Tuesday, October 13, 2009

[Skull Head Butt] The Nesting Enigma

Now gather round me childurn and listen as I tells ye A TALE. From the early days of yore, when Skull Bees stalked the alleys of Edo and the name Zollmen was but a MERE SEA SQUALL brooding on the world's edge.

This story begins way, way back before most of you even heard of Japanese vinyl. An unofficial affiliate of the famous Marmit, Skull Head Butt cropped up in early 2006. At the time, there was only a handful of companies that were NOT producing vinyl toys of licensed characters. Skull Head Butt had only one toy at the beginning (Monster Q), but it was insanely ambitious. Perhaps owing to the esoteric nature of their toy designs, they never really hit the mark with American collectors. Skull Head Butt virtually disappeared after mid-2007, but has recently taken a more visible place among the toy company pantheon.

Skull Head Butt - Monster Q (Triple Q 1)

The first character produced by Skull Head Butt is the one seen above, Monster Q. This was an ambitious design for the time because the finished product was designed to function as a combination of 3 separate toys (which were generally sold individually). The 3 pieces of Monster Q fit inside one another like Russian nesting dolls; what I refer to as the 'finished product' (seen above) is actually called Triple-Q. Monster Q's outer layer is the basic character design, and resembles a ghoulish version of a famous Japanese manga ghost which also has a Q in its name. The first few releases of Monster Q were simply the outer shell cast in solid color vinyl. Within the outer shell, there can be either or both an inner 'guts' layer and/or a central 'skeleton' layer, both of which are painstakingly modeled in grotesque detail. When fully assembled as Triple-Q, you can see the inner guts and skeleton of Monster Q depending on the translucency of each piece- of course you could assemble only the two outer parts or the outer part and skeleton, as desired. The number of possible combinations and intricate detail of the design are really quite amazing.

Skull Head Butt - Monster Q (Triple Q 1)

But I think the complexity of Monster Q's design was also its undoing. First, the fact that the fully-assembled toy required 3 parts made it prohibitively expensive to build- a Triple-Q would have cost you at least $180 to assemble when importing the parts. Even when they finally released a pre-constructed Triple-Q (above) at Superfestival 40 in October 2006, it was still 12,000 yen for the normal version (which itself was limited to 10 pieces; a super-limited black glitter version retailed for a whopping 20,000 yen). Second, the Triple-Q was a pain to assemble even if you did obtain the 3 parts. The assembly requires some knife work to cut off the inner flash, and I have been told that it was still an extremely tight fit. Skull Head Butt did sell a few versions of pre-constructed Monster Qs, but they were so limited as to be virtually unavailable overseas. All in all, a tough sell. People did seem to like them well enough, but the price and limited availability of the releases stymied collecting.

There is also a mini version of Monster Q, Tiny Mon-Q. This was sold as a blind-pull toy in the Gachamon sets at 2 World Hobby Festivals in 2006 and 2007.

Skull Head Butt - Tolueneman (WCC ltd 6-06)

So then Skull Head Butt produced its second toy, Toluene-Man. If there were ever a Japanese vinyl game show, I think spelling that name should be the final challenge. Toluene-Man was probably more in line with most American collectors' tastes of the time, as it is closer in build to the popular fight figures (in fact, there were a few versions done in collaboration with RealxHead). It is generally believed that Toluene-Man is based on a famous American sci-fi creature, and you may note that rearranging the katakana characters of its name (To-Ru-Ne-Ma-N) yields interesting results (Ma-To-Ru-Ne-N). The version pictured above is the first release of Toluene-Man, which was sold at WCC in June 2006 and limited to 20 pieces total. This toy was sold alongside Monster Q until the end of 2006.

Skull Head Butt - Howaton

In 2007, Skull Head Butt transitioned to a new, third toy, Howaton. Unlike the first two characters, Howaton is based off of vintage patchi-kaiju card artwork. There were only 3 releases of Howaton in total, all of which are shown in the photograph above. The first official release was a full-color version based on the card artwork, and this was limited to 20 pieces sold at Wonderfestival 2007 Winter in February 2007. The unpainted black Howaton appears to also have been distributed at that Wonderfestival. The third and final release, the "Aurora" Howaton, was sold at World Hobby Festival in May 2007 and limited to 10 pieces.

Following the 4 amazing metallic figures from WHF, Skull Head Butt really slowed down. Their only new figure during the remainder of 2007 and 2008 was Monster D. No one liked Monster D because of his extremely weird appearance. Monster D seems to be a parody of a well-known earless cartoon cat from Japan. I kind of wish that I had bought one when they were for sale, just to have it for reference purposes.

Skull Head Butt - Moguron 3 (PS lottery prize 6-09)

Finally, in the summer of 2009, Skull Head Butt released a trio of new figures. Moguron is the name of this toy, and it is sold with one of 3 head variants (each one is named 1, 2 or 3 based on the number of eyes on the head sculpt). Moguron is probably a patchi-kaiju amalgamation of two other famous kaiju: the ever-popular pollution monster (He_orah) and a giant mole from Magma Taishi (Mo_uness). The Moguron pictured above is Moguron No. 3; this version is actually a test shot in avocado green vinyl, which was given away as a lottery prize at Patchi-Summit in June 2009.

In addition, Skull Head Butt has produced several mini figures: Pock Lee, Majeris (from Art Storm's Sofvi Monsters B-set) and Konekurage.

Who knows if Skull Head Butt will be here, and who knows whether there next release will be a rad patchi-kaiju or some freakish mockery of Japanese pop culture. I do know, however, that the characteristic quirkiness of their toys is always a welcome addition to my collection. Now ready yer SEA LEGS kiddies, for it is into the ghoulish shadow of the briny deep that we set our course!

...I don't know. I needed a pirate ending.


insolv1niac said...

I was came across your blog the other day. Really cool stuff. I was wondering if you could enlighten me more on Monster Q. What's the order of the 3 combined parts? Is it easy enough to put together?

RobotXMonster said...

Sorry, I meant to respond earlier but the SHB blog was not loading.

This post shows the 3 parts of Monster Q:


I've never tried, but people tell me that it is extremely difficult to merge the 3 parts (tight fit).