I’ve been a sucker for B-Daman with unusual gimmicks, and tended to buy them when they became old stock and went on clearance. For some reason I missed out the Cartridge System generation even though I had quite a few from the previous Zero/Zero2 line and the Crash B-Daman line right after.
Now that I’m living in Japan, it’s slightly easier to find out-of-production old toys, but their prices vary a lot depending on their perceived rarity. Notably, the price of B-Daman toys drops to clearance levels but as they get older, their prices will slowly rise.
The Cartridge System appears to resolve a major failure of the previous Zero2 Strike Shot series. Those toys came with specially-designed marbles like the Drive Shot balls which have a rubber strip down their centre. However since you usually loaded the marbles from behind there was no way to keep them positioned correctly when they were fired.
The Cartridges are loaded with 2 marbles beforehand and they have prongs to keep the marbles in position, ensuring that every time you fire Cartridge shots, the marbles are correctly oriented against the Drive Strips inside the core of the B-Daman.
I got this along with a couple of other extra parts. Their prices weren’t really changed from retail levels despite being 10 year-old toys at this point in time.
5 runners’ worth of goodies, and one more holding a pair of Drive Strips (one is a spare). A massive foil sticker sheet, one marble and one Metal Spike Shot are provided.
Only the two runners in the middle appear to be unique to this kit. However those of you who are aware of the Battle B-Daman story probably know that this is one of two brother characters. The red guy is a rapid-fire type while the blue guy is an accuracy-type.
The Cartridge System generation of these brother units grants them multiple forms. This guy can switch between rapid-fire and control types by reconfiguring the gray assembly on the left. The blue guy on the other hand can switch between power and accuracy types. Apparently all B-Daman in the Cartridge System have identical core bodies that have a Drive Strip on their hold part, imparting forward spin to their shots.
The trigger is really long and you can keep it locked in the compressed position with the catch on top, but it means you cannot keep the Cartridge chambered. To load the Cartridge, simply drop it into the tray. When it is not chambered, the toy can fire marbles normally, but has poor rapid-fire performance because of the deep stroke of the trigger. You have to work around it by keeping the trigger semi-depressed. There’s a latch on top of the grip you can use to keep the trigger fully depressed for storage, but the instruction manual advises against doing it for a long period of time as the trigger spring may become permanently compressed.
Here the magazine is reconfigured as a stabilizer in control mode.
The front view of this thing shows how different the Cartridge System generation of B-Daman looks like compared to the previous Zero/Zero2 series. In fact, it looks more similar to the Crash B-Daman line with the simplified base body. The arms are now fixed and some designs can press against the hold part, imparting more power to each shot. The feet are combined into a single piece, possibly to improve stability as the toy is back-heavy with the Cartridge System behind it.
You can barely see it in this picture but the Drive Strip is at the bottom and is just a tiny rubber piece.
The arms lock in place by rotating 90 degrees. There are rails on the forearms which are for the barrel parts that come with the blue brother unit. Attaching them onto the forearms makes the inside of the forearms press against the hold part inside the belly, increasing the power of the shot.
While the cartridge gimmick solves the problem of poorly-oriented trick shots, it limits the amount of customizability as all the toys have practically identical base bodies. I guess it explains why the line was short-lived.