2 figures, but it was pretty unusual for a Diaclone or Takara figure to make it into the G1 mainline outside of 84-86.
This release of Browning as a fully-fledged Transformer – with a Super-God Masterforce cartoon appearance and everything – locked his blue colour-scheme in the minds of many fans as his “true” look, and he’s notable for avoiding mass-shifting issues by following the Microchange ethos and transforming into a miniature robot, 1:1 scale with his toy. Despite being an awesome looking figure, he was used as the least annoying cute sidekick of the 80s, often for comedic effect.
Despite the ongoing popularity of the brand these last 30 years, and gunformers in general, Browning has never had an official re-issue, which is a real shame. However, he was “unofficially” released as a third party* toy a few years back, where he was available in both his Transformers blue and Microchange red colour-schemes. This is very cool for those who’ve never owned the toy before, but can often be a sore point for vintage collectors. It’s interesting to note that this reissue came with a unique sticker set featuring both Autobot and Decepticon chest stickers, what is less commonly known is that this sticker set is in itself a reproduction of a sticker sheet first designed and sold online by Ashlin-Marie, who was sadly un-credited, but hardly surprising considering the whole toy was stolen.
*Third Party Unofficial = high-end KO with 3rd Party price-point and quality.
So below, we’re looking at the two versions I own. While I cannot condone the actions of any KO company, I sadly only own the recent KO in blue, and the Kingdam KO in red. I have used the sticker set included with the modern KO to further identify the red KO as an Autobot character in their own right, although I also own the Ashlin-Marie uncut original sticker sheet. I’m sure this faction-swapping and Knock Off owning upsets purists, but there are so many toys out there and such extreme price-points, I have to triage my spending on molds that have not been KO’d first, one day I’ll upgrade to an original.
He is a stunning display piece regardless of your feelings surrounding KOs, even moreso when you remember this was designed to be sold as a kid’s toy more than 30 years ago!!! The detailing is fantastic throughout, especially on the handle with the Fabrique Nationale logo, reminding us all that this was based on a real firearm.
The transformation is often an over-looked part of a figure, especially in recent times where the transformation is a mere means to an end of a perfect looking robot or alt. mode, but with this figure, it’s an absolute joy. In a hobby where we often look at robot mode first, alt. mode second, and transformation a distant third, it might be my favourite feature of this toy, given how elegant and simple it is, and what a great effect it has in creating two perfect modes.
The legs pull down much like with Megatron and Magnum, but the complete swing round rather than pivot forward inverses them and puts the handle interior and colour on the leg exterior, fully covering the trigger in the process, the gun barrel extends front and back, pulls up and rotates round, then folding the arms down reveals the pop-up head. Sure, the fists are parts-forming once again, but that was often the case in those days, and it’s arguably the one thing Megatron’s awkward mode got right.
I’ve never been sure which colour scheme I prefer the most, the blue or the red? I think that – official release of Browning aside – the blue somehow looks more Transformery, and definitely more villainous, so I can see why Takara went that way for the 1988 release. However, I do really think the red version works incredibly well as a toy, maybe better.
The red makes him look more heroic, hence the Autobot logo. Each figure also comes with two guns, so this was a good excuse to get a chromed weapon into the Kingdam mold’s hands.
Some people might complain that the figure is all lower body, massive legs and huge feet, with a tiny upper body and head, and while there is some truth to that, it’s never to the detriment of the character, and the huge shoulders go a long way to mitigate that – an intention of the design, or a happy accident? We may never know. Besides, as a shape-shifting alien robot who turns into a gun, what should he look like anyway? It’s fairly open to artistic interpretation, and this is a GREAT interpretation with very little left-over gun kibble.
To conclude, I think it’s safe to say I love this figure. It’s actually my favourite of the Gun Robo molds, my favourite transforming gun toy in general, and a real contender for best Microchange release. This leaves Megatron in the dust, even with that character’s historical important, and even with the “new toy joy” of my birthday acquisition not worn off, I can easily say I prefer Browning to Magnum 44.
Conclusion: EVERYONE SHOULD OWN A VERSION OF THIS TOY
I mentioned earlier that there were other variations of these figures throughout the Microchange releases, such as the Gig Trasformer release having a red barrel to identify it as a replica firearm, but there were much bigger differences than that or the commonly known red and blue colour variations on the legs, there were also releases where the silver chrome had a subtly golden / bronze chromed hue, and the incredibly rare Lucky Draw Gold chrome version – a true holy grail of collecting! If you want to really delve deep into the permutations and variations of these molds, then you simply HAVE to check out Maz’s extension article over at TF-Square 1. This article I have written is a mere introduction to the mold and a vanity piece about my meager collecting attempts, a drop in the ocean compared to the knowledge and depth of Maz’s Diaclone love. Seriously, check it out.
Sadly, there have been no modern mainline, Masterpiece or even third party renditions of this great character, which really sucks. However, while we’re in a gunny state of mind, there is still plenty of time to cast your vote in the Masterpiece Megatron wars by pre-ordering one of the potentially MP5 beating versions on offer; Maketoys Despotron or DX9 Mightron.
Thanks for reading.
Transformer gig browning, from artemisentreri collection.