Kill me. Kill me.
The words float through my dazed mind, and not for the first time today at the 2003 Tokyo Toy Show.
I’m stuck in a cage of “Mega-Bloks.” Bandai executives are torturing me, slowly. Just as they’re about to finish me off with the coup de grace — a “Maxi-Blok” rectal exam — my elbow slides off the armrest, jolting me awake. Thank God, it was only a dream.
Or was it? I realize I’m still stuck in the middle of the Bandai 2003 Mega-Blok Spectacular, a thirty-five hour– I mean, minute — explanation, at great and undeserving length, of the upcoming marketing strategy for the release of the block toys this August. We have to sit through it to get to the show proper, it seems.
And they’re serious. Apparently, an intriguingly never-specifically-named L Corporation has cornered 75% of the market for interlocking brick toys in Japan. To hear Bandai tell it, they are the only ones who can stand up to such marketing tyranny. Screw the L Corporation — Japanese children love and need Mega-Bloks. The great nation of Japan loves and needs Mega-Bloks. Fight, Bandai! Mega Bloks will be the plastic cornerstone of an all-new Greater East Asian Toy Prosperity Sphere.
Wait a second. On close inspection, these Mega-Bloks sure look a lot like those sold by the They-Who-Shall-Not-be-Named L Corp. In fact, they’re totally identical. D’OH! Looks like someone in the ol’ intellectual property department of L. Corp is going to be swabbing toilets at L-Corp-land in Denmark for a while — the patent for their interlocking brick toys seems to have expired. Whoops! Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.
The best part of the presentation? I found out at the end that we didn’t have to sit through it after all. I’m just a stupid, stupid gaijin. Ah,the joys of being a half-assed toy journalist. At least we got free Anpanman Mega-Bloks.
Welcome to Tokyo Toy Show 2003.
Anyway. On to the SERIOUS, HARDCORE commentary for all you SERIOUS, HARDCORE collectors.
Due to SARS prevention measures and, from what I hear, some sort of small-scale war between the Toy Show promoters and the exhibitors, the show was being held, literally, all over a several-square-mile area of Tokyo this year. Half the exhibitors were either in secret underground bases or totally absent. Bandai insisted on — I am not making this up — taking the temperature of sick-looking people “to prevent the spread of SARS.” They didn’t specify which orifice said temperature would be taken in, but the woman behind the counter was so cute I was thinking of faking a case to see where she’d stick–
Ahem! Back to the toys. The shots are in no particular order and are far from complete, mainly because, well, quite frankly, I’m not getting paid for this and don’t give a damn. But the pictures I did take, I left nice ‘n large for everyone to ogle. The cool ones, anyway. Interesting highlights: that’s a nifty all-chrome version of the
Chogokin Mecha-Godzilla. Look for it in July at 5,800 yen. I also had a chance to handle the not-so-anticipated THE Chogokin toys with my own hands. They’re actually a lot better than you might think; they’re metal in all the places the originals were, and quite substantial — easily 3/4 the size of the real deals. And they’re cheap — Bandai sez they’re aiming for a (roughly) 1,000 yen price point so that (I’m not making this up, either) manly men such as ourselves won’t have to justify our purchases to our better halves. Yes, these are the first Chogokin designed from the ground up to prevent marital strife. Man, those guys think of EVERYTHING! (And before I forget, that wooden case is being given away to 1,000 lucky THE Chogokin buyers who enter a special drawing.)
Finally, those dang FIXes just get me every time. The new Heavy Gundam was there in all its glory, as were prototypes of the Zetaplus and Zetaplus Booster Type. Sculpted in jolly, candylike pink resin to boot.
That’s the R/C Dom in that one shot, and the 13,000 yen, practically-a-Jumbo-Machinder sized White Base kit in the other. The actual item won’t be weathered (or assembled), but the sprues will be painted and molded in the appropriate colors. Perfect for you gashapon collectors, if you can handle the price.
That’s about it! I’m sure other sites feature better coverage, but then again, other sites aren’t drinking heavily during the entire show like I am. Enjoy!
Extra-special thanks to Scott Hards of HobbyLink Japan for forging my health credentials to get me in. That dry, hacking cough I had was just a cold, man. I swear.