Endless Toy Ramble by Alen Yen » 2000 » February
Eternal and Endless Toy Ramble by Alen Yen: random japanese toy collecting nonsense

February 23, 2000


Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 2:04 pm

Back in town, and I head for familiar ground: Day-Old Antiques is like an old house, caught in memory, where the analog experience lives and breaths. Each crusty shelf overflows with the ephemera of the bizarre: old batteries, condom tins, and the unmistakable musk that IS vintage japanese toys.

Tonight, I don’t have to settle for the sterility of a clean-cornered blister packer. It’s straight to the back-case to reclaim a piece of my youth.

For 15 years, I’ve carted around the decapitated remnants of one of my pre-pubescent favorites: Unrivaled Robot Tryder G7!

I’ve tracked this particular item for four years now, keeping it for rainy-day desperation — some point in time when I’d need a desperate injection of reaffirmation. After months of disillusionment towards what’s left for me in diecast, I cash in this chip.

This isn’t Ceppa Ratti action. It’s the jeweled Bird Attack version by Clover. Alt and I have always considered this the Trans Am/Gran Turissimo of robots, its main competitive advantage being 9″ clip-on articulating fiery phoenix, cast in sparkling orange disco-acrylic. Each feather terminates in a dagger-like edge. He’s armed with missiles and blades up the butt. The sticker on his chest animates like a Cracker-Jack prize. I’m gripped by the insanity of it.

(Incidentally, this model G-7 circulated heavily throughout Taiwan in the 70’s. On my last trip to Taipei, I successfully found any number of them. All of them were missing heads.)

Mike Z takes care of me. I end up in such an up-mood that I need a dessert comedown. Lo and behold, I’m lowballed by the underwhelming oddity of the Smallest Diapolon Ever. This tiny red tike clocks in at a whopping 3.2 inches tall. The articulation sucks. The arms suck. I can’t think of a better piece to illustrate the polar opposite of my obsession.

I pass the Amex. Mike passes the loot. We complain about damn computers and eBay. It’s been a long time since I’ve run home from the store.

Matt Alt gets Sausy

“Sausage, anyone? SAUSRAIGER! Sausraiger blows. His design begs to be mocked. Yet I find myself drawn to him like a moth to a flame, especially when he’s rendered in supple, inviting vinyl. I’d call him a ‘mini-machinder‘ like those whores on eBay would, but he’s not. His 12-plus inches of metallic-painted goodness are enough to satisfy me, though. (Yep, he’s even bigger than the DX transforming version.)

“I’ve got to give props to the one-and-only Rob D for snagging this bad-boy off the shelf at Mandarake and sending it out to me. SUCKA!”
— Matt

February 21, 2000


Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 2:08 pm

A quick shot to NYC to see the Toy Widow! We take the train from the Upper West Side, heading over to the corner of 13th and Broadway. That’s right: it’s Forbidden Planet!

Fond memories from the 80’s are immediately obliterated: the corner windows, once brimming with Popy, Shoguns and Godaikins now feature everything tawdry in the world: Phantom Menace, Digimon etc.

Inside: I can’t find the staircase to the basement where the old Bandai lucite displays reigned. In fact, I’m so stupid and old that I don’t even realize it’s a new building until the manager tells me. There’s a little tear welling up in the corner of my eye as I remember the stacks of Valkyries and Dougram toys that once rusted in the corners.

In the back, some of that “vintage 90’s” nonsense: Micromen and Henshin Cyborgs, also some Miracle Actions, and a pile of Gundam model kits. Has it really come to this? I snag a Microman. I think it’s name is “27.” I try to get juiced because it’s magnemo, but can’t. How much fun can it be to “hunt” for something that’s so commodidized? (Incidentally, like many I really have fallen for the cool toyness of the new Micromen. I have to say, tho’, there’s something…unexciting…about numbered blister-pack.)

On the way back to the front my toy-nose beeps, and I look over my shoulder. A 24″ LJN Voltron, lurking behind a comics cutout on the mezzanine. Of course it’s not for sale, but I don’t care: as long as my radar registered it.

Finally, at the checkout: diecast Matsudaya Robbies stacked like gum.
Pretty cool! Heavy, and about articulated as a lug-wrench, but what can you do? These are 90’s pickings, and I’m grateful for the metal.

After a pallid and unenthused checkout, it’s off to Love Saves the Day. (About 11 blocks to 2nd St, then across to 7th Ave.) Much more like an old school vibe!

Buried among the Linda Carter dolls and Smurfs: some assorted Matchbox Voltron hoohah, and a Godaikin Goggle V. In the back, a sorry collection of battered 3″ “Collector Shoguns” and an ugly

Ulysses diecast. Also: a black SOC Mazinger [whoopee.] In the corner, something catches my eye. It’s a crummy looking vinyl of…who the hell is it? I guess I don’t care.* I talk the old times with the guy working, who throws me some leads. A quick round of bargaining, and we’re down to $15. Why not? It appeals to my complete lack of toy scholarship.

So I depart a happy kid, for the moment, having found a little gem. But it’s a matter of time before the rivers dry completely: the Internet has successfully killed the boutique hunt.

Mark my words: before it’s over, Ebay will have us all…

(* Duban says “ITADAKIMAN!”)

Matt Alt with some Inspiring News

“Thanks to the ever-resourceful TBDX Secret Agent Yappy, we’ve gotten an update on the upcoming ‘ladies of Mazinger‘ series: the diecast Aphrodite A and Minerva X should be available in six weeks at an estimated retail price of $50 a pop. They’re lookin’ good, as you can see from the Aphrodite
prototype, and seem to be leaning towards the ‘realistic’ (Soul of Chogokin) school of robot-toy. (And no, those breasts, while removable, don’t shoot off.)

“So what’s Bandai’s going to do when they figure out that our Hong Kong friends are planning to flood the market with unlicensed diecast? The potential legal battle should prove as amusing as the toys themselves. Stay
— Matt

February 12, 2000

Alt and Duban Raid The Ark!

Filed under: Endless Ramble — admin @ 2:10 pm

Okay: it’s been so super busy that the Ramble don’t flow the way it used to. Nevertheless, it’s easy to gush over the latest Data Files entry by the Lennon/McCartney of Japanese Toy Scholarship, Matt Alt and Robert Duban.

Ark’s insane lineup of monster diecasts has too long fallen by the wayside. Any line featuring deadly nipple blades deserves the spotlight…

On other fronts, YAPPY ROCKS! Cafe Regular Agent Yappy has sent along pics of the soon to be complete Chogokin Aphrodite A. Along with her debut is the appending appearance of more female-robot diecasts, courtesy of our bootlegging cousins in HK.

On to the news…

Here’s more classic Alt with a Massive News Flood

“According to TBDX Agent Yappy, top-secret sources approached him with photographs of an upcoming Hong Kong diecast APHRODITE A! In fact, this hot little number will be but the first in a ‘ladies of Mazinger’ series, with

Venus, Minerva, and Diana robots to follow shortly thereafter. Although we can’t float the pics just yet, take a look at the packaging and drool!

“No word as to the actual release date yet, but it should be sometime this summer. Unless Bandai nails them first, that is — these seem to be unlicensed. Your SOC Mazinger might finally has some friends to play with, but he’d better be careful — we don’t know where these ladies have been.”

Like the majority of people who have a life, you probably have no idea what Machine-saurer even is. Fans of Magnemo toys, however, should be cracking open their 40s in unison for a drunken celebration: one of the silliest magnet-powered series Takara ever did is poised for a comeback!

“The Machine-saurer figures are cyber-dinosaur things with magnemo 11 joints and detachable weapons. Looking something like a cross between the T-Rex from “Toy Story” and The Terminator, they were never particularly popular the first time around in the early ’80s — and they seem like an utterly insane choice for a reissue. But Takara released tiny, grainy shots of their prototype for the January issue of Figure-Oh magazine.

“There’s still no word as to if the mildly popular magnemo ‘Death Cross‘ and other humanoid magnemo 11 characters from the series will see the light of day, but one thing’s for certain: the molds are long gone, so Takara’s going the ol’ cast-an-original-and-call-it-a-reissue route, just as they did with Jeeg. And the dinosaurs are first, it seems.

“There’s still no firm release date or price set, so Machine-saurer fans (all three of you) should sit tight for more info…..

“Shout-out to Masato Shono for the shot.”

“Meanwhile: good news for all you chumps who still haven’t gotten around to picking up the stoopidly cheap BanprestoHot-Blooded Go-Kin‘ super deformed robot diecasts: they’re releasing a ten-piece set so’s you can get ’em all in one fell swoop. (And for those of you geeky enough to realize they’ve only released NINE of those suckers, you’re absolutely right: a special deformed RX-78 Gundam diecast is getting tossed in as well.) No word on price, but it’ll be out at the end of February.

“Bad news for all you chumps who follow the Marmit Fierce Legends series (like me): Marmit announced late last month that they’re putting the line of huge soft-vinyl robots on temporary hiatus after the upcoming releases of Shin Getta Robo, Getta III, and Brave Raideen. (Shin Getta should be out in a few months; look for the other two this summer.) Marmit’s worried that the sheer size of the figures is limiting the number of pieces that any given collector can accrue; perhaps if they stopped releasing ludicrous color variations (such as the upcoming ‘limited edition’ transparent-yellow Getta Dragon), that wouldn’t be so much of a problem. At any rate, Marmit says that they’ll make their final decision about the series after Raideen is released.

“And from the ‘nostalgia is alive and well’ department, Dynamic Pro announced that their broadcast of ‘Mazinger Z vs. Great Mazinger‘ on TV in France last Christmas garnered a whopping 35% viewer share — and it didn’t start until nearly midnight, meaning that most of those viewers were adults. Aw-right. It’s comforting to know that we’re not the only ones suffering from an unhealthy, financially debilitating lust for giant robots. ”

“Check it: Bandai’s first Soul Of Popinika, the Hover Pilder! The original was plenty cool. This one’s fricking amazing! It’s even got a jointed action figure of Kabuto Koji as well. Just watch out for those fly-ass stockings of
“After a few beers, you can bet I’ll be trying to cram the sucker in the head of my Uni-Five Mazinger Z Jumbo. (The old Popy version fits. Sort of. Heh-heh. Sorry about that, Alen.) Look for it in March for 5,000 yen retail.

“Finally: Hot damn! I’m not a huge fan of model kits, but the new oh-so-Perfect Grade
series is enough to entice even the most jaded diecast-snob into styrene-gasm after styrene-gasm. (If you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so and missed hearing about these, they’re huge-ass, super-detailed, and have assembly instuction manuals thicker than the Bible. And they don’t need no paintin’, neither.) Check out the upcoming Zeta Gundam and drool! 16,000 big ones (yen), available sometime this summer, hopefully.”
— Matt