Kow Yokoyama is best known for his incredible scratchbuilt sci-fi universe Maschinen Krieger (née S.F.3.d Original), but he’s worked on plenty of other projects that slid under the radar. In the 1980s he kept busy designing vehicles for anime like Venus Wars and Bubblegum Crisis, doing special effects work for Pocari Sweat commercials starring Cindy Crawford, and his models regularly appeared in magazines like Hobby Japan and B-Club. Among his lesser known work was Robot Battle V, a comic serialized in the video game magazine LOGiN.
Robot Battle V was your basic humans-vs-robots sci-fi story told through a series of vignettes following humans battling a robotic menace. For fans familiar with S.F.3.d it was more of the same, albeit as a comic rather than a model-driven narrative, boasting gritty sci-fi battles and Yokoyama’s unique style of mechanical design that ran counter to the brightly colored designs of contemporary TV anime. As a comic, it stood out thanks to Yokoyama’s unconventional drawing style and the aforementioned mecha designs.
Multiple English sources claim that Robot Battle V was a side-story or spin-off of S.F.3.d, but that claim is difficult to verify; nothing in the comic seems to directly link the two series aside from Yokoyama’s consistent aesthetic. There are other aspects to consider, too, like the implosion of the S.F.3.d project due to rights issues with Hobby Japan. Robot Battle V was published in a different magazine from a different publisher1. Given how possessive Hobby Japan seemed to be with the S.F.3.d, it seems a stretch to think they’d let another company run with it.
The confusion may lie in recent model kit releases by Hasegawa of mecha from Robot Battle V under the Maschinen Krieger banner with a “Robot Battle V Blech Mann” subtitle. Adding even more fuel to the fire, Maschinen Krieger Blech Mann was a short-lived comic that ran in Comic Noizy using some Robot Battle V designs that predated the use of “Maschinen Krieger” as the title of the reborn S.F.3.d in the early ‘00s. Confused yet?
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a comic that ran in a video game magazine, a strategy game based on the comic was released for the NEC PC-88 platform. It joined other games that used designs by Yokoyama, like a couple of S.F.3.d games and CrossMediaSoft’s Venus Fire. While at least one of the S.F.3.d games and Venus Fire were ported to a variety of Japanese PC platforms, Robot Battle V seems to have remained on the PC-88 alone. Garage kit manufacturer Kotobukiya also released a 1/48 scale resin kit based on the comic’s arachnid Medusa design, advertised at the end of Asahi Sonorama’s Robot Battle V collection, which reprinted the original comics from LOGiN.
Despite being a comic first and foremost and not having the same model kit focus of S.F.3.d, if Robot Battle V has had any staying power it’s been thanks to model kits; both the injection plastic kits by Hasegawa mentioned above and a variety of garage kits produced by smaller manufacturers. The original comics haven’t been reprinted since the compilation volume back in 1987, but the robots have lived on. In addition to Hasegawa’s offerings, Love Love Garden has released an extensive line of Robot Battle V kits, while Rainbow Egg sold a stunning 1/35 scale Lancelot a few years back and SUS4 System released a Medusa kit in the same scale. While the Hasegawa kits are still easy to track down from the usual suspects, the garage kits are harder to find, but not impossible. The comic itself may prove more difficult to get your hands on — the collected volume can be expensive when it pops up.
Robot Battle V
Published November 1987
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