01/08/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
manufacturer: Aoshiba. Price: varies. When it first came out, about £125.00 (UK). Currently dropped in price and I managed to get one for an incredible bargain price of £29.95 (UK). Shop around, you might still be lucky.
check out website: www.aoshiba-bk.co.jp
We don't really review toys or models here that often. Mostly, cos we're never sent any and at my age, I'm getting short of space where to put any on display. However, seeing the Aoshiba 'Power Loader' at a massively reduced price, the only real problem was where to get it from.
My usual sources in Japan had problems with my debit cards but say that if you have a PayPal account then they should be able to deal with it. Consequently, I managed to pull it in the UK, marginally cheaper from www.play.com in the UK. As its on discount currently, you should be able to get it at a marked down price around the world.
There's two versions available of this Power Loader. The standard edition comes with a scaled pulse rifle and flame-thrower, whereas the De Lux version has the torn-off torso of Bishop but no guns. Looking at both of these, I opted for the standard edition as being the better deal. At least, if you want Ripley to stand away from the Power Loader, then you can at least arm her.
So just what else do you get? It comes in a very large box and after a struggle, pull out the polystyrene protection inner box, everything is further protected in bags. I doubt if anyone is going to buy this model and not look inside. The Japanese do marvellous models and this one is no exception.
Some assembly is required and the detailed instructions, although in Japanese, are illustrated with pictures so easy to figure out. I'm going to pass some comment on assembly, just in case any of you think you're kak-handed or need some help.
Ripley is a fully articulated figurine. From a distance, you don't even spot her arm joints. She's got a couple holes in her back that you have to align with the back of the Power Loader so she fits in comfortably. If you get her legs and feet in the right position the rest should follow but do it delicately. My instinct said do this before putting the cables in the back of the Loader. Don't put her hands in the arms' joysticks as you're going to need them to be a bit flexible for a later stage.
I found the harness a bit tricky to put on the top of the seating, not helped when the headrest jumped out. However, that did make things easier and the headrest neatly slotted back in. I gave up trying to connect the bottom of the harness. Frankly, I decided that if it was going to be difficult to take her out of the Loader, it made sense to leave it loose and anyway, the exterior harness keeps her in place. It makes sense to do this harness before getting to the cables.
If you've ever made the Horizon Power Loader model kit, you will already know how tricky it is to put the cables on. Unlike the plastic model, this version is mostly made of metal and fully articulated, meaning the pistons also move, and you should be able to get better access to the box at the back where all twenty cables fit into by moving the arms outwards. However, those cables still have to come out from behind the two pistons and you could end up putting them on in front of and as you manoeuvre the cable behind have it fall off. The real problem is with ensuring the cables fit on properly.
I should point out that these cables are varying lengths of thin hollow silicon soft rubber. I tried dipping them in hot water to make the ends expand but didn't make much difference. What worked better was to put the ends of two cables into a cocktail stick. Don't worry too much about the connections into the arms and legs as they're a little smaller and slip straight on. Give a couple minutes and they will fit on very easily onto the back pack although you should remember to screw them in. Manoeuvre the cable behind the piston and then connect to where the instructions direct. Don't leave them hanging around or you'll be spending all day working out which goes where. Providing you start at the bottom of the back unit and work up, I found going from left to right easiest, it becomes an easy job as long as you're patient.
On the instruction sheet, it shows the lengths of the cables. I don't know if this only applies to my model, but the 170mm and 205mm lengths were all about 210mm. 5mm didn't seem worth cutting down for the D, I, N and S connections but a necessity for the C, H, M and R connections. A simple ruler and a nail clipper makes for a clean cut.
Once all the cables are attached, put the joysticks in Ripley's hands. The joysticks are mobile so when you play around with the positioning the figure and Loader move together. The left claw can be eased into an open position but the right claw seems deprived of that little catch and will slam shut. For posing, it makes sense to have the left claw vertical and the right claw horizontal.
Please remember this isn't really a toy for kids and I doubt if you'd let any of them near it anyway especially when you now have to add the flame thrower control and the twin aerials. I found one of them wouldn't screw in well and rather than use glue, used the narrow end of a paintbrush to gently clean the hole out. It's still not the tightest fit but I'm not too keen on gluing it in place. If you have a similar problem and it drops out, you might be lucky and find it gets caught in the Loader's cables which saves a floor hunt wondering where it went. Ripley's ready to rock'n'roll.
At nine inches high, it's a little shorter than the Horizon model kit but if you're rich, there's also a £300 version out there which from the descriptions is far larger again. You pay for the scale you want.
Apart from being a bit careful with the aerials when lifting it up to adjust positions, I find it quite nifty to look at. The photo on the front of the box doesn't do it much justice but to be fair, choosing the right pose to show everything off is difficult anyway. The only thing I'm kicking myself over is missing out on Aoshiba's Dropship and unless it comes out at a lower price is way outside of my budget. Anyone seeing it going cheap, let me know. It'll make a lovely companion piece to this baby.
Saying that, this Power Loader should make any of you 'Aliens' fans happy to own.
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