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Fantastic Films

This article was mentioned in the Manga Max article but it was only in early 2002 that the community woke up to the fact that it might be possible to get hold of it through an auction site. It took my copy a couple of weeks to get over here from the US of A but it's here now, along with 3 others, all of which make interesting reading as a snapshot of the fantasy shows of the day. The issue which features X-Bomber is dated June 1981 and would have set you back the princely sum of 90 pence at the time. Which was actually quite a lot back then, thinking about it...

So, does this article actually say anything new about the show? Well, you'll notice above that the issue features X-Bomber - not Star Fleet. Why? Because Star Fleet as we know it didn't exist then. So what we have here is a scenario similar to the one that Paul Green described, in that the author is working not from the English dub, but from the Japanese original. So when Fred Patten talks about Shiro, he's calling him Shiro Zenan. Hercules is Bongo Herakles, Lee is Bigman Lee, PPA is P.P. Adamuski, General Kyle is General Crowder and Captain Carter is Captain Custer. The bad guys are all change too. Orion is Kozlo, the Imperial Master is Emperor Gelmar and Makara is Bloody Mary. These tie in, more or less, to the Japanese names given by the Manga Max article.

The article goes into some detail about the intricacies of the puppets' design and comments that different full-body versions were used for the publicity shots - most of the time they were just upper halves to conceal the control piping leading out of them. On reflection this is obvious - you rarely see full body shots of any of the characters during the series, other than in some running scenes. The Gerry Anderson control method of strings allows for greater freedom of movement around the set.

One thing which this article does bring out very clearly is the way in which X-Bomber came into being; again, the Manga Max article covers this but it's put simply here. Dynamic Productions, Go Nagai's company, came up with the concept. They then sold it to Jin Productions to market and film, who in turn had Cosmo Productions take on the puppet animation and special effects. At the time of the Fantastic Films article, X-Bomber had premiered in Japan on Channel 8 at 6 to 6.30pm on October 11 1980 and onwards. Enoki Films Co Ltd had apparently sold it to the BBC, but that must have fallen through as it wasn't until more than 2 years later that we saw it over here with Leah International having dubbed it. However, Fantastic Films is right about the series never making it to the US market on TV.

I've paraphrased slightly above - below you can see thumbnails for the cover of the magazine and the four pages of the article, two of which are full colour and contain images familiar from the jigsaws and elsewhere but which are still impressive. The final image is an incredibly detailed cut-away diagram of Big Dai-X and you'll see some of the inspiration for Steve Kyte's Manga Max artwork on the same page. The full sized files which will open in a new window when you click on the thumbnails are quite large, but that's with a view to allowing you to read the text for yourself - I could have typed it in and corrected the typos but I think it's better to reproduce the original - it's more than 20 years since this hit the newsagents so I doubt anyone will be too worried about copyright in it now!

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Last updated 14 December 2013

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