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
"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!"
02/21/00: NY-POPY Blues
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
"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
$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
02/12/00: Alt and Duban Raid The Ark!
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 Banpresto 'Hot-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
"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,