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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.

photo 5

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 4, 2012

Bullmark: Survivors!

Filed under: Co. BULLMARK,Stephan Halder,Stoopid,Toy Love,Zenmai — chogoman @ 1:02 pm

I worked on this BROG for some time, but always something else
prevented me from finishing it…like Kemler. But no excuses anymore,
here you are!

The story begun in germany nearly 40 years ago.
A country that is not only famous for great cars, tasty beer and
tactical submarines. NO. Also famous for the fact that you could
find vintage Zenmais in the forrest. Why do you think is a famous
forrest near Freiburg im Breisgau (south of germany) called
“Der schwarze Blechfiguren Wald”. Translated that means something
like “The black tin figures forrest”…

OK. Bullshit. This is not a good start for the BROG.
Have to add more action and realism in the story.

The story begun in April 1975 in Xuan Loc, Vietnam.
Captain P. Hershell (33rd Ranger Battalion), who just came back from Saigon…

OK. No “Missing in Action” or Rambo-esque story.

The truth now! I bought this 2 wonderful Zenmais on Y!JP a few months ago.
Nobody was really interested in these guys, so I got them without any epic
“bid-battles”. No wonder. The condition of this Ultraman & Ultra Seven Zenmai
wasn’t the best. I guess a solid C-0,4. But I immediately recognized the immense
“potential” of these rusted beauties.

What “potential”? At least potential as photomodels.

A few weeks later a pretty beat-up Ultraman Leo showed up on Y!JP,
but a few other “rust lover” also showed interest and the price went up.
So, no Leo for me.

Enough bla bla. Here are the two guy.
From the underwood to the glas display, rusted in dignity!

Finally they escaped the evil humid jungle. Nearly rusted away.
Now a dry & nice place waits for them. Hopefully for the next 30 years.

Now a few details shots. Click to enlarge.

Looks like a happy end.

No I only could hope that these 2 Survivors will be
accepted by the others.

That’s it! As usual more photos etc in the BBS.








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.

May 1, 2011

For The Last Time, I Don’t Collect Tins!!

Filed under: Co. BULLMARK,Co. YONEZAWA,Daily Money Shots,Toy Love,Zenmai — Jerilock @ 9:47 am

Oh…..wait…..Damnit Fraser……..

March 28, 2011

Shelf appeal

Filed under: Co. ANGEL,Co. BULLMARK,Daily Money Shots,Josh Fraser,Zenmai — Josh Fraser @ 11:46 am

March 7, 2011

Unknown pleasures…

Filed under: Co. YONEZAWA,Josh Fraser,Toy Love,Zenmai — Josh Fraser @ 1:03 pm

Though not nearly as epic as some of the posts that precede this one, I wanted to let you in on a humble discovery I made yesterday, which might “spark” your interest.

A short while back I won an auction for a Kamen Rider sparkler, with a box, that had thought was a variation of the current one I had, and written about here.

Excited, but cautious, as the price seemed higher than typical for a sparkler this size, I followed through and won the toy for more than what I would normally pay . I chocked it up to the box variation and called it a day.The box itself is beautiful and a wonderful rendition by Shotaro Ishinomori. I am a sucker for any Ishinomori- san illustration, so this seemed like a no brainer.

Fast forward three weeks. Box arrives from Tokyobuyers. Most of it is the girl’s, but I see packed in the corner an individually packed box, looking slightly larger then I expected.

To my utter happiness, yes the box is different but also twice the size! I put two and two together and realize unknown to my limited knowledge, much like other sparkers, the Yonezawa Kamen comes in two sizes, the ST and DX. The paint scheme is slightly different and the arms are movable. It sits perfectly between the mini and the larger flying sparkler, completing a trinity I had no idea existed.

Now there are going to be those of you reading this who knew of it’s existence and will look at my pedestrian rambling as quaint and uneducated. Fine with me. I am just psyched that I unknowingly got more than I bargained for, It rarely happens to me anymore, so I thought I would share.

February 27, 2011

So, this happened…

Filed under: Co. NORMURA,Daily Money Shots,Regan Miller,Stoopid,Zenmai — Regan @ 10:49 am

I have no words.

February 12, 2011

悟空の大冒険 Gokū no Daibōken!

Filed under: Co. YONEZAWA,Erik Sjoen,Josh Fraser,Zenmai — Josh Fraser @ 11:14 pm

A vintage Yonezawa Adventures of the Monkey King vinyl and tin windup. Circa 1967.

The character is that of 悟空 GokÅ«, the Monkey King, based on the legendary Sun Wukong. Created by Tezuka’s studio Mushi Productions, the anime aired on Fuji tv in 1967. Not usually something I would consider collecting, but for some reason really resonated with me as soon as I saw it. I sense my impending doom of additional “cute” windups in my future.

January 25, 2011

Here Kitty Kitty…

Filed under: Co. YONEZAWA,Josh Fraser,Regan Miller,Zenmai — Josh Fraser @ 12:26 am

Likely to have been overshadowed by the Ogon Bat, I did not mention my other purchase waiting for me this weekend. Until now.

Kitty Fire. Made in 1972 by Yonezawa, this is the smaller of the two sparklers made of the Mirrorman kaiju.

Regan matched her nail polish for the occasion.

Of course now I need the bigger one.

January 24, 2011

Wound up weekend with 黄金 バット Ōgon Batto

Filed under: Co. NORMURA,Declarations,Josh Fraser,Regan Miller,Zenmai — Josh Fraser @ 12:31 am

There are toys that one thinks about. Then there are toys one dreams about.

This is one of the latter.

I drive with the girl for 4 hours today to pick up a tin I secured a couple weeks back over the phone.

It feels fitting that this was not an online purchase. It was personal, analog, and reminded me of the days now long gone, when human conversation and not a keyboard was the catalyst for the hunt.

Ogon Bat, one of the very first Japanese super heroes, was created in 1930 by writer Ichiro Suzuki. However Ogon’s origins go back even further in the realm/art of Kamishibai.
After falling into relative obscurity for a generation or two, Ogon was recreated in 1966 with the arrival of a live action movie staring a young Sonny Chiba. Its success spawned a number of toys, many of which were tins by the epic manufacturer Normura.

The characters beginnings only succeeded to heighten the love I had for the mythological “presence” the design already had over me. The simplicity of the colors, the raw graphic elements of the box, the naivete the toy expressed. This is what the term “old skool” was created for. The toy is 45 years old and counting. It is for me, kindred , and a continuation of any Yoshitoshi print, chawan, or nihonto. Iconic, simple and balanced.

This is why I am still collecting.

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