Friday, November 20, 2009

[Nakajima / 中島製作所] Dinosaur Walkers

Nakajima - Triceratops (Walking)

As might be inferred from my last post on the Marusan / Marushin Toy / Marushin identity crisis, vintage dinosaur vinyls are somewhat of an obscure item. So I would have to think that mechanical dinosaur vinyls fall into that pocket of obscurity populated by things like remote-controlled Diaclone toys and the transforming train station robot (yes, you read that correctly).

Until recently, I was not even aware of the existence of Nakajima's walking dinosaur vinyls (the full company name is "Nakajima Seisakusho," or 'Nakajima Works' in the factory/production sense). Nakajima is probably better known for its production of Tiger Mask vinyls, nodders and the famous Astro-Mu toys. (See this entry on ToyboxDX for information on Nakajima's other plastic and die-cast offerings.) Almost nothing will turn up if you search for their name in reference to mechanical walkers or dinosaurs; even the websites that specialize in dinosaur vinyls do not seem to acknowledge these. Again, mechanical vinyls are not extremely popular, and less so for the non-licensed variety.

Nakajima - Triceratops (Walking)

I found this Triceratops walker while browsing the Shibuya Mandarake on a recent trip to Japan. He was easy to miss, having been relegated to the corner of a corner case, and so I noticed him on my second or third pass of the row. The price was right (read: inexpensive)- and it was one that I had never seen before- so I gestured and Engrished my way to a purchase. The salesperson helpfully offered to demonstrate the walking feature, but I thought better of testing the longevity of 40 year old mechanical components in a dimly lit store.

Finally having one of these in hand, I am a little undecided as to whether to pursue the set. There are 3 dinosaurs that I know of- the other two are the Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. All 3 appear to share the same base (i.e., only the top part changes between toy); although the toy is molded in two parts, the waist joint is fixed in place. I find the bipedal portrayal of Triceratops pretty amusing, much like another company's vinyl of a Stegosaurus that has been endowed with huge, beefy arms and sharp teeth. It's a total '70s crossover between reality and live-action shows. The paint is applied precisely to the toy, which is nice as many dinosaur vinyls were given a spray-and-pray job, being the cheaper of the cheap vinyls. The one disappointment of this Triceratops is that the feet are made of a brown plastic, where I had previously thought them to be metal. I guess they were never high-end toys, but it has a little less of a sturdy feel.

Nakajima - Triceratops (Walking)

Here you can see the Nakajima stamp and "Triceratops" name on the side of the base. Nakajima is affectionately known as "turtle mark" by collectors, due to the appearance of its logo. I do not know whether these were sold loose or boxed- as is the case with so many mechanical vinyls- but it is oddly easy to find specimens with little to no paint wear (that is, if you can find them at all).

Is it an undiscovered gem or another piece of crap that I am using to weigh down my apartment? You decide.


Doc Atomic said...

I know next to nothing about these toys, but I do know awesome when I see it. It's a really cool piece -- great colors; neat, abstracted look; fun action. I'm not sure how you can go wrong with it!

hirobot said...

I love this! The color combination works! It's so awesome!