Armored Trooper VOTOMS may be a series that isn’t discussed much among anime fans in the US these days. Debuting in 1983, it’s a series that brought concepts of “hard science” to the mecha anime genre, utilizing accurate scientific concepts and logic in the development of its story and world. Created by Ryosuke Takahashi and Sunrise, with mechanical design by Gundam designer Kunio Okawara, the series has seen a large number of spinoffs over the years and holds a special place in the hearts of many mecha fans in Japan. Its gritty setting and very realistic focus in storytelling resulted in a truly unique product that stood out on its own at a time where other anime war epics were also attempting to go for a serious tone. One of the elements that is often attributed to this is its focus on treating the mecha within the series as elements of the war and more like vehicles and standard-issue equipment rather than an element that came off strictly to sell toys.
In the series, the Scopedog mecha appears as a much smaller unit than what other shows of the period portrayed, which falls in line with the realistic tone the series was going for. It also stands apart from other series in that it was a mass-produced unit in the context of the series, and doesn’t attempt to feature any humanistic facial qualities in its design. It’s utilitarian design and emphasis on speed & functionality when compared to that of other mecha of the time, such as the Mobile Suits featured in Gundam, have made it one of the most recognizable real robot designs of the time period. Even though the last entry in the franchise was released in 2011 as an OVA, its imagery has seen some life as of late thanks to an unlikely source when fans in Japan noticed a striking similarity between the camera on the iPhone 11 and the head of the iconic Scopedog mecha.
These comparisons resulted in a variety of fan-made mockups for iPhone 11 cases lining up the cameras with the “eyes” on the Scopedog mecha, all of which were incredibly clever and honestly pretty cool. Now an official case utilizing the mecha as a design element has been announced by SUNRISE and high-end case maker moeco, and while the cameras aren’t used as part of the design, I would say the final result is just as cool. For several years moeco has been making cases and train-pass holders mimicking the look of a computer PCB, utilizing LEDs on the case which light up when certain radio frequencies such as those of an NFC reader or phone transmission interact with it. Keeping with that same concept, moeco has cleverly placed an LED on a key point of the case which lines up with one of the eyes of the Scopedog mech that appears on it. The design also features script written in the language of the Astragius Galaxy, where the series takes place, adding a bit of additional flair to the case itself.
In addition to the phone case, they’re also making train pass-holders with the same design just in case you’re not an iPhone user but still want to rep this classic anime in the same fashion. The cost of these items might price out some fans though with the phone cases starting at 15,000¥ (aprox. $140 USD) and 11,000¥ (aprox. $100 USD) for the pass-holder. Previous collaborations moeco has done include that of Neon Genesis Evangelion and those cases were of a particularly high quality, so the cost is pretty justified all things considered. If I end up in the market for a new case for my iPhone 11 anytime soon I might find myself considering one of these as VOTOMS merch doesn’t pop up too often, and frankly, I love the concept of what moeco does with their products.