Galaxy Shuttle from the Japan-only Victory cartoon series is a Holy Grail to many Victory series fans. It was released only in Japan and is pretty hard to find in good, unyellowed condition.
Likewise, a knockoff of a hard-to-find figure is sometimes also pretty rare as well. This Korean KO is a fairly interesting take on a classic figure, with some funny aspects to it that give it a pretty unique character. (Update: This piece is now part of an Italian collection; not available for sale. Sorry.)
The manufacturer details translate as follows:
- Product Name: Challenger
- Material: Mixed plastics
- Manufacturing Method: Injection Molded
- Recommended Age: 5 and up
- Manufacturing Company: Haesung Corp
- Manufacturing Date: Jan, 1996
- Precautions: See Manual
- Address: Sutaek-dong 496 41, Guri Province, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Let’s take a quick look at the real deal, to remind us what this figure is REALLY supposed to look like. (Photo from wilson-ng.blogspot.com) Pretty cool figure. I’m not a huge Victory fan, but I can see why so many collectors consider this their Holy Grail, and not just for its rarity. Who doesn’t love space shuttles?!
And now, we have our KO version. Very interesting color scheme and wait a min…WTF is that star flower sticker where the Autobot insignia should be? Is it some reference to the North Korean flag? NO. It isn’t. After Korea was split in half at the 38th Parallel by the DMZ, South Korean companies and people were very careful to not appear as North Korean (and therefore Communist) sympathizers. Besides, much of what has been associated with North Korean design is a relic of the previously united culture, repurposed for its political and sociocultural devices. It is simply an element of Korean traditional design, dating back hundreds of years to the culture’s Buddhist roots.
The star symbol is most likely clipart of a flower seen from the top down, such as that of a lotus flower, a motif commonly used throughout Korea and other parts of Asia touched by Buddism. I couldn’t track down the exact same symbol, but here are some other pretty similar ones that are commonly seen in Korea.
It could very well be the topmost flower design, minus the circular elements. These kinds of symmetrical patterns are used everywhere in Korean design, from furniture to clothing.
The most unfortunate thing about this KO, like very many other KOs, is the brittle plastic used in making this reproduction. There is a ton of mould degradation as well, but that pales in comparison to the shoddy plastic they used for the colored parts. It almost feels like cheap toy model plastic or the kind of plastic used for those toys you get for Christmas from somebody outside of the family who picked up something from a mini-mart along the way to your house. I’m sure many kids broke this guy right out of the box after the first transformation. Well, not surprised as Haesung is a manufacturer of toy models and ripoffs of Japanese toys, sold for cheap prices. The perfect gift for your high school buddy’s kid!
Hope you enjoyed this little post – I’ll keep hunting for more of these interesting KO’s from Korea and elsewhere as I find them.