Chogokin (超合金) is Japanese for "super alloy" and a term that originated from Go Nagai's Mazinger Z manga. The term was trademarked by Popy, a former subsidiary of Bandai for its line of die-cast robot toys. "Chogokin" or "gokin" is often referred to toys of robots using die-cast material.
The term originated from the 1972 manga Mazinger Z which is regarded as the pioneer of the mecha anime boom of the 1970s and the first piloted super robot. Popy was a subsidiary of Bandai that focused on making toys of licensed series including various anime and tokusatsu by Toei. Popy launched it's Chogokin line prefixed with "GA" starting with Mazinger Z to introduce toys that simulated the metal feel of super robots.
Often among the licensed series in the Chogokin line, they would have standard (ST) variant or a deluxe (DX) variant. Standard versions were often smaller and either contained simplified engineering or no transforming/combining. Deluxe versions of the toys were larger and contained engineering for transformation and combining. Among the first of the DX toys was Raideen which is one of the earliest toys that had engineered transformation.
Popy's toy line would also be imported to North America a few times including Shogun Warriors (now owned by Mattel) and briefly for Bandai America's Godaikin that imported Golion, Daltanious, and Albegas toys before they were localized into the Voltron franchise. Godaikin is regarded as the precursor to robot toy collecting that imported Japanese toys and marketed them towards toy collectors instead.
After World Events Productions licensed the three super robot series from Toei that would be sold as Voltron toys, they would have Golion, Dairugger, and Albegas toys brought in through Matchbox. Because of Voltron's popularity, sales for its combining lion force toy skyrocketed and brought in more demand for its production. To this day, Bandai regards Golion as the most popular toy in their Chogokin line.
To this day, Bandai still continues its Chogokin line however it is not strictly limited to toys of robots but rather figures that contain die-cast material in it. Among it are characters from the Fate series, Persona, and Monster Hunter.
Bandai created the Soul of Chogokin toy line in the same vein as the Godaikin line but created specifically for toy collectors. Bandai has long wanted to add Golion to its Soul of Chogokin line but due to legal conflicts between WEP and Toei (along with other technicalities involving the series original character designer Kazuo Nakamura) the plans for adding it were delayed until 2016.
Gokin as a term
Because of the legacy of Popy's original Chogokin toy line, the term "chogokin" is often used by toy collectors to refer to die-cast robot toys. Comparable to how "kleenex" is often used in place of "napkin", the term was trademarked by Bandai. Other toy companies have resorted to using "gokin" as a suffix instead. Examples include Brave Gokin or EX Gokin.
Unlicensed toy companies have also adopted the terminology in the phenomenon of IP infringing collectibles. An example of this would be Dream EX's First Gokin line, which had toys in the likeness of Golion and Daltanious, or Mad Toys' Infinity Gokin.
- Tamashii Web's Chogokin page (Japanese)
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