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December 3, 2009

Leo

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10:27 am

Lot number 855

“Seven hundred fifty”….”do I hear eight”? “Seven fifty going on eight, seven fifty going on eight”…

“Sold”! …”for seven hundred fifty ” ….”to number 60″.

That was the longest 30 seconds of my life. Even the sticatto rapid fire cadence of the auctioneer seemed slow right now.

It was sort a scenario I really did not expect. One I had assumed based on the previous days events… to have gone, differently.

How the hell did this toy end up mine for that relatively low price?

Perhaps I had bought karma with the GA50. Or perhaps the big guns were waiting for the bigger pieces later in the auction. Either way I was unsure how to react. I had waited for this for almost 4000 days, and like any moment like this, you find yourself both happy and sad. The process, and the anticipation invariably make the experience what it is. Once you get there, you place the item in its case and think about how long it took you to arrive.

Saturday 7:00 am

I woke up early in Gradwell’s basement movie lair. Jim and Hillsy both still asleep. The odor of cigars and whisky still hung heavy in my nose, as I prepared myself for the hour drive to the auction house. I knew this was round two, and today would be less of a softball game than a round of bare knuckled heavyweights who cared little for my sentimental quest for this silly elusive zenmai.

Go back 3 months:

It had not been long since I “brogged” the last entry into the Leo saga. It was when we got the call from Morphey’s to do the diecast cataloging, that it occurred to me, that “The Collector’s” collection was all going up for sale…and if memory served me well, there was a zenmai Leo in the midst of his character tin lineup. There were pictures to prove it. I was both excited and nervous. Excited knowing I would have one more opportunity to make this running joke of a toy mine after a few botched up attempts. Nervous because luck had never been on my side in regards to this piece for some reason, and I winced at the notion I would manage to screw it up again.

It was at the auction house that I cautiously saw Leo quietly smirking at me behind the glass case.

The overhead lights hummed, and felt at the moment I saw it that it HAD to go home with me. There was no question in my mind that this had to be put to bed finally. I doubted I would get another chance for some time.

I met and spoke briefly to Marc Solondz about his collecting and though I was there to work on the gokin, I found my conversation mainly focussed on his tins. Understandably after he had begun collecting the diecast, he started to include some serious tin in his menu. As most who collect it are aware, it is like high end sushi…you only get into it heavily if you can get past the price shock. From the looks of it Marc was into Uni and High end Chu Toro.

Carl Lobel, who I had had dealings with in the past Morphey auctions was also there as a consultant and overall mage. He is a well connected and wealth of info on all things character tin.
He had sold me my Zaboga zenmai among others in 2006, and I had also sadly missed out on the Ultraman Leo walker he had for sale then. As I mentioned in my first Leo brog, I had missed out on bidding on it because my computer died at work and I had to relay on bidding by phone through a friend, who had sadly bid on the wrong Leo item.

I had kicked myself ever since then. But well before then as well.

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Carl, picked up the Leo in the case and looked at the back of the box. My shoulders tensed as the box corner came painfully close to the glass shelf as he lifted it to his face and pulled his glasses down to read the sticker on the back of the box.

” Ah this is mine”

My ears perked up as I began to realize what he was getting at.

“is this the same toy from the 2006 auction Carl”?

” yeah it has my identification stickers on the back”…”see”?

My sense of serendipity began to intensify again.

This WAS going home with me. One because it came back full circle for another shot at it, and secondly, it proved my theory that there really are only a handful of these floating around in collections. I had been told by the collector that sold me my removable mask Kaman Rider Angel tin, that there were really only 5 he knew of in collections, and I had also heard that despite the Battery op commanding more, the windup was actually much scarcer.

Fast forward to day one of the auction.

“Sold for 4500.00 “

No single phrase has brought more joy and fear at the same time to my robot collecting career.

Granted I was happy to upgrade my Daiku and secondly the experience of doing among my friends and peers was certainly more enjoyable than winning it on Ebay or Yahoo japan in my bedroom half asleep. But at the same time it did go over my self imposed limit. That limit was set in place so that the second day would be far less stressful. So that the Leo if it did in fact hit its past price range of over 2000.00 that I would not be selling body parts for the next couple months to pay it off.

I blew that plan as soon as the virtual hammer fell.

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Standing outside looking at the digital marquee display my win, was a double edged sword. I knew for a fact my plan to scoop up the Ultraman Leo and Popy Ace were unlikely based on the prices and attention the higher end product seemed to gather. But who knew. Auctions are emotional and organic and unpredictable for the most part.

I took photos of my beloved zenmai just in case I fucked up and lost it to some random cash safe monster. It has come to my attention, it has never been about how much equity you have, just about how nuts you are.

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Josh B, Jason, Dave, Sanjeev, Ed and Uncle Warren ( and others) all greet me. They all know I am here to complete the circle. They know this actually means more to me than yesterdays win. They know I am willing to give a lung to walk home with this toy.

They know I am like Yukio Mishima at his last speech at the garrison… full of hope and passion to conquer but quietly awaiting my failure.

leo mishima

I talk to Marc again before the auction begins and get a well wishing and a “good luck”. I am amazed and humbled by his constant good nature and honorable way he views collecting. I am happy to know this toy is from his collection. Out of a sad circumstance , a number of friendships arise, and I sense a hobby paradigm shift. Marc does not know it yet, but he has indirectly and directly changed all of us.

I sit towards the front with Uncle Warren. Warren has through the years managed to secure a state of mind that would make even the most experienced of Zen masters blush. His good natured view of the hunt inspires me, and it felt good to work through this morning with him as a sounding board.

He right off the bat manages to score a D17 Popy zenmai Mint in box for a song. I am hopeful that this will be a trend as most of the Popy tins seem to not interest many people here. They are looking for Sushi and this is still fast food to them.

A selection of wins, including the coveted Daitetsujin 17.
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A number of key pieces come up and go for excellent prices. Some of us win some great deals. A few even get their tin feet wet for the first time. I am having a moment of deja vu when I recall many getting into Missile firing vinyls or Jumbos…the flavor of the oldskool ballers seems to be character tin. I imagine prices getting interesting in the months to come for future online auctions. Glad I got into it when I did. Only 35 true vintage walkers in and I still feel like a novice. I think I would be overwhelmed if I started now. This is the problem with my tin habit when it meets a desire for excellent boxes… it goes very S L O W.

One of my issues was that if your grail is not in the first half of the auction you tend to give up what may end up being excellent deals. I was also very interested in the Popy Ultraman Ace Mint in window box. It rarely ever comes up and is on par in rarity with the Barom 1 zenmai which loose goes well over a grand in mint shape. I have seen only a handful, but none in box, and it was certainly a toy that came as a very close second to my Leo pursuit. Popy put out window boxes in their initial releases and like the standard Popy tin packaging, they tend to be in very poor shape at best. As with Jumbos, it makes for a substantial price jump to find a box even in the c8 range. So in my mind this toy was well worth at least an attempt.
But I really could not justify the attempt if I still had already went over my budget and the Leo was about 10 minutes away from either being mine or another footnote in my “ones that got away” files.

So I suggest to Warren that he try winning it. It was a rare toy and he still had come under his D17 budget by quite a bit. If i can’t have it, better that we at least keep it in the family. It is how we all roll.

We win it for less than half of what I consider a standard retail, and I am shocked it did not gain more attention. “They” are waiting for sure.
Holding back until the top lots come up. I am not complaining and commend Warren on his win.

However, knowing me well, and always the gentleman, He mentions he would spot me until after the auction. He offers me the Ace for the winning bid and suggests I pay him at a later date.

I almost tear up. I am overdosing on grace and class. I make a mental note to do the same for someone else.

The boomerang flies hard and fast with Sifu Schwartz and I am in awe again of pure unadulterated kindness.

Popy Ultraman Ace with window box.
ultraman ace catalog

An unexpected and generous win with the help from “Sifu”
ultraman ace case

With a full heart and a renewed sense of purpose I see the Leo show up on the screen. Skipping a beat, my heart thuds now on full throttle and I am watching my hand go up again and again. I am on autopilot. I don’t care where the price goes. It is not about cost anymore. It is about love.

And then, it is over before I know it.

It is won for an absurdly low price, and wonder what I did to deserve the outcome.

A am a deer in headlights.

The mental dust settles and I feel congrats and handshakes and later texts from those around me. They know this is a personal victory. One they all have in their own way had in these past 48 hours.

3 hours later

This is what post auction bliss looks like. You finish, and the burn of passion now subsiding. Your no longer drunk with lust, but begin to have your moments of if it was was all you thought and hoped it would be. Momentary disappointment emerges as you realize your conquered companion lays on the table now domesticated. The unattainable is now your bitch.

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This is the tired look of victory and future months of financial stress.

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An example of the aftermath of multiple mustard induced Penn. Dutch made hotdogs and what it does to one’s psyche and auction number.

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So what to take from this? I contemplate the weekend and the most important thing I found among the victories and defeats, was the constant feeling of good natured kindness from both close confidant and stranger alike. The sense that we all had one another’s back could not be dissected or measured.

It just was.

And that is what made this event, and the subsiquent closing of circles the most satisfying of all.

Thanks everyone.

November 8, 2009

Morphy Attack Part Deux

Filed under: - The Morphy Auction,Erik Sjoen,Matt Alt,Toy News — admin @ 10:48 pm

In our last episode, our young hero idiots were buried under a pile of toys they stupidly thought they could catalog and identify at the rate of approximately 1 every 46.2 seconds. Thankfully these dumb fools had friends: equally stupid friends, who would blindingly sacrifice their lives for the same lumps of zinc and vinyl that the original idiots worshiped. And so it was that we found ourselves with a shitload of people all throwing down in a race against time, culminating in the vintage japanese toy wank of the decade:

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thumbs

ACTIVATING: SJOEN UP!

Friday am. An unknown location outside Philly.

My toy loving brethren have entered the Valhalla of Japanese toydom. Thrust into the unknown, a team of degenerate collectors hone in on Morphy’s with a serious vengeance and an aching to make it right with the world. Weeks of planning and back and forth have led to this pivotal moment and BAM!!

It’s GO:

chairmansjoen

Skivvies and a fresh beer greet the morn.. The Skype is a chirping LOUD.

“WHAT?!” I halfway croak.

“Sjoen, seriously.. We got problems! Check out this yellow missile. Daltanias or Godsigma? HEY!! Douchebag!?”

arcadia

The dog that I so fondly thought a woman moments ago slowly wakes up, licks it’s ass and climbs out of bed before me. Two seconds ago I was conquering the world, Jessica Alba by my side. Reality bites. A pissed off pit bull, a warm beer and the toy geeks ringing off the hook. Welcome to my life..

“Daltanias…” I mumble.

Throw on the newly pressed Bullmark Tshirt and bring the macbook to the back yard. 65 in SF, 100 outside Philly… Poor bastards must be hot as hell… Well, poor probably isn’t the right word.

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“What else you got?” I spout, head in hand. “Bring it!” I say, ego abounding as I lift my eyes up to view the 13 inch screen before me embedded with the pillar of diecast pornography.

“HOLY SHIT!!” I shout looking out at the sea of boxes 1/2 a stadium deep.

Mark shuffles up, cheeks clinched looking like he just drank a pint of bacon grease. Either that or a pint of JD.

“A Real Color God Mars, BITCH!!!” He says winking..

“Seriously? You really want to do me like that right now?” I plead.

He’s taunting me. That little jerk. “I NEED THAT..” I think, imagining my God Mars collection in all of its completeness. “I NEED…”

Eyes blurred from seeing what I think might just be a lucid interpretation of last night’s dream seeping into the real world, I figure I need to make a decision on the quick. A valuable decision. A non toy related decision.

I figured “I NEED” more sleep.

THE END. — Erik

ACTIVATING: ALT UP!

The chogo-phone rings with savage urgency as I wipe the sleep from my eyes. Here in Tokyo, the first rays of a bright morning are filtering through my blinds. But meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, Team TBDX is knee-deep in Popy cardboard — and they’re in trouble.

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“Operator 3G! Come in! We need an ID, stat! For God’s sake, COME IN!” I can hear the barely-masked terror in Alen’s voice, digitized and reconstituted here, thousands of miles from the danger zone. He’s got a problem and he’s called in the Internet equivalent of a UAV drone for an immediate informatiostrike on his position. I’m happy to oblige.

“Transmission acknowledged, Alen-One. Target acquisition uplink ready, over.”

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The photos begin arriving at once. First one, then five, then nearly a dozen. Each of them filled with uncountable, unknowable bits of plastic, metal, even twine. I’d seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, but nothing prepared me for the glittering darkness filling my monitor screen.

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“My god. It’s full of toys….” I find myself involuntarily muttering into the commlink.

“All… after… incinerators? I didn’t get that last bit, 3G. You’re breaking up!”

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“Forget it, Alen-One. Target acquired. Maintain current position.” Long hours of practice masked the extreme unease I was feeling at the photos. I recognized the propeller from the Takatoku Omochama, and a few of the other missiles, but what about the dozens of others?”

— Matt

* * *

Well, we know how the story ends. Erik and Matt threw down huge on getting 300 or so entries tidied up. Thanks to the ass-kicking skills of Jim Maitland, the vinyl id’s were completed on time. Brian Flynn from Super7 had a hand in the vintage vintage. Robert Duban went savante on the final catalog descriptions. Geoge Samson rewrote our Valkryie gibberish.

Without Warren and Steve Saperstein, we wouldn’t have been in this hell/paradise.

Finally, we want to thank THE.C. who helped us with the brute force assembling of all the stuff there…

WITH (4) DAYS TO GO BEFORE THE EVENT, IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO BUY YOURSELF A CHEAP-ASS TICKET TO GET TO PHILLY. CATALOGS ARE SHIPPED, AND IF YOU GOT YOUR NAME IN WITHIN A WEEK OF THE ORIGINAL INVITE, AND RECEIVED THE FLYER, YOU SHOULD BE ALL SET.

TOYBOXDX TEAMS ARE PACKING AND GETTING READY TO CONVERGE ON THE K.O.P. KEEP YOUR EYELIDS PEELED THIS WEEK FOR SOME MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENTS WHICH WILL CULMINATE IN LIVE SHOW AND TELL THIS WEEK!

THIS IS GOING TO ROCK!

TALK IT / BBS

October 17, 2009

The Morphy Auction Part 1.5: DOCTRINE OF TRINITY

Filed under: - The Morphy Auction,Toy News — admin @ 2:13 pm

ToyboxDX Mighty Morphy Power Attack Part 1.5: The Doctrine of Trinity

Sanjeev Ouch

SANJEEV SAYS:

“That was the Godfather,” I stated in a slow tone, lowering the phone from my ear.

Alen?”, my girlfriend queried, already knowing the answer…and based on my expression, also knowing full well the weight of the proposal just put before me.

A metric ton of Japanese vinyl monster toys spanning nearly four decades of production waiting in Denver, Pennsylvania to be identified and evaluated. Character and non-character toys from Bullmark to Blobpus. Vintage Marusan to modern Marmit. And the assignment of wrangling these beasts was to fall onto my shoulders. After all, who else could accomplish such a herculean task but TBDX’s own Chief Glowologist? And who could even think of turning down such a toy-nerd dream? And most importantly, who could say “no” to the Godfather?

Tons of Vinyls

For a moment, I pondered who from the Boston unit would get to be Ryoma…me, Alen, or Josh. Hey, as long as I wasn’t Benkei, right? These are the general sort of thoughts that occupied my fevered otaku brain en route.

Upon arriving at Morphy’s however, such whimsy was set aside. I didn’t envy Mark, Josh, and Alen’s job of identifying the myriad robot toy bits and matching them to their boxes. But at the same time, the sheer volume of vinyl before me was awe-inspiring.

(Fig.1: Sanjeev at work. AKA "Benkei" — AY)

Over the next three days, I formed my own one-man Monster Attack Team, with Josh and Jim Maitland’s invaluable aid. But WOULD the kaiju be corralled in time?

Even more vintage vinyl japanese toys.

JOSH SAYS:

The normal executive timbre in Alen’s voice was colored with an obvious undertone of fanboy excitement. I had spoken only the night before with Uncle Warren hypothetically about this, and in his usual fashion, Alen picked up the ball and ran with it. I knew this was going to be special in a way none of us could imagine.

Another money shot of the popy

There really was almost no reason to ask the question. Of course I was going to do this. Despite the magnitude of the task, this was something that all of us could not have fabricated in our wildest otaku drenched dreams.

Within a week of the conversation, details were laid out and tickets were purchased. Sanjeev on vinyl would work, but after some industrial math, we knew we were short. We would need another person — someone else to complete an East-Coast trinity. If only we knew of someone who could relentlessly crush like a machine, and fight like a solidier. A Machinesolider

Josh handles to many Takatoku Valks

MARK SAYS:

As I pulled up to Morphy’s showroom, I could sense a vibration in the air. The energy… here was an entire warehouse full of gokin, less than an hour drive from my house.

I had seen a few advance pictures but that did not prepare me for the shock and awe of seeing it in person. Rows of tables, lined up end to end, on which hundreds, possibly thousands, of boxes were stacked. Popy. Takatoku. Takemi. Bandai. Unifive.

All the Takatoku Valkyries

The boxes were mostly empty. Aisles of drawers, reaching almost to the ceiling, contained the loose toys and accessories that belonged within. Missiles and fists were everywhere. The task ahead of us was daunting to say the least.

More Popy Stuff

We organized the boxes first, grouping by series and manufacturer. Once that was in order, we dug in to the drawers to gather the toys and their accessories, and put them with their boxes to create lots. Treasures were found, and it amazed me how mint these toys were. Most looked like they were taken out of the box when bought new, put on display, and have sat untouched ever since. A Voltes V was found in 5 separate pieces, which had never been combined; as well as a mint, unbroken Takemi Sandaio, and a Gardian with intact knees.

Gradwell and Beer

* * *

We honestly had no idea what was waiting for us. Before this was over, and after an intensive 72 hour marathon, the word “Morphy” would be burned into our skulls.

Yeah, we thought we were on a mission. But it was really a slice of hell on earth, and it was payment time for all our gokin sins. Manhandling the toys was just the first of the tasks. We had forgotten about a little something called “the LOTS…”

Mark Gradwell’s Photos are online. Check them out:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8570113@N05/

((( Stay tuned for Part 2… )))

October 1, 2009

Mighty Morphy Power Attack – Part 1: Call to Arms

Filed under: - The Morphy Auction,Toy News — Alen @ 7:26 pm

“Can you identify Japanese robots?” Er. “Yes!” And so it began…

The plan sounded simple: fly in to PA with a team of Experts to catalog 1700 Japanese vintage toys in 50 hours. Unit 1: Sanjeev for the vinyl, Fraser for the vintage, Gradwell for his muscle, and me for my berserker focus. SOUNDED simple because we’re stupid and apparently can’t count. Because even though we’re laughing now that it’s over, none of us were really ready for the tragic denouement, the brutal climax, the death-move, that WAS:

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Unit1

PART 1: Call to Arms / Alen’s Song

The sky above Philadelphia is a cardboard gradient, running from blue to black. It’s edged with silver borders, and high in my mind’s eye, a red oval floods the road with a vintage light.

We’re 15 miles north / north-west of Philadelphia, cruising through something called “King of Prussia,” packed to the edges with cameras, computers and reference books. I say “cruising” but tearing is more appropriate, though even that word connotes an element of control which is absent at the wheel.

Josh is a fucking madman in the curves, throwing our emasculated Hertz “Granny” Edition Mustang through blocks of stalled cars using any surface he can find. He’s taking an exit — no, he’s borrowing the exit RAMP — to slingshot between a merging semi and an oil truck doing 90. Horns blare and brakes squeal, and as Josh uses his RISD training to “create” a lane, impending death causes my spine to squirt out an image of the Millenium Falcon spiraling through tightening corridors on its way to a destructive and predictable climax. Damn you Lucas! Even in my final moments, your filthy god fingers are mushed all over our lives…

We pull between the trucks with inches to spare. The stink of toxic burning plastic floods the cabin, assaulting all orifices. Sanjeev, seemingly molded out of glowing polymers, serenely bobs in shotgun. He keeps that placid asian smile going even as Josh spins the wheel and slams his head into the passenger window, Chris Brown style.

Josh Fraser drives like a freaking madman. And I've ridden in a Taiwanese cab at rush hour.

Fraser drives like a freaking madman. And I've ridden in a Taiwanese cab at rush hour.

Before I can figure out if I’m the gay robot or the wookie in this terrible scene, Josh suddenly starts laughing maniacally. He’s thought of something so funny he’s snorting, and crossing lane lines with his eyes squeezed shut.


“Ohmygod, do you know what we are right now? It’s like I’m Doogie Howser and you guys are Harold and Kumar, and we’re in the third movie…!” Maybe you had to be there, but this cracks us all up. Tires screech wildly and we careen from edge to edge all over I-276.

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Josh is right. This is a tawdry movie narrative, and at the end of our cheap, airbrushed rainbow lays a heap of what damaged freaks like us call gold: bits of powder-coated zinc, plastic projectiles, limbs of polyetheylene, silkscreened tin, and thick layers of musty funk.

* * *

We arrive in Denver PA, and sync up with Gradwell. His car doesn’t suck, and we hide our faces in shame to have to park our shitbox so close to the Lotus.

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We’re greeted by the awesomely pleasant Morphy staff. They call us the “Diecast/Vinyl Guys.” We gawk around looking at the sick and pristine tin stuff, rack after rack of Kentucky Rifles, and the most beautiful Corgi collection I have ever seen. These people know how to revere things; the displays are meticulous, tasteful and immaculate.

Morphy Auctions. This place is seriously cool.

Morphy Auctions is like a church for our cult. This place is seriously cool.

tin

Then we’re escorted into the sorting room with the esteemed and legendary Dan Morphy as our guide. We had seen some of the preliminary photos — excavation-like, with dozens of mysterious trays — so some kind mental map had been formed in the brain pan. That map was immediately shredded as we confronted dozens of long tables, and aisle after aisle of pull out drawers filled with limbs, missiles, parts and boxes. And that was just the gokin. The vinyls were overflowing from boxes hundred at a time.

This entire hallway is filled with toys, especially SOC parts. Try reassembling and reboxing 3 different Daikyumaryu variants at the same time. Gradwell and I never need to touch another SOC again.

This entire hallway is filled with toys, especially SOC parts. Try reassembling and reboxing 3 different Daikyumaryu variants at the same time. Gradwell and I never need to touch another SOC again.


mvinyl4mgokin2
Ok, so imagine like a couple of hundred of these trays, some with just accessories in them. And you'll have some idea.

Imagine like a couple of hundred of these trays, some with just accessories in them. And you'll have some idea.

The vinyl poured forth uncontrollably. We're talking <strong>Exxon Valdez</strong> quantities. Sanjeev looked battered by the second hour.” title=”mvinyl” width=”590″ height=”338″ class=”size-full wp-image-3333″ /><p class=The vinyl poured forth uncontrollably. We're talking Exxon Valdez quantities. Sanjeev looked battered by the second hour.

This situation was so ENTIRELY out of control. We were pulling 1000 dollar pieces out of the racks left and right. Sanjeev was bumping into things, and Gradwell got quiet and started popping beers. Josh looked gaunt, like a robot skull. We were in over our heads.

So I pushed the button. We needed crushing power. It was time to activate the big guns. It was time for…UNIT 2…!

(((To be continued. With a ton more exclusive photos. Like, maybe 300 of them…)))

September 30, 2009

Sign up for Exclusive Morphy Catalog

Filed under: - The Morphy Auction,Toy News — admin @ 12:31 pm

morphy
Morphy Auctions is making available to us a limited number of printed and bound auction catalogs for the Solondz Collection.

The clock is ticking and if you give a damn about this stuff and plan on bidding, you’ve got 48 hours to get us your address. Please send us over:

FULL NAME
MAILING ADDRESS
EMAIL

Send info to: alenyenDX@gmail.com

FOR NOW, THE CATALOG IS BEING SENT FREE.

Uh, what are you WAITING FOR?

[DISCUSS IT IN THE MORPHY THREAD]

September 26, 2009

Official Release: Seminal Morphy Auction Announced for November 13 & 14th

Filed under: - The Morphy Auction,Toy News — admin @ 7:06 am

  • Approximately 2000 vintage japanese diecast and vinyl toys
  • Location: Denver PA
  • ToyboxDX to cosponsor event on the 13th
  • More ToyboxDX exclusive backstory on the catalog on its way


DENVER, Pa. – Dan Morphy Auctions ventures into the fantasy fringe on Nov. 13-14, with an extraordinary sale of robots, space toys, and Japanese superheroes, die-casts and vinyls. Internet live bidding will be available from anywhere in the world through www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

The comprehensive sci-fi toy collection of nearly 1,500 lots was consigned by Mark Solondz, a New Jersey-based collector who “flew under the radar for years and made very smart buying choices,” according to Dan Morphy Auctions’ owner and CEO Dan Morphy.

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“Although both Mark and his collection later became very well known, he formed the core of his fantastic collection quietly, and made many trips to Japan to purchase superhero toys that were not available to buy in the United States,” said Morphy. “We believe it is the largest single-owner robot, space toy and superhero collection of its type ever to come to auction. It stands apart from any collection we at Morphy’s have ever seen before because it contains so many of the great die-cast pieces made by Bandai offshoot ‘Popy,’ in boxes with Japanese writing that are so desirable to collectors.”

The collection consists of five basic categories: robots (tin and some plastic), space vehicles, Japanese superhero toys, die-cast toys by Popy and other Japanese manufacturers (e.g., Bullmark, Takatoku, Ark, Grip, Marusan, etc.), and Japanese vinyls (both vintage and contemporary). A bumper selection of very nice-quality comic character toys is a compatible bonus.

Robot highlights include an X-27 Explorer, Telephone Robot and Mighty 8 – all of which are boxed. Also in the group are a Change Man Robot with lizard head that opens to reveal a man’s head, and a Mr. Atomic. The collection includes Masudaya’s Gang of Four robots: Lavender, Giant Sonic (Train), Radicon and Target.

Top lots among the space vehicles include a Space Patrol Car, boxed VW R-10, a boxed Super Cycle Space Patrol and a rare, smaller (9-inch) version of the Space Patrol Car, a toy that has sold at auction for as much as $10,000 in the past.

Tommy Sage Jr., Morphy’s chief operating officer and an expert in postwar Japanese toys, said he believes the superhero category will put in a very strong performance at auction. “It runs the gamut and is about 80 percent boxed,” said Sage. “To list just a few examples, there’s a Golden Bat, Astro Boy, Masked Rider, Barragan, Moonlight Man and Super Kun, plus quite a few Godzillas and Batman toys. There’s also a giant Mirror Man – the mask comes off and there’s a head inside – and a scarce, hand-painted Jetter Car. There are lots of really unusual vehicles in the collection, including airplanes, submarines, speedboats and motorcycles.”

The November auction at Morphy’s will mark a milestone, since it will be the first time a Japanese die-cast and vinyl collection has come to auction. Most of the Japanese die-cast pieces are boxed, and the vinyls are in their original plastic packaging.

“This represents a unique opportunity for collectors, especially those who do not live in Japan. These toys just don’t turn up for sale in the United States,” said Sage. “They have to be bought there and brought back, which is what Mark Solondz did.”

Die-cast toys made by Popy during the company’s golden era (1970s to 2000) are especially desirable to today’s collectors, since Popy was considered the premier brand of its genre. Popy was a trailblazer and even coined the now-mainstream terms “Chogokin,” which means “super alloy metal;” and Popinica, which merges the name “Popy” and the Japanese word meaning “mini-car.”

More Popy than you can handle

More Popy than you can handle

ToyboxDX.com founder Alen Yen, and ToyboxDX members Josh Fraser, Mark Gradwell, and Sanjeev Selvaraj, were the specialists who cataloged the die-cast and vinyl toys for Morphy’s onsite. ToyboxDX’s Matt Alt, Jim Maitland, Warren Schwartz and Erik Sjoen provided expert consulting from Tokyo,the West Coast, and Boston.

Yen is quoted saying the Nov. 13-14 sale of the Solondz collection is especially significant because it is “the first time anyone has formally cataloged and priced these types of toys in a public auction of this kind, which finally legitimizes what has been going on for 20 years. There have been private sales in the past, with collectors selling to dealers, or collectors selling to other collectors, and of course eBay and YahooJapan, but there has never been an entire collection offered at auction like this.”



Yen noted that Solondz’s massive collection of toys from Popy’s 1970s Chogokin and Popinica series includes several items of extreme rarity – a gold-leg version of Mazinger, a black Reideen, complete series of Ninja Captor and Robocon, and Godaikin deluxe sets, including Combattra, Voltes and Chokinzoku Tetsujin 28. Another prized catch for any collector is a very seldom seen intact example of Takemi Sandaio. Whenever an example of this toy is offered for sale – which is not very often – it almost always exhibits some form of damage.


Ninja Captor BLUE

Ninja Captor BLUE

“There are over a dozen Jumbomachinders, too, for those seeking the 2-foot-tall masterpieces,” Yen said, observing the auction lineup. “These include Getta 2, Dol, Pegas and all of the Shogun Warriors.” Productions from the 1980s are found in the collection, as well, and include Takatoku Valkyries in their pristine original boxes. A headliner within this niche category is a very rare Elintseeker.

Jumbomachinder Dol

Jumbomachinder Dol

There are many highlights among the grouping of vintage vinyls. Some of the top lots include a King Bockle, Karly-seijin, Pegila, Kendorus and Wakuranba, as well as a rare orange and red version of Supersol Kanegon.

The King

The King

The bonus selection of comic character toys to be offered in Morphy’s Nov. 13-14 auction exhibits excellent condition throughout. “Mark’s buying choices were excellent,” said Tommy Sage. “The collection includes a lot of Popeye, Frankenstein and Batman character toys, and all of it is really nice. Collectors will be pleased.”

The buzz in robot and superhero circles is that collectors from Japan and Europe are already lining up to buy airline tickets so they can fly to the United States to attend the auction and other auxiliary events planned by Morphy Auctions.



In association with ToyboxDX.com, Morphy’s will host a reception for the visiting robot community on Friday evening, Nov. 13, at The Black Horse tavern and hotel in Adamstown. As an added attraction to their impromptu robot summit, many collectors will be paying a call to The Toy Robot Museum, which is less than a five-minute drive from Morphy’s gallery.


“This is turning into quite a destination event,” said Morphy. “We love it when collectors use our auctions as a hub for their gatherings and conventions, and that’s what this is turning out to be – an international convention .”

Auction & Preview Details:

Dan Morphy Auctions’ sale of the Mark Solondz Collection will take place on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 13 and 14, with Internet live bidding through www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

More than 600 Japanese vinyl and die-cast toys will be auctioned in the Friday session, followed by robots, space toys, superhero toys and character toys on Saturday. Both sessions will commence at 10 a.m. Eastern U.S. Time. For questions on any item in the sale, call 717-335-3435.

The electronic version of the fully illustrated catalog will be available to view soon at www.LiveAuctioneers.com, where you can also sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet during the auction.

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