If you grew up watching Ultraman or Power Rangers you’ve seen a tokusatsu television series. Meaning “special photography” in Japanese, these action shows for kids usually had a sci-fi theme and used elaborate costumes and primitive live-action special effects to populate a world of superheroes, robots, and/or aliens. Of course, these characters needed similarly futuristic vehicles to get around in. This often resulted in regular cars dressed up as ornate, crime-fighting machines that were completely unrecognizable from their base models. Welcome to a new series on JNC where you guess the tokusatsu car.
The title of the 1973 series Robot Detective says it all. He’s a robot. He’s a detective. He’s a member of the Tokyo police department’s Special Forensic Investigation Office. What was unusual about Robot Detective was that, unlike many of the other robot shows popular at the time, he was human-sized and not towering over buildings, and he didn’t transform.
Robot Detective was simply a dutiful and honor-bound android who solved crimes in his trench coat and cap, just like a human detective. Well, he had a slight advantage over traditional flesh-and-blood detectives in that his body concealed numerous technologies and weapons that helped him fight bad guys — radar, sonar, machine guns, missiles, flamethrower, jet feet, and more.
Robot Detective’s car was called the Joker, a shooting brake with aerodynamic nose and gull-wing doors. According to the show’s lore, it had a top speed of 500 kph (~310 mph) on land. It could also deploy VTOL wings and take to the skies, in which case top speed was 800 kph (~500 mph). It could also go underwater to a depth of up to 300m (~1,000 ft). The Joker was equipped with bombs, gas detectors, radar, and other crucial equipment.
The producers left almost nothing of the original car in tact. The taillights were replaced with round lenses. The front looks Z-ish but the wheelbase is far too short for it to be an S30. Any ideas? Put your best guess in the comments and then look below for the answer.
Robot Detective ran for 26 episodes from April to September 1973. There was also a manga version serialized in Weekly Shonen Magazine. There have been countless toys made of the Joker, but like the car in the show, clues to the base model’s identity are difficult to find. Click here for the answer.