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August 4, 2003

The Chogokin

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 5:53 pm

Ah, the summer of 2001. The memories of those days are still pretty vivid in my mind, as if it wasn’t all that long ago. “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” was something fresh and new, the Macarena wasn’t illegal yet (at least in New Jersey), and George W. Bush’s biggest problem was getting out of the Oval Office by 5:00 every day.

Bandai, you see, discovered this thing called the Shrinky-Dink Machine. They took the old standard Bullmark vinyls and turned them into little 200-yen Soul of Bullmarks. Sure, Marusan had tried this a few years before, but they didn’t make the toys small enough. Collectors wanted tiny things for their tiny living spaces, and they snapped up the little SOBs like crazy. For all intents and purposes, they were the same toys. Same paint jobs, same material, only smaller and squooshier.

Bandai then delved into their own toy history to give us the Mini Popynika and Mini Chogokin gashapon toys. Speaking for myself, while they were great likenesses of the original toys, I was a little let down by the low metal content. As a result these didn’t carry the essence of the original toys like the Soul of Bullmarks did, but I don’t think anyone could have delivered that for 300 yen.

So now they have given us The Chogokin. I got the first three from Hobbylink Japan, for 1500 yen each plus 1860 yen shipping via EMS. All told, it cost $52.80 and arrived in 4 days.

Mazinger-Z is my favorite of the bunch so far, with four spring-loaded missiles and fists. Getta 1 is, well, Getta 1, with his little middle-finger powered tomahawk and head-butting action, and Robocon is sweet as sugar.

I don’t have any of the original Popys to compare with, but I have been told that the shoulders of Mazinger and Getter are plastic, as opposed to the metal originals. I can live with this, though. I do have the GA-14R Robocon reissue (which was made in Japan, incidentally). Here’s a size comparison shot of the gashapon Chogokin, The Chogokin, and the reissue.

Some brief differences I noted, comparing all versions with the big shot of Robocon on the back cover of Green Arrow Graffitti #13:

  • The Chogokin has gold-hued arms and legs, as opposed to the silver of the original and reissues.

  • The head area of The Chogokin version is more similar to the original’s, which may have been mounted plastic buttons (as seen in this shot of a really beat-up original). The Chogokin’s eyes are part of the main body, painted diecast. The differing eyes of the reissue were hinted at in Matt’s 12/04/99 interview of Koji Igarashi.

  • This is really minor, but the original has philips head screws holding the hands together.

  • The box of The Chogokin version is almost as big as the full-size reissue’s. Go figure.

Yes, I notice these things. Yes, I think about this stuff. Yes, I have no life. Yes, I am a weanie. But so are you for reading this.

So far, the The Chogokin lineup consists of…

Out now:
GT-01 Mazinger-Z
GT-02 Robocon
GT-03 Getter 1

Coming soon:
GT-04 Mach Baron
GT-05 Gant-Sensei

Coming later:
Getter 2
Combattler V
Voltes V (maybe, based on a silhouette in the catalog insert)
Getter 3 (definitely, this one also in the catalog insert)

In summary: if you love old school die cast metal robots, get these. If you don’t, at the very least get Mazinger-Z, he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite toys this year.


August 1, 2003

Suupaa Gattai Majutsu Robo Gingaiza

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 10:52 pm

I LOVE TAKEMI! Listen up..

Super Combining Magical Robo Gingaizer is a fantastic line of diecast metal robot toys brought to life by the long defunked Japanese toy comany Takemi in 1977.

Gran-Fighter is the red guy

Spin-Lancer is the blue guy

Bull-Gator is the green guyThe Gingaizer diecasts really embody the true Soul of Gokin. These guys really deliver on all levels. One thing is for sure. They look and feel  VERY “Vintage”. I would venture to say that they posses what some of us like to call the “FUNK” of Japanese Toys. This savy trio have more style in one of their spring loaded fists or magnemo sporting faces than an entire line of most new “Japanese” toys has in a whole series. The box art alone is a testament to the time and the “flavah” of Japanese Super Robot toys.  


Takemi, without a doubt, put the “O” in obsurity when it came to their depictions of the characters likeness’ in their toys. Just take a look at their DX Pegas. With the exception of Machine Blasters, it seems as if all of their Bigger Gokin outings (much like the shows they represented) were like freak shows.


 Most collectors of the Takemi Bigger Gokin pieces often openly admit that the sheer lack of QA is not only obvious but annoying. Still, the Takemi Bigger Gokin pieces remain some of the most desireable toys of their kind due to their undeniably angular and rebelious designs.


If Popy was Glam, Takemi was surely Punk. Nuff said..


If this kind of thing floats your boat, you can learn more about these “Mazinger by way of Playskool”  toys via the ToyboxDX Datafile Takemi’s Big Assed Gokin! .


If your poison is Transformers, you will most likely be very dissapointed in this series of toys. These robots don’t have dumb-ass robo-personalities. These robots are actually piloted by human beings. Also, unlike the Transformer toys they actually look very good when displayed as robots.  Buyer beware.

Erik Sjoen


Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 9:18 pm

I dropped by the Bandai Museum in sunny, far-flung Matsudo, Chiba (near Tokyo) yesterday. And boy, was I in for a surprise.

You can keep the rest of the museum — a bunch of Bandai employees dressed up in kimono and anime uniforms, pretending that Mobile Suit Gundam is real. (Seriously. I paid my extra 300 yen to see the “Gundam Museum” on the seventh floor, only to be met by an intense young staff member standing next to a life-sized Zaku head who told me excitedly that they’d ‘just captured a Zeon mobile suit and were reverse-engineering it in the other room!’ I asked him where the bathroom was.)

But the 6th floor… Ah, Wonder Forest. The operative theme is Machinder. They’re hanging from the walls, perched in false balconies, peeking out from little stands high atop support pillars. And one of them happens to be none other than Garada K-7. Yes, an actual, honest-to-god Popy Garada K-7 “Kikaiju.” Holy Grail of the Jumbo Machinder collecting world.

There it was. Hanging right there in front of my eyes. Literally. You’d think a (probably) $10,000+ toy would command some sort of intricate security system, like maybe a sheet of frickin’ glass or something. Yet there it was, lashed to a balustrade sort of thing a little above eye level with baling wire, for God’s sake! BALING WIRE!

Not only is it out in the open, it’s practically within touching distance if you’re tall enough. And it’s also shunted into a little area in the dark without any kind of plaque, explanation, or indication that it’s, quite possibly, one of only two or three in the world. And for good measure, they tossed a Gren Ghost C-3 up there as well, an almost equally difficult-to-find toy. At least Garada had a clear view — ol’ Gren Ghost was stuffed in behind some fake ivy and a Bandai sign!

To be honest, the whole thing kinda turned me off. From the role-playing Bandai staffers, to the really odd display of the toys, to the fact that every path ended at a little Bandai shop of one sort or another, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being had. At least admission to the main building is free.

But what bothers me more than anything else, I think, is that I see certain rare toys as something more than they once were — I see them as art. Seeing a legend like Garada K-7 — the Japanese toy world’s equivalent of the Mona Lisa (sure! look at that smile on his face!) — strapped up over a Gundam hot-dog stand, with little thought and even less respect, left me feeling vaguely sad.

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