|Today we feature the real Head of RealxHead: Mutant Head! Although my collection is less heady (har) than I would like, there will be many interesting words for you to digest.|
As with past RxH characters featured here, Mutant Head [ミュータントヘッド] is an original hero created by Mori Katsura of RealxHead. Debuting in June 2004 at the 18th World Character Convention (WCC), Mutant Head was the first character to grace a now-impressive lineup of Mutant Zone toys. Many, however, forget that Mutant Head is not the first toy from RxH- the Oni Head had in fact seen its first release over half a year prior in November 2003. Stylistically, the Mutant Head was a huge departure from Oni Head, which feels more like a mascot figure influenced by pop and street culture (similar to other Japanese vinyls of the day). Mutant Head, in contrast, is 'all toy,' which may account for its broad popularity among toy collectors from extremely varied backgrounds.
|Being the seminal release for the Mutant Zone line, Mutant Head has an origin story fit for a card back. You see, Mutant Head is but one of a race of mutants that live alongside humans on Earth. We cannot see these mutants because they are normally invisible to us; however, they often cause accidents and unexplained phenomena when we disturb their homes through construction, foresting and other activities detrimental to the environment. The mutants are fighting back and are led by the warlord Akrokaiser. Mutant Head was injured in one such battle and lost his invisibility, causing him to be discovered by a child. When the child nursed him back to health, he realized that not all humans were greedy and destructive; thereafter, Mutant Head pledged to bring peace between the mutants and humans. Not all mutants shared his views, however, and Mutant Head quickly found himself at odds with Akrokaiser and his troops. An evil twin of Mutant Head- Clone Mutant Evil- was created by Akrokaiser to destroy the traitor. In their clash, the two severely wounded one another, leading to Mutant Head's torn ear and Mutant Evil's scarred face. NY-based artist, Lamour Supreme, even teamed up with Mori Katsura to produce a figure and artwork set to commemorate this vicious fight; the figures were sold in both 'bloodied' and 'clean' versions.|
The design of Mutant Head draws from both western and Japanese influences. It is well known that Mori is a huge fan of those turtles of the ninja variety, and the design parallels in Mutant Head are apparent. The squat proportions of the mutant body and three-fingered hands are also taken from a vintage S-ar Wars Y-da toy. What you may not know, however, is that the head of Mutant Head is based upon an antique bird-type Tengu mask. So if you've ever thought that his head looks like a helmet or mask, now you know the reason.
So enough jibber-jabber. Let's see some Head.
Shinto Gangu secret release, Feb. 2008
In February 2008, we saw the return of Mr. Mori's magical bubble vinyl in this Mutant Head, sold exclusively to walk-in customers at the brand spankin' new Shinto Gangu store. By anecdotal account, these were sold for slightly above normal RxH retail and in lower than usual numbers (perhaps becoming the first of many 'store' releases). Bubble vinyl was a rare sight at the time (the only preceding examples being the exceedingly rare bubble Chaoses from 2006), so you can imagine the overwhelming demand for this version.
Bubble vinyl is a trick unique to the RxH playbook, and perhaps for that reason, little is publicly known about the process. The original technique was allegedly devised as a way to 'recycle' old vinyl material, which would normally produce an unusable product due to bubbles trapped in the vinyl. This may have been the problem with Rumble Monsters' Snow Pharaos. RxH somehow engineered this defect into a production technique that would produce vinyl with small, evenly-distributed bubbles. Quite a feat. However, this required both adequate supplies of old vinyl and, most likely, specific conditions that would allow saleable results. And so it was accepted that bubble vinyls would remain a rare indulgence.
This was all related to me second (or even, third) hand, so I consider the accuracy of the 'old vinyl' theory suspect. Further inquiry has also turned up a photograph of several prototype bubble Chaoses from different factories. This could mean that bubble vinyl turns more on production techniques than a quality of the material. The large number of bubble RxH that have been produced in recent months also suggest that this technique can be- and has been- standardized. Still, it remains the secret weapon of RxH.
Shinto Gangu + Lulubell Toys normal release, May 2009
This 'blue fade' Head was sold in the U.S. exclusively through Lulubell Toys in May 2009. There is quite a story behind this one. This Mutant Head was created as a set with a matching Mutant Evil, and samples of both were first seen when Shinto Gangu opened in February 2008. While there was a high demand among fans for this set, we were told that regular production would be impossible as the paint technique created too many pieces that did not meet Mori's quality standards. A few of these 'blue fade' pieces made their way to Yahoo Japan Auctions, indicating that a small number of sets had been made and distributed at some point in the past. Finally, in May 2009, Lulubell Toys announced to our great anticipation that the set had finally been produced and would be sold online through their webstore. Despite the relative decline in RxH sales, the set sold out faster than instantly.
While it is a nice piece, I think my enthusiasm is only lukewarm. Straight out of the bag, my specimen had a large paint rub under its left arm. The colors also appear much more saturated than the shop's paint sample, which undermines the delicate color arrangement. Finally, the paints used on the production set are not glossy and this clashes with the underlying vinyl. Most people were probably just happy to have a chance to own this one, but the execution does not feel quite right to me.
The original, non-production sets had a slightly different appearance than the production versions. I would like to see a photo of them side-by-side for purposes
|I wish my collection could do more justice to this classic example of a new vinyl toy, but slow and steady has always been my collecting philosophy. The Mutant Head lineup is extensive to the point that you can probably collect subgroups within the character sculpt, and this is a remarkable deterrent to completionism.|
*Numbering of RxH toys per standards of RealxHead Supplement, Super 7-The Book, vol. 5, issue 1 (2007).
- Credit and thanks to Super 7-The Book, vol. 5, issue 1 (2007) (for providing numbering standards and release information on RxH toys); and to Skullbrain.org board members BEYOND, stealthtank, lulubell and others for their work in furthering our collective knowledge of these toys.
- My sincerest thanks to the many blogs, image galleries and websites that have photographed and provided information regarding toy release and event dates: K-Rex blog (http://svnl.exblog.jp/i9/); Kadomiumtank's sofvi blog (http://pink.ap.teacup.com/kadomiumtank/) and (http://blog.goo.ne.jp/kadomiumtank/); datadub's flickr gallery (http://www.flickr.com/photos/datadub/sets/); and others.