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January 30, 2003

Daimos Makeover

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 11:09 am

I recently had the opportunity to have my Jumbo Machinder Daimos refurbished
by Dan Webber of Webber toys. Dan makes reproduction jumbo parts and
stickers, and for a fee he will take your Jumbo, clean it and restore
it.

I decided on my Daimos for the makeover. He was dirty, he was missing
accessories, and his stickers were peeling and bubbling. Off to Dan he
went.

Dan takes the Jumbo and disassembles it. He removes all the stickers
and adhesives. After a thorough cleaning, he re-applies his custom stickers.
The stickers are vinyl with a clear coat. He also touches up the paint
on painted areas, such as the head.

His reproduction parts are fantastic. The launching
fist
is molded out
of white resin in 2 pieces. It is assembled and then painted to match
the original color. The match is almost exact. And yes, the fist does
shoot. The weight is just slightly heavier than the original. He also
has made reproduction parts such as Raydeen’s bowfist, Grendizer’s
harikens
, and your standard firing missile.

About a week later I received the completely restored Jumbo. The difference
is astounding. Daimos looks like brand new.

I do have a few small criticisms. Some of the stickers are a little
bit pixilated. I was informed that they are going to be re-done with
a vector-based program to produce clean lines. Also, he left the original
factory over spray on the head. I guess that is a matter of preference.
I think I would have rather he cleaned it off.

This is a good solution if you want to breathe new life in to your old
Shogun Warrior Jumbos. Check out Dan’s site at www.webbertoys.com.

Joshua Bernard

January 29, 2003

Great Gorgo!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 3:44 pm

I have a confession to make: Aside from the footage that showed up in that Kia commercial, I’ve never seen Gorgo. All I know about the movie is that it involves a baby monster and its mama stomping the hell out of London. That and Leonard Maltin called the special effects “exciting”.


Year after year, the refrain I’ve always heard from monster toy collectors was, “Damn, when is someone going to make a Gorgo figure?” Well, that’s what a bold, enterprising Jersey boy went out and did.


No, not me. It was Jim Cirronella from Club Daikaiju, working in conjunction with the kings of kaiju sofubi, M-1 Go. The end result is as impressive as their previous collaborations, Reptilicus and the Rat-Bat-Spider.


As far as the size goes, Mama is slightly bigger than a standard Bullmark vinyl with articulation at the arms, legs, and tail, while Baby is a tad smaller than the mini-size vinyls with the standard waist joint. The vinyl is very thick, and the hand-painted details are excellent.


As vinyl monster toys go, it really doesn’t get any better than this. Even if you’ve never seen the movie. I give it a solid “A”. Pick yours up at Godzilla Shop (you can find Gorgo here) or your local monster toy dealer.


Click on the thumbnails to check out more pictures of the duo, and check out Gorgo’s page at M-1 Go’s official site. Heed Baby’s warning, though: “Don’t touch me!”

Roger

January 28, 2003

Shelves nothing! Toy Room!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 4:06 pm

Like most young men, I have fantasized about having an entire room devoted solely to robot toys for some time. “Boy, as soon as I get a place of my own I will have a spiffy toy room” I would say. I imagine many of you had/have the same thoughts. Well, don’t give up! You CAN turn an unused bedroom into the toy haven of your dreams! The following four pictures depict the end result of my desires:









Here’s How I did it: First I bought a house, then I put all my toys into a room. “Be more specific!” you say? “I want more details!” you demand? OK, I can oblige. In order to create the room I always wanted, I first built a 1/10th scale model of the spare bedroom and all the furniture I planned to use to display the toys. On a side note, the 2 “real” pieces in the room were hand-me-downs from my Mom. The only pieces I acquired myself were the cheap-o black bookcases. After the model was done, I played with layouts and designed a guide for the paint. Next came the actual painting. Step one was to clear the room and tape it off. Next I applied the orange layer. After that the dark gray went on, and finally, (and this is what took the most time) I brought the gray down over the orange to create the flame effect. There are added touches as well. The display stand seen in the pictures of the room was acquired when I worked at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. They were getting rid of it, and forward thinking as I am, I grabbed it. Painted to match, I think it makes a nice addition. Also, the “Table of Maximus” is my own design. It both makes use of AND showcases the phenomenal power of these impressive robots. You can’t really see them in the lousy pictures, but the shelves were designed by me as well. They feature steel cable on the ends for a suspension bridge feel. So there you have it. $35 worth of lumber, various snippets of hardware, 4 gallons of paint, 640 gallons of toys, and 45 hours of labor and my visions of toy wonder were fulfilled. Here I am enjoying the fruits of my hard work. Naturally, I have since outgrown the room and will need to make another.

Jake

January 27, 2003

D’ya know DENJIN?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 10:47 am

D’ya know Denjin? Probably not. They’re an ultra-minor “garage” toy maker with a single license to their name. Or more precisely, only one that I care about: the license to produce limited-edition, retro-styled, soft vinyl representations of robots from the Mobile Suit Gundam series.


Denjin first caught my eye about a year and a half ago, when they sold a pair of soft-vinyl Zakus (one “Char,” one “cannon fodder”) as convention exclusives. With their old-skool sculpt and satisfying size (roughly equivalent to the “standard Bullmark” scale of nine inches), they were a standout in a flood of depressingly similar Gundam merchandise.


Unfortunately, I missed the boat the first time around, and prices had skyrocketed on Japanese auction sites before I could get my greasy mitts on them. But fortunately, Denjin wasn’t a one-hit wonder.


In the middle of last year, Denjin bulked up their line with a whole slew of new characters. To wit: a “commander type” green Zaku, Doms molded in purple, Char orange, and blue; an “old type” Zaku; and my personal favorite, an old type Zaku molded in the oddly earth-toned personal colors of fan-favorite character Ranba Ral.(I just can’t get enough of that turqoise and sky blue color combination.)


The downside to the Denjin toys is their price. Although loose specimens occasionally appear ine online auctions for $20 or $30, more often than not they’re only encountered mint-in-bag at $75 to $100. That’s a lot of dough for a new toy, especially one that’s practically immoble (in keeping with the style). But then again, what’s a fan of vintage 70′s Gundam soft vinyls to do? Choices were slim to begin with, but they’ve been even slimmer since Clover went under in the early ’80s. Now, thanks to Denjin, those with a proclivity for questionably-proportioned renditions of Gundam robots have a chance to fill their shelves again.

Matt

Kaiyodo Getta-1 Switch ON!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 9:57 am

Aesthetics are very important to me, and this carries over to my toy collecting. The accuracy of the sculpt of a toy, and its faithfulness to the anime can make or break a deal for me, so imagine my excitement when Kaiyodo announced the Getter-1 action figure based on the design seen in the “Neo Getter Robo vs. Shin Getter Robo” OVA.


The figure comes in the “Rollout Version” as well as the harder-to-get “Meltdown Version”. Through some cosmic intervention, I managed to score both from HLJ. Both figures are done nicely, and both are capable of very dynamic poses. The head can tilt forward and backward, as well as pivot on the neck, allowing some very cool poses.


The ‘Rollout Version” features a glossy paintjob with some nice weathering, and comes with two Getter Tomahawk axes, Getter Machine Gun, a nicely painted Getter Wing cape, three sets of hands (closed fist, fists to hold the Getter Tomahawks, and open hands), and a couple of round, clear discs meant to be used as a stand. (They have a peg that goes in a hole at the bottom of the Getter 1’s feet). So far, I have not had to use the stands. The figure holds poses well, and it is nicely balanced, so it has not taken any spills.


The “Meltdown Version” features a nice flat paint job, weathered and “dirty” from hydraulic fluid seeping from the battle-damaged parts. It comes with two nicely weathered Getter Tomahawks, a weathered Getter Machine Gun, and the same stand discs as the “Rollout Version”. Its left shoulder comes with battle damage, four pairs of hands (closed fist, closed fist to hold weapons, open hands, as well as an open hand holding the Getter Reactor, with a corresponding, differently posed open hand). The left arm can be removed and replaced with a battle-damaged stub of a shoulder. The Getter reactor has dangling cables, one of which can be plugged into the Getter 1’s exposed guts, to simulate the scene in the OVA when the Getter 1 takes out the enemies by tearing out his own Getter Reactor core and making it explode. The “Meltdown Version” also comes with a nice base stand that features some collapsed building debris, and the remains of a defeated robot-dinosaur.


Both figures are made out of heavy PVC, and the joints feature Kaiyodo’s “Monoshaft” joints. The joints are nice and tight, and my only complaint is some paint chipping on the inside of the elbow joint (see closeup picture) from my repeatedly changing poses. Aside form this, both figures are flawless representations of the OVA’s Getter-1, and I would highly recommend both, as they each have exclusive accessories.

Javier

January 21, 2003

Don’t Forget Your Angry Eyes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 7:54 am

That’s good advice from Mrs. Potatohead for any warrior going into battle… Or as the fiery Drill Instructor in Full Metal Jacket put it, “SHOW ME YOUR REAL WAR FACE!!!“. If ever a Japanese character had a War Face, it’s gotta be the menacing black-clad, machine gun toting Kerberos Panzer Cops from the dark mind of Mamoru Oshii. Imagine yourself clad in impervious armor, laying waste to the enemy in such sweeping fashion that even Sam Jackson would nod in approval… Sure is more likely than getting to pilot a 100-feet tall Super Robot!


Before the explosion of worldwide fan interest in the Kerberos franchise due to the superb Jin-Roh anime, the only way you could own a figure of the trooper was to either get the soft vinyl kit from Kaiyodo, or purchase the exclusive and very expensive Japan-only, mail-order toys from Medicom. I would hesitate to even call those figures real toys because they were only slightly removed from the kits, having the most basic of 12″ figure bodies, and non-articulated hands that could barely hold the included MG-34 or MG-42 machine guns (assembly required). Later, Medicom also released the much improved Jin-Roh version, although the base figure was still very limited in poseability, and the armor was permanently attached to the figure. Check out Tim Brisko’s excellent Rumbles from February for his customized Stray Dogs version, and the Medicom Jin-Roh version.


So now Dragon Models enters the scene, they of the insanely detailed and over accessorized, super realistic 1/6 scale action figures. In their edition of the Stray Dogs Kerberos Panzer Cops, the same maniacal attention to detail lends a level of reality as never before to this fan favorite. On their website (Thanks for the link, AcroRay!), they list 3 versions of the toy, a battle-scarred Toys ‘R Us Japan exclusive, a Japan-only light-up eyes version, and a standard export version. I would have gladly bought ANY version available, but as it is, the dealer here in Singapore managed to snag a good number of the “light-up” version.


Just looking at the included stuff gives you an idea of how good Dragon Models are. The fully-articulated trooper is equipped with a handgun and a Luger, both with removable magazines, the trademark MG-42 machine gun, with spare diecast barrel and a chain of linked metal bullets. I can’t tell you enough how much better the metal bullets looked compared to the “normal” rubber molded ones you get with the set of guns sold separately for 1/6 scale collectors. The heft of the bullets makes the chain obey the laws of gravity more naturally… And the main figure? What a revelation! Like comparing the DX Sazabi to a Gashapon capsule figure! (OK, maybe not THAT drastic.)


Double-jointed elbows and knees, even the feet are double-sectioned. Look at the detailing on the gauntlets! METAL helmet, backpack with grips for the MG-42, working belt clasps that let you remove all the armor. I was especially impressed by the leg armor – hinged knee covers, soft PVC molded shin guards and separate boots that together allowed for very realistic poses. The much sleeker Jin-Roh figure was like a day-old stiff compared to this toy.


And of course… the EYES! The glowing red goggles are the most recognizable feature of any version of the Kerberos Protect Gear. Where previously you had to settle for brightly painted goggles, Dragon Models gives you close to the Real Thing. The actual visage under the helmet and mask is a featureless casing which contains a pair of battery-operated LEDs. Locating the switch was a small puzzle at first as the diagram on the back of the box wasn’t too helpful. But once you remove the mask and balaclava, there it is… a real T2 moment for me. And that blank face with two pinpoint eyes? He’s either the tallest Jawa this side of the Star Wars galaxy, or the closest cousin to the naked EVA-01 from Evangelion :P


I put the toy through the paces and was very happy with the level of finish and playability it offered compared to all previously released versions. My pricey Medicom simply can’t compare… Dragon Models blows it clean away, like the Kerberos would with a real MG-42… BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRTTTTTTTTTTTT!!! No remorse! About the only complaint I could come up with is that the toy is pretty top-heavy, which means that some poses are very hard to hold still. It took me quite a while to get the shots done right, the figure kept toppling over on the table.


I paid about US$85 for mine. If you’re a fan of the design this figure is not to be missed. The more brutish looking Stray Dogs version is now a brother in arms to my Medicom Jin-Roh. I can only hope that Dragon Models creates the ultimate version of the Jin-Roh version as well. Now THAT would be a sight for sore eyes!

drifand

January 20, 2003

A Small Victory

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 10:33 am

Better late than never! This Rumble was actually made in Dec 2002, but was overtaken by events…

Small in stature yet full of surprises, these nifty toys offer more bang for buck than your average MSiA. I mean, it even transforms accurately! Not counting the larger kits, only the huge 1/48 DX Victory Gundam could pull it off, and even then the Core Fighter was a separate piece. So arguably, the Banpresto is the most accurate V-Gundam toy ever! If you’re a fan of V-Gundam or simply love well-made mecha toys, this is a opportunity you shouldn’t pass up on.

Inside the colorful box, the little guy rests in a white vac-formed tray with his beam rifle. Surprise No. 1: It has DIECAST parts!!! No kidding, the forearm tabs and most of the lower legs
are metal! I dare say it has more diecast than the GD-44 Kahen Senshi Zeta. Nor is the plastic cheap looking or brittle… just a notch down from the KH Zeta, and waaaay better than the usual rubbery PVC on MSiAs or even FIX figures.

There are two variations – the normal V-Gundam and the finless Hexa. Strangely enough, the head for the Hexa looks better than the main mecha. More surprises are in store… The thrusters in the backpack and rear skirt armor are articulated! And the gun comes with the trademark swiveling stock. Impressed yet? In robot mode, cool poses are a snap, even the much coveted kneeling pose.

But the main thing about this toy is that it transforms. It separates cleanly into the three main components. First is the Core Fighter. Having owned the 1/48, I’m amazed that Banpresto has managed to go one up on the larger toy. Sure, it’s a little flimsy, but WOW! Check out the intricate joints on the torso which combine to make the Top-Fighter. The lower legs have opening verniers and hidden fins too. Combine it to make the Bottom-Fighter.

Any caveats? Aside from the slightly fugly details on the V-finned head, the shoulder joints are kinda loose and movement is pretty restricted. The side armor pieces tend
to come off by themselves, but a bit of blu-tack helps to keep them in. Of course, no beam shield either, but I don’t miss it. And, as these are meant to be game prizes, QA is not exactly at SOC levels. I paid about US$14 for each, but if you’re buying them blind from an online dealer, be prepared for little tragedies. In the end, I think they make a great addition to the Victory Gundam family :)

- Drifand

drifand

January 19, 2003

Evil Lincoln!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 3:36 pm

When I first opened the cockpit hatch and pulled out the driver figure, I thought, “Rob Zombie?” Because that’s exactly what the Dr. Hell figure looks like. Well, either that or an evil Abraham Lincoln.


Anyway, the Fewture Models 1901 Garada is a great piece. Lots of articulation and stability makes it a major improvement over the first 2 figures in the series. The plastic used is much better than that used for the Mazinger & Aflodai (they have a rubbery feel to them). The arms & legs don’t pop off or flop around and it will hold a pose. The articulation’s much better too. The elbows are double jointed for better bending, the chest & waist are both jointed to allow for hunching over or leaning back, and the neck & skull are both on seperate joints. The only complaint I have is with the feet. The pointy toes are hooked on to a joint on the foot to allow posing so they aren’t glued to the figure. They do tend to slide off. The paint job’s top notch, but I would have preferred  a scheme more similar to the original colors, this one looks a little too much like Skeletor. But with Fewture’s love of repaints it shouldn’t be too long before that color comes out. The figures roughly 9.5″ tall, (close to 11″ counting the head blades) which gives it some height over the Mazinger & Aflodai


As for gimmicks, there’s the opening cockpit with pilot figure, opening chest plates, hinged jaw, sliding spinal column which retracts and elongates depending on the torso positioning, 6 hands (with moveable wrists) and a bunch of smaller accessories used for making various weapons. There’s also a ‘Darkpolice Base’ included as well as the bonus weapons for the right wing of the 1901 Mazinger Scrandler (The right wing hasn’t been released yet, the left was included with Aflodai).

stick

January 17, 2003

Baron Gashapon

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 7:16 pm

I have a problem with “toy crack.”  Talk about shit for taste – if it’s a cheap robot with a gimmick, I must have it.  But even I have to admit there’s no substitute for the funk of 70s design.  That’s why the Bandai chogokin and popynica gashapon have been a personal obsession lately.  They combine the quick fix of toy crack with the old-school love of vintage diecast.

The Palisades Baron Karza reissue fits squarely into this high-grade gashapon mold.  Sure, he’s the same size as his Mego ancestor.  But make no mistake:  this Karza is world-class toy crack.  Like the chogokin gashapon, Karza’s an exact visual replica of the Mego version.  He’s got that grim, Vader-esque expression.  (And don’t tell me again that Karza and Force Commander came before Darth and his Stormtroopers – I refuse to be confused with the facts.)  The monochromatic body that shows off the H.R. Giger structure hidden by Geeg’s clown colors.  And projectiles galore.  Put him on a shelf, he’d be a great substitute for the Karza I never had as a child.

No way.  He’s a magnemo, and a cheap one, at that.  He’s going to be played with, hard.  Toss the box.  Interchange the parts.  You’ll need a screwdriver to make a centaur with the included Andromeda, at least on the clear versions.  Who cares?  The horsie is an accessory, like that weird gun thing that made the ST Grendizer look like a sheriff.  Although it makes a neat tank.

 

Let’s talk about the variants.  To me, the Micronauts were all about clear and chrome.  The three repro Karza versions have it – chrome on the black Andromeda, clear and red-clear throughout the other sets.  So it’s not the white-glove chrome of the SOC Getters, nor crystal-mode clarity.  We’re talking toy crack here.  I especially dig the clear-red version.  It looks suitably evil, yet easily gaudy enough to be “Leader of the evil Acroyear, enemy of the Micronauts.”

There’s been much talk of the QC problems with Palisades’ Micronauts reissues.  I come here not to bury Karza, but to praise him.  For twenty-five bucks, I challenge you to find a better equipped gashapon of a classic 70s toy.  Sure, you get amazing engineering in the Gundam Archenemies for that price, and all the over-wrought 90s design that goes with it.  Or you could spend thirty on the riotous colors of perfect Geeg reissue (without Panzeroid, of course).  This month, Karza’s my fix.  I’ll take three.

Ken-A

Toy Whores: Episode One

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 7:34 am

Welcome to the first in what is (hopefully!) a new mini-series of articles and reviews of the various toy stores in the Tokyo area. I’ve been heading over to Japan for years now, but for a variety of reasons I’ve never actually taken any pictures or written many reviews of any of the stores I’ve visited. This isn’t because I was trying to protect my “fishin’ holes” or because I didn’t want to write anything up. It’s because I am a lazy, lazy bastard.

It took the super-secret “X-factor” of Josh Fraser being in Japan for an extended period at the same time I am to get me off my duff and start typing again. I’m here scrimping and saving and building up my little translation company in a cramped room on the outskirts of Tokyo. Josh is here living high off the hog on his company’s expense account in the city’s equivalent of Beverly Hills.

I’m a cheapskate. He’s loaded. And in our spare time, by all that is holy to us (in Josh’s case, C-10 boxes; in mine, cheap-ass robot sofubi) we’ll try to bring you drool-inducing photo exposes of the best Tokyo’s toy stores have to offer. Think of it as a living Datafile of the hard, mean toy-streets in this character-obsessed city. Our mission: to document ever single damned toy store in the Tokyo metropolitan area – or go broke trying. And probably both.

Muchas gracias to Josh B. of CollectionDX for hosting the photos (and Josh’s personal account of the debauchery!) Click on over and take a gander at Josh’s obsessive photo-work for the full expose. And look for more toy store reviews this spring, when I’ll be packing up my stuff and heading over to the Motherland for good!

GANG BANGIN’

10.26.02

Speaking of bangin’, man, my head hurts. I just landed in Tokyo 24 hours ago. (My biggest problem is that I always try to drink my way through jetlag. Or perhaps that’s my greatest strength.)

When you’ve got jetlag, nothing seems real. It’s like you’re offset a few degrees from reality. There’s a sort of quiet nibbling at the edges of your perception. Threatening to send you sprawling to the pavement in a narcoleptic crash if you don’t maintain, as Hunter S. Thompson would say.

I should probably be in bed. It’s 12:45 in the afternoon and I’ve been up for ten hours already. The only thing keeping me on my feet is a steady stream of Pocari Sweat sports drinks, carbohydrate-rich meat buns from the local convenience store, and the burning desire to finally see some goddamned toys.

And to see Josh. Where the hell is that guy? The trick to beating jetlag is to keep moving constantly, and I’ve been standing here at the “Moai” statue behind Shibuya station for a whole five minutes now. Manintan. Wait! There he is, thank god. No time to talk. I grab Josh and lurch for the trains. We’re going to my all-time favorite store in Tokyo: Forest Gang. (Whenever I hear that name, I always get this image of Bambi with a nine millimeter. But the joke’s on English speakers: “gang” means “toy” rather than “Menace II Society” in Japanese.)

The shop’s in Sugamo, about twenty minutes north of Shibuya. It’s not the cheapest place in the world, but then again, neither is the rest of Tokyo. “The Gang” is huge, though, at least on par with most American vintage toy stores I’ve seen. And it has the STUFF, boy. I’m not kidding. It’s so packed full of toys, you simply can’t take it all in on the first pass. (Like CIA analysts poring over satellite imagery, Josh and I later found ourselves enhancing and studying the digital photographs to strategize for follow-up visits.) You’ve got to hand it to Forest Gang for the sheer volume of toys they’ve crammed onto the shelves and hung on the walls. Cases are divided roughly by genre: Takatoku Z-Gokin in one, Popy Chogokin in a host of others, Machinders in the middle, and all sorts of random obscurity stuffed into cases ringing the whole place. Focus is pointless here. It is an impulse-shopper’s wet dream.

Right off the bat, the differences in taste manifest: Josh makes a beeline for the Popy tins at the back of the store; I nearly knock over a stack of enormous Tupperware toy-sarcophagi in a desperate dive for the sleaze-vinyl shelves.

We’re both rewarded. Josh spots a tin Getta Dragon he’s been searching for. “Mr. C-10″ frets like a mother hen as he watches a clerk open the box. Fortunately for Josh’s blood pressure, the guy ends up using the flat part of a boxcutter blade (an old trick to prevent creasing the center of the lids when opened.) My epiphany hits in the midst of negotiating a slight “gaijin discount” for Josh (“would you mind giving this poor white boy a break? Thank you.”) I spot the mint-on-card set of Clover Dunbine mini-vinyls I’ve been craving, tacked high towards the ceiling on a rafter beam. As if that weren’t enough, I notice a loose Getta III Jumbo Machinder in one of those Tupperware tombs. I feel The Hunger rising as I watch the owner join the two halves together. And that’s when we spot the Jumbo Daikumaryu. It’s filthy and awaiting apprasial, but we cajole Mr. Forest Gang into let us cuddle it. My cup runneth over. These pieces are way, way rich for either of our blood. But any day where one gets to see an incredibly rare JM or two up close and personal is a good one in my book.

As we leave, Josh $600 poorer but one ultra-mint, C-10 specimen of a tin Getta Dragon richer, we ponder the strange English on the side of the bag Forest Gang gave us. “ELEPHANT FAMILY. Their humming make us happy.” Absolutely damn right. So happy, I’ve totally forgotten I’m fifteen time zones removed from reality.

GO, GO, GODZILLA

Hyped from our visit to Forest Gang, Josh and I decide to jump on the train again and try our luck elsewhere. Our target is a shop that he’s never been to before, and that that I barely remember from a hasty visit four years previous: the unashamedly old-school Godzilla-Ya. We amble along the dank streets and alleys of Koenji under a sky that seems to threaten rain at any minute. We finally locate the store in a warren of fetid tunnels under the tracks of Koenji station, and it’s everything I remember it to be: basically, everything Forest Gang isn’t. It’s tiny. It’s dark. It’s located in a questionable part of town, the walls nearby covered with graffiti and right-wing political posters. Its clerk looks like a Japanese member of the Ramones.

But that being said, it’s been here for longer than nearly any other vintage toy store in Tokyo save for Magic Box, and it happens to be a friendly and welcoming place. Even sort of cozy. Here, there’s so little space, they’ve actually tacked toys to the ceiling to make more display room. Ancient cases that look as though they were salvaged from the owner’s grandmother’s basement house a tightly clustered riot of mini-vinyls, Choro-Q sparking toys, and other unloved specimens. Like a prison for the ne’er-do-wells of the Japanese toy world. I wonder how long they’re in for. Judging from the dust, they could well have been here since day one.

Not much sparks our interest here, but the ol’ karmic boomerang is in full effect. Josh has been freaking out for some reason (something about the fact that I keep accidentally kicking the C-10 box of his Getta Robo tin when he walks in front of me.) I explain the situation to the guy behind the counter, who nods sagely and offers a perfectly sized empty cardboard box for Josh to armor his new acquisition. And we didn’t even BUY anything here! In gratitude, I fork over 1000 yen in bail money to liberate a pitiful rendition of Machine Blaster Sandaio from toy purgatory. Is that a smile of relief I see on its face?

It’s times like this that I almost forget how jaded I’ve become about collecting these days. Hitting the streets again, Josh and I make plans to do it all over again next weekend.

Matt
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