[Alen Yen's ToyboxDX]

THE Chogokin
review by Matt Alt, October 1998

This aptly titled book seems to be the only volume of diecast-related paraphernalia officially sanctioned by Bandai. It's also one of the oldest books about popy diecast, originally printed in the late 1980s; until a recent reprint knocked prices back down to reasonable levels, it was also going for hundreds of dollars. It features spectacular photos and a large-format size; it's got incredible close-ups of some very hard-to-get pieces; it even has snippets from the chogokin commercials that aired on Japanese TV throughout the Seventies and early Eighties. The reprinted version also features ten or so new pages, some of them all-color, focusing on new pieces such as the Soul of Chogokin Mazinger, the new Raideen, and other 1990's pieces.

THE Chogokin's real strongpoint, however, isn't the photos or the size. THE Chogokin stands apart from the rest simply because of it's second half, which features a wealth of interviews and a detailed "factoids" section. There are interviews with master mecha designers Go Nagai (Mazinger) and Yoshikazu Yasuhiko (Raideen), and with Popy's head of industrial design in the 1970s. The book also features a fascinating walk-through of the Bandai Tochigi Factory, where many cho-go-kin pieces were produced. (The train stop at the factory is actually called "Omocha no Machi," or "Toy-Town.")

However, it's all in Japanese. Sorry to rub your noses in it again, kids. The fact is that the book is of limited utility to those who can't read the language. Furthermore, it's organization does not lend it for use as a field-guide; this is a coffee-table-style artbook. However, as it DOES feature spectacular, elegant photography in a large size, it's the book to show your non-fan "friends" to prove you're not such a sociopath after all. It'll also undoubtedly fan your flames of toy-lust to a hellish crescendo. Get the hose ready.

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