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November 15, 2014

Cyclical Behavior

Filed under: Josh Fraser,Regan Miller,Toy Love,Toy News,Zenmai — Josh Fraser @ 1:15 am


Close to two years since I last posted a brog. A lot has transpired in those two years, but as with many things, life happens in cycles.

It was 2006 and I was watching a Moprhy auction unfold. I had been working at Reebok, and due to firewall restrictions, was unable to bid myself and so relied on someone externally to place bids. As luck would have it, that was a disaster, and not only did I miss a couple of the items I was after but one of the bids placed , as if insult to injury , was on an incorrect toy.

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The collection had been part of Carl Lobel’s classic tin assortment. Over the many years since the early 80s, Carl had been traveling to and from Japan, many years before the majority of us even thought to collect character tin or chogokin for that matter, both of which he imported early on. Other than Kitahara, as well as a few other hard core collectors, the field was mostly focussed on the generic tinplates of the earlier 50s and 40s.

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Fortunately I had won a Zaboga tin for a very good price ( Which had come from Kitahara in the mid 80s during one of his trips ) Carl being the owner, I contacted him post auction to ask if I could simply pick up the winnings in person. I drove to his place in northern New England to pick up the winnings. He was a friendly and colorful man, and I spent the better part of two hours looking through his remaining collection. He still had many of the tins he would not have sold yet, and I was pleased to see everything from A Normura Batman to various Popy MIMB walkers to the rarest of Popeye and Betty Boop toys.

I spied on his shelf, one of the missed opportunities. A early Gekko Kamen tin motorcycle made by Bandai in the period between 1966 and 1972. The logo had always thrown me, because the large bubble card had an early mid 50s Bandai logo, yet had on the toy what looked to be a later, or must have been later variation on the Bandai baby logo from around 1966, when the character went a resign around the same time Ogon Bat did.

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It had sold for 50.00, the opening bid. A crazy low amount. Carl had been smart enough to offer the winner many times that to buy it back. But at the time of my visit it was not for sale.

A few years pass and I see Carl at the Solenz auction, Discuss how I missed the Leo in the 2006 auction, to which to points to the one in the case and explains it is the same one… I feel a sense of synchronicity and manage to finally check the Leo zenmai off my list for less than I imagine possible, and realize again, it had passed hands in a strange but comforting way.

Fast forward to this year. Carl decides he is going to sell off the last of his character tins and lists a number online. I contact him after my first purchase and we work out a deal… Solenz manages to score a few of his tins from his own collection in 2009 thankfully as well, sort of again this all feeling serendipitous and right. I travel a few hours to Carl’s again a week later with Regan, as we are interested in checking out a few local VT breweries anyway.

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I make the exchange and bond over old collecting war stories and we promise to stay in better touch. The better part of that afternoon was spent with lunch and drinking good local beers in his back yard, and talk about how collecting has changed in the years since ebay and other online marketplaces.

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Upon getting ready to leave I take one last look in his toy room and spy the very same Gekko Kamen motorcycle I had missed out on in 2006 and never seen again. This time the patience pays off, and he graciously sells it to me for a very fair price and I feel some sense of doors simultaneously opening and closing. The karmic toy boomerang makes a sound as it flies by. We make our goodbyes and I smile and drive home thinking about how many friends I have made through these very toys, and how it has been the experience of meeting people like Carl, and Marc, as well as others along the way from Toybox to CDX, to every Summit and nerdy get together. People who have given me a sense of purpose in the slow burn of being patient for the right piece, and realizing it is the people you meet along the way that makes the score all that much sweeter. It will come to you when you are ready.

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Needless to say the toy is a gem in my collection and one I would be hesitant to let go of due to the long history it has. It stands in almost 1/1 scale with the walker, and the small details, like the tin wheels give it a charm with Gekko name, I have come to expect in the earlier incarnations. The package is not mint, and many will laugh at the idea of me not, caring as much anymore about everything being “C10”. But to be honest I have not really fit than persona for the past 5+ years. As I get older, I realize time affects everything, myself included, and the tell tale signs of a long life are not always negatives to my eye anymore.

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Like I said, things happen in cycles, and this cycle is one I hope to repeat, again and again.

November 25, 2012

Toy life

Filed under: Daily Money Shots,Josh Fraser,Regan Miller,Toy Love,Toy News — Josh Fraser @ 11:16 am

August 15, 2012

Punch,punch, punch me in the face . Jet Jaguar part 2.

Filed under: Co. BULLMARK,Josh Fraser,Toy Love,Toy News — Josh Fraser @ 3:46 pm

As you might remember, I have already done my homage to Jet Jaguar a few years ago ( see link above). Then, I had given up hope to ever finding the one Bullmark vinyl that would for a moment, release me of my tin only diet.

As it happens, Sanjeev in his wisdom, (tainted always with a bit of evil), sends me a message in caps and exclamation points, and a link that would bring another circle to a close.

With only a couple days left a mint in bag Giant Bullmark Jet Jaguar grins at me mockingly. The last time one showed up, a couple years before, I had not been in a place to really go for it. Luckily, I had the means and waited it out.
Honestly surprised at the relatively low price it was won at, my buyer gets the typical diagram infused and enthusiastically neurotic email almost immediately after it ends.

1978 was when I saw my first Godzilla movie. Osh Gosh overalls and some random 70s graphic T, completed with blonde unkept muppet hair.

Creature Double Feature weekend was the weekly alter I prayed to. Godzilla vs Megalon was the sermon that made me see the light. Jet Jaguar was really my savior and gateway drug from which I would never return completely.

It was not until much later however , fully into my adulthood that I knew even a toy of this conglomeration of Japanese children’s imaginations even existed.

When it became apparent to me, not only was there a vinyl, but one over a foot tall… well, it went on a short list. One that lasted many years and one I even could not achieve when I lived in Tokyo. Loose yes, but not mint in bag for what was an affordable price 10 years ago.

I was worried it would have been the catalyst for getting into Toho vinyls, which really is not something I need to do to my wallet or sanity. Luckily it was just a desire for a proper Jet Jaguar toy that prompted the journey. One I’m happy to see finally come to an end.

August 2, 2012


Filed under: Daily Money Shots,Josh Fraser,Regan Miller,Toy News — Josh Fraser @ 9:54 pm

May 9, 2012


Filed under: Daily Money Shots,Declarations,Josh Fraser,Toy News,Zenmai — Josh Fraser @ 3:48 pm

This was a big check mark off the list. The Daidenjin zenmai was like the Vision Control Tetsujin 28 or Daitetsujin 17, one of the very last Popy tins made in the early 80s, and as a result had a lower production run. The desire for tin was over, and a golden era came to an end. Children had evolved to toys with real technology. The naivete of the medium, though charming to us now through the filter of time and sentimentality, failed to capture the minds of those moving inevitably to brands that brought transformation, interaction and modularity to the mix. A turn key simply was no longer all that was needed to open the door to their imagination.

But Popy tins certainly went out with a bang, as the colors and overall attention to the graphic design are in my humble opinion, one of the finest in the entire series.

December 22, 2011

12 hours

Filed under: Josh Fraser,Matt Alt,Regan Miller,Toy Love,Toy News — Josh Fraser @ 1:10 pm

I have been on this plane for what seems like years. I had a sinus infection for the better part of my work trip, but this did nothing to throw my insane plan to stop in Tokyo during my extended 12 layover. I had a mission, and that was to find the girl a present from Mandarake.

With my call to Alt the night before and a few quickly scribbled notes on the location of the Mandarake Complex, I got on the 7:44 am NEX from Narita and got my camera ready to document the quick trip to the motherland.

I relied on my memories of the train system and managed to get to Akihabara a couple hours before the noon opening of this black monolith of Otaku. I spoke briefly and polished up my crippled Japanese skills with a couple flyer girls asking where the store was and found I was pretty close by. A good friend of mine came along from work and we got some food nearby. I ate my mackeral with abandon dreaming of what the store would have waiting.

Needless to say, I was slightly dissapointed as most of the floors catered to the new skool and I silently regretted not going to Nakano to get my vintage fix. That said, I did manage to pick up a cheap Billiken tin that I needed and afterwards turned to my companion and said I wanted to get to Shibuya…it was near his hotel anyway, and I still have maybe an hour before I needed to be on the next NEX train to the airport. I was counting minutes literally.

Back on the Yamanote we go, and 30 minutes later, I am in my familiar zone, the place I used to hang and eat, watch overage women dressed as local school girls to keep their wealthy aging benefactors , and steer around the sketchy Eastern blockers who always made Hong Kong Rolex dealers seem tame and legit. I LOVED being back here even if it was for 20 minutes… literally.

Run down “seizure” strobe stairs into the depths of Mandarake, and make my way past the teenager cosplayers who greeted me.

Walking with purpose I notice the quality of vintage has been severely depleted by the raging internet and my hopes of finding anything seem dim at best for my nerd woman.

With 2 minutes left in my clock, I spy a worthy option, a Mint in bag Curricular machine st vinyl. His teddy bear stare prompts the yen in my pocket to loosen and I motion the tween store clerk out of his slumber to bring this gem to the even younger check out girl. Bagged, paid..score.

One minute to go, I say my goodbyes to my friend, promise we will hang out longer next time and get back to the train with moment to spare. I sit on the train and sigh with relief. Regan will be pleased and I make a mental notch on my hardcore belt.

Sometimes it is fun to be insane.

Added Bonus: Mandarake Dec 15th at 1:30 pm

August 31, 2011


Hey kids!

Well, the Boston Summit was a smashing success and we would like to thank everyone in attendance for their continued interest and support in this awesome yet crazy hobby.. A fun time was had by all, deals were made and new alliances formed. Oh yeah, we also made some kick ass exclusives..

That being said, we have just a few leftovers that we would like to offer to our brothers and sisters who could not close the deal on coming out. Let me introduce our SICK Gekiganger inspired Summit exclusive…


Illustrations: Fraser
Color: Walker
Lead: Yen

If that wasn’t enough, there are Tshirts as well!

Check the BBS for price and ordering info HERE! Once again, thank you everyone for your friendship, support and love of the Japanese toy funk.

So, for those of you that didn’t make it, I’M LOOKING AT YOU! Next year we expect to see your mugs amongst all the rest of us toy geeks and toy widows.

Much love!

July 31, 2011

Face open…Des Fire!

Filed under: Daily Money Shots,Josh Fraser — Josh Fraser @ 10:12 am

July 30, 2011

How much is that Daiku in the window

Filed under: Daily Money Shots,Josh Fraser,Toy News — Josh Fraser @ 5:35 pm

May 1, 2011


Filed under: Co. BULLMARK,Daily Money Shots,Josh Fraser — Josh Fraser @ 8:35 pm

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