Wednesday, September 24, 2008

[Nakayoshi Astromons] A Monster of a Coincidence

As a firm believer in Toy Karma, I also feel that there are some collecting events that are fated to happen.

An expert on Hawaii supernatural lore once wrote of the concept of inexplicable causality that leads certain people to places and events that when viewed in hindsight, are part of a clearly intended chain of seeming coincidences. The implication is that we can be guided by otherworldly forces to an inevitable result. I guess if you are cynical, this can be explained away by our tendency to find patterns in otherwise unrelated events. Sort of like seeing shapes in clouds. If you aren't cynical, hoo boy, chicken skin...

I think if you have been seriously collecting THINGS for a reasonable length of time, you've probably experienced this. You find one random toy and decide to learn more, only to find that you owned its companion piece as a child.

When I was in Shibuya Mandarake last fall, I found this unpainted Astromons toy sitting humbly in the back of a display case. I knew that this version was produced by Nakayoshi in collaboration with Dream Rocket and Shono Kikaku, so I picked it up. The one thing that bugged me was that it was ORANGE. As far as I knew, there had only been releases on purple base vinyl.

In April of this year, an auction materialized on Yahoo Japan for a painted version of the orange Astromons- still in the original bag, no less! Let's just say it wasn't cheap. My speculation is that this orange version was sold at around the same time as the pink "Hawaiian" Red Jack (also by Nakayoshi), as the seller had both toys up for auction. That Red Jack is estimated to have been produced in less than 10 pieces total, so I would figure this one to be similarly low production. However, while I have seen at least 3 Red Jacks sell, I've never seen another orange Astromons.

It's kind of a weird feeling when I display these two pieces side by side- knowing that this is probably the only time that they have been united since they were in the maker's studio. It is memorable events like these that make the hobby a worthwhile pursuit for me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

[Sucks or Blows?] The San Jose Super Toy Show

And the answer is, only a little. Only a little.

Despite having an overabundance of toys that could probably be found at the nearest Wal-mart, the San Jose Super Toy, Comics and Record Show wasn't that bad. In between the dozens of those booths, there were some actual gems in the mix.

A few boxed Exo-squad toys were sprinkled around the dealer floor. Which would be cool if they weren't all missing their internal trays. So the toys were all shaky loose inside the box. Yikes.

Also: weird bootlegs. But not when they are priced at $150. So none of those for me. One guy had an old Go-Lion (Voltron) bootleg for $30. It was fine, except there was no black lion. When you can't form Voltron from the Voltron lions, that's kind of a deal breaker.

But I did find this neat-o Machine Saurer bop-bag from some guy with a truckload of Rat Fink stuff. How he got this, I have no idea. Since it was entirely written in Japanese, I referred to it as the "dinosaur robot thing" when I asked about the price.

Also, right before I left, I bought this Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad toy. Laugh at the name if you will, but it's genuine grade-A transforming super robot. One of the last good toys before McFarlane defiled the toy market for the next decade. Takara produced the Japanese toys under the Gridman TV series at roughly the same time as the last Transformers and the post-Transformer Brave toyline. So that's why Zenon kind of looks like Optimus Prime.

Overall not bad by my standards. Not a lot of vintage, but lots of 90s stuff, which I totally dig.