The term "Browning" means something special to Transformers collectors. It's that beautifully elegant gunrobo from prehistory that - to most of us - was only available to the lucky children in Japan who first experienced it as part of Takara's Micro Change Series toy line, and then again as a Destron in the Takara exclusive Chōjin Masterforce series. Sure there were Kingdam bootlegs and such, but the real deal was just one of those rare toys we'd read about on the Internet. As it turns out, Browning was widely available - officially - in Europe back in the 1980s.
|Japanese Micro Change Series MC-07 Browning M1910|
Browning was originally released in Japan in 1983 as part of Takara's Micro Change Series line of 1:1 scale transforming 'everyday' technical items such as guns, cameras, stereos, binoculars, cassettes etc. The toy was available in smokey black chrome with red innards and also in rose gold chrome with blue innards. You could always tell through the Japanese packaging's cellophane window which one you were getting, and not just by the tiny speck of blue or red plastic on the barrel, but in person the colour of the chrome is absolutely unmistakable.
|"Red" and "blue" Browning|
The picture above should make it abundantly clear how different the two variations are. Japan also had the incredible campaign prize properly-gold chromed Browning, bathed head to toe in the kind of gold chrome you see on modern day Lucky Draw prize items, not the matte rose gold of the 'blue Browning' common release. Browning comes with four fists (two firing right fists and two normal left fists), two chromed handguns (vintage KO guns are not chromed), sprued yellow bullets (some KOs have orange), a black-background stickersheet, instruction sheet and sometimes printed targets.
So, Europe. GiG in Italy had a licence with Takara and released many non-Transformers Diaclone and Microman toys in their range of official 'Pre-Transformers' including many of the Diaclone Car Robots, Micro Change Series Gun Robos, and others like GATS Blocker, Diatrain, Cosmo Roller, Battle Buffalo, Fortress X and the Great Robot Base.
|GiG "Pistola Robot" Browning - pic courtesy of Matteo Pigliucci|
GiG also made Browning available in Italy, although this is quite a difficult variant to find. It was available with both red innards and blue innards, or "Tipo Nero" (black type) and "Tipo Oro" (gold type) respectively, the Italian names making reference to the tint of the chrome rather than our modern day categorisation-by-leg-colour or innards. The packaging was very similar to the Japanese, but with Italian text replacing Japanese text.You can also just make out in the above picture that the Italian version has red paint applied to the very end of the barrel, marking the item out as a toy for safety reasons.
|Ceji Joustra Diaclone "Robocolt" - both colours|
Browning was also made available in mainland Europe, parts of Scandinavia and even Greece by Ceji Joustra under their "Diaclone" line, a misnomer as it also featured a significant number of Takara-licensed Micro Change Series toys, alongside Takara Diaclone toys. The Ceji Joustra Diaclone "Robocolt" was a villain in the mini-comics accompanying the first year of releases in 1984, and even though the contents were very similar to other releases, it also had a mini comic included illustrated by twins Paul and Gaetan Brizzi, and the boxes are famous for exclusive, dynamic and very colourful artwork. No printed targets are included in the Ceji Joustra set. While the toys were mostly identical to the Japanese versions, you can occasionally find Ceji Joustra Diaclone "Robocolt" specimens with the red safety paint on the end of the barrel, like the GiG versions. It's interesting to note also that a number of these Robocolts were imported and sold in the UK too.
|Finnish Takara "Gunrobot" Browning - both colours|
Perhaps the most surprising occurrence of the M1910 Browning Gunrobo in Europe is the supremely rare and obscure Takara release in Finland through the R-Kioski chain of mini-kiosks. Country exclusive and store exclusive too, it's not surprising that barely 3 of these have ever been found in package. Available in both common colour variants, with identical contents to the Japanese release (Finnish instructions of course, no targets), the box is covered in English language text, the most intriguing being "Microman" and "Gunrobot". One wonders how many of these were ignored because of the English text, with collectors mistaking them for the Kingdam Browning bootleg.
So when you tally up how many times Browning was released in Japan, and then how many different releases in Europe had the same toy in Microman-style packaging or the multitude of nations that had Ceji Joustra Diaclone Brownings, it's actually hard to find a European country that didn't have this mould on toy shelves somewhere at some point.
|Common as muck?|
More on Browning HERE
All the best