ExoBlog #1: Peter Tanaka

[ Ah, and my squad of combat-ready nogoodniks grows a little larger with new contributor D. Verburg! He’s on loan from Broca Blutch, but I’m not returning him. I share with no one! NO ONE! Lemonjuice McGee ]

I am new here at the Hobotastic toy review, but that is okay because Lemonjuice and I drink the same kind of gin (Pine-Sol) because we are kindred spirits. I usually write for another even less-reputable website named Broca Blutch, but I feel like this feature teeters too close to the edge of being “useful information” to be posted on that blog. After a generous swig of Pine-Sol (and a generous VHS tape of 90s Pine-Sol commercials, that big sassy lady… hubba hubba!) Lemonjuice agreed to my proposal.

Simply put, I want to archive my ExoSquad collection, since information on one of the best toylines ever is pretty scarce. Let’s start with freedom fighter and Earthman Peter Tanaka, who fights his Neosapien oppressors with the #JDF-731 Samurai E-Frame!

For those of you who don’t know, ExoSquad was a sweet-as-hell cyberpunk/race war in space epic that centered on the uprising of genetically engineered slaves and the attempts of their human creators to fend them off. The toys were slightly smaller than GI Joes (though they are roughly in scale with the smaller Sigma Six offerings) and were made by Playmates in the Mid-90s.

In the 90s, almost every good toy was made by Playmates. TMNT was going strong with offerings like Punker Don, the Star Trek line was beyond awesome and there was also Exo-Squad. These toys featured all sorts of crazy shooting weapons, articulated and detailed pilot figures and a gritty and spectacular Real Ass cartoon to go along with them. Let’s then take a look at one of the less Real Ass offerings in the ExoSquad line, Peter Tanaka. Peter was never a big player in the cartoon, but according to his toy’s box he was a “Tactical Strategist.”

Each toy’s box features awesome original artwork and tons of info about the toy and character. The best part, though, are the bullethole stickers. You can put so many bulletholes on each of your E-Frames that basically any Compton or Walla Walla, WA diorama you want to put together will look totally authentic. I am a huge diaper baby for not putting them all over my toys.

At the dawn of the Neo invasion of Earth, Peter Tanaka joined the Earthbound Resistance, a loosely organized faction of Terran rebels led by Sean Napier. The Earthbound Resistance fights to free the Earth from Neosapien rule and supports ExoSquad’s missions on Earth. Formerly a student of the art and history of warfare, Tanaka is a brilliant battle strategist. His Japanese warrior heritage instills him with a strong sense of honor and commitment. Tanaka’s formal education coupled with his ancient martial arts training make him the Earthbound Resistance’s chief tactical strategist. Napier trusts Tanaka to plan every detail of each rebel operation, keeping the Earthbound Resistance one step ahead of the Neos. Tanaka customized his E-Frame with authentic Samurai warrior armor built from parts salvaged and equipment stolen during Neosapien raids.

Uh, Playmates? Usually you were pretty on the ball, but this one is pretty racially insensitive. Peter Tanaka is from Chicago (Phaeton City) and I think he only used this E-Frame once or twice in the cartoon. Really, just because his dad was like a quarter Japanese you made sure to mention that he was really into The Art of War and made SURE his E-Frame looked like a Samurai? Whatever, I guess. Everyone drops the ball sometimes. (Hatemongers.)

So basically, each ExoSquad figure has most of a GI Joe’s articulation (minus the waist and some head motion) and you put it into a sweet suit of power armor, where there is a cable that plugs into the pilot’s brain. The FBI can definitely read your thoughts in the future, for real. Luckily they are nothing compared to Phaeton and his army of evil blue ubermen.

Tanaka’s E-Frame looks awesome, even if the idea is stupid. It’s got a great off-white, green and gold color scheme. Its left arm features a spring loaded claw  (the box calls it “Samurai Blades”… uh…) with several gun barrels molded on it, and the left arm is a disc launcher. I know what you’re thinking: “D. Verburg, disc launchers suck and are for girls and hippies who play frisbee golf in the park” and I generally agree with you. This one, however, rapid fires small green discs and has a cool loading mechanism. I call it a success. It also has a back mounted missile launcher that holds 3 missiles.  One launcher is spring loaded, the other two are not. The box calls them “Yari” spears which is just more racial profiling.

Like most General Purpose (smaller, cheaper) E-Frames after the first wave of ExoSquad toys, there are not as many moving parts on the robit itself. It has nice clicking pseudo-balljoints at the shoulders, and the elbows have hydraulics. It also moves at the hips and ankles. It’s sturdy as hell, although Peter sucks at holding the joysticks mounted on the arms.

That’s not all, though! Like all ExoSquad pilot figures, Peter comes with his own weapons. I am very surprised that Playmates didn’t take the low road and equip him with a katana and a graphing calculator. Playmates was still coloring all of their accessories in whichever wacky colors they felt like in the 90s, but luckily Pete’s are a nice subdued brown. He comes with a cool sub-machinegun and a repaint of JT Marsh’s rifle.

The pilot figure looks great, just like his E-Frame. This line featured some great sculpts, perhaps sculpts that rivaled even Eco Warriors and the citrus flavored Pine-Sol (RIP). Really, the line only produced 3 members of the Earthbound Resistance, and they’re all great figures. Tanaka generally used a modified Neosapien infantry E-Frame in the show, but switched to this one toward the end. Regardless of ridiculous racial stereotypes, this toy’s a keeper.

This toy includes 5 green discs, 3 missiles, 2 brown guns and a transparent blue fusion pack.

It’s from later on in the line, so it’s not as packed with features as some of the earlier toys. It is a fantastic toy, though, and it is full of cool sculpting and shooting weapons. I only rate toys on a scale of how much my cat hates being shot with their projectiles, and I have to say this one rates pretty highly. I am slightly worried that my cat, like Playmates, might be afraid of Asians instead of little green discs and “Yari” spears. She needs diversity training.

You can brush up on your ExoSquad at Hulu.

Here is a quick comparison photo, just for fun.

Also, let me know which toy you want me to tackle next in the comments! I might even have an ExoContest planned for the near future. I apologize for the lack of profanity and unsavory humor, I am on my best behavior.


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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I want the Macross jet next if you have that one! Nice seeing you here on Hobotastic, D!

    • thanks, Novelty! I don’t have much of the Robotech stuff, sadly. it’s all pretty expensive (except for maybe the small Destroids) but I always keep an eye out for a good price on the Veritech and the Hovertank.

  2. Nice review! I look forward to seeing more of these.

    I think you should do the first series suit that came with the main character. Y’know, the guy with the fade haircut with the wicked stripes shaved in.lol His suit had wings…I think… I remember nothing! Damn you acetone and your sweet, sweet fumes!

  3. […] ExoBlog #1: Peter Tanaka « Lemonjuice McGee's Hobotastic Toy Reviews It's got a great off-white green and gold color scheme. Its left arm features a spring loaded claw (the box calls it “Samurai Blades”… uh…) with several gun barrels molded on it, and the left arm is a disc launcher. […]

  4. i demand pictures of jt marsh’s awesome hair

    • THAT’S his name! Damn straight! His hair gives me hope for humanity’s future. 🙂

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