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May 30, 2004

A Tale Of Two Blockheads

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 10:41 pm

This has happened to all of us at one time or another. You read something about a toy you never knew or cared much about, and then, soon after, THE CRAVING sets in.


Well, this happened to me recently, but in this case, I zapped myself: it was me writing the article. You see, this tale began with two non-robotic blockheads, myself and Rob Duban. Super7 Magazine had tasked me with writing a Dougram article, and I figured I’d get more familiar with the pieces I didn’t already have by digging through the Duban Archives.


We did it proper: 40-ouncers were broken out and we began carefully liberating the toys from their cardboard and styrofoam cryo-chambers: the 1/48 Dougram, the Magnetype, and so on, and while I admired them, there was a strange reassurance as to why I didn’t own these: for whatever reason, they didn’t float my boat. That was, until we uncrated the Blockhead.


In my opinion, the cream of the 1980s “real robot” toys are the 1/72 Dual Models. They have the best of the best: great designs, solid construction, and kick-ass packaging. However, the Blockhead stands out because:



  • Blockhead Is Big – Yeah, yeah, yeah! It’s not small, no, no, no! Even with those hard-to-find antennae attached, the Dougram and Soltic only come up to the shoulder of the Blockhead.

  • The Visible Blockhead – The robutt comes with a set of translucent armor so you can see his futuristic innards.

  • Not Your Mom’s Box – Unlike the “art box” versions of the Dougram and Soltic, which require a little bit of hunting to acquire, all Blockhead boxes feature a classic Okawara painting of Ol’ Blocky, printed on that sensual textured cardboard.

Not that there aren’t a couple of downsides:



  • Low In Zinc – The metal chest that the Dougram and Soltic is missing here The Blockhead only has metal in the feet and the spring-loaded shins. That’s it.

  • Losing His Head – The head is held on pretty loosely, compared to the Dougram and Soltic. However, unless you want to hang him upside down, this usually isn’t an issue.

  • Red Is For Girls – Why Takara chose to make the red Blockhead instead of the much more manly desert tan one is a mystery. I guess it could be worse, Char’s Pepto Bismol pink…

Once I got back home, I started writing the article, and as you could expect, once I started writing about the Blockhead I started asking myself why in the great blue hell I didn’t have one. I reached out to my pal Tadayuki in Japan and asked him to start hunting for me, because I didn’t have much hope for finding one on the home front for a reasonable price. Days became weeks, then months, and still the lust burned deep within…


Eventually, my daily eBay searches yielded success. I shot, I scored! Amazingly, I was the only one bidding on it, so the price was more than nice. I was so ecstatic that I neglected to tell Tada that I found one. Of course, roughly eight hours after the end of the auction, he emailed me to tell me that he got one on Yahoo Japan. It was already paid for and on the way to him. Again, the price was right, so I thanked him and bought that one.


But what was I supposed to do with two of these? I thought about it, and finally I came up with a solution here. What the hell, they say the economy’s picking up, and we can go back to lighting our cigars with $100 bills, right?


For more of that down-home Dougram you crave, check out Super7 #5, with pictures by Rob Duban and words by yours truly. Buy it at your local book store or through their web site. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to send me pictures of toys being crushed by cars.

Roger

May 29, 2004

Just Another Holy Grail

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 4:22 am




For a long while there I considered the Takatoku Ultraman Leo gokin an unsubstantiated myth. I’ve been watching eBay and other internet sources for Japanese toys since late ’97 and had yet to see evidence of one outside the TBDX Datafiles. Did it really exist?

The more I poked around the further my doubt increased.


I brought my question up during chat once and one of the more learned of our stripe swore there was an auction running at that very moment for the toy, yet the link he sent me was for an Eidai Jumbo Grip Leo -a nice piece, to be sure- but definitely not Takatoku.


No other shred of proof surfaced until just this year when another kind toy freak sent me a scan of the Ultra Leo toy as marketed in one of the little Takatoku catalog inserts.


My faith shifted but I still wasn’t entirely convinced. We were only talking about another promotional picture -a marketing tool that sometimes proves more pie in the sky than indication of existing merchandise.


Then, out of the blue, an auction.

After nearly a year of sensible, adult behavior, I find myself up at an insane hour, pledging a similarly indefensible amount of money for a toy I know almost zilch about.

Winning the auction, I commence twitching until it arrives at my door some three days later.


Now I have the Z-Gokin Ultra Leo in my hands: it is tight, sturdy and . . . small.


Smallest of all the vintage Ultagokins I’m aware of; coming in right below the Victora Ultraman 80 at just over 11cm tall.


While not as beguilingly funky as the Grip toy, Takatoku’s ST Leo is not without its charm- but for the head and poinkers, the crisp lines of its body are written in pleasant, hefty metal, the traditional and familiar stiffness of its carriage somehow warming my heart.


Happy, I take it to the shelf and fold it into a crowd of its brethren, secure in the knowledge that my wife need never know the depth of my sins.


cae

Just Another Holy Grail

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 3:00 am

For a long while there I considered the Takatoku Ultraman Leo gokin an unsubstantiated myth. I’ve been watching eBay and other internet sources for Japanese toys since late ’97 and had yet to see evidence of one outside the TBDX Datafiles. Did it really exist?


                The more I poked around the further my doubt increased.


 


                I brought my question up during chat once and one of the more learned of our stripe swore there was an auction running at that very moment for the toy, yet the link he sent me was for a Eidai Jumbo Grip Leo -a nice piece, to be sure- but definitely not Takatoku.


 


                No other shred of proof surfaced until just this year when another kind toy freak sent me a scan of the Ultra Leo toy as marketed in one of the little Takatoku catalog inserts.


 


                My faith shifted but I still wasn’t entirely convinced. We were only talking about another promotional picture  -a marketing tool that sometimes proves more pie in the sky than indication of existing merchandise.


 


                Then, out of the blue, an auction.


                After nearly a year of decent, adult behavior, I find myself up at an insane hour, pledging a similarly indefensible amount of money for a toy I know almost zilch about.


                Winning the auction, I commence twitching until it arrives at my door some three days later.


 


                Now I have the Z-Gokin Ultra Leo in my hands: it is tight, sturdy and . . . small.


Smallest of all the vintage Ultagokins I’m aware of; coming in right below the Victora Ultraman 80 at just over 11cm tall.


 


                While not as beguilingly funky as the Grip toy, Takatoku’s ST Leo is not without its charm- but for the head and poinkers, the crisp lines of its body are written in pleasant, hefty metal, the traditional and familiar stiffness of its carriage somehow warming my heart.


 


                Happy, I take it to the shelf and fold it into a crowd of its brethren, secure in the knowledge that my wife need never know the depth of my sins.

cae

May 20, 2004

Super7 #5

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 10:34 am

Super7 #5 is out! Booska! Akumaizer-3! Mechagodzilla! Minya! Momoko! The History of Optimus Prime, Part 3! Designer Plushes! A Dougram article written by yours truly with photos by Robert Duban! Details about the Super7 retail store! More exclamation points! Pick up your copy or subscribe at their web site, or find it at your local major book store! Do it NOW!!!

Roger

May 17, 2004

Godzilla USA

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 5:33 pm

In celebration of 50 years of Godzilla in America, Marusan-USA is announcing the release of Marusan’s first USA exclusive Godzilla figure, Godzilla 1954. Pre-orders are being accepted on their website here. Estimated shipping date is June 15, 2004. Future 2004 USA exclusive releases of Godzilla 1955 and Angurus 1955 are expected in July and August.

Roger

Godzilla USA

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 10:28 am

godzilla-1954-256w.jpg

In celebration of 50 years of Godzilla in America, Marusan-USA is announcing the release of Marusan’s first USA exclusive Godzilla figure, Godzilla 1954. Pre-orders are being accepted on their website here. Estimated shipping date is June 15, 2004. Future 2004 USA exclusive releases of Godzilla 1955 and Angurus 1955 are expected in July and August. — Roger

May 13, 2004

Do You Feel… LUCKY?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 2:01 pm

Do boys like guns? Silly question! In the sub-sub-sub genre of realistic gun-transforming robot toys, most folks immediately think of Takara’s Walther (a.k.a. Megatron). But try to recall any others? No, the space-y looking ones don’t count! How about a Smith & Wesson M469 in 9mm Parabellum? From BANDAI, no less…

A couple of months back, I spotted this neu-vintage piece at the local toy market: BANDAI’s Combat Robo S&W M469 GUNMAJIN. It was slightly pricey and my budget was already blown, so I kept my fingers crossed that no one else was hankering for it. Even from just the simply stunning. There’s even a small box of extra bullets! Check out the detailing: From the engraved model number to the textured finish on the grip, it just screams “I AM REAL!!!” The spring-loaded magazine takes up to 8 rounds of the brass-colored bullets, and of course, it slides into the pistol-grip with a satisfying ‘CLICK’.

The gun features two main gimmicks. First, when you pull back the slide, a round from the magazine is ejected from the port. And while the rounds don’t feed directly into the muzzle, you can insert one at a time like a standard ‘missile-firing toy’, and launch it with a pull of the trigger. For a small dose of silliness, each bullet features a face molded onto it. (Anyone notice the slight resemblance to the biomechanoid-pistols by H.R. Giger?)

Any downsides? Sure…

Most noticeable is the total lack of diecast on the toy. For all its realistic detailing, there’s not a single metal part unless you count the screws and springs! And then of course we have the robot itself. I doubt there are (m)any gun-robots which look good in BOTH modes. For GUNMAJIN, here’s a mug shot… In robot mode, he basically can’t do much at all. You can insert the magazine again, but that’s about it. As for poses… ha ha. THIS is about the best I could pull off! :P

Overall, a pretty satisfying addition to the collection, although the main attraction has got to be the superb detailing and gimmickry of the gun mode. If you know of any other similar or cooler gun-robots, I’d love to hear from you!

P.S. Oversized wristwatch, ear mufflers and S.W.A.T. patch not included!

P.P.S. No smoking-gun effect either! (But you KNEW that.)

drifand

May 4, 2004

Dadarah!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rumble Crew @ 2:51 pm

Medicom continues its Ultra-RAH line with the announcement of an upcoming figure of everyone’s favorite monochrome alien –Dada.



Said figure will apparently come with three different heads, allowing casual fans a choice of which incarnation they wish to display and forcing raving kaiju maniacs (you know who you are) to purchase three of the darned things.


Can I get a “Woo-hoo!”

Corey
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