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June 15, 2006


Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 11:51 am


Having once “sworn-on” toy collecting, can one ever really “swear-off”?

It is a question that haunts me, and one whose potential answer may have been given when I saw Takara’s Robodachi Gama Ninja Robo up for auction on eBay and could not control my monkey-mad, bidding fingers.

The average Japanese toy collector’s knowledge of Robodachi toys is limited to the few pieces one sees with regularity on eBay and Yahoo Japan, along with an article written by Warren Schwartz for Super 7 Magazine (V1/no.3). As any toy collector can tell you, however, reading about a toy is a far cry from handling it.

Most of what little I did know about the toys didn’t do much for me – sports related figures and simple metal cylinders rarely do – but as with most things, the further one digs with Robodachi, the more interesting things get.

I may never know why I like what I do when it comes to toys but what I do know is that I’m drawn to diecast, robot-toys shaped like amphibians. Takatoku’s Otasuke-Kaeru was a grand introduction to the idea and only served to heighten my interest in this bizarre concept.
Takara’s Ninja Frog is a far cry from the polished luster of the aforementioned Takatoku piece but its delightful goofiness is imbued with just the right combination of gimmick, design, and chintz to push it into my short list of favorite diecast toys.

The metal content of this palm-sized toy is considerable – all the body except for the jaw is zinc – while everything else, again but the jaw, is rendered in two tones of unabashedly lackluster plastic.

Gimmicks include surprisingly articulated legs; a jaw, activated by a roller on the belly, that works to issue a ratcheting croak; and a door on its back that reveals a secreted, little ninja.
This latter busts me up, evoking a scene ala Pulp Fiction wherein I hear Marsellus Wallace intoning: “If Butch goes to Japan, I want a Ninja hiding in a frog ready to pop a cap in his ass.” (can I say “ass” in a Rumble, or am I restricted to just acting like one on the BBS?)

The paint applications are simple; minimal. The frog’s legs are pegged into the body in a primitive, do-it-yourself fashion and thus fall off with too much play. The ninja accessory is laughably useless; a removable sword included on its back that, due to its extreme limitations in design, it cannot wield.

All this and more gives the toy a classic funk and whimsy (as opposed to wagnall) that falls only one step below that of Bullmark’s diecast efforts.


Perhaps most intriguing is the catalog included in the box, depicting a character array of such diverse complexity that one shudders to think what one’s bank account would look like had they all made it to production in zinc (or did they?). I see at least 10 toys here I would kill to own, or at least maim to see photos of, which takes me back to my original question:

Can any addiction ever truly be conquered?


If there are more drugs like this out there, and we all know there are, then in my case, the answer at the moment remains a firm and unequivocal “No”.–cae

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