07/28/99: Interface/Sitemap Overhaul
Change is good, so bring it on! The bloated and abundant
Info Library undergoes mitosis,
spawing off the all new Data Files!
Look for new checklists and information
from a new cadre of contributors. Also: stay tuned for the impending debut of
the inevitable DX Stuff page!
As for updates: check out Amuro Joe's groovy Gundam illustrations, now in the
Collector Art section of the
Gallery of Love. Also check out
the new Eau De Alt featuring the
Info Minister's vibrant response to the Uni-Five Jumbomachinder Gaiking.
Speaking of Alt:
Iron Matt Alt
with an Iron Giant Report
"I managed to acquire a highly-coveted Trendmasters Ultimate Iron Giant
'mini-Machinder' and Angry John demanded a Ramble.
After mercilessly body-checking the six-year-old who'd
just managed to snag the last one off the shelf at my local Warner Brothers
store, I chuckled to myself as I unrolled a wad of twenties to pay the
clerk. Normally I'd never be caught dead in a store like this, but the
word-of-mouth on this particluar piece was a bit too much for me to endure.
And hey, how often do I get the opportunity to acquire a huge robot toy for
30 bucks? That's, like, the amount of the SALES TAX on the vintage Japanese
toys that the little voices inside my head keep telling me to buy.
"It's surprisingly UNarticulated, though. The fingers are individually
jointed at the knuckes, which is cool, but the shoulders and thighs are only
rotatable through a 180-degree-plane (in other words, they only move
front-to-back and not side-to-side.) I guess Trendmasters figured that
swiveling ball-joints wouldn't be robust enough for serious play (hey, that
what they get for not using polyethylene.) Press a button on his palm and he
chews vigorously, spewing inanity such as 'Yummy! Friend!' and roaring. Yep,
it actually chews -- and it's got an ACTUAL ESOPHAGUS, allowing it to "eat"
things. Fortunately, we were spared a complete digestive tract; the
'swallowed' pieces are removed using a little door on his back.
"The verdict? Surprisingly decent. In fact, it's very detailed -- kind of
like an all-plastic 'Fierce Legends of Iron Giant.' At twenty inches tall,
this baby's big enough to take on all but the largest of the toys in your
collection. And in spite of the fact that it's a portrayal of a 'good guy,'
it STILL manages to come across as more menacing than Uni-Five's Garada K-7.
Yeah, yeah, I know, it's not Japanese, but it's definitely based on the same
art-deco robot designs (such as those by Max Fleischer) that influenced
Miyazaki and other Japanese animators, and it's great to see this kind of
designwork finally getting respect in America again.
"Go buy it, ya
"Meanwhile, the fun never stops with Takara. Intent on spreading limited-edition
Microman products across the Japanese toy landscape, Takara is offering yet
another clear version of the Robotman Ace magnemo figure.
incredibly difficult to obtain 'white clear' giveaway of several months ago,
however, this will be a Toys 'R' Us exculsive and molded in clear red. It's
being done in conjunction with 'Comic BonBon,' a major Japanese
comic-magazine (Shown, the 'normal color' version of Robotman Ace.)" --
07/24/99: Werkshop Updates
At left, the Jumbomachinder Daitetsujin 17 bootleg from Taiwan,
Ron Meloni's AWESOME STICKERS!
Jump now to the Library's DX Werkshop
Matt Alt's review and Ron's own description of the process.
While you're there, see new modeling projects by C.W. Louis and Marvin.
with the News Dive!
"Toy-geeks rejoice! The huge Tokyo-based used-manga and used-toy retail chain
MANDARAKE is setting up shop in Los Angeles! According to a front-page
article on the July 16issue of Yomiuri Shimbun,
Mandarake plans to set up a
huge outlet store in the Yaohan Plaza shopping center in LA.
"Mandarake, which is a personal favorite hang-out of mine in Tokyo, is
well-known for their huge selection of used comics, toys, and models, and
also for forcing their employees to dress up as anime characters all day
long. (You haven't lived until you've seen a Sailor Moon-looking clerk-clone
croon the 'Space Cruiser Yamato' theme onstage at Mandarake Shibuya.)
"While the article focused mainly on their plans to offer a huge selection of
used books and manga, could a Tokyo-style wall o' vintage diecast be in the
works as well? Only time will tell. They plan to open shop on August 27. Be
there or be square.
it looks as though Takara's gearing up to produce some larger-size robots
(finally!): they've announced plans to make two new Magnemo Robotman
figures, 'Robotman Dean' and 'Robotman Endeavor,' and a new
'Giant Acroyear.' The three of these will be large in size so as to accomodate
Magnepowers and Acroyear figures inside. More info as it comes." --
and his beefy Bullmark T
"I've printed up a few Bullmark Logo T-shirts and wondered if
anyone was interested in them. Here's the info on them:
"(2) color Bullmark logo (red and black) on a white Hanes Beefy T-Shirt,
100% Pre-Shrunk cotton. Available in Med (38-40) and Large (42-44)
sizes. Unfortunetly, X-Large is sold out.
"I only have a few of each size left. Price is $17.00 each, plus
shipping within the U.S. (overseas shipping quoted.)" --
07/18/99: We Love Hobby Project!
Info Minister Alt, Secret Press Agent Hiroko, and Superpatron Schwartz have collaborated
on an Interview with Kanzen Hentaro!
Who's that, you ask?
Well, Kanzen Hentaro
is the brains and brawn behind Hobby Project -- the divine makers of the highly-prized
Boss Borott and Gekiganger diecasts, and personal idols of mine.
(At left, Hobby Project's latest work in progress: the never-before seen diecast Minerva X!)
Link now to the Eau De Alt section of the
Library to read the Interview.
Meanwhile, we're having a server glitch where JPEG images over 100k are not displaying
correctly in Netscape! We're on the problem, and working it out. In the meanwhile,
though it loathes me to say it, "please use Internet Explorer if you gotta!"
with the latest Uni-Five Jumbo Machine!
"Uni-Five has announced that the fifth installment in their Jumbo Machine
series will be none other than COMBATTLER V!
"The prototype's been put together,
as you can see in the Uni-Five release photo at left, but as of yet they haven't announced
a firm release date. Look for it in the next few months! (And watch out for that
Jumbo ASStroMegazord!)" --
Tom the Greek
with an Awesome Toycom Valkyrie Scoop!
"Here is the scoop from the guy at the Toycom booth at the recent
Chicago Comicon and IT IS BIG
the Macross Plus prototypes are ready, and the molds will be cast shortly. There were
no prototypes for display -- they were locked up at the office.
Of the three Valkyries, they hope the to release the first by Christmas. The other two
will follow. He specifically wouldn't tell me which version was first.
"The Valks themselves will be partly diecast. The chest/body cavity
will be diecast along with the hinge on his back. The lower leg
portions will also be diecast. Everything else will be plastic. He
said anything that hangs off the toy like the arms an wings will not be
diecast because the Valk cannot support the weight. He also confirmed
that the toy will come in a window box. Toycom will also be releasing
armor for the Valk under separate packaging. This will be released at a
later date. The height of the Valk will be approximately 8 to 9 inches.
He said this makes it around a 1/66 scale.
"He also added some interesting tidbits about Toycom and this project,
and that he is a long time fan of Macross. He met the
Macross creator at some industry trade show, and expressed desire to
re-create the Valkyries. The creator put him in touch with Big West.
Big West then licensed Toycom to create the Macross Plus Valkyries.
"Ok, here is where it gets interesting an the big news. The way Big West
works is that you cannot just buy licensing for one Macross series. You
have to buy the whole works, Macross, Macross DYRL, Macross Plus,
Macross 7, etc. So Toycom had to buy licensing for all of the shows.
He said this was an extremely expensive venture for them. As a result
of this, if the initial run is successful, they will also release
Macross 7 Valks. Now, it even gets better!!! I almost lost it when he
told me the following:
"TOYCOM WILL ALSO RELEASE THEIR OWN 'ORIGINAL MACROSS' VALKYRIES BEGINNING WITH
"Yup, you heard me right!!! Their own Original Macross Valkyries! HOWEVER, Toycom
spent alot of money on the licensing, so if you want original Macross
valks, buy the Macross Plus valks at Christmas. He said they don't have
enough funding at this time, and hope to make it on the current Macross
Plus Valks. Yup, a good possibility for us to see Macross Valks from the
original series again, but Toycom needs to make enough money to fund the
next project. In closing, all I can say is, damn I hope it works out
that way. A new Super ostrich on my shelf would be awesome!!! Well,
that's it. The whole scoop from Toycom. Thanks..." --
Tom The Greek
07/16/99: We're Glossy!
The shiny September '99 issue of Toyfare has hit the shelves and check it out:
they've named ToyboxDX as the Best Japanese Toy Site
on the Net! [Congrats also to Mark Nagata of
Ultimate Ultraman Toy Collection...]
In a flattering and pithy blurb,
they note that the
"the Ramblings section of this Cambridge, Mass.-based site is the CNN of Japanese toys..."
(All this attention is also somewhat disturbing.
Are addicts really supposed to receive public acknowledgement for their
fiendish obsessions? Who knows.)
In anycase, if you get the chance, drop these guys a snail mail
and thank them for helping to bring attention to our little "habit!"
(And if you have "extra" Bandai PotatoHeads, please send them
It's taken awhile, but I've made some additions to the
Gallery of Love's World Collector section. Check out
the new installment by DXSuperpatron Warren Schwartz
on his recent trip to Japan. It rocks! While you're there, make sure to
see some cool pics by Mathew Tang as well.
On to the other "Ramblings"...!
with some Perfect Grade First Time Ramble!
"I've been wanting to do a Ramble for quite some time, but I can't believe
I finally got around to it. What I want to Ramble about is technically not
a toy but is darned close to one, because of the features and extremely good articulation.
"It's the Perfect Grade RX78-2 Gundam, which even has a transformable core fighter inside the
body, and light up eyes. I opted not to paint it, but just do a little detailing later on,
because it's easier to play... err... I mean to disPLAY it in different poses without worrying
about scratching the body and joint paint.
"Anyway, the first picture shows the Gundam in a
very human-like pose. Show me another toy or model kit that can do that. In the second
picture, you can see the hydraulics in it's elbow and foot (among other places) which shows
when you bend the limbs.
"Taking a big leap up from the Devilman with toe articulation,
check out this baby's hands which contains two articulated joints per finger. And last,
but not the least, check out what he could do with two beam sabers... viola!
A dark newtype of the Sith!" -- Ranma
on the new Bandai Chogokin Gundam!
"This is my first Ramble so be kind. Here we go.
"The toy is quite small, only about 5" tall.
I was surprised when I first noticed the white plastic parts weren't really white.
After looking at the pictures in the instructions carefully, I realized it was weather
paint job. The panel lines were painted as well, which is a nice touch.
"It is almost
entirely plastic, except for the chest and the feet. It is very poseable as advertised
but I have yet to figure out how to rotate the 'groin' without removing the red parts at
"Overall, I think it is a decent toy for the money. Hopefully the upcoming
Chogokin Zaku will be better." -- Silas Ho
07/14/99: Stateside Ramble
I'm back from Taipei with a trunk full o' toys. I suspect what meager
pickings were left in the city are now in my living room.
(At left, the super big Clover Irongear, a lucky
Thanks to Alt, Big Science, Harkavy, and Raley for
maintaining a rigidly disciplined ConfederacyDX.
While out Formosa-ing, I picked up a bad habit: a growing
"enthusiasm" for [gulp] vintage Microman (can my phenomenmal credit line see me through this?)
I'm currently processing a log of the whole weird trip, complete with some wigged-out pics.
I'm also putting the touches on the second installment of Warren Schwartz's insane Japan Hadj.
So check back tommorow for all this, plus a surprise interview
from Nippon...It's good to be back!
with the News Dive
It's Micro, man!
"If you're a Microman / Micronaut collector, you know that some of the
toughest-to-find original pieces are the Lady Command figures. They're
similar to the old 'Time Traveller' pieces of yore, but come with little
angel wings -- and instead of a pharaoh-esque coffin, they live in
little STATUE OF LIBERTY shaped cases! Although the originals go for hundreds
and hundreds of dollars, Takara recently announced that the Lady Command
figures will be reissued in November at a paltry 1,500 yen ($13) a pop. Stock up
while ya can.
"There's actually quite a few new Microman pieces on the horizon, and a
lot of them are related to the new animated Microman film, entitled 'The
Great Battle: Microman vs. Warrior Gorgon,' playing in Japanese theaters this
summer. Some of these include three New Microman 'magnepowers' figures
with realistically-painted faces (limited to 1000 pieces each), and a set of
metallic variations of the New Acroyears (limited to 2000 sets). They're
only available through select outlets in Japan.
"Takara's really been gearing up their production of limited-run Microman
pieces. One of the more interesting (and hard to find) of these
variations is this all-clear version of the Magnemo Robotman -- the 'Robotman
Ghost.' It was only (briefly) available as a mail-away premium, and is one of
the harder pieces to find."
for a pic. The owner described it as a 'miracle' that he was able to obtain one.
"And last but not least, there's a new Microman book out. The translation
of the title is Get The Big Secret: The Encyclopedia of Microman, the Tiny
Giants, and the ISBN is 4591061272. More on that when we get our grubby
"Sad to say, apparently our old friends Uni-Five aren't doing so well
with their Jumbo Machine series. Although their Mazinger Z Jumbo Machine had
a limited run of only 800 pieces, product is still sitting on the shelves
in Japan. High prices coupled with a supply bottleneck (they're available
solely through Kong Tong Town) have led to tepid sales.
"In an apparent attempt to rectify this, Uni-Five recently announced that
they will soon be offering the Great Mazinger Jumbo up for a full
national release through the usual toy-store channels; if we're lucky, this will
help lower prices and keep the line afloat. It would be a CRIME AGAINST
HUMANITY to let this series die. C'mon, just check out how cool the upcoming
Gaiking is! You KNOW you can't resist this!" -- Matt
Speaking of the Big G,
sent this pic of an incredible knock-off Gaiking
"From toe to red fin on head is about 20 inches; I forgot the exact height..."
forwards more info on the Toycom Valks
"Toycom has evedently been sending this out to dealers.
I'm not sure whether it's a copy of the box art or a display poster,
personally I think it looks like box art...See-ya," -- Mike
"Hey guys, wondering if I can get this posted? My friend Andy Moore from Old
Pasadena Tattoo gave me this and it's my new favorite. If possible can you
also give a plug to Andy, and anyone who lives in the area, he does some
wicked custom work...Thanks," -- Eric
Matt Alt Sez, "Yeah, I'm A Toy-Gangsta -- But Still I Got FLAVOR!"
a whole new era for ToyboxDX.
With Alen safely banished to the Island
of Bootleg Toys, I knew it was time to make my move. ToyboxDX headquarters
empty, Raley and I entered, duct-taped Big Science to his chair
in the security room, and used bolt cutters to gain access to the
inner sanctum on the fortieth floor.
We've been up for the past 72 hours
straight hacking the passwords and access codes of the Toybox Server.
Then we realized that Alen had actually left us the codes in the
first place. Raley won't quit, though. Whatever. But what really
worries me is Harkavy.
He'd been snorting lines of grape
Tang off the tops of Godaikin boxes and washing it down with bottle
after bottle of those mini-vodkas gathered from the four hotel rooms
we'd rented using Alen's credit cards. We thought we'd lost him
there for a minute, but suddenly he woke up, stripped off his clothes
and dashed up the stairs to the roof armed with nothing but his
Votoms kite and a smile. The look of that smile scared me, so I
managed to convince Raley to stop and help me pull Alen's shelves
and heavier diecasts against the door back inside.
Having maxed out the credit cards
on the hotel rooms and international toy-orders ("Si, si! Muy ASTRO
ROBOT! Muy NARCOL JUMBO!") , we needed something to pay the pizza
delivery guy with. I rifled through Harkavy's discarded wallet,
finding nothing, but suddenly Raley had a flash of inspiration.
I don't know how he did it, but he managed to convince the guy to
leave the stack of pizzas we'd ordered in exchange for a DX Tetsujin
we found in Alen's bedroom. He must not know they're being re-issued,"
Raley whispered to me conspiratorially
Suddenly there is a sound of thunder:
Harkavy, smelling the pizza, is slamming his entire naked body against
the door leading in from the roof, bellowing like a madman. The
thought of letting an insane, naked man and his Votoms kite back
in the room is less than thrilling for me, so Raley and I run to
grab something else to bolster the door with. Every slam sends more
pieces flying: a heap of dismembered limbs, bodies, and rocket-punches
litter the floor in front of the shattered shelving units. We manage
to wedge the fists from one of Alen's Jumbos into the doorjamb just
as the blockade starts to give way.
"Welcome to Toy's Hell," as Magic
Box would say.
07/03/99: We Gots Garada!
The Super-Dimensional Emergency ToyboxDX Steering Committee legislates a new ramble!
[We'll try not to break the old one...too much -- dr.evil]
Co-steering chairman Matt Alt passes on the scoopage on Garada K-7
Yes, kids, you read it here first: Garada K-7 in the house! MY house, to
be more specific. Thanks to the ministrations of the one-and-only Masato
Shono, I was lucky to get a chewy fresh-outta-the oven Garada K-7
drop-shipped straight to me. Here's the skinny on the bad boy Jumbo
collectors love to hate.
Let me set the stage here. This is Uni-Five's re-issue of the holy
grail of Japanese toy collecting, the Popy Jumbo Machinder Villain
Garada K-7. Uni-Five refers to this character as an "ethereal ghost,"
and for once the ad-hype may be on the mark: to date there hasn't been
a single confirmed sighting of an original 1970's Garada. So just how
close is the re-issue to the original?
The fact is that nobody really knows. Uni-Five recently announced that
they were unable, after months of searching, to find any original Garada
K-7 Jumbo Machinders. In fact, rumors aside, there seem to be no extant
copies of a K-7 jumbo at all. Fortunately, however, Dynamic Pro still
had documentation relating to the prototype at their office. Together
with a photograph of Garada that appeared on select Jumbo Machinder
packaging, Uni-Five was able to play detective and come up with a
composite of what the original might have looked like.
This is a good time to explain another aspect of the Jumbo Machine
reissues. Advertising hype aside, they're NOT, at least in the
sense that most people use the term. In fact, in a recent issue of
Figure-Oh magazine, Uni-Five revealed their own all-wood prototype for
the Mazinger Z Jumbo. (This is an incredible feat in and of itself: in
this age of computer-assisted design, making wood prototypes is all but
unheard of.) Although it mirrors the original piece to a high degree, it
is made from all-new molds and tooling. The same is true for Great
Mazinger, Gaiking, and Garada K-7 as well.
Now on to the Garada toy itself. Truth be told, it's basically a giant
vinyl-figure along the lines of a Marmit Fierce Legends piece
(although much larger.) It's kind of incredible that Uni-Five managed
to make a skull-faced robot with a pair of sickles crammed into his head
look CUDDLY, but somehow Garada's squat, 70's-style proportions make
him look more like a satanic teddy bear than a Jumbo. (Taking the
scythe-blades into account, Garada's nearly twice as wide as a normal
JM.) So much for being an evil robot of destruction: this guy needs a
And speaking of those scythe-blades, they're removable and very sturdy.
Problem? THEY FORGOT TO PUT A HOLE IN HIS HAND! Fer cryin' out loud,
how much effort would it have taken to make that happen? Ah, well. What
with the fact that his arms have about a two-degree freedom of rotation,
with zero wrist or elbow movement, it would have been hard to menace
So what's the verdict? No missile launcher. Limited articulation. No
accessories. Brown cardboard box. It's all vinyl. AND YET IT'S
INCREDIBLY COOL! I'm in love with the li'l bastard! SOMEONE HOSE ME
DOWN! BUY THIS IMMEDIATELY! I'M NOT KIDDING! -- Matt
From The Chief himself, itself!
Taipei Ramble: Recon Day One
"I'm in Taipei, and AOL kicks ass. Day 1 is spent visiting with my venerable
Grandfather who is working on a Saturday as usual. We have our second brunch of
the morning and accompany him back to the family homestead where I retrace the
200 yards to the source of all childhood gokin: Ding Hao, former Arcade and vice
den, now home to -- you guessed it -- Golden Arches, and Tower Records.
My entire family descends down the steps to what was once a teeming pit of Pac
Man, Galaxians, and Moon Cresta. The sounds used to coalesce into a deafening
undercurrent of explosions and chimes. In the midst of this once smoky and sweat
filled barrage was a small walled cube with a glass fascade. The tiny box,
formerly filled with Popy, Nomura and Nakajima toys, has vaporized. [AAIGH! - ed] In its exact
location: a partition wall for a girl's shop filled with Sanrio.
We trace the back steps out into the alleyway where the store owners have
relocated. It's a shop filled with Gameboys, Playstations and Dreamcasts. I speak
with the owners of the store and they wistfully explain how the economy and the
dissipating pool of chogokin lead to their conversion. To hear other human beings
casually using the chinese words for Mazinger [Wu Di Tieh Qing Kang] almost
brings me to tears. They advise a trip to the 10th floor of Sogo, the massive
Japanese mall. It's all that's left now...
At Sogo: We avoid the dorky looking "Elevator Gals" -- heavily made up women
forced to dress identically and wear stupid hats while they greet you and push
the buttons -- in favor of the escalators. Ten slow flights up, past housewares,
makeup and clothing, we arrive. The sound of screaming children and the
smattering of shiny colors is familiar. Unfortunately, so are the massive cutouts
of Liam Nielson and J.J. Binks.
Star Wars is everywhere, blocking the entrances and aisles. I've come halfway
around the world only to find a Sino Kay Bee.
A deeper delve begins to yield better results: racks and racks of Gundam toys,
kits, and figures. Japanese transformers and Sentai robots are proudly displayed
in glass cases, the dioramas (almost) interesting me in the Zords. In the back,
Geeg reissues and Marmits lay in stacks, alongside of a full selection of
Microman reissues. It's not Tokyo, but at least it's not the Cambridge TRU.
Over in electronics, I'm excited to see my interface work for LEGO Mindstorms
proudly demonstrated by a LEGO operative. When he finds out he's showing me my
own UI work, he begins to bow furiously and calls over the other salesgirls. I
run through the Challenges section of the software to show my parents what the
hell I do for a living. We exchange business cards, I give them the skinny on the
Robotics Invention System 1.5 that's coming out, and leave to more bowing and
thanking. Pretty Cool!"
Next stop: Tunghua Street. -- Alen
It is a time of Great Stryfe. Reissue rumors collide head on with
reports of rampant fraud and bootlegging. Only one thing to do:
head to the source...
7/1/99: The Island of Bootleg Toys!
A.K.A. Formosa, aka Taiwan. I'm heading to the island with a fistful of toys
to get with my roots and dig up the dirt.
Net access will be spotty. Pizza is limited to a handful of corporate exports.
It's entirely possible that I won't survive...
While I'm gone, a power vacuum will occur. Both Big Science Dave and Info Minister
Alt have the ToyboxDX access codes. Will technologists coexist peacefully
with the intelligensia? The potential for abuse is staggering...
Anyways, I'm off. Best of luck to all till I return!