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Maruka Metal

text: Robert Duban & Matt Alt, graphics: Robert Duban

November 2003

updated: 11.04.03

[Big Burds] Toy maker Maruka Toys Co., Ltd. produced an entire assortment of cheap toys. (Before we go any further, one thing needs to be clarified. Although the names are similar, the company should not be confused with Marukai Trading Co. an import firm that brought many Japanese toys to U.S. shores in the 1970's.) Maruka was an incredibly minor company in a vast sea of minor Japanese toy companies. While most of the toys they produced are quite unspectacular, they did make one original diecast character toy. If for no other reason than the funky box alone, this all-but-forgotten diecast is worthy of further examination.

[box] This, Maruka's desperate claim to fame, is the almost-powerful-sounding "Force Destroyer Kotetsu Big Bazu." It's not quite clear what the authors had in mind for the last part of that name ("Big Birds"? or, dare it be said, "Big Balls"?), but the box also states, in English, "Iron Big Burds" (sic), so we'll go with that. The translated name is thus, "Force Destroyer Steel Big Burds." Steel, iron, whatever -- whatever else you might think about the toy, there's no question that it's all metal. Even the paint. (Well, maybe the last is an exaggeration, but still.) Just in case you didn't get the point, the box copy also proclaims, "All Diecast Body," and (again, in English), "ALL DIE-CAST!!" The toy is entirely, completely, incorrigibly, ALL diecast. Are we clear on that point yet?

[box back] While the toy has the look of many an early '80's tokusatsu hero, and is similar in design to Wilby's all-metal Andro Melos toy, "Iron Big Burds" is an original creation. The back of the box is amusing as well: a schematic diagram of Big Burds' inner workings reveals mechanical "organs" that seem to be named after whatever LP's the toy makers happened to have had been listening to at the time: "Joy Divi," "T-Rex," etc.

Maruka made a variety of cheap toys -- tiny plastic and diecast cars, mini transforming robots, little rubber Star Wars toys, a few completely wretched looking tiny Diapolon and Ganbaron toys and a range of Ultraman toys, listed below. Undoubtedly even more will surface in the future.

Ultraman toys:
[image] Ultra-Hawk 1
[image] Characters on Parade - mini Ultra-vehicles
[image] Ultraman stamp set #1
[image] Ultraman stamp set #2
[image] Ultraman 80 stamp set

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