.css" /> ToyboxDX: Datafiles: Onda
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[Ondapocalypse Now!]

Ondapocalypse Now!

text: Robert Duban & Matt Alt, field report: Roger Harkavy, Design & research: Robert Duban

August 2009

Updated: 08.03.09


[logo] Onda!(1) Yet another minor player in the heyday of the Seventies Japanese toy industry, their few character licenses hail from a brief two seasons in 1975 and 1976.(2) It's entirely possible that they were testing the waters of the then burgeoning marketplace for character toys. The overlap in licenses between Onda and Takara hints at some sort of partnership, and in fact several of Onda's toys (such as the vinyl Godamu) are co-branded with “Sanzen,” another Takara partner. But who were these guys? After years of sleuthing, we can report only that we're just beginning to know how little we really know about them.

[Col. Jeeg] The mystery only deepens when you consider that Onda actually produced quite a wide variety of toys, from cheap vinyl figures to paper cutouts to erasers to tiny plastic model kits. The vast majority of these toys were rather unspectacular, but strangely enough, Onda also produced a few standouts. Probably the best Onda toy is the also the most commonly encountered – the “Sparking” Gakeen. Featuring a translucent body housing a friction-operated sparking mechanism, it's a unique take on the character. Onda's mini-vinyls are also well done, featuring sharp detail and paint jobs; they include several Robodachi characters and an intriguing series of weird-looking Jeeg villains.

Onda didn't do modern toy-sleuths any favors with their terse logo, which reads merely “Omocha no Onda” ("Onda Toys"). They also employed the slogan "Chibiko no Aidoru," ("Idolized by Children") which sounds like an invitation to getting arrested when spoken aloud in English but reads perfectly fine in Japanese.

[company HQ] Onda seems to have disappeared from the character toy scene after 1976, but remained in business as a fireworks distributor at least as late as 1983. A June 1983 ad from the trade magazine “Toy Journal” that catalogs fireworks makers lists Onda among them. While turning from robots to fireworks may seem an unlikely sort of change in focus for a toy manufacturer, the company did seem to have a "thing" for sparks and fire -- remember the sparking Gakeen toy. And it's important to note that toys and fireworks are sold side by side in Tokyo's toy wholesaling district. (The gentle sorts of fireworks that Onda produced -- sparklers and the like -- are classified as toys in Japan.)

[operative] While scant, there is actually some evidence indicating that Onda may still be in operation. A fireworks distributor by the same name has registered the “Toysonda.co.jp” domain -- but the content for the site remains mysteriously blank. This is where Onda's trail goes cold.

That said, ToyboxDX HQ recently received a coded transmission from a field operative who has been able to further our story of Onda. Read part two of "Ondapocalypse Now" below!

1. note: pronounced "own-dah" not "on-dah"
2. dates: Gakeen 9/5/76 - 6/26/77, Godamu 4/4/76 - 12/29/76, Jeeg 10/5/75 - 8/25/76, King Kong 1976, Mighty Atom 1976 (?), Robodachi 1976

[toys, vinyl]
[toy] Gakeen - [header card]
[toy] Godamu (w. Sanzen) - [header card]
[toy] Jeeg - [header card]
[toy] Jeeg - Hiroshi Shiba
[toy] Jeeg - Amaso - [toy in bag], [header card]
[toy] Jeeg - Ikima - [toy in bag], [header card]
[toy] Jeeg - Mimashi
[toy] Jeeg - Queen Himika
[toy] King Kong - [header card]
[toy] Robodachi - Tamagoro - [header card]
[toy] Robodachi - Robo Q - [header card]
[toy] Robodachi - Robo X
[toy] Robodachi - Robo Z
[toys, plastic & die cast]
[toy] Sparking Gakeen - [box], [inner box], [box top & bottom], [box sides]
[toy] Kyo-gokin ("strong alloy") Jeeg - blue-armed version - [box], [box back]
[toy] Kyo-gokin ("strong alloy") Jeeg - yellow-armed version - [box], [box back]
[toy] Magne-robo Jeeg - [store display card]
[toy] Gattai Jeeg - [package back]
[toy] Magnet Gokin Series - Magnet Robo Jeeg - [package]
[items, misc]
[toy] Gakeen Flyers - [store display card]
[toy] Gakeen - Flying Jet God Freedom
[toy] Godamu Key Holder (w. Sanzen)
[toy] Jeeg Flyers
[toy] Jeeg Henshin Glove
[toy] Jeeg Helicopter
[toy] Jeeg Helicopter - Big Shooter
[puzzle] Jeeg Puzzle
[stickers] Jeeg Stickers
[toy] Robodachi Flyers - [store display card]
[kits, plastic, mini]
[kit & box] Pla-Hobby 1 - Gakeen
Gakeen - Pla-Hobby 2 - God Freedom - [box]
[kit] Gakeen - Pla-Hobby 3 - Mighty - [box]
[kit] Gakeen - Pla-Hobby 4 - Prizer - [box]
[kits] Gakeen - Pla-Hobby bagged kits - [header card]
[erasers]
[toy] Gakeen - [store display box]
[toy] Gakeen - God Freedom
[toy] Gakeen - Mighty
[toy] Gakeen - Prizer
[toy] Mighty Atom, Uran, Professor Ochanomizu, Shunsaku Ban (co-branded w. Yonezawa)
Robodachi - Tamagoro
Robodachi - Robo Q
Robodachi - Robo X
Robodachi - Robo Z
[toy] Robodachi - Baseball Robo
[toy] Robodachi - Fire-ton Robo
[toy] Robodachi - Soccer Robo
[fireworks]
[fireworks] Macross sparklers - [box]
[fireworks] Tetsujin 28 (1980) fireworks - [header card], [detail]
*******************************************************

FIELD REPORT / TRANSMITTED 080309 / OPERATIVE HARKAVY, ROGER

“Tokyo...Shit...I’m still only in Tokyo.”

I squinted through the blinds of my hotel room in Shinjuku. Every time I woke up, I thought I was going to wake up back in a toy store. I’d been here for a week now. Waiting for a mission, getting fatter and balder. Every minute I stayed in that room I got weaker.

And I didn’t know it yet, but every minute Onda squatted in the bush, he got stronger. There is no way to tell Onda’s story without telling my own. I wanted a mission, and they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service.

“Room service!”

I wrapped myself in a bed sheet, shuffled through the broken Kirin bottles on the floor and opened the door. It was Matt Alt.

“No, it’s not really room service. I brought you some snacks, though.” He offered me a plastic bag. I took it from him and sat on the floor while Matt took some folders and a cassette player out of his briefcase. “I don’t know how you feel about those convenience store pork buns,” he told me, “but if you’ll eat them, you never have to prove your courage in any other way.

“Have you heard of a toy company called Onda?”

I did. “Yes, but I can’t say I know much about them.”

“Neither do we. Apparently the company produced some really low-end robot toys, a lot of Jeeg merchandise, but the history of the company itself is a mystery. Apparently it was named after the man that founded the company. We’ve been trying to contact him to help us research a Data File about the toys. Unfortunately we’ve run into some problems. We know where he is, and his methods have become...unsound.”

“I don’t follow.”

“Onda has ordered the destruction of all other vintage toys from the 70s and 80s that competed with his company’s products. He’s now in Shibuya, with his men, who worship the man like a god, and follow every order however ridiculous. Every man has his breaking point. You and I have it. Mr. Onda has reached his, and very obviously, he has gone insane.”

I nodded my head, numbly, “Very much so. Obviously insane.” I had been perusing the dossier on Onda Matt brought. A grainy black and white photo was the only image available of the mysterious Onda. Other photos were included in the file, including one that showed a pile of little Bullmark robot arms, the aftermath from one of Onda’s raids. They just ripped the toys out of their packaging and pried the arms off. I felt the urge to cry like some old grandmother, but the urge subsided after I gave it a red ass beat down.

“Your mission is to proceed along the Japanese Rail system. Pick up Onda’s path in Shibuya. When you find him, you must infiltrate his team by whatever means available and terminate his command.”

“Terminate? Mr. Onda?”

“He’s out there, operating totally beyond the pale of any acceptable toy collector conduct. Terminate with extreme prejudice.” At this point, Matt brought out the cassette recorder. He transformed it into a robot, then pressed PLAY. Onda’s voice came forth.

“We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Bullmark after Bullmark, Clover after Clover, Popy after Popy. Those companies lie. They lie and we have to be merciful for those who lie. Those...nabobs. I hate them. Because I detest the stench of lies...”

Matt handed me another file. “There’s another development regarding your mission. A month ago, Robert Duban was ordered on a mission that was identical to yours. We have reason to believe that he is now operating with Onda. We received this letter from him.” He handed a sheet of notebook paper with the following scrawled on it:

SELL THE CHOKINZOKU T28
SELL THE BULLPET ANGILAS
SELL THE DX MEKANDA
FIND SOMEONE ELSE
FORGET IT
I’M NEVER COMING BACK
FORGET IT

*******************************************************

I used the forged JR pass Matt gave me and got on the Yamanote line. I’d write something about the journey, but it only took a few minutes. The train played a little electronic tune and I ventured forth into Shibuya.

Caution: Stay Behind the Yellow Line, the helpful signs on the train platforms told me. Absolutely goddamn right. Unless you were going all the way. Robert crossed the yellow line. He split from the whole fucking program. How did that happen?

I wound through the back alleys until I found the toy store Matt told me Onda was holed up in. There was no sign outside to indicate that it was the toy store except for the phrase, “WELCOME TO TOYS APOCALYPSE” spray-painted on the door.

I entered and was immediately grabbed by a group of loincloth-clad natives. They dragged me towards the back of the store. Onda was there. I could only make out the outline of his head in shadow. As he rubbed his hands over his bald pate, I noticed he was wearing a Jeeg glove.

“Are you...an assassin?”

“I’m a writer.”

“You’re neither. You’re a frustrated man who refuses to grow up and spends his free time and money collecting toys.”

He had a point.

“Horror has a face, and you must make a friend of Horror. At the very least, you must make an acquaintance of Horror. Perhaps you can offer to help Horror move his stuff into his new apartment, knowing that Horror will never do the same for you. Horror can be a real bastard that way.”

“Is there a point to this?”

“The point is, that we trained our little boys to fire robots’ fists at each other, but we couldn’t write ‘Chogokin’ on the packaging, because it was obscene!”

“Actually it would’ve been less of an obscenity and more of a trademark violation. Popy created the ‘Chogokin’ brand, y’know.”

“Get him away from me,” Onda mumbled.

His flunkies dragged me off and locked me up in a UFO catcher machine that held live lobsters. As you may or may not know, the Pacific lobsters that are eaten in Japan lack the big claws their Atlantic brethren have, so I wasn’t in any danger of being seriously molested by them. After a couple of days of being partially submerged in brine, however, I was starting to feel a little less chipper.

I awoke one morning to find Robert Duban, the man who had this mission before I did, standing outside the tank. He had roughly a half-dozen cameras around his neck, and what looked like a Jeeg pendant.

“Oh, he likes you. He’s got plans for you, man. What he’s telling you now, this is dialectics, one through nine, no maybes, no supposes, no fractions. You can’t go out into space in a transforming jet, with fractions ! When you get to Mars Base, what are you going to land on, one thirty-fifth, three one-hundred-and-fifths? Are you getting this?”

I stared at him blankly.

“Hey, man, you don’t talk to Onda, you listen to him. The man’s enlarged my mind. I mean, sometimes, you’ll say hello to him, and he’ll just throw you in a corner, and he’ll say ‘Did you know that the last syllable in in Onda is DUH?’ I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s...he’s a great man.”

Robert was beyond help, I could see that now. I had to get out of here.

“Shut up, little man. Get me out of this tank.”

“Okay.”

After roughly three dozen tries, Robert managed to snag me with the claw. I slid down the chute to freedom, leaving my crustacean cellmates behind. Next to the tank there was an old Onda catalog. I opened it. On the second page a message was scribbled: SET THEM UP THE BOMB. EXTERMINATE THEM ALL.

*******************************************************

Stealthily, I entered the toyshop. Onda was sitting on the floor, reading from a copy of Green Arrow Graffiti #13. He noticed me and looked up.

“I’ve seen horrors, horrors that you’ve seen. I’ve seen people open up vintage Chogokin boxes with no regard for the flaps, old 60s Marusan vinyls with childrens’ names scribbled on the feet, those damned Orguss toys that always break in the box. You have no right to judge me. You have a right to kill me, but you have no right to judge me.”

“Fine. I’m exercising my right to kill you.”

With that, I grabbed the nearest object, an Onda Jeeg die-cast toy, and brought it down squarely on his skull. Unfortunately due to the shamefully low metal content of the toy it only weighed a couple of grams. Onda stood up and rubbed the small welt I made on his scalp.

“Damn. Well, that didn’t go the way I planned it. Listen, while I’ve got you here, could you tell me something about the history of your toy company?”

Onda stared at me for a second. “Wow. Uh, wow.” He shook his head. “Honestly, man, it was the 70s. I dropped so much acid back then that for a few months in ’76 I thought I was a stag beetle. Ate rotten logs and everything. I don’t remember a damn thing about the company. Sorry.”

For a moment I stood there with the Jeeg in my hand, contemplating it, contemplating myself, contemplated this pathetic wreck of a man in front of me. If Matt could see him now would he want me to kill him? More than ever, probably. I’d never seen a man so broken up and ripped apart.

The Jeeg’s fists abruptly launched due to the poorly constructed firing mechanisms they relied on, and clattered to the floor. It was enough to break me out of my stupor. I stumbled out of the store, leaving Onda there with his toys. I flipped open my cell phone and called Matt. He answered almost immediately. “This is Almighty, come in, CGK Street Gang.”

For a moment, I had no words, but then they came. “The horror, the horror...”

*******************************************************

Missing scenes for the “Redux” version:

  • Roger stops at a French restauraunt on the way to Shibuya and the French try and convince him that Grendizer is better than Mazinger-Z.
  • Roger has a dream about Kumi Mizuno offering him mangoes.
  • Roger smiles.

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