Matt Alt speaks with the one and only Koji Igarashi!
Subj: Igarashi Interview
Date: 11/9/99 11:21:23 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: Gojira@ix.netcom.com (Alt, Matthew)
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (‘email@example.com’)
“If you’re a die-hard Japanese toy collector and you haven’t been living under a rock for the past ten years, it’s almost a given that you’ve thumbed through a copy of Koji Igarashi’s Green Arrow Graffiti: The Encylopedia of Chogokin and Popinika.
“Igarashi has been a serious toy scholar for years, and his writing has stoked the flames of collector enthusiasm to unheard-of heights. I was lucky enough to get the chance to corner Igarashi and pick his brains about the toy scene at a squalid Tokyo karaoke joint. For best results, read the interview after downing a beer or five.”
MATT ALT: First, what is your main focus as a collector?
Koji Igarashi: “Basically, I don’t care about the maker, I just look for and buy the things I like. Recently and not for any particular reason, I’ve been focusing on Popy diecast, but previously I’d been collecting everything by Takatoku and Clover. Of the three, I’d have to say that the Popy pieces have the most charm. The reason for that is because it’s still got a life as a brand-name even today. It’s got a real feeling of ‘historical weight,’ I think.”
What do you think of the recent tendency towards reissues?
“I’d like them to do more! After all, vintage toys become more and more breakable as time goes on. For me, toys mean play, so I really appreciate reissues because I can safely play with them. I don’t really pay any attention to their effect on the values of collections or things like that.”
So, let’s discuss some of the differences between the originals and reissues. Like the Banpresto GA-01 Mazinger Z, the Robocon, or the Jumbo Machines, for example.
“As for the GA-01, I loaned Banpresto my original. I’ve also heard that Banpresto paid collector Kazunori Saito 700,000 yen (about $6600) for one as well (and this was confirmed by a representative of Banpresto), but his was actually the second version of the piece, and his box was only a battered color-copy of the original. Because of this, around August of last year I was asked to loan Banpresto my GA-01, which enabled them to accurately reproduce the package and inserts. I also requested that Banpresto produce and include a set of normal rocket punch fists as well. Actually, by that point, they had already been running the molds, but they went out of their way to modify them. As for differences between the Banpresto version and the original, the marks on the bottom of the feet and the chest rocket firing levers are totally different. This is due to the fact that they made the molds for the lever without taking a look at my original first.
“As for the Robocon reissue, the facial area looks like it has been slightly changes. Completely new molds were made for both the GA-01 and the Robocon. And because the recent Raideen reissue was made using old molds, you can see a little breakdown in the molding.
“With regards to the Jumbo Machine Mazinger Z, the wheel-trucks on the bottom of the feet and the stickers on the Hover-Pilder are different from the original Jumbo Machinder. And the Garada is completely different from the original. It’s a total sham.”
So, are you planning on brining out a new version of your Green Arrow “Encyclopedia of Chogokin and Popinika”?
“Actually, up until a few days ago, I’d been working on writing for a new book, the Takara SF-Land Collection, which is going to be released by Kodansha on November 11th. It’s a book that covers Henshin Cyborg, Microman, the Magnemo series, and Diaclone. It’s got over 1500 photos, and we included a CD-ROM that contains the complete original commercials as well. Please take a look when you have a chance.
“I’m planning to begin work on a new version of the Encyclopedia of Chogokin and Popinika at the end of the year.”
Do you have any plans to bring out a book about minor toymakers like Takemi or Ark?
“Not right now. The fact is that there’s just not enough commercial interest. It’s difficult to sell toy-books in Japan right now.”
Is this due to the recent increase in toy-related magazines? Does the large amount of magazines make it more difficult to publish books?
“Actually, I think the large number of magazines makes it easier to publish things. Magazines don’t negatively impact the production of good books — it’s just that there aren’t high sales expectations for books.”
In closing, have you heard any juicy toy-rumors lately?
“Well, the Soul of Chogokin Grandizer will be out in February. And the Soul of Popinika series will be starting up soon. The first release will be the Hover Pilder, and the second will be Kamen Rider’s Cyclone motorcycle.”
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us!