The following is based upon a true story. Names and places have been changed to protect the identity of those involved. ...but not really.
CHAPTER 1 - White Elephant
Scene: Morning, apx. 9:30 a.m., somewhere in San Francisco.
I pull up to a street corner and carefully wrench my wheels sideways. With a torrential downpour just a few minutes behind me, I question my afternoon plan of parking myself on the sidewalk outside a certain North Beach store. I will at least require my trusty duck-handled umbrella from the trunk. Wait. Why would anyone do that? That would be the question asked by a reasonable person such as yourself, fair reader.
Let me explain.
Today is the opening day of a show produced by Mark Nagata of Max Toy Co., Beikokuten: Kaiju Invades San Francisco, and held at the gallery of Double Punch in North Beach, San Francisco. Attending this show will be the mastermind behind the company known as "Dream Rocket," Yajima Junichi- and his toys. Toys are good. Toys plus guys who make the toys, even better. There will be some other guys there as well.
Right now, I'm meeting Joe to drive down to Super 7 for a morning trade-fest with local and not-so-local toy freaks- the hors d'oeuvre before the main course. You, of course, know Joe.
Joe looks like he woke up about 10 minutes ago. A small dog in a sweater attempts to maul my lower half as he runs about throwing toys in a shopping bag for the trade-fest. I ogle his collection of shelves with random kitsch dumped on them- mostly rubber dinosaurs or some other such hipster trash. Nice shelves though.
Scene: Morning, apx. 10:00 a.m., Super 7 store.
Arriving at Super 7, there is already a crowd inside the store despite that it does not officially open for another hour. You can always be certain that no matter how early you show up on event days, there will always be someone that woke up earlier. The donuts and coffee are quickly being consumed in direct proportion to the growth of a sizeable mound of 'white elephant' gifts for the festivities later that day. Toybot and t0fu have preceded us, as has plastichunter (visiting from down south), and the customary morning-of greetings are exchanged.
The glass dome at the register is a rather celebrated fixture in the store. New or upcoming releases are always previewed through its protective shield. Everything looks classier on the mahogany surface of its base. I wish I were mahogany. For show this morning is the "Mele Kalikimaka" 3-piece set of RxH, commissioned by Scott "stealthtank" of S7 Florida, and painted to resemble the Hawaii exclusive Bullmark Angilas vintage toy. Also: the Astro-mu tribute Space Barbarian from Secret Base (with the gun which you may or may not get). They are quickly swarmed by camera toting nerds who fondle and pose them with donut-greased fingers (that will teach those Super 7 staffers to turn their backs). We all need to see 4 sets of pictures of the same toys on the same table at the same time. Ok, here is mine:
More people arrive- uberboy aka "Slim," il_muffino and female accomplice, Sokko and smaller Sokko, midnight26man, gatchabert and others who are omitted due to memory loss and not lack of significance. Bags are opened, more toys are fondled with donut-fingers. Tentative offers are made and quickly withdrawn. And at last, some people finally do make actual trades. I'm just here to watch this time.
uberboy had a bunch of his original resin toys for our fondling pleasure. You can probably go here if you want to know more about them.
Someone brought this unpainted Super 7 Mutant Chaos.
Custom by Toybot (?). I like the split motif and the glittery black bits poking through. I don't know if this is new or if it is old and I just forgot that I saw it. Either way, it was nice enough to get its own photograph.
But the real event that morning was a 'white elephant' gift exchange among the attendees. The basic idea of a white elephant is that each person brings a secret gift, which are piled together and redistributed randomly. The catch is that successive giftees may 'steal' the present chosen by a prior giftee, who will be left to choose another gift. You do not want to be the first person (unless the gift is shite).
And the first gifts out of the pile were a couple of Bandai Ultra kaiju figures, worth about $10 each. Not shite, but not really "a gift of around $30 value" either. Expectations were low. But the gifts increased substantially in value as the game progressed, with the best pull (in my humble opinion) being a set of Skull Toys test shots of the 3 Dokkun Rolls.
Another interesting pull was this vintage Tiger 7 mini, which was basically rolled up in a postal envelope (so no one chose it until the very end). My gift was one of the Super 7 Zombie things... wrapped in a Peet's Coffee bag. Part of me hoped for the lingering remnants of a scone or brownie inside. So who was the cheapo that brought $20 of toys and left with presumably over $100 worth? I guess we'll never know.
Right before we left for lunch, gatchabert whipped out these stunning customs. The photographs (isn't this always the case) do not show off the glistening clearcoat, which is glossy and slightly sparkly, and it looks perfect over the tight paint technique (look at the head spots). He says they are "just for practice." Modesty is thy name.
- Interlude -
Gatchabert, plastichunter and I pile into the back of Joe's import ride and we pull out of the Japantown parking garage to sound of the Goo Goo Dolls. Lunch is pho and other Vietnamese cuisine at a bustling restaurant, followed by dessert at Creation and a brief stop at the famed Heroes Club. I've never been there before, and the wall-to-wall display of 1/6th figures is very impressive. Unfortunately, no photos allowed! I really wanted to snap a shot of the Bruce Lee style SF3D suit in the back corner of the store.
TO BE CONTINUED.
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