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April 30, 2003

Robowaru gets dissed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 10:01 pm

Coke is pulling an ad campaign featuring Robomaru because of complaints they are getting about his chest decorations, according to my old friends the Associated Press:

“The company withdrew “Robowaru” from a promotional set of plastic figurines derived from the Japanese television series “Robocon,” after Rabbi Yakkov Kermaier of Hong Kong complained, Coca-Cola spokesman Kelly Brooks said.

Robowaru has two swastika-like designs printed on its chest. “We regret any misunderstanding this may have caused,” Brooks said in a telephone interview from Atlanta.”

It also goes on to say the toys are selling for $3.60 right now… you can almost hear the sound of millions of collectors rushing out to pack rat away everyone they can find.

seanbonner

Chiller April ’03 Roundup

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 3:40 pm

Just a quick overview of the show and the goods I brought home.


Club Daikaiju had their full product lineup on sale, including a gaggle of Gorgos. He was pretty tight-lipped about upcoming products, but what does this mean?


My friends Tadayuki and Masaru from Japan were there as well, with a nice selection of merchandise at the table, as well as great gifts for me:


From Masaru, these Macross gashapon figures. I was really impressed by these. In addition to the amazingly poseable battroids (articulation at the head, shoulders, biceps, wrists, waist, hips, knees [bend and twist], and feet), the fighter mode Valkyries have a nice suprise: styrene! Yep, no more “gashapon disease” resulting in droopy wings.


From Tadayuki, a set of Soul of Bullmark 4. Like the previous three sets, these SOBs are scaled-down „200 replicas of old Bullmark vinyls. Unlike the previous series, instead of being sold in gashapon machines, they are now available bagged, boarded, boxed, and pre-assembled where candy toys are sold. Three of the characters are reissues from previous sets: Namegon (now a glowie), Baltan (now blue), and Ultraman (same body with the second version head). The switch to candy toy format from gashapon was due to disappointing sales, but hopefully this change will breathe new life into the line. After all, I still have room in the egg for more.


So did I actually buy anything for myself? Yep. I finally snagged that set of glow mini vinyls of Godzilla and Mechagodzilla that was sold as an exclusive at HMV, along with the normal versions. The detailing on these little guys is really amazing, nearly as good as the full-size figures, and the glow on the exclusives is excellent.


The next Chiller Theatre show is in on Halloween Weekend (duh), and if you would like to attend, check out their web site here.

Roger

April 29, 2003

Chogo-Hope Springs Etarnal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 8:34 pm

Chogokin fans who are sick to death of the same old slew of characters might as well stop reading this right now.

Bandai’s back in the game with a new series of retro Chogokin reissues, this time entitled (somewhat imaginatively) “The Chogokin.”

Larger than the gashapon-style “Capsule Chogokin,” yet far smaller than the “real deals,” this new series’ claim to fame is that the toys will use the same amount of diecast, and the same gimmicks, as the originals.

First up? One of the most challenging, intriguing, and innovative selections of vintage characters seen to date! Or maybe not: “Etarnal Heroes” style Mazinger Z, Robocon, and Getta One. Sigh…

Look for ‘em at the end of June.

Matt

April 26, 2003

Golden Week

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

It’s the national holiday of “Golden Week” here in Japan — what better time to release a limited number of GX-01RG gold-plated Mazinger Z “Soul of Chogokin” toys? (Don’t worry: for those who missed it, it’ll be getting a wider release in the beginning of June.)

A limited number of the chrome-festooned diecasts were sold at the “Chogokin Expo 2004 Pre-Exhibition” held in Harajuku, Tokyo starting on the 25th. More interesting than the toy is the show itself — a warm-up, apparently, for a major, “official” extravaganza celebrating all things Popy to be held next year.

Will 2004 be known as the “Year of the Gokin?” Only time will tell…

Matt

April 23, 2003

The Medicom Spin Doctors

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 5:58 pm


Once upon a time, (1982 in fact)  a movie called Blade Runner was released. It became a classic of American cinema, and helped to create the era of cyber-punk. However, aside from a few lousy ERTL dinky toys, a re-release of the novel, a photo book and a lighter, few products based on this property have been made. I had spent good bus money to sneak into this movie (I was only 12) and dang it – I wanted my Police Spinner! Why were the tie-ins for this movie so sparse? Thank director Ridley Scott and the marketing team behind the movie.

Enter the Japanese. They are a quiet, polite folk who live on an island far away. They are artisans who are renowned for subtly and creatively getting things done for the little guy.

Since the Japanese became involved in the production of “Blade Runner” merchandise in the 90s, we have been recipients of some wild and classy 1:6 scale “Android Hunter” figures and a resin garage kit of the Syd Mead- designed Police Spinner.

None of these items could be purchased for less than one hundred dollars U.S., and they were ALL knock-offs. Illegal. Bootlegs. They were changed, subtly, from the original in order to avoid globetrotting lawyers from Ridley Scott’s hoarding empire.
However, Medicom Toys, run by savvy, subtle and polite Japanese people have found a way to bring us a LEGAL version of the Police Spinner. Well, kinda. Actually, they are releasing a Spinner that has nothing to do with Blade Runner. Almost.


Confused?


Medicom Toys are releasing a very nice, 27 CM long “Miracle Action Vehicle” of the “Future Car” from Back To The Future. You know, the blurry thing in scene 26 that zooms by the camera when that zany Doc Brown and that weasely McFly kid time-travel to the future! Weren’t you paying attention? Anyway, this “Future Car” looks astonishingly similar to Syd Mead’s Spinner from Blade Runner. Is your brain broken yet?

For those of you who don’t know Police Spinner lore, the cash-strapped set decorators for Back To The Future 2 needed some futuristic cars for the town-square scene, and literally stumbled upon a neat-looking vehicle-prop dumped in the studio’s back lot. It was overgrown with weeds and damaged by the elements, but it had potential. It turned out that the vehicle-prop was the Police Spinner made for the 1982 Blade Runner film, and tossed away. The Back To The Future production crew bought the prop for a really good (pre-Ebay) deal, re-dressed it, and stuck it in their movie. 

A few years later, the folks at Medicom Toys no doubt freeze-framed their DVD of Back To The Future 2 during the above scene and began drooling. They could make a Police Spinner, and not have to worry about the wrath of Ridley!


spinner2.jpg



The car is missing the blinking police lights, police-blue colours and the markings, but a few modifications could make this a very inexpensive alternative to the $200.00 US price of the resin model kit. And it’s legal! You don’t have to feel guilty about supporting idea-theft any more!

The 27 cm Back To The Future 2 “Miracle Action Vehicle - Future Car” has folding, rolling front wheels for ground and air modes, opening gull-wing doors and is due out this September for a very reasonable 7,800 Yen.


spinner3.jpg




 

RainBot

April 22, 2003

On Da Cover

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 10:31 pm

This month’s (long delayed) cover features a splendid shot of the Hobby Project “Geki-Gokin” Gekiganger toy as photographed by Tim Brisko.

Lovingly hand crafted in small batches (like a fine cheese), the Hobby Project Gekigangers hit the marketplace between 1997 and 1998 for limited sale at the “Wonder Fest” hobby shows in Japan.


The Gekiganger toys feature a near-solid diecast construction and a disturbing inability to remain standing, yet they manage to capture a true “Soul of Chogokin” that many feel the “official” Bandai series lacks. They were produced in four flavors: a “normal” type, featuring silver thighs and biceps; a “Nanako” type (pictured on the cover); an all-black version; and a version plated in (flake-prone) gold chrome. Prices ranged from 20,000 yen for the normal type up to 28,000 yen for the gold chrome version.

Although the toys (perhaps “executive playthings” would be a better term, considering the price) became the darling of many a foreign robot fan’s diecast collection, Hobby Project’s products met with a much cooler reception in their home country. The company shut its doors in early 2002, but they’ll always be remembered for their homegrown, garage approach to making diecasts. Here’s to hoping president Kanzen Hentaro has a few more tricks up his sleeve for the future!

Matt

April 18, 2003

Justi-Faiz-ed!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 6:43 pm

I’ve known and liked Kamen Riders since I was kid growing up in Taiwan. However, aside from picture albums and a few toys, I’ve never actually watched any Kamen Rider on TV. That changed with Kamen Rider Ryuki last year. After finishing the Ryuki TV series and buying many of the Rider & Monster sets, I looked forward to the next Kamen Rider show, Kamen Rider 555 (Faiz), and its accompanying toys.


The S-RHF Faiz was the one Faiz toy that I was extremely interested in owning. I liked most of the Ryuki R&M sets and really liked the idea of having a posable Rider and his bike in a boxed set. In Faiz’s case, his bike even transformed into a robot, so as far as I’m concerned it’s even better.


The Faiz figure itself is constructed basically the same as the Riders in the Ryuki R&M sets. The only real difference in construction is the double jointed knees present on Faiz. This knee joint is similar to the chogokin Agito/Kuuga figures and allows Faiz to kneel. The big difference between Faiz and the Kamen Riders figures that came before him is the size. The Faiz figure is made to the same scale as the sofubi RH figures (or about the same as Marvel Legends figures), which means he towers over the previous Kamen Rider figures. This can be good or bad depending on how you see it. On one hand, bigger is usually better and in this case, since it’s the same size as the sofubi monsters, you can finally have your Kamen Rider fight (kind of) a monster. On the other hand, it looks out of place among the older posable Rider figures. Personally, I love the new size.


All of Faiz’s weapons are included in this set, which includes the Faiz Phone Blaster (no, it doesn’t transform), Faiz Shot, Faiz Pointer (doesn’t combine with Blaster), and Faiz Edge. The Faiz Phone Blaster, Shot, and Pointer are all oversized so it looks better when Faiz is using them. I don’t have much problems with that but the Faiz shot does lack detail for something so oversized. All of the weapons are made out of soft PVC, and this causes the Faiz Edge to warp easily. The PVC is fine for all the other weapons though.


The Autovajin is a bike that transforms into a robot. In bike mode, the Autovajin is a good looking dirt bike. It’s got some engine details and has “Smart Brain Motors” and “SB-555V” clearly printed on it. A kick stand allows it to stay upright with ease. Kamen Rider Faiz rides well on it and for a bike that transforms into a robot, it looks very sleek. The transformation is fairly involved and I would say it’s complexity is about the same as any similar sized Transformers (think Armada Red Alert or Car Robots JRX Trains). In robot mode, Autovajin is a head taller than Faiz. Although it does have joints at the hips and knees, they are actually used for the transformation and when they are bent, it’s very difficult to keep Autovajin standing. The functional joints are the swievel joints at the neck and shoulders. Even though it’s basically a brick in robot mode, Autovajin looks reasonably good and looks better than many Transformers in my opinion. There are even some diecast on the Autovajin. They are located on the shoulders and the hinge that moves the rear wheel during the transformation. I really like the Autovajin, especially in bike mode, and about the only thing I wish it had is some sort of readout between the handle bars.


As far as bad points are concerned, besides the soft Faiz Edge I’ve already mentioned, the only other one I can think of is the lack of red outline on all the “Phi” signs present on the weapons, belt, and Autovajin. As you can see in the pictures they are all just a solid yellow circle without the red outline. Other than that, I like this set even more than any of the excellent Ryuki R&M sets. In fact, for me this might even get the Toy of the Year over Dancougar and MMM Strike Gundam (I have both).


In conclusion, if you liked the Ryuki R&M sets and don’t mind the larger size of this set, I would highly recommend that you pick it up. I hope there are going to be more of these S-RHF sets released this year.

GX9901

April 8, 2003

Alpha Male, Beta Midget

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 11:33 pm

Yes, You know about the stikfa super poseable figures which are rather abstract in design, but have you heard of Bandai’s Gashapon contribution to that “micro” genre? The Beta Midgets are the alternative 1:1 scale action hero figure. I’ll be covering the Stikfa Alpha male, the Fire Fighter and the “Early Type (tr)” Midgets.


I found out about them through the Micropolis Embassy, but they are not a niche figure. They are an excellently designed for a game prize toy and are an extremely cool base for customization. I did not take many pictures of the main characters, because they are well covered at other sources such as the official Midget page (photos of v1.5 here) and MicroForever (version 1.0) , and I encourage you to patronize those sites to find out more.


I purchased the Alpha male because I love the comic, SCUD: the disposable assassin, and had to make a custom, but I ended up getting another partially for the second pistol and partially to keep one so I can play with him stock. I ended up getting the firefighter because I really enjoyed the alpha males and the new Fire Fighter accessories are really neat. It ends up to have a very good feel and real character after you get the guy into his gear.


The Beta midgets are similar to microman in that the plot is that they are from space, and adapt to the element that they first arrive in. There is Salamander, the fire Elemental (Red and White), Salamander 1.5 (Red and Orange), Undine, the Water Elemental (Dark Blue, I added a Drill arm, but he normally has two arms), Gnome, the Earth Elemental (Green with the luger pistols), and Sylph, the Air Elemental (Blue and White). They come with intellegent “Jacket-o” that attach and endow them with additional elemental powers. The Jackets are PVC armor that pegs into various 3mm and 5mm ports on their body. It’s a tad bendy, but mine have straightened out nicely and there are literally a hundred or so parts amongst the 6 jackets, so it’s lotsa fun to fiddle with.


On to the Early types. There are 3 of them. A gray one, A pearl with blue trim and a dark blue with black trim. They are the proto-Beta midgets and suposedly without personality because of their inhuman features and augmented physical attributes, but I’ve found that they are my favorites of the bunch. Action! Drama!


Early Type Confrontation!


Disclaimer: I did paint these guys, but all I did was accentuate the detail that was already there. Plus the obligitory Non-sequitor desktop group photo of those who weren’t topical, but I love em anyways.

Freeman

New New Material Model

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 1:34 am

You loved the Metal Material Model “Strike Gundam.” Now thrill to the sequel: a Metal Material Model redux, complete with parts to make “Launcher-Strike” (click th’ purty picture) and “Sword-Strike” Gundams.

The set’s supposed hit shelves at the end of June for 8,800 yen ($75). No word as to when it’ll hit Tim Brisko’s camera and force us naysayers to buy the damn thing.

Matt

Heavy FIX

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 1:17 am

Normally, I’m not one to get all excited about PVC action figures. Least of all about Katoki Hajime’s hit-or-miss “Gundam FIX Figuration” series, which features some of the greatest detailing and flimsiest design out of any Gundam toys.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, though, even the most jaded Gundam collector has to admit that series designer Katoki Hajime knows how to pick ‘em. Nearly every one of the designs is a totally obscure, old-school mecha fan favorite designed to send hardcore Gundam maniacs into a heavy-breathing frenzy.

Gundam FIX Figuration #14 and #15, the latest, are no exception. #14 will be “Heavy Gundam,” an all-but-unknown orphan from the planned but abandoned “MS-X” model series. It resembles the old “Full Armor Gundam,” the very first of the FIX toys, but features a Prototype Gundam inside. I could take or leave Heavy Gundam. But a Prototype Gundam, now. For whatever reason, I’ve wanted a toy of that thing ever since I was a kid. Ah, how I’ve lusted for thy “Tootsie-roll” paint job…. Yeah, I’m a loser.

FIX #15 will be “EX-S Gundam” in “Task Force Alpha” colors, whatever that means. It looks like a slight variation of #11, “Refined EX-S,” minus the enormous, waist-mounted phallo-cannon.

Anyway, look for ‘em at the end of June. 3,680 yen for Heavy; 4,500 for Ex-S.

Matt
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