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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.

photo 5

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 2, 2012


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

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

October 30, 2011


Filed under: Daily Money Shots,Regan Miller — Regan @ 7:06 pm

August 9, 2011

Home alone.

Filed under: Co. POPY,Daily Money Shots,Regan Miller — Josh Fraser @ 1:59 pm

July 3, 2011


Filed under: Daily Money Shots,Regan Miller — Josh Fraser @ 7:22 pm

May 8, 2011

New stuff: Kawaii overload

Filed under: Regan Miller — Regan @ 11:50 pm

April 30, 2011

Baron von Mint-hausen

Filed under: Co. POPY,Declarations,Josh Fraser,Nekrodave,Regan Miller,Warren Schwartz — Josh Fraser @ 10:52 pm

This was a rather epic purchase in the making.
Uncle Warren is the saintly keeper of all things Red Baron. There is something magical about the character for the man, that induces youthful abandon and causes all logic to go out the window. We have all been there.. that special design that just makes us silly.

So his self imposed focus on vinyl and avoidance of jumbos in general has allowed him to not have to consider this Red baron as an option.

Until now.

A couple weeks ago, Warren and I spy what is basically a dead stock toy… And when I say “dead stock”, I mean this toy looks like it was in a time capsule. The box, struck me as being the stuff of legend… almost mint itself.

I am in awe.

Warren makes his choice, that the love of character trumps the food group focus and asks me to help him bring the Baron home.

So, the long slippery slope of securing this beautiful toy ensues. After a week of nail biting and emails and shifting bank accounts, the final piece in his Baron pursuit is packed up and arrives.

Dave and I open the box, and I get his expert opinion. The smile tells me what I need to know. This toy is … perfect.

I will let the photos do the talking:

Dave approves:

Even the ladies can’t resist the power of the Baron.

And finally the proud papa:

Also our greatest thanks to the efforts of Kohei from Tokyobuyers to communicate, secure and ship this in a textbook manner. You went above and beyond my friend.

In the competitive world of Japanese toy collecting, it is nice sometimes to simply help your friends achieve their grails, and bask in the glow of their love for the toy. In the end, I find this to be the biggest benefit of this community

April 22, 2011

You talking to me?

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