text: Matt Alt, graphics: Robert Duban
Additional research information: Koji Igarashi
Images contributions: Coop, Yutaka Ishida / Kaikodo,
Ed Sanford / Robot-Japan,
Warren Schwartz, Todd Stadtman,
Graham Trievel, Giovanni Vaciago, Alen Yen
They just don't make 'em like they used to. One of the founding fathers of the Japanese character toy scene as we know it, the late, great Bullmark is the kind of toy company collectors talk about in hushed and reverential tones. Although their name is synonymous with big-ticket Godzilla and Ultraman vinyl figures guaranteed to drain a collector's bank account faster than a trip to the local Mercedes dealership, Bullmark also happened to create one of the most under-appreciated lineup of diecasts ever to pop out of a toy-factory - the Zinclon Series. Zinclon pieces have a certain working-class charm that sets them apart from slick, ultra-engineered Takatoku and Popy toys. Many of them are rough-hewn, full of exposed bolts, unpainted metal, and sharp, boxy edges. Nearly all feature an unbelievably large diecast content and a heft that was unmatched even in the golden age of zinc alloy toy-making. These suckers are SERIOUSLY, lust-inducingly heavy. Bullmark made up for their lack of lucrative licenses by packing their diecasts full of intricate gimmicks -- spring-powered whirling blades o' destruction, flying plastic discs-of-death, dial-actuated missile launchers, and elaborate combination schemes. In fact, it's hard to believe that some of their pieces were ever intended as toys for children. The deluxe Diapolon robots feature hidden blades with sharp points and, being almost entirely made of solid metal, are heavy enough to cause a skull-fracture if thrown during a moment of childhood pique. Talk about "super robots". . . . Bullmark marketed their diecasts under several names, including "Zinclon", "Z-Gokin," "Bullpet," and "Zinclon Junior," and occasionally even used several different logos on the same box. Although the Zinclon diecasts don't seem to be part of any larger hierarchy, some of the Bullpet toys feature their own numbering system (BP-01, BP-02, etc.) A handful of the Bullmark diecasts were also sold in America in English-language boxes. So far, an English-boxed "mid-sized" Mekanda Robo and a Godzilla diecast have been confirmed, but there may be others as well. At any rate, this is, near as we can tell, the most complete list of Bullmark diecast toys assembled to date. And as always, it's in a constant state of flux. If you've got better photos, contradictory information, info about pieces we've missed, or just want to tell us to get a life, please don't hesitate to drop us a line.