This post is part one of two posts that I planned for December. To close out 2012, which is the 30th Anniversary of the toy Henshin Item for Super Sentai, I want to talk about changes throughout the years since I am one of the few that owns all of these toys. Before I get to that...I just have to gush about my favorite. That's right, this post is dedicated to the one and only Twin Brace!
The Twin Brace is the Henshin Brace of Liveman. In the show it's pretty damn cool. Not only did it look appealing to see the heroes make a motion to lock them together to activate a transformation, but it was an awesome looking transformation with that 80s grid look. Yeahhhh. Liveman was pushing the limits of 1988 CG with the Henshin and Bimotion Buster sequences. I loved the look when I was a kid, and I still like it. It's not trying to pass off as real like today's CG is...
Anyway, I'm getting way off topic.
The Twin Brace definitely had it's place in Super Sentai history. The only two nicely styled prior to that were the disco-rific Goggle Brace (which didn't translate well to the toy version) and the Prism Flash with it's cool looking prism. The rest are pretty basic designs with some logos splashed on. I love them as well, but they don't really stand out too much.
What we saw with the Twin Brace was the future. Something that was more than a watch. Something that required a motion to activate it and set off the cool 80s effects without them just happening.
...but what we got with the toy version was so much more.
By 1988 there had only been a handful of toy Henshin Braces. The first had some out in 1982 and wasn't much more than a faceplate styled around Popy's LCD Anime Watch line. The Change Brace in 1985 was the first real toy...and that's all really. None of them made sound. They barely had features beyond telling time to flashing pictures of mecha.
The Twin Brace came along to change all of that. First to feature lights AND sound. First to have two seperate pieces. First to have interchangeable colors. First (and only as of 2012) to have button-less activation. Let me break this down as to how mind-bendingly impressive this is.
For starters...the only electronics previously were LCD Screens and charged flashes much like those found in disposable cameras. The Twin Brace has a flashing light as well as a beeping sound. It isn't much today, but this was something that could be used to annoy parents on a whole new level! This might seem to make the other half of the toy with nothing to do. It actually holds up it's side of the workload. It may not have any electronics, but it does fire small missiles (like the Change Brace and Prism Flash did before it) and also has another key element...
This toy was the first where you could change between characters. Again, this may seem like a no-brainer today, but this was completely new in 1988. Previous Changers that were specific to characters (Goggle Brace, Dyna Brace) only came in red. This is a bummer if your favorite character is other than red. The way the Anime Watches were designed, there was no way around that unless they wanted to release a full set (which would be collection hell for someone like me). The way it's done is very clever as well. You can store all three chips inside the brace. Due to this design, I have seen very few Twin Braces up for sale that weren't complete. There is one fatal flaw to this design...no Bison and Rhino. They came along late and their chips were available as a TV-Kun mailaway exclusive. Ugh. Can't win them all!
The button-less electronics activation is incredibly cool. When the two small yellow stickers are in close proximity to each other, the lights and sound will activate. This makes for a smooth and graceful Henshin action that works a lot better than most dual henshin braces since (Power Brace from Ohranger was pretty difficult, as was the Accel Changer and Dino Commander since they used keys). This is a gimmick that Bandai has abandoned for some silly reason. It worked so well, so why not bring it back? They'd have to bring back the Henshin Brace to do that, but still!
The Twin Brace truly was something special. I still get people telling me that they lust after that toy...more than any other Henshin brace from the 80s or 90s. It definitely deserves the CCLemon99 stamp of approval.
Best. Henshin. Toy. EVER.