Sunday, June 10, 2012

G-Shock #26: A sudden Revival of the Master of G line

2006 was a great year for G-Shock and G-Shock. In the 90’s Casio had G-Shocks with new technologies for special usage called the “Master of G”. These models were often a bit bigger than standard G-Shocks of that time and their name ended almost always with man. The only exception in this series are the Codename Cipher models, which were cased in a DW-9000 type case. The Codename module was also used in several Lovers Collection models, housed in a DW-6900 case.
The last Master of G model of the series mentioned above was the Antman, actually released in 2000. Of course Casio kept releasing a lot of Frogman models, but after 2000 the name Master of G somehow disappeared. it became harder to find anything about Master of G models and eventually in 2005, I was googling on Master of G for information and the only relevant links I found lead to my own website G-Peopleland and posts I made on the G-Shock forum. This made me get into doubt, as I was the only source, what if I made this name up myself. I knew it wasn’t, but any evidence had disappeared.
Background T-Shirt is available via Adan's G-Stock.
Luckily Casio came up with good news in 2006. The Master of G line was going to be revived with 2 new Mudman models, 5 Multiband Atomic model and a non-atomic model. My personal favorite was the cream white G-9000, which soon after it’s release was nick named “Stormtrooper”. The black G-9000 version was also looking great. The color scheme had been taken from the first Mud Resistant G-Shock model, the DW-5500C a.k.a. G-Shock II. The DW-5500C is often placed in the beginning of the Master of G bloodline, so I think Casio considers this model the first Master of G.
Now, 6 years later, the Master of G series G-Shocks are still very vivid. Casio brought us a new Gulfman, Riseman and 2 new frogman models and last year even a 3rd generation Mudman was introduced.
Back in 2006 there was a lot of expectations about the new Mudman, since the news was already spread before it’s release in June 2006. After a long silence also a new G-Shock magazine was released, called “G-Shock Official Book”, featuring the atomic Mudman model on the cover. Best thing was that these models seemed reasonable priced. I think at that time it was around €100 for the non-Atomic models and €150 for the Atomic model. There was a lot of fuzz about this model, both in Japan as in the international G-Shock collectors scene. As the demand of this was seemed so high, I decided to pre-order mine pretty early at Higuchi-inc. I was lucky. While some other collectors had their Mudman shipped, mine already arrived at my house. It seemed I had the first Mudman outside Japan. Cool!
I made these above size comparison shots just after my first G-9000 Mudman (Stormtrooper model) arrived on June 24 2006).
A week or so later I had all three Japanese models, the Atomic, the black version with red buttons and the creme white “Stormtrooper”. Also a green (non-atomic) model was put on the market, but it was only sold outside Japan in Asia (Singapore. Hong Kong). These things were like Pokemon, you got to catch them all…
Master of G models are often linked to a special activity, like Frogman for diving, Riseman for mountain sports. The 2nd generation Mudman were aimed for Rally drivers. Casio G-Shock therefore sponsored the Team Land Cruiser rally team in the Dakar Rally of 2007. The results of this team were pretty good. From the three Toyota Land Cruisers, two finish with Matsuhashi and Miura ending first place and Yamanda and Arakawa ending on the third place. Casio honors this team in 2007 with a release of a limited edition Team Land Cruiser model (TLC).
Mudman in natural habitat.
Todays Mudman is not really a limited edition. Actually, after 6 years, this model is still in production. It is the Japanese version. You can tell it by the "WATER 20 BAR RESIST" text above the display. The overseas versions have the usual "WATER 200M RESIST" printed on it.
In the beginning of the ‘00s (or how do you call it, the Zero’s?) new G-Shock models became relative smaller, so it was not really surprising that the new Mudman was smaller than the previous Master of G models. Normally the length of a G-Shock case is longer than it’s width, but this Mudman has a round case, which makes the watch look even somewhat smaller.
The G-9000 had some new features on board. First of all, the Mud Resist bezel structure did now also cover a part of the back. It features the Dual Illuminator function. This function does not only light up the display, but also a ring around the display, where you can read the functions of the button. Pretty nice idea, but this feature is only found on this G-9000 models and the basic metal G-800. Not strange, these 2006 models shares the same 3031 module.
The Mudman was the first G-Shock model where the duration of the backlight could be set. While most current G-Shock models with this function can be set to 1.5 or 3 seconds, this model could be set from 3 seconds or 5. The 5 second EL Backlight operation is probably the longest of all G-Shocks. Also back is the Flash function. When this function is turned on, the EL backlight flashes when an alarm sounds. There is also the Auto Illuminator function on-board. This means you can activate the backlight by turning your wrist approximately 40 degrees towards you, while your arm is held parallel to the ground. It can be activated by press and holding the upper right button (RESET - SPLIT) for about 4 seconds. As this is a battery operated watch, I would not recommend using this function too much. Frequent use of the backlight drains the battery, while the Auto Illuminator function can turn on the EL backlight during activities (like driving a car), while it is not needed.
As aimed for Rally Sports, this watch should have a good Stopwatch function. And yes, it has. This watch has not only one, but two 1000 hour Stopwatches on board! Rallies like the Dakar Rally have many stages that can take up to 20 hours. If you want to time the total time of the race, you need a Stopwatch with a lot bigger capacity than “only” 24 hours.
For me a good watch can’t be without a Countdown timer, and of course the Mudman has a 24 hour Countdown Timer on board. It can be set to a single Count Down or a repeated Count Down. It is also possible to follow the last minutes of the Countdown with the Progress Beeper. In stead of one alarm at the end, you’ll be noticed the approaching end by a number of beeps, which appear in smaller time intervals when the target time is almost reached. In this function the current time is shown in the upper display.
In case you need an alarm, you’ll find 5 Alarms on this watch. One is a Snooze Alarm, which repeats with a 5 minute interval. The Alarms can be set as Daily Alarm, but also as Date Alarm, Monthly Alarm and 1-Month Alarm. The last two Alarms happen when you set no day, respectively no month in the date setting.
Last function on this Mudman is the World Time Function. It features 48 cities in 29 timezones. Note that you need to toggle on and of the DST yourself.
Overall this watch is packed with features. Casio did their best to make the comeback of the Master of series impressive, which I think they did. I had hoped when it was released it would be a bit bigger, but in 2006 it still wasn’t the trend in the watch world. The looks of the case is quite good with the different button shapes on both sides. While some people complained about the red buttons, I pretty much like them and they do not really make the watch shout, as the button parts are not that big. The red buttons are of course also a tribute to the DW-5500C. It seems that Casio has improved the quality of the resin of the bezel. The button parts of the old ‘90s Mud Resistant models were the weak points on those watches. Better quality resin unfortunately brings also it’s disadvantages. The buttons are pretty hard to operate, specially when it is new. The button parts tend to get softer after frequent use. I have read reports of owners who took of the bezel and placed it in a bowl with cooking water for a few minutes. It seemed to soften the resin in the button parts. The displays are very clear and the digits are pretty large, so good to read. In other words, you can’t go really wrong with this watch, specially as it is still available for very friendly prices. You can find a Mudman for around €75.- ($90.-) in East Asia, Europe and the US, which is almost half the price of what you had paid in Japan at the time of release (MSRP for the G-9000-1JF is ¥13500, which is roughly €135.- now).


Ban Fook Yun said...

Haha...I am wearing this G-SHOCK watch.Same model,same colour.Thank You.

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