Stardate: Whatever. Alen and I are on an annual two-day binge to survey the outer fringes of the toy scene when we begin noticing strange fluctuations in the ebay continuum: good stuff is being sucked up by a single mysterious vacuum on Planet Suburbia. Intrigued, we beam down for a closer look.
You've heard of the cosomological oddities known as black holes? Meet your first toy hole. The superdense collection of Warren Schwartz is so massive, not even a display can escape. While most collectors fret endlessly over shelving, lighting, and dusting, Warren has taken the "CIA warehouse" route. Box after box lines the attic of this otherwise unassuming house, each sporting an obsessive description of the jewels slumbering within. Flaming Godzilla stands guard to protect it all.
I've never been able to grasp keeping one's collection stowed away in a closet, but this arrangement is on a different level altogether. I think it's the lists: hand-lettered, cramped, disturbingly complete. You name it, chances are it's been hoovered into this hungry toy-vortex.
The lists read like a who's who of the rarest of the rare. The juicy descriptions are nearly unbelievable: Popy, Takatoku, Bullmark, Takemi. Near-complete sets of Robocon, Astro-Mu Five, Tekkaman, Mekanda Robo diecasts. But after about the third or fourth time Warren busts out the goods and we realize it isn't just hyperbole, there's a quantum shift in the air. Suddenly it's hardly necessary to open the boxes: just seeing the mere WORDS is enough to send a chill down your spine. Total Zen.
A trip to Warren's bedroom (don't ask) fleshes out the rest of the story. Besides the bed Takatoku Mekabuton sits positioned next to the alarm clock, and obscure vinyls and diecasts line the shelves in his closet, neatly arranged as his suits and shirts. A man with a plan, Warren is, and fully deserving of the title of ToyboxDX Superpatron.
A plate of milk and cookies later, Alen and I find ourselves back on our way, silent, our jaded selves pummeled into submission by plastic, vinyl, and diecast. Such is the power of Schwartz.
My dad is cool: he's got fast cars and the Toshiro Mifune sneer. He's a badass, a rebel, a rock. He's also the same exact age as Master W. But (sorry Dad) my pop's no Warren Schwartz. "Listen punk: I know Warren Schwartz. Warren Schwartz is a good friend of mine. You're no..."
How long have YOU been collecting? Oh yeah? Take your number and add 20 years, two-kids, a house a wife and a car. That's what Master's got on you, so back off. Warren is one of the original pre-olithic Mr. Big patrons, the exact gene-pool that seeded the likes of Tom Franck, Lester Grinnings, Mike Z and Josh Fraser. Without their cellular ilk, there IS no east-coast collecting scene. Except for his bedroom-closet chew toys which leave me a little confused, the Man reeks of everything quality you could ever want. There are times when I leave the attic and I feel a need to never buy ANYTHING ever again. Why walk the path that's been mapped? Nothing grows in the shadow of great trees...
The real Tao of it is of course the How. The meticulous preservation of original tissue paper, strips of tape, shopping bags, receipts and shipping crates are really what infuse this holy place with sense of living provenance. You can unwrap a case of something bought from Japan 10 years ago, and reexperience each crease and fold that Master handled on his way to the actual object. There's great fodder for psychoanalysis here: possibly even a new offshoot of obsessive compulsive disorder suitable for a journal (TB-OCD-DX?)
Suffice to fixate on moments: the Toys R' US Godaikin shipping cartons (4 up!) The perfect-corner Gatchaspartan box. The entire Nakajima line perfected -- twice!!! The disturrrrrbing way Master gestures with his giant orange tail.
Bow your head, fool! You have seen what mortals should not see. Master is gracious to show his treasures. Honor him and his boudoir of the past...