Endless Toy Ramble by Alen Yen
Eternal and Endless Toy Ramble by Alen Yen: random japanese toy collecting nonsense

December 27, 2000

Robozone!

Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 8:56 pm

Robozone!

We Drive West

Alt visits town, so we must travel. From the heart of Porter to the Littleton line, we shoot up the dark winding tendrils of Route 2. 26 miles out on a steep hill slick with ice, we hang a left, pulling up to the backside of a looming mill.

In the flood-lit lot, a small wood ramp leads up the stairs to the massive hanger doors that announce Gerry Bunker’s ROBOZONE!

Gerry is the gracious host. He takes time out of his hectic holiday packing to give us the tour. He is embarrassed about the cluttered state of his space, but my room has never looked this clean. I will let pictures speak for themselves.

Haul Enumerated:

I am old and feeble, but try out some of the contemporary purchases these young Rumble turks indulge in.

The Miracle House Shin Getta Robo: that’s just a fine piece of metal, destined for immortality. It’s inspiring that a company’s first diecast so easily goes to the mat with Bandai’s SOC line. And look: no annoying “assemble this yourself because its cheaper for us if you do” mechanisms. [My only gripe with SOCs. For $150, I’d like it cooked please.]

Then some toy-crack: this bizarre Marmit diecast Getta One, which I eventually try to pawn off on Josh Fraser. He is too clever to accept. Heavy, and a far cry from the pathetic days of Shogun 3-inchers. I can’t make up my mind about Getta One without Two and Three. Which is exactly what Popy always had in mind.

Now let me say that this Le reve Mazinger has something going for it. I can’t put my finger on it, but the rubbery sculpt and good proportioning are kind of charming. And I love the articulating Hover Pilder. Then again, maybe I’m getting soft in my dotage.

Dessert:

On the way out, one final acquisition: I used to keep a 4-cell Maglight under my bed to greet unwanted visitors with. I’m pleased to be upgrading it for something heavier, namely, the 1/850 Nomura Space Cruiser Yamato!

I’ve been admiring this toy for about 20 years, having lost my first opportunity to own one. Feature-fixated Popinica phreaks will no-doubt argue the superior capabilities of the Popy DX Yamato. “Listen Mister — I owned Popy Yamato; Popy Yamato was a good friend of mine. You’re no Popy Yamato.” I choose the metal.

Boomerang:

It’s an inspiring thing, to confront a massive gathering of power objects under one roof. Our etarnal gratitude to Gerry for his hospitality and his warm treatment of our staff. Thanks!

Finally, you may have read the Rumble about the recent break-in at Gerry’s. Take a moment to visit his site and send him your positives thoughts.

Best regards,

November 26, 2000

State of the ‘Box

Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 8:46 pm

Thanksgiving in the colonies, and we have much to be thankful for.

By the grace of our two-headed Doublas — a.k.a. Yappy and DarrenToyboxDX Rumble has rocket-punched the news to a terrifying height. (Saddam himself checks daily for the latest from Palm Beach.) So whilst you’re chewing your leftovers and fondling that fistful of Kubricks, spare a thought to honor them and their bleeding fingers!



Remember Thanksgiving of 1997? There was no “collecting community” to speak of. If you had the fetish, you were hiding in your attic like Warren and I. In Y2K, together we’ve all built this site into a community and a resource that’s become transcendent.

In keeping with big dreams, tactical localization droid “Matt Alt San” has been busy machining the first bolts to

ToyboxDX JP. We’re taking the first chisel at fashioning ToyboxDX into a universal Rosetta Stone of communication and collecting. The ultimate goal: to create a worldwide bridge back to the homeland. So start downloading those font packs and keep fingers crossed.

(I uploaded a spanking new UI last weekend which will foreshadow some changes on the regular site. Matt’s busy creating all new original content. So check it out and let us know what you think.)



Meanwhile, watching the Rumble team code is like eyeballing the cold claw of obsolescence as it clutches my slipper.

To compensate, I’ve been foraying into real-world, cheap wares for the ToyboxDX Nightmarket.

“Yeesh — ‘mousepad’ you say?” Yes “mousepad.” I know you don’t need another, but for goodness sake, it’s awfully colorful.



“Yeesh — ‘mousepad’ you say?” Yes “mousepad.” I know you don’t need another, but for goodness sake, it’s awfully colorful.


Click on the thumbnail to see the new ToyboxDX Mousepad. It’s got Grieg and screenshots of the site, and like everything we’re selling, is sold at cost to us.


Finally,
Forces are at work in the universe. The same algorithm of self-expression and defiance of structure that spawns a global information network demands a new awareness and attitude towards the consideration of the giant robot.

What the hell am I talking about?

I’m talking about making your own robots, Popyboy. Your own robots, and not mine or anybody else’s.

Expression of words and pictures is the first wave of this new interconnectivity we share. The second wave is physical: assembly will be required.

One year ago, I “doodled” that image while on the phone with Matt. I made some quick changes, checked out some sites, sent an email, and Bam. 24 hours later I had a prototype. The experience was closer to teleportation than communication. The first hurdle of designing and manufacturing real-world robots was solved.

The robot’s name is Nekosaur. Consider him a towering homage to Purcell, Sanrio, and my cat James. My intention is to complete a short run of diecast toys, document and share the process, and facilitate a forum for a worldwide pantheon of new creations.

It’s time to shatter the Bandai hegemony.

The real problem, for chogoheads like myself, has always been the metal. How to diecast without a minimum run that costs more than your house? The lateral solution: don’t “diecast.”

If the goal is to make your own robot, then utilizing mass-production techniques is suicide. The initial experiments have been promising but need work. More on this later.



We’ve all witnessed endless speculation and dialogue about the possibilities of self-manufacturing. I’m convinced that a convergence of timing, technology and human energy is about to hit, and that together we’re on the cusp of a truly special moment in history. We will see just how full of this cusp I am.

In the meanwhile, Happy Turkey Day. May the rest of your year be filled with fine things to be grateful for.

And stay tuned. Long live ToyboxDX!

July 23, 2000

DOA: DOA — The Death of Day Old Antiques

Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 12:11 pm

7/21/00: 5:45 PM. The City of Cambridge mis-stickers street cleaning. The rat bastards tow my ride to the dead fringes of Somerville, forcing me to walk South. I head towards Harvard in a heavy mood. Day-Old Antiques “the place” is dead, killed by the net…

6:12 PM. I’m late. Passing under the shade of the Mass Ave Starbucks, I pick out Josh Fraser. He looks down, camped out in front of the Montrose Spa. Not our usual chipper meeting. As we shake, the legendary Warren Schwartz trots over. Introductions are made and gifts exchanged. Mike Z comes out to greet us. We shuffle past an ominous “last call” sign — straight into the mess.



6:28 PM: Liquidation. Some heavy-hitter is Up the Ladder taking down Dorvack toys for inspection. Mike is on the phone, looking flustered, closing a deal.

Warren and Josh sift through the weirdness: Robocon on a bike. Chintzy Baxinger.
Giant vinyl Sausuraiger. All the fringe elements crawling out from under the basement.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking about Chokinzoku and my own agenda: to close two loops. For four years, I have passed paying top-dollar for this piece, bearing the scorn and ridicule of numerous “serious” collectors. Tonight, I’m committed. I will close out Day-Old with a sweet moment. I will pay for the symmetry of the deal.



6:55 PM. Josh is screwing around with Mike’s inflatable T 28 strung from the rafters. I am a little worried about his enthusiasm, but am too busy demonstrating Zendagorilla’s nipple-firing mechanism to Warren. The heavy-hitter turns out to be Gerry Bunker of Robozone fame, who I’ve spoken to on numerous occasions, but never met. His pile is looking fine: about the cleanest Combattra I’ve ever seen, and a bunch of Diakron.

I start shooting stuff from the ladder. It comes out that Josh is STILL carrying around that damn GA-51 in the temperature-controlled custom styrofoam container. All four of us are immediately startled by an anomalous missile hiding in a Dynaman DX set. It strikes
me that all of us seem fairly normal. It’s clear that we are NOT.



7:45. Josh has…gulp…cut down Baywatch T28.

Meanwhile, Warren has gathered a pile of vinyl hoohah. I myself have been trying to “form Chokinzoku.” My fingers are clumsy from inexperience and fear.

We transact. Goodbyes are hurried: Mike’s still half-open till the 30th. This is the last time I’ll be here with friends.



That night, after a jam-session of post-retail sushi, I can’t sleep.

I began my collection at Day-Old four years ago. Without the store triggering embedded memories of my past, there is no ToyboxDX. Day-Old itself continues as a website — but the analog experience is dead.

June 18, 2000

Endless Rumble

Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 1:27 pm

Sunday morning: in my favorite Joe Boxers, running my auction Keywords. A strange place to be right now in the obsession: most major personal acquisitions are accomplished. Things out of my price range — grossly out of my price range — no longer affect me on an emotional level. Where’s the fun when you know where to get what you want?

How can the Grail maintain its ineffable Holy quality when it’s just a matter of mustering the cash?

I’d love to bag chogokin AstroBoy, Machbaron and Potbelly, but my hardcore meter doesn’t register the challenge. Saving to purchase suddenly becomes one more facet to life-style financial planning that — frankly — I want jettisoned from my life.

The shelf is firmly reestablished in the Studio. Vinyls spin-off to begin their own satellite franchise. And I feel a bit in limbo. Is it Italy and not Japan that’s become the next frontier? All things Tark and Tansor seem to make it so. But something else is unsettling me. The old compulsion is pushing me away from consumption. At night, in my dreams, I sharpen tools.

* * *

The real frontier always involves gravitation towards making. You start as a child, shifting your point of reference into the materials of the world. Picking up that Kenner X-Wing, you become the object, flail down the street at attack speed. At some point though, the urge to generate new form from old understanding takes over. I think I’m just tired of screwing around with somebody else’s crap.

* * *

Now THAT was kind of harsh and I don’t really mean it. No: actually I do. See, it’s this continual back and forth, and neither position excludes the other. It’s important to have your heroes, and the culture of Popy, Bullmark, and Nakajima sits high on my pedestal of things revered. At the same time, I think we’ve all felt a twinge to do more than spectate in life. It’s your duty to participate directly in your passion. You’ve got to add to the system with your energy, and not just collect it.

Down from my soapbox for a sec. But, hey — I really mean it!

* * *

Putting money where mouth is: the final focus of the site is crystallizing. (Or I should say that my focus comes to light, since DX Commandos now own the site. Incidentally, can Matt freshen my ducktape gag, empty the bedpan, and spruce up the holding cell? Thanks Sean…)

You guess where I’m going? Of course you do. It’s time to apply design methodology in a hard-core way to an age-old chogokin-lover’s dilemna:

How does a young boy fill the cavity in his soul with a Giant Robot
truly his very own?

The answer, unfortunately, ain’t at ebay.com.

* * *

Close this off. Forgive the rambling first person prose. But wasn’t that the point of entry 1 in 1998? An expression of a personal connection with a little-understood but distinctly life-changing compulsion. This is the extension of my personal perspective towards that endeavor; I’m in the middle of crafting an invitation. Now the question is, what the hell’s in that box?

March 8, 2000

DeBasement

Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 9:30 pm

Info Minister Alt lands in Boston for a tactical detente! Before picking him up, I charge the Dustbuster and stock the bar.

Logan Terminal B: as he slams the door on the Beetle, I pop the clutch. We squeal off towards the Ted Williams tunnel, in search of arms. Over the river at the Cambridgeside Galleria, we acquire the Fuji MX-1700 digital camera.

From there, a short hop to Porter Exchange for Katsu-don and Calpis. Finally, at my place, we make our first toast [Drambuie], accidentally smashing the snifters. Cinematic foreshadowing! The time is 14:03 EDT. Time to get to work.


A necessary moment spent with SOC Grandizer. I have to slap Alt’s dirty fingers off my Jumbomachinder Astro Robo. We retire to the “GekiGo” G3 to study Igarashi’s Microman CD-ROM, then make some decisions on the website nav bar. Over the hours, plans of attack crystalize. Finally, the clock reads 16:15. Time to hit Day-Old Antiques.

My relationship with Day-Old thru the years has been rich. Highlights have included “going up the ladder” and “manning the counter.” I’ve answered the phones, and also seen Every Collector’s Nightmare : stray Valkyrie guns, Shogun fists, and Godaikin missiles left like gum-wrappers twisting in the mid-bay storage-room. But despite all I’ve been privileged to see and do, I have never, in all my four years as a customer, ever…been…to…

THE BASEMENT.



The Basement! A collector nullspace: a mental construct of everything that’s been lost or misplaced throughout the dim years of youth. Ask Mike Z for a missing box, or an old accessory, or about a vaguely remembered toy, and invariably it’s been “in the Basement.” Or worse, he “used to have a case of those in the Basement.”

Enough. I am in the twilight of the Boston experience. I can take no more.

We negotiate for over an hour. Mike is merciful and agrees to a brief glimpse. No Cameras Allowed.

Like Orpheus down the fire-escape to Hades, we descend into the darkness. Sweet Mother of Nagai, it’s EVERYTHING I IMAGINED!!! Like Yin and Yang, the negative space of the parallel toy-buying universe upstairs unfolds! No counters, no shelves: only cardboard boxes and plastic bags, stacked Warren Schwartz-style and strung from the low beams. A single dim 60 watt bulb illuminates a Jersey-like landfill of mylar-bagged and carded toys. And while the glory days of diecast are over
and tomb raiders have beaten us to the high-end loot, the real treasure reveals itself: a resonating faith in the unknown, in the power of crap, and its indelible ability to pile up in basements and attics across the universe, regardless of time or the political inclinations of man.

5 minutes later we emerge. In a daze, I begin to grab things from the normal store counters: a carded Popy Ground Zero vinyl with “obscuring eye” action. A Takatoku Gattiger plane in the weirdest “Generic-Gokin” style box. A Takara Diaclone robot with heavy metal limbs. And finally, one of the Chinese Mazinger Z GA-01s. I mutter something about the three major foodgroups (diecast, vinyl and plastic.)

Along the counter, Alt’s playing with his own stack. Piled with plastic bags, we tumble out into the sparkling lamplight of Mass Ave, looking like a few gals back from Bloomies’s. Dusk descends. In a dream, we point northwest and walk, stumbling back to the homestead.


Back in reality, Alt “accidentally” pours himself three drinks — all at the same time. We carry his gin, his beer and his whiskey to the shelf, breaking out the Fuji and beginning to document the loot. But the metal and styrofoam have become secondary.

We have passed through the spirit of the desert — are filled with the wonder of the unknown…






Alt’s POV:
Sausage and Bottom-feeding Boston

“I was a bit tight money-wise on my last trip to Boston. I knew I didn’t have enough in me for one of those fourth-of-July-style grand-slam purchases, the Machinder or original Bullmark or Popy Slutroid or whatever. There was only one course to take: aim low, and never look back. There’s no way in hell I’d have walked out of Day-Old Antiques empty-handed, anyway, and sure as hell not with a head muddled from the expensive vodka I’d swilled straight from the bottle I’d found in Alen’s liquor cabinet. All I had with me was $150 in cash, most of which I quickly spent on the stupidest toys imaginable, pieces I’d never have DREAMED of picking up on a normal, straight day. Desperation purchases from the bottom of the character-toy food chain: Japanese-boxed Machine Robo ‘Battle Armor’ spaceships, dirt-cheap Bandai kaiju vinyl, fully-variable disco-colored Takatoku Sasuraiger ‘Batrain’ C-3. And on the way back I managed to cajole Alen’s ‘military color‘ version C-3 out of him, too. Plus the extra parts to complete my screwed-up ST Sasuraiger back home, to keep my recently acquired giant-ass Sasuraiger company. Jesus, what was I THINKING? It’s not like I NEED all of these transforming-train toys, but once you get yourself locked into a serious Sasuraiger collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.

“Actually, after taking stock of the situation, the only thing that really worried me were those Batrains. Not the fact I’d just dropped nearly $50 on what was undeniably a Gobot, not the fact that Alen seems to have developed an unhealthy attachment to cheap-ass deluxe Diaclone robot sets. Ever since my childhood, my relationship with Sasuraiger has been tinged with the scent of disappointment. At the tender age of thirteen, I clearly remember stumbling across the aforementioned standard-sized diecast at the local Asian ‘Gift Gate.’ The robot-into-locomotive concept was mildly amusing, and the action-packed box art of Sasuraiger on the prowl was enough to manhandle any doubts into submission. It would be another three or four hours later, when I finally returned home, that I realized that the stupid motherfucker not only was about as articulated as a piece of wood, but didn’t transform into ANYTHING AT ALL.

“I can’t really blame Takatoku; as a giant-robot character, Sasuraiger’s always ridden that thin rail, if you will, between being charming and just plain stupid. But for God’s sake, if you’re stuck with a license as retarded as a transforming train, you a least owe it to yourself to build in SOMETHING that makes it remotely attractive to buyers. At least the poor bastard contained a pinball-style bullet-launching mechanism, an eye hazard the likes of which must’ve cost Takatoku thousands in cash and untold numbers of cheap hookers to bribe past the Japanese ‘ST’ safety commission.

“You’d think after all I’d been through, I’d have learned my lesson. Yet there another one was, calling my name from a dusty shelf, begging forgiveness for the sins of the past. In my alcohol-weakened condition, I was a sucker for a charming line and I fell for Sasuraiger yet again, this time in the form of the aforementioned fully-transforming Batrain C-3 Sasuraiger 1:55. Hell, it’s a window box this time, I figured; there’s no way this train’s going to take ol’ Matt for a ride again. It wasn’t until three or four hours later, when I finally returned home, that I realized that the stupid motherfucker not only was MUCH DUMBER THAN I’D EVER IMAGINED IT BEING, but it actually FELL APART THE FIRST TIME I TRANSFORMED IT.

“This time, though, things were a little different than when I was thirteen. I’d learned how to read Japanese. And as Alen attempted radical surgery on the Batrain in the background, kind of like ‘ER‘ minus the good-looking actors and drama, I thoughtfully turned the package over and over in my hands, looking for a clue on that beautifully rough-hewn Takatoku cardboard. Suddenly I spotted it, down on the lower left-hand corner of the box. I brought the box closer, squinting at the tiny characters as the sound of screwdriver against cheap plastic filled the air.

“‘Height, 24.9 meters; Weight, 72.5 tons; Output, 80,000 horsepower; Armament, Beam Rifle and Drum-machineguns. Please understand that there may be differences between the images on the box and the actual product.’

“Jesus Christ, they weren’t kidding. I took another pull on my beer, picked up the phone, and begin to dial: I’d heard that Duban’s got a line on another Sasuraiger piece, and I don’t want to miss it.”

— Matt

March 1, 2000

Freed at Last! Soul of Chogokin Grandizer

Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 9:23 pm

Two years as a black bag consultant make me soft: driving a company wears me down, and I’m forced to cope. The quicker fix: a constant intake of sake. The holistic solution: riding the Redline to Harvard to walk an extra mile and a half home.

Through no fault of my own, the midpoint of this route passes the front stoop of Day-Old Antiques.

While the constant fog of hot alcohol has improved my concentration, the nightly revisits to the store have reconciled me to my faith. Today, I bring home a piece of the new testament: Soul of Chogokin UFO Robo Grandizer.

I’m eating a crow pie, filled with Ramble. All recent digs against Bandai are renounced. This may the finest quality toy I’ve ever had the honor to unwrap. I’m such a freak that I minimize the “wear” I have to apply to the Japanese scotch tape binding the tray.

Preliminary raves describing the baroque ornamentation and excessive armament are correct.

The jet-glider alone has a classic Popinica aura; its magnetic locking mechanism primly folds into a double-doored cavity. The scale and quality of the figure itself is tight: rattles less than the keyboard I’m typing on, and (almost) makes me forgive the cruddiness of the GA09R. The spring-loaded knees collapse with a push, and pop out with a (pulse-quickening) tug. The fist attachments and halberds are dead-on. Everything else intimidates me too much to desprue. And while my personal philosophy normally demands that I “play” with it, I’m going to refrain from assembling and using the precious Spacer. At least until I get another one.

In the presence of such mind-numbing physical perfection I have nothing intelligent or articulate to say. I’m going to wipe the drool off my chin and go rearrange the entire shelf…

February 23, 2000

Unrivaled

Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 2:04 pm


Back in town, and I head for familiar ground: Day-Old Antiques is like an old house, caught in memory, where the analog experience lives and breaths. Each crusty shelf overflows with the ephemera of the bizarre: old batteries, condom tins, and the unmistakable musk that IS vintage japanese toys.

Tonight, I don’t have to settle for the sterility of a clean-cornered blister packer. It’s straight to the back-case to reclaim a piece of my youth.


For 15 years, I’ve carted around the decapitated remnants of one of my pre-pubescent favorites: Unrivaled Robot Tryder G7!

I’ve tracked this particular item for four years now, keeping it for rainy-day desperation — some point in time when I’d need a desperate injection of reaffirmation. After months of disillusionment towards what’s left for me in diecast, I cash in this chip.

This isn’t Ceppa Ratti action. It’s the jeweled Bird Attack version by Clover. Alt and I have always considered this the Trans Am/Gran Turissimo of robots, its main competitive advantage being 9″ clip-on articulating fiery phoenix, cast in sparkling orange disco-acrylic. Each feather terminates in a dagger-like edge. He’s armed with missiles and blades up the butt. The sticker on his chest animates like a Cracker-Jack prize. I’m gripped by the insanity of it.

(Incidentally, this model G-7 circulated heavily throughout Taiwan in the 70’s. On my last trip to Taipei, I successfully found any number of them. All of them were missing heads.)

Mike Z takes care of me. I end up in such an up-mood that I need a dessert comedown. Lo and behold, I’m lowballed by the underwhelming oddity of the Smallest Diapolon Ever. This tiny red tike clocks in at a whopping 3.2 inches tall. The articulation sucks. The arms suck. I can’t think of a better piece to illustrate the polar opposite of my obsession.

I pass the Amex. Mike passes the loot. We complain about damn computers and eBay. It’s been a long time since I’ve run home from the store.





Matt Alt gets Sausy


“Sausage, anyone? SAUSRAIGER! Sausraiger blows. His design begs to be mocked. Yet I find myself drawn to him like a moth to a flame, especially when he’s rendered in supple, inviting vinyl. I’d call him a ‘mini-machinder‘ like those whores on eBay would, but he’s not. His 12-plus inches of metallic-painted goodness are enough to satisfy me, though. (Yep, he’s even bigger than the DX transforming version.)

“I’ve got to give props to the one-and-only Rob D for snagging this bad-boy off the shelf at Mandarake and sending it out to me. SUCKA!”
— Matt

February 21, 2000

NY-POPY Blues

Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 2:08 pm

A quick shot to NYC to see the Toy Widow! We take the train from the Upper West Side, heading over to the corner of 13th and Broadway. That’s right: it’s Forbidden Planet!

Fond memories from the 80’s are immediately obliterated: the corner windows, once brimming with Popy, Shoguns and Godaikins now feature everything tawdry in the world: Phantom Menace, Digimon etc.

Inside: I can’t find the staircase to the basement where the old Bandai lucite displays reigned. In fact, I’m so stupid and old that I don’t even realize it’s a new building until the manager tells me. There’s a little tear welling up in the corner of my eye as I remember the stacks of Valkyries and Dougram toys that once rusted in the corners.

In the back, some of that “vintage 90’s” nonsense: Micromen and Henshin Cyborgs, also some Miracle Actions, and a pile of Gundam model kits. Has it really come to this? I snag a Microman. I think it’s name is “27.” I try to get juiced because it’s magnemo, but can’t. How much fun can it be to “hunt” for something that’s so commodidized? (Incidentally, like many I really have fallen for the cool toyness of the new Micromen. I have to say, tho’, there’s something…unexciting…about numbered blister-pack.)

On the way back to the front my toy-nose beeps, and I look over my shoulder. A 24″ LJN Voltron, lurking behind a comics cutout on the mezzanine. Of course it’s not for sale, but I don’t care: as long as my radar registered it.

Finally, at the checkout: diecast Matsudaya Robbies stacked like gum.
Pretty cool! Heavy, and about articulated as a lug-wrench, but what can you do? These are 90’s pickings, and I’m grateful for the metal.



After a pallid and unenthused checkout, it’s off to Love Saves the Day. (About 11 blocks to 2nd St, then across to 7th Ave.) Much more like an old school vibe!

Buried among the Linda Carter dolls and Smurfs: some assorted Matchbox Voltron hoohah, and a Godaikin Goggle V. In the back, a sorry collection of battered 3″ “Collector Shoguns” and an ugly

Ulysses diecast. Also: a black SOC Mazinger [whoopee.] In the corner, something catches my eye. It’s a crummy looking vinyl of…who the hell is it? I guess I don’t care.* I talk the old times with the guy working, who throws me some leads. A quick round of bargaining, and we’re down to $15. Why not? It appeals to my complete lack of toy scholarship.

So I depart a happy kid, for the moment, having found a little gem. But it’s a matter of time before the rivers dry completely: the Internet has successfully killed the boutique hunt.

Mark my words: before it’s over, Ebay will have us all…

(* Duban says “ITADAKIMAN!”)





Matt Alt with some Inspiring News



“Thanks to the ever-resourceful TBDX Secret Agent Yappy, we’ve gotten an update on the upcoming ‘ladies of Mazinger‘ series: the diecast Aphrodite A and Minerva X should be available in six weeks at an estimated retail price of $50 a pop. They’re lookin’ good, as you can see from the Aphrodite
prototype, and seem to be leaning towards the ‘realistic’ (Soul of Chogokin) school of robot-toy. (And no, those breasts, while removable, don’t shoot off.)

“So what’s Bandai’s going to do when they figure out that our Hong Kong friends are planning to flood the market with unlicensed diecast? The potential legal battle should prove as amusing as the toys themselves. Stay
tuned!”
— Matt

February 12, 2000

Alt and Duban Raid The Ark!

Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 2:10 pm

Okay: it’s been so super busy that the Ramble don’t flow the way it used to. Nevertheless, it’s easy to gush over the latest Data Files entry by the Lennon/McCartney of Japanese Toy Scholarship, Matt Alt and Robert Duban.

Ark’s insane lineup of monster diecasts has too long fallen by the wayside. Any line featuring deadly nipple blades deserves the spotlight…



On other fronts, YAPPY ROCKS! Cafe Regular Agent Yappy has sent along pics of the soon to be complete Chogokin Aphrodite A. Along with her debut is the appending appearance of more female-robot diecasts, courtesy of our bootlegging cousins in HK.

On to the news…




Here’s more classic Alt with a Massive News Flood


“According to TBDX Agent Yappy, top-secret sources approached him with photographs of an upcoming Hong Kong diecast APHRODITE A! In fact, this hot little number will be but the first in a ‘ladies of Mazinger’ series, with

Venus, Minerva, and Diana robots to follow shortly thereafter. Although we can’t float the pics just yet, take a look at the packaging and drool!

“No word as to the actual release date yet, but it should be sometime this summer. Unless Bandai nails them first, that is — these seem to be unlicensed. Your SOC Mazinger might finally has some friends to play with, but he’d better be careful — we don’t know where these ladies have been.”



MACHINE-SAURER’S BACK!
Like the majority of people who have a life, you probably have no idea what Machine-saurer even is. Fans of Magnemo toys, however, should be cracking open their 40s in unison for a drunken celebration: one of the silliest magnet-powered series Takara ever did is poised for a comeback!

“The Machine-saurer figures are cyber-dinosaur things with magnemo 11 joints and detachable weapons. Looking something like a cross between the T-Rex from “Toy Story” and The Terminator, they were never particularly popular the first time around in the early ’80s — and they seem like an utterly insane choice for a reissue. But Takara released tiny, grainy shots of their prototype for the January issue of Figure-Oh magazine.

“There’s still no word as to if the mildly popular magnemo ‘Death Cross‘ and other humanoid magnemo 11 characters from the series will see the light of day, but one thing’s for certain: the molds are long gone, so Takara’s going the ol’ cast-an-original-and-call-it-a-reissue route, just as they did with Jeeg. And the dinosaurs are first, it seems.

“There’s still no firm release date or price set, so Machine-saurer fans (all three of you) should sit tight for more info…..

“Shout-out to Masato Shono for the shot.”



“Meanwhile: good news for all you chumps who still haven’t gotten around to picking up the stoopidly cheap BanprestoHot-Blooded Go-Kin‘ super deformed robot diecasts: they’re releasing a ten-piece set so’s you can get ’em all in one fell swoop. (And for those of you geeky enough to realize they’ve only released NINE of those suckers, you’re absolutely right: a special deformed RX-78 Gundam diecast is getting tossed in as well.) No word on price, but it’ll be out at the end of February.


“Bad news for all you chumps who follow the Marmit Fierce Legends series (like me): Marmit announced late last month that they’re putting the line of huge soft-vinyl robots on temporary hiatus after the upcoming releases of Shin Getta Robo, Getta III, and Brave Raideen. (Shin Getta should be out in a few months; look for the other two this summer.) Marmit’s worried that the sheer size of the figures is limiting the number of pieces that any given collector can accrue; perhaps if they stopped releasing ludicrous color variations (such as the upcoming ‘limited edition’ transparent-yellow Getta Dragon), that wouldn’t be so much of a problem. At any rate, Marmit says that they’ll make their final decision about the series after Raideen is released.


“And from the ‘nostalgia is alive and well’ department, Dynamic Pro announced that their broadcast of ‘Mazinger Z vs. Great Mazinger‘ on TV in France last Christmas garnered a whopping 35% viewer share — and it didn’t start until nearly midnight, meaning that most of those viewers were adults. Aw-right. It’s comforting to know that we’re not the only ones suffering from an unhealthy, financially debilitating lust for giant robots. ”



“Check it: Bandai’s first Soul Of Popinika, the Hover Pilder! The original was plenty cool. This one’s fricking amazing! It’s even got a jointed action figure of Kabuto Koji as well. Just watch out for those fly-ass stockings of
his.
“After a few beers, you can bet I’ll be trying to cram the sucker in the head of my Uni-Five Mazinger Z Jumbo. (The old Popy version fits. Sort of. Heh-heh. Sorry about that, Alen.) Look for it in March for 5,000 yen retail.


“Finally: Hot damn! I’m not a huge fan of model kits, but the new oh-so-Perfect Grade
series is enough to entice even the most jaded diecast-snob into styrene-gasm after styrene-gasm. (If you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so and missed hearing about these, they’re huge-ass, super-detailed, and have assembly instuction manuals thicker than the Bible. And they don’t need no paintin’, neither.) Check out the upcoming Zeta Gundam and drool! 16,000 big ones (yen), available sometime this summer, hopefully.”
— Matt

January 1, 2000

01/01/1900: TOY OF THE YEAR

Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 2:12 pm

It was a close call. Garada K7 landed in June with a thump, cushioned on a nice bed of hype. The mighty (yet wobbily) pseudo-reissue made such a splash that you’d think he’d cuddled his way into a shoe-in for Toy of the Year. Lord knows that UniFive deserves applause for the tremendous service they’ve done for Jumbo Love. At the last minute, tho’, evil gets nailed: crushed no less by the old nemesis, Z!

Marmit’s Daigokin Mazinger Z delivers exactly where Garada don’t. In terms of quality, truth to concept, presence and sheer gall, our collective hats are off to a company that has gone out of its way to break the envelope. (It’s not hard, is it, to please a gokin punk? Make it large, heavy and we’ll come.) To emphasize a point tho: it ain’t just the size. The whole idea of making a 17″ articulated diecast toy defies reason. The fact that a company was willing to follow through with what clearly would be a low-run, cost-inefficient hunk, just juices my pilder. That the toy is by all accounts a winner is just icing on the cake.
So check below for raves by Sean Bonner, Bic and Yappy. And start saving those pennies!



Meanwhile: made a quick trip toOuter Limits in Jersey and had my faith restored. The new location was immaculate as usual, and filled with the good stuff.
Notable acquisitions included the totally weird-ass Takatoku Zendagorira. It’s goofy, but well-featured. Hilights of the piece include googly eyes, wheeled feet, and, um, shooting “grapple nipples.”

As Roger Harkavy (at left with Astro Boy) pointed out, this is now two years in a row for me that “nipple-shooting Gorilla toys” have been featured at Christmas. I suppose this is how traditions start. Thanks to Steve G. for his usual good cheer!



Finally: thanks to all of you who have madeToyboxDX such a stunning success through your contributions and your enthusiasm over the last two years. While the last two months have been a bit slow [sorry Josh, I’m on it!] the new year will bring some spectacular changes. So stick around. It’s just starting to get good!

Best regards for you and your families in the coming year,

Alen




Jumboland’s Sean Bonner scores at Monster House

“January 1st, 2000. Much like any other saturday. wake up, go to House of Monsters. Only today was a little different. I knew they were getting in some new stuff from Japan but what? I was hoping for an Action Gokin…I got that and much more…Seconds after walking in the door Damien picks up a box from behind the counter:

“‘You wouldn’t be interested in this would you?’The box is huge… is it? No… yes! It’s Mazinga Z Daigokin!!! “Would I be interested??? It’s the closest I’ll ever come to a diecast Jumbo. Of Course! I snatched it up, well tried to…
“The box and everything tops out 10 pounds, the figure itself is over 15 inches and it has to be 98% diecast. The paint is shiny and the smell is like a drug. The only plastic I can see is the clear window on the pilder with Koji looking out and some little pieces inbetween the major joints. I’m totally blown away by this thing.”
— Sean






Mark “Bic” Smith sez
“MAAAAAAAAZINNN-GOOOO!!!!!!”

“For 48 hours after receiving my Daigokin Mazinger-Z, I was in a perpetual state of bliss, amazement, and awe. The mere fact that such an insane idea actually made it all the way from someone’s mind, to the drawing board, to a prototype, to an actual produced piece work of art, has reaffirmed my belief in dreams and in attaining a goal. The fact that I purchased one also strengthens my belief that I am as well insane. But now, I see this giant metal figure for what it is, a magnificent statue. It is an ode, a tribute to Go Nagai.

“The articulation of this metal hunk is very limited: rotation about the shoulders and wrists limited bending at the elbows, and rotation around the hips and ankles. I only wish there had been some rotation or bending allowed in the head and/or torso. But, maybe the engineering to do so would have made the costs even more exorbitant. We’ll never know, and honestly, I refuse to waste any more time complaining about it or even thinking of anything ‘bad’ about this piece. The mere fact that this item was even made is reason enough to rejoice and celebrate! Even if it didn’t move anywhere at ALL, just the mere fact it EXISTS is cause for joy in all our diecast collecting hearts. (Yes Roger, after a certain monetary limit, they DO become pieces.) “The coloration and shininess of the metal is top notch. It glistens wondrously, casting off those opalescent sparkles that animators are so fond of when sunlight hits their robot’s metal body. The detail is also top notch. Looking closely into the Pilder, one can make out his helmet, his facial features, jumpsuit and his hands. This Mazinger-Z is, to me, the most beautiful Mazinger-Z I own. (I now have three: a regular SOC, a black SOC, and now the Marmit Daigokin.)

“I do not own any original Popy Jumbo Machinders, nor any of the bastardized Mattel Shogun Warriors, much less any of the Uni-Five reproductions, but I would safely bet that if one were to place the Daigokin in line with some Jumbos, those two foot tall shampoo bottles would be extremely intimidated by this 17″ junior metal-machinder. The only robot I own taller than the Daigokin is the Ultimate Iron Giant, and his goofy metal smile disarms him, makes him into a teddy bear. But this Daigokin Mazinger-Z has weight you can not only feel upon holding, but you can see it, and feel it in it’s presence. It truly has a soul that fills the room. It captivates not only me, but also others who have seen it. I can feel the other robots in my collection looking up to the Daigokin Mazinger-Z (metaphorically as well as literally). I can actually hear ‘MAAAAAAAAZINNN-GOOOO!!!!!!’ every time I look at it.
“Daigokin Mazinger-Z is ready for anything. Now I REALLY need to find a Uni-Five Garada K-7, I bet they would look FANTASTIC next to one another. The bottom line: If I had seen one before purchase, would I still have bought one? YES. Is it actually worth the outrageous hefty price tag? YES, it is to me. If Marmit makes a Great Mazinger, or Gaiking, or some obscure robot in the same manner, will I purchase it? YES. If Marmit were to actually make a ‘line’ of Daigokin robots, would I happily go broke purchasing them all? YOU HAD BETTER BELIEVE IT!

“Overall, I am very happy and pleased with this toy, and am also happy that I had the opportunity to purchase it. MONSTROUS PROPS GO OUT TOJUST BE DISTRIBUTION!
— Bic







Yappy on the The Weight of it all


“First off, a disclaimer: there’s no way I can ramble about the Daigokin
objectively. It was a gift — and probably the single-most extravagant gift I have ever received. Here’s heartfelt kudos to my #1 girl, ‘the Pokemistress.’ XoXoX

“Mushiness aside, Bic’s totally right… the Daigokin is a ‘piece,’ a Franklin Mint-esque memorial to Go Nagai. Bic did forget to mention that Mr. Big-ass Mazinger does have ‘swivel arm battle-action grip’ a la 3″ GI
Joes
. But that’s pretty much all its ‘play’ features. There’re no spring-loaded accessories either; in fact, I’d say there was no way to engineer any firing mechanisms for the Daigokin — no non-lethal mechanisms, anyway…
“Cuz it all boils down to the simple fact: THE MUTHA’S ALL METAL.

“Everything except the windshield of the Pilder (and maybe the mini-Koji piloting it). Any gimmick would take away from that simple mind-numbing fact that it’s 17 inches of 99 44/100% DIE-CAST. I don’t have a scale, but it’s gotta be 7-9lbs. It HURTS to hold the damn thing for more than ten minutes (which might mean I need to hit the gym). But it’s definitely much denser than the DX chogokins of yore; I don’t remember having problems carrying my old Voltes V or my Godaikin Tetsujin 28 around when I was 6.

“This all brings up a paradox: The Daigokin’s a collector item, but one that begs to be touched. You can’t help but want to pick it up… to feel that cold die-cast on every external surface… to hear the loud ratcheting industrial strength joints… to feel the AWESOME WEIGHT of it all… THE WEIGHT… THE WEIGHT… oh the madness of it all…”
— Yappy

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