Monday, April 28, 2008

Space Monster Bagun + More!

Yep, it's that time once again. The day-long toygasm known as Superfestival (No. 46!) is set to go off this Tuesday at the Tokyo Science Museum with many, many fresh new releases for collectors of overpriced and underavailable toys. While there are always super-secret releases from our favorite vinyl dealers, here are some interesting pre-show tidbits:

Target Earth - Space Monster Bagun

Keeping pace with the recent retro-patchi craze, Target Earth is releasing a standard size version of Bagun at Superfestival 46. Perhaps you better know this design as the basis for Gargamel's mini-size figure, Deathra!

According to Target Earth's website, Bagun stands approximately 25 cm tall (somewhere between standard and 'big' size... I think) and has 7 points of articulation (including wings and the head nubble). Bagun hails from the illustration series known as "Showa Kaiju no Sekai" (World of the Showa-era Kaiju) and was drawn by Kajita Tatsuji (see photograph on TE blog). Kajita-sense (as he is called by TE) oversaw the modeling of the prototype piece for Bagun. He will also be on-hand at TE's Superfestival booth to sign the pieces.

TE notes in the entry that there are two variations of Bagun, which he calls Bagun 1-go and 2-go. The one to be released immediately is 1-go, while 2-go is currently under development to be released soon. It should be interesting to see how this will match up with Shikaruna Koubo's apparently intended release of its own Bagun 2-go.

Bagun will be sold with original header art by Kajita-sensei, based on the illustration shown in this post.

Perhaps most excitingly, however, TE says that they currently intend to release all 11 standard size kaiju from the Showa Kaiju no Sekai series! Uchuu Kaiju Bagun, deruzo!

Bagun will retail at the show for JPY 7000. Other releases should be around JPY 6000.

(I have not reproduced the photographs in this entry by the request of TE, as noted on his website.)

Shikaruna-Koubo - mini-Zagora + mini-Dagigon + standard Mighty

Shikaruna-Koubo, who has recently been turning heads with its ultra-limited trio of Gehju Gaezal website releases (3 releases of 5 pieces each!), will be pulling a triple play at Superfestival with a couple of minis and preorders for a new standard-size figure!

Recent popular releases, Zagora and Dagigon are reducified into 8.5 cm high mini-figures. Zagora will be given its original green colorway, as well as the website sale pink colorway. Dagigon will be sold in its original yellow and purple colorway, but will be given a smashing new metallic pink and blue style for this release. Finally, S-K makes a torus for us with the freaky new Mighty sculpt (probably based on the original illustration, actually). Mighty will have a black base and orange base version, both featuring fantastic metallic colors on top.

With 50 pieces of each toy to be sold, I hope we will not have to fight like animals over these. But, hey, if it comes to it, RAGAHGHAAH. I rest my case.

The minis will retail for JPY 3500 each, while Mighty is quite a bit more at JPY 8400. Mighty is preorder only at the show, but is expected to arrive by 5/10.

Sorry for the 'no pictures' post, but I would like to respect the original material on the artists' websites since it has not been publicly disseminated otherwise.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Trying out a few new things with my camera setup tonight. I replaced the normal lights with softer light incandescent bulbs, and draped white cloths between the bulb and table to reduce the harshness of the lights. I've been having a problem with certain shades of green turning bluish in my photos, and I was hoping that using a light source with more yellow might offset this effect.

Generally, though, it's almost impossible to take a front-lit shot of the bubble Mutant Head without it looking absolutely pustulent on account of light reflecting off of the bubbles. This one came out somewhat decent, if a bit dark. The color is pretty true to the actual toy.

The back-lit shots are winners all. :)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

[Review] Vinyl Aid

I am normally not prone to heating and disassembling expensive vinyl toys, but a recent purchase arrived in a bit of an odd condition. Upon being unpacked, I was a little disappointed to find that this Dengu toy from Amapro had a warped leg, which kept it from standing level. In hindsight, this may have been the reason that it was sold in the first place, because it looked more like production deformation, rather than shipping damage.

So, how to fix it?

To be honest, I have never worked with vinyl in the past, although I have done some work with soft PVC plastic toys. I do know that heat will soften vinyl, while cold will re-set the vinyl. So first, I put a large pot of water on the stove at low heat, and filled a pan with tap water and ice cubes. Once the water reached around 90 degrees or so, I popped the toy in a Ziploc bag and dunked it in the water for around a minute. The vinyl is pretty soft and malleable, but not enough so to create a significant risk of unintentional reshaping. I pull the leg out and adjust the arm, and then pop the right half of the body in the ice water bath to set the warm vinyl.

Unfortunately, I was careless and let water infiltrate the body of the toy. But fortunately, the back hatch was soft enough to slip off the main body and drain the water out. This also had a second benefit of revealing that part of the problem was the area around the leg, which had puckered due to the original damage. So I then reheated the vinyl and repeated the process, pushing out the belly and leg area before cooling the vinyl again. After letting all of the water evaporate, all that was left to do is to heat the bit of extra vinyl (by dipping it in the hot water) around the 'back hatch' piece, so that it could slip back into the main body. And then, good as new!

So what did I learn? Well, turns out, vinyl, and the airbrushed paint, is pretty hardy. Nothing was really damaged far as I can tell, and the toy emerged from its hot water and ice water baths none the worse for wear.

Amapro - Dengu (Monstock color ver.).

This Dengu is a store exclusive by Amapro that was sold earlier this year at Monstock, in celebration of the store's 1 year anniversary. There were at least two versions for sale: this normal color version, and a secret color version with gold eyes and pink spray on the back. Another unpainted clear green version was shown, but I am not sure if it was for sale. Another exclusive released at the anniversary celebration was a black 'prototype' version of Touma's new sculpt, Destodon. These have been fairly hard to find on the secondary market, because Monstock sells most toys through walk-in only. Thanks to the person that gave me a heads-up on this one.

Dengu is a patchi-kaiju toy produced by Amapro, and based on a design by Karasawa Naoki that was originally shown in Figure Ou (Figure King) magazine. Amapro's website identifies it as 'Rampaging Space Beast Dengu.' There have been quite a few versions produced of Dengu in a variety of colors, including a green GID vinyl "1 billion volt" version. This particular Dengu is pulled in bottle-green vinyl, with metallic gold spray on its back and matte pink on its eyes. Amapro has only recently begun using clear vinyl, and I believe this is only its second toy to make use of it (the first was a Kaiju-Taro exclusive, standard-size Naruton).

As one of the neo-vintage style toy makers, Amapro is somewhat the antithesis of Dream Rocket. Where Dream Rocket creates toys with clean lines, intricate detail and flawlessly executed paint, Amapro is roughly sculpted, textured and colored with a few choice passes of the airbrush. Much as with certain traditional Japanese pottery, the beauty is in imperfection.

More photos below (and larger versions available here):

Wednesday, April 2, 2008