toyboxdx toy blog brog: is graceful art of daily expressing japanese toy
May 24, 2009
May 23, 2009
This was my gateway. The handshake, the door that led to an ever winding path to madness.
Walking into Day Old Antiques has its price. The ferryman is unassuming and has a badass collection of punk 7 inch records and a lazy but intense depth of knowledge that would bitchslap any hipster out of his comfort zone and well crafted nonchalance.
He is as crafty boatman. The sarcastic enabler .
You hand him a coin.
Smack dab in the glass floor case sits little Mr “He’s a Samurai” , ready and willing to suck you dry of your college art supply money.
Just one fix. A taste.
You can always stop right?
Black Flag’s Six Pack thumps in the background, but loses the fight and gives in to the Der Ring des Nibelungen you now have created as a soundtrack in your own melting brain … because at this moment, that toy in the case is the one you never got as a kid and always, always wanted.
(Melodrama is key here.)
Its the first MIB Chogokin you have bought in almost 10 years, and it is the one that opened the crack in the dam. Don’t bother resisting.
Mike hands it to you, and all the years of Friday afternoons on Channel 25 flood back. The soundtrack shifts again. Jim Terry is your daddy.
Everyone in the room knows it son.
You are screwed. Lock, stock and barrel.
And you are OK with that.
No matter how many Popy boxed Ga 51s you see over the years since then, this little Shogun box will always and forever be your favorite friend… the designated driver that took you on your path to oblivion, which only a Robot skull can accomplish.
May 22, 2009
Growing up in El Salvador in the 1970’s my wife Esmeralda’s favorite television show was without question “Mazinger Zeta”. Yep, just like every other kid in the world it seems, with the exception of North America, Go Nagai’s Mazinger Z was a favorite among boys and girls alike.
My wife’s memory is uncanny, and we often discuss her vivid memories of Koji, Sayaka and Mazinger. She used to play a Mazinger Z inspired “pat-a-cake” style game with her girlfriends, and incredibly she can almost recite it perfectly some 25+ years later. I said “almost”.. In a recent Google search (in español) to unearth the correct order of the rhyme, she came across an article about a 10 meter (32 feet) tall Mazinger statue in Tarragona, Spain.
Per her translation, the statue is located in a forrest called Pinus Pina. It was built in 1976 while the series was wildly popular on Spanish television. The statue was built to be the guardian of a housing development to be called “Residencial Mazinger” but never came to fruition, leaving the Mazinger Z statue alone to protect only the forrest. Check out this AMAZING footage from 1976 documented here:
Apparently the statue was built to encourage children to beg their parents to buy a second home in the new countryside development “Urbanizacion Mas De Plata”. Made of fiberglass the statue stands 8 meters tall and tops out at 10 meters up to the top of his arms.
It’s a small world after all..
May 21, 2009
Nestled in a sleepy little town roughly 50 km outside of Tokyo, lies a Japanese toy collectors paradise known only as Kaikodo. As far as I know, or have seen, it is without question the largest independent vintage toystore in all of Japan. Located in the Saitama prefecture, Kaikodo is about a 10 min walk from the Okegawa station, but it’s the hour journey outside of Tokyo that apparently scares people..
According to Yutaka Ishida, the proprietor of Kaikodo, he doesn’t see many westerners AT ALL.. This seems absolutely amazing to me. For all the guys/gals that take the big trip over to Tokyo for vintage toy shopping, one would think that Kaikodo would be flushed with new white round faces weekly at the least. But alas, it is not.. And, up until now, Kaikodo was the secret place that I bragged to all my pals about. “It’s the biggest fucking vintage shop you’ve ever seen!!!”, I would say, gloating. Well, just like numbers, the pics don’t lie. And NOW, it’s “our” secret people.
Stay tuned, because I will not only show you what you’re in for, but I will also show and tell you how to get there. Getting back is all you..
So, what did you think? Incredible right? Right.. Believe it or not, it’s actually a bit smaller than the last time I was here.
Upon arriving to Kaikodo, Ishida-san laid the keys to the compound on Alt and we literally had free run of the place.. Strolling through the barrage of cases with the keys, filling my personal bin with new found treasures was beyond any other toy buying experience I could, or would ever be able to express..
Personally, I’ve been friends with Ishida-san going on 8 years. Matt, on the other hand road tripped with him up and down the east coast in the pre 2000’s, which totally predates my affiliation. Another noteworthy mention is that Ishida-san contributed to more than one of the early datafiles and is without question part of the ToyboxDX.com family.
If you’re planning a trip over to Japan, for whatever reason, and are a vintage toy collector; Kaikodo should be a top priority. Granted, it’s a bit out of the way, but I guarantee you will not see another “venue” close to this size aside from the 7th and 8th floors of the “Mandarake Complex” in Akihabara in all of Japan. Nuff said..
You want to go? OK, I think this is the easiest way. From the JR Yamanote line; go to Ueno station and get on the JR Takasaki line. Go past Akabane and Omiya station up to Okegawa station (about 45min- hour). Get off at Okegawa and take the east exit. Exit to the right and follow the directions listed below. Kampai!
You can reach Ishida-san via email HERE
Visit Kaikodo online HERE.
May 20, 2009
Jumbo Machinders and I have a weird relationship… for the money I’ve always felt some of them were lacking… they have limited articulation and some of the early ones are kinda goofy and bland looking (especially among the Mattel Shogun Warriors ones). Some, on the other hand, are pure awesome… the gimmicks on some of them are sublime, but the cooler JMs always command significantly higher prices. I happened upon this Gaiking on ebay, listed as having both fists able to shoot, which meant that it had two jointed elbows as well ( likely a hackjob from parts), turning a normally very static design into something a bit more dynamic, and alot more dangerous.
I won’t be picking up JMs in anything more than a casual capacity still, but now that I have one, I see the appeal. Gaiking here is a behemoth of plastic, and stands out in a crowd. The firing gimmicks are also wonderful… Gaiking has already rocket-punched multiple family members, and the chest missiles make a great retreat weapon! The Unifive Gaiking may be more ‘authentic’, and the ‘real’ SW Gaking is more collectible, but really, this Gaiking is the one for me.
No room on the shelf for this guy.
Goshogun is one of the coolest 80’s super robots out there. The peacock wings and the big ass sword are a force to be reckoned with. I acquired most of the Takatoku Z Gokin Goshogun stuff years ago, I should have known it was only a matter of time until I completed the circle with the vinyls.
Out of all the Takatoku super robot standard sized vinyls the Goshogun is very hard to come by. The Sankan Oh and the Daikyozin are close runners up, but I’ve only seen the Goshogun for sale three times so far. I lucked out walking into Tokyo’s Gojira Ya and seeing one on a bookshelf literally the moment I walked in. It wasn’t for sale, but before I knew it a cool 10,000Y bill took it home. No backing card (which can be the best part due to the outrageously cool artwork), but hey it was the last standard sized Takatoku vinyl I needed to finish the line.
Not much to say about the piece itself. Unfortunately Takatoku decided the trademark peacock wings were not important, which was a HUGE mistake in my opinion. I included a couple shots of the bagged mini that does have the wings, so you can imagine how awesome the standard size would have looked.
Now the last on my list is the elusive large carded set that contains the Goodsunder, TriThree, mini Goshogun sofubi and another vehicle. I’ve seen it for sale in Tokyo for $500?! Yeah, I don’t think so.. Check it out here.
Alas, the standard measures in at 7″ while the mini is at 5.25″. Maybe not the most thrilling sofubi ever, but if it just had wings… Nevermind. GooooOOO SHOGUN!! Yeah, whatever..
Mechander Robot (合身戦隊メカンダーロボ Gasshin Sentai Mekandaa Robo) aired in 1977. I was only two years old.
I seem to vaguely remember one of my older cousins throwing a Daipolon Legger at me somewhere around 1979, and by 1981, I had inherited all of their Shogun Warrior and Bullmark cast offs (Thanks Marukai!). By this time they were utterly destroyed and bashed to hell, and I guess in some way I grew to really resent them. Thanks to years of very expensive therapy and Yahoo Japan auctions, I can safely say I’m over it.
There is no way I would have ever imagined that thirty years later I would be scouring the world to get my hands on the same clunky toys I detested as a child.
Come 1981 I would see stacks of Bullmark Zinclon boxes on clearance at Mikado here in San Francisco’s Japan Town and scoff. I won’t even mention the bargain bins at TG&Y.. Anyway, Mikado had WAY better stuff by then in my six year old mind. There was Tryder G7, the guy with the big burning bird on his back. There were SUPER cool Microman box sets whose robots combined to form a big robot then transformed into a space ship. There was Gundam combination sets that looked like suitcases!! They even had a ruger pistol that “transformed” into a rifle and then into a robot. Needless to say, the clunky metal Diapolons and Mekanda Robos of yesteryear were not looking to good compared to these shiny, flashy new playthings.
Once again, who knew that a lifetime later I would pay the equivalent of a mortgage payment for a holy grail like the Technical Gashin Mekanda Robo when at one time in my life I looked at it with such distain when in the presence of, well, transformers. This keeps me awake at night.. Well, not really.
Fast forward to 2001. Alt and Duban publish the Raging Bullmark Datafile. Bullmark was on my radar, but after an evening of perusing all the memories rushed back in. I zeroed in on Mekanda. Young Mekanda. It was my first Bullmark purchase and was the gateway drug I needed to get hardcore about Zinclon. It was my first and still is my favorite of all the Bullmark diecasts.
The piece itself is amazingly colorful. Maybe that’s why I dig it so much, it’s LOUD. It’s also very slick and is somewhat devoid of what Alt calls the “working-class charm” that most of the Zinclon pieces have. I’m a huge fan of the polished, pristine look of the Popy Chogokin, so it figures Young Mekanda floats my boat.
The box, on the other hand, has the typical Bullmark charm and actually reminds me quite a bit of the Mekanda spinner vinyl box. Once again, very loud (love the nuts Mekanda logo) and busy. The box art is a huge part of the allure for me, and the window boxes kick it up a notch allowing one to enjoy the toy and the art at the same time.
As far as gimmicks, there are diecast metal levers on the sides of Young’s arms that are dangerously spring loaded. When retracted and released they spin the spiked shields around like a record baby. It comes along with the quintessential Bullmark spinners. Simply wind the dial on his back, load his chest and fire away. Flying spinners yeah! OK, focus.
As far as size, you can see by the comparison below, it measures up nicely with the TG Mekanda.
So as much as “I” think this toy rules, it’s not without it’s flaws. Leave it to Minister Alt and I to come up with a couple:
First and foremost, the legs do not bend!! You can see from the pics that they look jointed. Well trust me, they are not so don’t try to bend em because you will break them.
Second, the shields will easily separate from the forearms. You’ll think to yourself “cool! I’ll just throw them back in, no harm no foul”. Not so fast. They actually separated from the little gear within. So, what you have to do is carefully undo the screw on the forearm (it separates very easily). Then, you will see a tiny plastic white gear floating around inside. Simply put the shield shaft into the gear and it will fit snug. Screw the arm back together with the shield attached and your good to go.
In closing, I love me some Young Mekanda. Regardless of its minimal flaws, I could not recommend it enough. BID IT NOW!!
As an added bonus I’ve added a this block of Bullmark Mekanda commercials that will be part of the upcoming TBDX video channel “Gangu Cinema”. It features the Mid sized and Technical Gashin Mekandas but alas Young was absent that day. Kampai!!