ARL-99 Assault Airborne Labor

I love reviewing toys where you can compare the differences between different manufacturers and toy lines for the same character. It’s like asking two people the same question, you may get similar answers but it won’t be 100% the same, that’s what makes things interesting!Helldiver Face

Background:

This particular model ARL-99 Helldiver labor (99式強襲空挺レイバー) is from the 1989 movie “Patlabor the Movie” which continues on the movie story timeline from “Mobile Police Patlabor” (1988 – 1989, 7 episode OVA).

The storyline follows the investigation of Special Division 2 into a string of incidents involving military and construction labors made by Shinohara Industries malfunctioning and going berserk even after they have been turned off. The reasons for the out break are unknown and it is up to them to figure it out.

Name: ARL-99 Assault Airborne Labor
Manufacturer: Wave Corporation
Line: W.H.A.M! (Wave High Advanced Model)
Sculptor/ Designer: Headgear / Bandai / Tohokushinsha
Scale: 1/48
Material: ABS, PVC
Release: Oct 2009
Original Price: ¥15,540 (approx. $200AUD / $176USD)
Height: 180mm / 7.08inches

Packaging:

Packaging looks good from all angles, nice photography of the figure use prominently on the front, as well as detailed shots at the back. The side features images from the Patlabor movie as well as explanation of the plot and detailed information about the Helldiver labor – all in Japanese. The cardboard material used for the box is slightly flimsy though, so it tends to bend and crease easily. On the inside, the figure and accessories sits well laid out in a plastic tray, the figure has plastic liners around some joints to prevent rubbing during transportation, very thoughtful.

  • Helldiver packaging front
  • Helldiver packaging back
  • Helldiver packaging inside
  • Helldiver packaging inside detail

Accessories:

Accessories wise, Helldiver comes with interchangeable pilot head parts, interchangeable night vision visor part, removable (and magnetic) parachuting / rocket booster gear, pair of open hands, pair of closed fists and its standard armament – the 40mm rapid-fire machine gun. There are also plugs to replace the machine gun mounting points on the arm and waist when the gun is off the figure. The plugs and pilot head parts are a bit hard to change around as they are very tight, and I had to use tweezers to remove them, not worth the trouble and I’d recommend leaving them in the box. With the boosters and weapon fitted, Helldiver is one bad ass looking mecha. Oh, but did I mention it doesn’t come with a combat knife.

  • Helldiver pilot and visor interchangeable parts
  • Helldiver parachute / booster front attachment
  • Helldiver parachute / booster rear attachment
  • Helldiver 40mm rapid-fire machine gun

Form/Sculpt:

Wave has done a great job with the sculpturing of this toy, the proportions are perfect and the body is well detailed. This is another one of those toys which I would compare to a professionally built model kit. It was very easy to place in a neutral pose, its well balanced and looks fantastic.

Wave ARL-99 Helldiver

Articulation/Action:

It was a bit of a let down in this department, I was hoping for something with a bit more movement and articulation. It has all the joints in the right places but a lot of them offered little range in movement. For example, the knee joints could barely bend 30° odd degrees, which is pretty much the same for the elbow joints. I’ll let the photos do the talking, sure it still looks great thanks to the beautiful sculpt but the poses were not as dynamic as I’d hoped, especially compared to the Revoltech version.

  • Helldiver shooting
  • Helldiver armed and ready to go
  • Helldiver parachuting in
  • Helldiver's view from the back
  • Helldiver in combat
  • Helldiver fired up

Paint/Print:

Paint job is neat and tidy, very detailed and realistic in most places. Good clear printing detail on the back (“Ground Self Defence Battalion”), as well as on the boosters both front (“First Airborne Division D0196”) and rear (“Ground Self Defence Battalion” again). The mechanical detail on the legs are realistically painted to look metallic, speaking of realistic, panel lines have also been drawn in. As for the parachute and “joint covers”, although moulded in plastic, they have been dry brushed to simulate fabric/material. The only part I thought was a bit off was the pilot’s face, there’s absolutely no detail there which is a shame.

  • Helldiver top half paint detail
  • Helldiver back print detail 'Ground Self Defence Battalion'
  • Helldiver back booster print detail
  • Helldiver ankle piston paint detail
  • Helldiver panel line
  • Helldiver parachute dry brush detail

Detail/Features:

Taking a look at some details on the figure, the “plugs” to replace the machine gun on the forearm and waist, although they look good, they are very hard to put on and take off. Great moulding detail like the bars on the shoulder pad and the tie down mount detail on the thighs gives this toy a whole other level of realism.

  • Helldiver forearm weapon mount plug detail
  • Helldiver waist plug detail
  • Helldiver shoulder pad moulding detail
  • Helldiver tie down mount detail

Open the air brakes on either side of the legs, and you will see nice mechanical detail. Non-working but they look good enough to make you believe they were! And finally we get to compare it side by side against the Revoltech version, as you can see the Wave version towers over the Revoltech toy, the proportions are much more realistic and the stance is much more “relaxed”.

  • Helldiver air brake and mechanical detail
  • Helldiver Revoltech vs W.H.A.M!

Overall:

This is my favourite Labor from the show, so obviously for me I thought it was worth it even though the articulation is somewhat limited. The thing is, it just looks so damn good even in a neutral pose.

I know a lot of people will say it doesn’t have die-cast, its not big enough, its costs too much…etc but really, collecting toys is about buying toys that will make you happy, if you like the Helldiver mecha design, then this will definitely put a smile on your face.

Thanks for reading my toy review, please check out my other reviews and share them with your friends if you’ve enjoyed it!


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Filed under: Featured, Reviews, 1/48, Anime, Japanese, Mecha, Patlabor, W.H.A.M!, WAVE

2 Comments

    I know it’s already 2011, but any chance of a size comparison shot with the Ingrams by CM’s Corporation? I’d love to see if they’re in-scale enough for display together.

    • hi Kelvin, thanks for dropping by. Unfortunately I don’t have any CM’s Patlabor toys with me at the moment, but the scale is the same so the size shouldn’t be far off. This Helldiver is 180mm tall, so if the CM’s Ingrams are around that height, then they should be close enough to display together.

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