- MPZ-01 Shield Liger

- Introduction

 The Blue Gale that commands the Republic's High-Speed Combat Force.

 The Energy Shield Generator can be deployed with a degree of complexity, now also being deployable on the left and right sides of the head, and the Heat Radiation Fins on the sides of the body can also be deployed.

 The tail joint is made of a soft material.

Release Date: March 2016
Price: 12,000 Yen

- Product Photos

- Spec Data

- 3D Renders

- Prototype Images

 Image 1: A hand-turned proof of concept for the leg movement.
 Image 2: A motorized movement prototype, testing if it can walk with inwards leg movements.
 Image 3: A side-view of the movement prototype.
 Image 4: An animation concept created for the walk cycle.
 Image 5: (and Image 6) The armor prototype, testing if it can still walk with the added weight.

- Animal Motif Concepts

 Recreating a realistic animal motif was extremely important for the Masterpiece Zoids. These concepts were drawn by one of the team members, who wanted to highlight the traits of the animal species (did you know all Liger Zoids are actually classified as lions?)

 Some aspects that came from this exploration of the animal motif was the face design, featuring more wrinkles as if the Liger is snarling and baring its fangs. Even the added details on the front of the nose were meant to represent the whisker lines on the muzzle. Another noted detail was the ability to puff up its mane by adding many deployable Shield Generators.

 The original Tomy Shield Liger featured a particularly short torso to accommodate for the motor size and technology at the time (it was quite early into the industry's exploration of such dynamic walking animal toys, similar to how the Geno Saurer being able to walk horizontally was considered groundbreaking tech at the time.) The MPZ concepts extended the body by quite a bit, which was further made possible by the new motor designs.

- Official Preview

- Design Interview

- MPZ-01 Shield Liger Review

- Introduction

 More than a decade in the making since its last Tomy release in 1999, the Shield Liger MPZ shows off years of technical development from Takara Tomy's staff. At first glance these changes are easy to shrug off, as many aren't immediately noticeable, but the more you dig into its mechanics the more you learn just how much went into this kit. The color is a deep rich blue, which is quite hard to photograph. Most of the photos are brighter than the real color but I tried to make the main image above close to real life.

 In 2023 ~ 2024 Takara Tomy is releasing the spiritual successor of this series, the Anniversary line, which reuses part of the molds, mechanics, and knowledge gained with the MPZ release. Although some features have been shaved down, making it more than worth while to get the original MPZs. Even with the changes, I can safely say that MPZ / AZ is my favorite product line in the Zoids franchise. And yes, that's including how obnoxious they can be.

- Ancestor of the First Masterpiece Zoid

 The discussions above already covered some of the mind set behind designing the MPZ. The whole kit was designed to look more natural. It sheds many of the complaints held with the earlier motorized kits, including how short and stocky they are. This is something that fans have come to enjoy about the HMM series, and MPZ provides a lot of the same aesthetic benefit.

 The motorized features have been greatly expanded upon, including some of the most sought-after mechanics in Zoids. We finally have a roar mechanic, and while that won't carry through into the Anniversary release, it was neat to have while it was there. Some manual gimmicks have also been added. It's impressive just how robust this kit looks compared to others.

* The Tomy Shield Liger can only balance on the stand. It cannot safely attach to it.

- Bare Form

 The MPZ series is fully detailed under the armor. In fact, it even has some traits of a 'born form', an aesthetic that was later inherited and expanded upon by Zoids Wild. The structure has ribs, spinal columns, and 'gums' of sorts. This is a neat effect, because it gives the Shield Liger 'eyes' beneath the canopy, similar to the Gojulas.

 If you pay attention to the bars along the backs of the legs, these flex slightly separate from the main structure. This is an interesting effect because it almost looks like shifting musculature beneath the armor. It's especially noticeable during the build process, before you attach the leg to the body.

- New Cap Design

 The Masterpiece Zoids introduce a new cap design system. Caps have always been iconic in Zoids. In the past they were rubber, as this allowed them to hold the moving pieces together with less risk of parts breaking if the kit fell, which had to be considered for younger audiences. As kits aimed at older audiences, however, the MPZ series moved to plastic. They still needed the parts to hold, so they introduced a locking mechanism. This included a special ratchet that had a hole at each end sized to fit the small cap (first image) on one end and the large cap (second image) on the other. You would turn the caps with this ratchet to 'click' them into place.

 This is one of those things that I can't decide if I love or hate. On one hand it's a fun 'gimmick' because it makes the kits feel more mechanical, so to speak. On the other, it's just kind of annoying to do after you've already built one. You can turn the caps, but sometimes they don't always 'click in' right when doing this, and the kit falls apart easily if they don't. I wonder if the caps needed to be more secure because of the updated walk cycle.

- Motorized Features

 The MPZ Shield Liger introduces many cool features that its predecessor lacked. This includes features that fans have wanted for years, such as LEDs (not included in the former motorized Shield / Blade platform) and roaring. These features aren't without their problems, however.

Motorized Feature Sensativity:

 The new posture is quite neat, and as someone who studies animals a lot for art references, I love to see things like this incorporated into the motorization. However, the MPZs struggle to stay standing. The inward leaning legs means that the center of gravity is always in a particularly fragile state. If the kit happens to teeter to one side, even for a single step it struggles to recover from the imbalance and often falls over. Caps and other pieces can come sliding across the surface depending on how hard it tips, even if they've been locked in, so using this feature can be a struggle. The stand eliminates this problem.

 The roaring feature, while cool, can also be troublesome. The mane must be perfectly tucked in, and even if the mane parts are tucked into a proper position, just by the merit of the whole head shifting during the roar, they'll shift a millimeter and jam up the entire roaring mechanism in gear grinding racket. Personally, I think this is a fine tradeoff. In an interview, Takara Tomy commented on how similar elaborate features, such as running, have been walked through the trial period but have also lamented about how unfortunate it is that these tend to look like jerky, disorienting movements. I feel like the roar is in a similar state of impractibility, while also being a dream mechanism we've always wanted. I'm glad that they took a chance on including it, even if just for this one line, and even if it's not perfect. Not just because it's such a cool feature to have (and it DOES look cool) but because it provides better insight into how complicated these mechanisms can be in practice.

New Motorized Features

 For those flaws, the MPZ introduces a lot of motorized features. When the switch is turned on, the Liger begins walking with the core lit up red and the cockpit lit up gold. The head shifts, not just up and down but slightly from side to side. It looks like it has weight to it. It takes a few steps and pauses. Then, the core beats. It plays a pulse sound effect from an internal sound box as the red light pulses between the ribs and the golden light of the cockpit pulses as well. This is an extremely cool effect, and breathes even more "life" into the metal life form lore of the series.

 From there, the kit will continue walking. It may stop to repeat this core pulse, or it may throw its head up and roar. The impressive part about the roar is that it isn't just an upwards 'jaw chomping' action like we've had in earlier kits. It actually throws its head in a circular motion. This action can be a little jerky at times, and jams up easily, but it's so cool to see it made a reality. The tail moves up and down as a motorized action during the roar and pulse sequences. Beware, however. People have reported the tails are easy to break. Be mindful of them.

 Aside from that, the Shield Liger has way more movable parts. The sections of the ribs, the back, the tail, it all moves as the Zoid walks. The legs stretch and flex. The paws have a piece that holds the two inner toes at a higher position than the side toes, which makes for a 'natural' paw relaxation as it steps forward. You can see the inspiration carried forward into Wild, which has the side bar also hold the rib details so that the Zoids look like their sides are stretching as they walk.

- Overall Impressions

 When it first came out I wasn't entirely sold on the MPZ line, but having them in hand is a different experience. There's a lot more to the features than you'd notice from a passing video. The new aesthetics, such as the snarling muzzle look good. A few minor gimmicks being added is also nice. Seeing these Zoids in person is so much more impressive than seeing them online.

 The included stand was an excellent choice. As someone who's never going to take their Zoids down from the shelf and bother to put in batteries, I usually don't care much about these features, even if I enjoy them during the build. Having these stands though has inspired me to leave the batteries in after building them, and let these kits sit on my desk. I sometimes switch them on just to appreciate the mechanisms involved in the kit, and to see the lights. I'll take them out before the batteries explode, of course, but I've gotten much more entertainment out of them with the stand included.

 Overall, the MPZ Zoids are highly recommended. They got horrendously expensive between their release and the Anniversary line, but now that the Anniversary kits are rereleasing updated versions of these kits, they've fallen in price. I highly recommend grabbing them during this limited window, because we'll probably not see quite so complex motorized Zoids for a long, long time.

Positive Aspects:

  • Advanced motorized features has the whole kit moving. There are no 'solid legs' or 'block torso'
  • The aesthetic choices made in this kit improve its silhouette. It doesn't look nearly as chunky
  • Roaring motorized action complete with LEDs and sound box is a rare novelty in the Zoids line
  • Additional LEDs and custom motorized sequences beyond just walking make this kit more engaging
  • Included stand allows you to appreciate the moving features and lets it stand taller on the shelf
  • Additional gimmicks

Negative Aspects:

  • Inward-leaning posture allows the kit to fall over easily
  • New cap design presses you to use the custom ratchet, can be obnoxious, as caps may not lock in without it
  • The tail, attached by wires, breaks easily. Since it's long, it's easy to bump against things and break.
  • Roaring mechanism jams constantly, even if the parts are properly tucked in

- Gallery

- Motorized Features In Action

- Gimmicks

- Additional Shield Generators

 Additional Shield Generators have been included in the Shield Liger's mane, between its typical side armor and the top generator. These extend forwards.

- Side Generators

 The side pieces of the mane have also been made movable, and are also independently articulated. There are 6 slats in all, and they're bundled 2 to a part. You can see in the second image that the top two are folded in, while the bottom two are folded out.

- Top Generator

 The top shield generator can flip upwards as it usually does in Shield Liger models. The front of it is also connected to the small blue tab that goes above the cockpit. This part now also moves, able to flip upwards.

- Cockpit

 The Shield Liger's cockpit meets a happy middle ground between the flat front design of the old motorized kits and the 'kitty nose' hinge. It flips forward at the front, and when open you can see the brow ridge of the boney understructure and the orange eyes, which make the canopy look more like a mask. While the MPZ kit is in the colors of newer Shield Liger models, it has a generic chrome pilot as a subtle shoutout to the OJR.

- Shoulder Armor

 The shoulder armor shares a similar double-color aesthetic to the HMMs, and extends outwards.

- Missile Pods

 The Missile Pods still have the sloped back design, and extend outwards. One minor thing of note is that the inside of the MPZ parts are quite unfinished, such as in the third image. This is a non-issue for 99% of the kit. The exterior is nicely finished, but the missile pod interior (top) is full of holes like the interior of old moto legs. Interiors that are also roughly finished.

- AMD Beam Gun

 The AMD Beam Gun is well articulated. Like usual, it rests under the blue armor, which flips forward. The gun can then be extended, and fits between the side ridges of the armor so that it can still close while the gun is raised. The gun can spin 360 degrees, and the barrels can tilt pretty far upwards.