Saturday, October 31, 2009

[Etc.] Jones Soda - Dread Apple

Dread Apple was the second of 3 bottled Halloween flavors released by Jones Soda in 2008 (and again in 2009). While I thought we hit the jackpot last year with 7 different Halloween flavors, we are paying for it this year, which has been bereft of anything new in the holiday department.

Jones Soda - Dread Apple

PACKAGING

Same as Monster Mojito, reviewed here. The label is an orange and black inversion of the usual Jones design. While I normally find pet costumes demeaning to the animal, I have a certain apprehension of large, flat-faced cats. They remind me of furry Jabba-the-Hutts. So it's cute.. like a troll wearing a party hat.

FIRST WHIFF

Again, not much of a smell.

APPEARANCE

A particularly deep shade of pink with ample carbonation. "Dread Apple" suggested to me that the actual flavor is 'red apple,' but maybe it's supposed to be a candy apple flavor. Per the principle of Wolfman's razor, the more Halloween-ish explanation is likely the correct one, so I call it candy apple soda. Next.

Jones Soda - Dread Apple

FIRST SIP

Mmm. I must confess to having a lasting affinity for apple-flavored candies and drinks, so my enjoyment of this sweet apple soda comes as no surprise. The added carbonation (in comparison to Monster Mojito) really perks the drink up.

FINISHING THE GLASS

The only thing to spoil the carbonated apple flavor is the truckload of sugar in each bottle. I am left feeling the need to immediately brush my teeth.

OVERALL

It's a sweet apple soda, so if that's your thing you'll probably like it. I did not try the last flavor, Blood Orange, but I don't like orange soda- aside from actual blood in the soda, I doubt there was much else to see there. Of the bottled Halloween Jones Sodas, Dread Apple is my top pick. See what I did there? Pick. Like picking apples. Oranges can be picked as well. It's still a good pun.

The sale... FROM HELL.

Happy Halloween to all you folks out in blogger-land. Never really did the trick-or-treating thing as a kid (lived in the boonies and didn't trust our neighbors), but I still have a taste for the holiday nonetheless. These days this taste is indulged primarily through reruns of Roseanne Halloween specials and the opportunity to buy cheap candy from the supermarket. And Halloween blog posts. Still have those.

And I guess I really missed my chance with the Skull Head Butt stuff... that would have been perfect for Halloween. Nonetheless, the second spookiest toy in my menagerie: EXOHEAD's RFSO Galtan!

EXOHEAD - Galtan (6-07 RFSO)
You should have flipped me when you had the chance!

Back the OLDEN DAYS when there was no Zollmen and EXOHEAD was just EXOHEAD, the mini-size Galtan [ガルタン] sculpt was an object of much desire. I know it is hard to believe now when you can barely get rid of these at retail. A well-known board member on the Skullbrain.org forums managed to broker a deal with EXO allowing a domestic sale of painted glow-in-the-dark (GID) Galtans under the "RFSO" label (hence this being commonly called the RFSO Galtan). I'd tell you what RFSO means, but it contains a dirty word (not the F).

Thirteen pieces were allocated for U.S. sales, with a handful more sold in Japan. Each was packaged in a beautifully airbrushed and tied folding-box (which sadly did not come with mine). An even smaller number of unpainted GID versions were distributed to Real Friends Only.

Of course these sold out in flash and people whined, threads were locked, etc. And then people that did get them started to re-sell. Ha! I bought this one (from the Japan allotment) way after the fact, and let me tell you that it sat untouched for a LONG WHILE.



EXOHEAD - Galtan (6-07 RFSO)
Asstar.

Galtan is originally a patchi-kaiju design taken from a vintage trading card. It is an amalgamation of Baltan and Antlar, with a big, fat skull head planted on top. This mini figure captures the crude and distorted feel of patchi-kaiju perfectly; although it is only articulated at the waist, there is sort of an implied movement in its posture. The colors on the RFSO version are sprayed over GID vinyl and tastefully restrained, much like M1Go glow vinyls. Burnt, creamy orange and metallic light blue match well with the off-white vinyl, and perhaps unintentionally correspond to the color palette of pd+MM-111 RUSS (the last Man Machine toy from EXO). While I think many were drawn to this piece because of its rarity, it is still a very strong composition in its own right.

Alright, time for a Halloween afternoon nap. More weirdness later.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

[RealxHead / リアルヘッド] Chaos Family

chaostest


As it seems Halloween has crept up on me this year, what better time to post an article on everyone's favorite shapechangin' mutant hero: Mutant Chaos!

This article covers the Mutant Chaos [ミュータントカオス] character by RealxHead [リアルヘッド], and all related subvarieties thereof. All or most Chaos-type figures represent the same character in official canon as well, so I'm not just being lazy in my taxonomy of the subject.


Real x Head - Mutant Chaos


ORIGINS & INSPIRATION:

Mutant Chaos is an original hero character created by Mori Katsura of RealxHead. He was the fourth and final character in the hero lineup of the Mutant Zone Series, debuting in November 2005. Mutant Chaos is generally considered the most popular of all RxH's characters, and is likely featured in the greatest number of toy releases as well (cheats a bit with his variations, though). The background of Mutant Chaos is quite mysterious- we only know that he is a shape-shifting mutant vegetable capable of utilizing different body types. Mr. Mori has ingeniously worked Mutant Chaos' power into the toy design, exchanging various parts with other RxH figures to create his various forms: Chaosman, Fighter Chaos, etc. Even some of the RxH villains sport a Chaos limb or two- quite a versatile chap!


Mmm... candy.


Just as Mutant Chaos is of unknown origin, so are the influences on his character design shrouded in mystery. Although Mutant Chaos was the last Mutant Zone hero to be designed, his form has always struck me as the most 'Japanese' (for lack of a better descriptor) out of all 4 initial characters. The sculpt is riddled with organic eddies and fungal textures, somewhat like the traditional ink drawings of demons and spirits. It was recently discovered by inquisitive Skullbrainer, stealthtank, that the old Bullmark Curricula Machine vinyls used a similar doll eye as that of Mutant Chaos. Mutant Chaos' head- and this is only personal speculation- to me, looks a bit like Mayor McCheese's head (one of Mr. Mori's favorite toys is apparently an old McCheese doll). Whatever the case, Mutant Chaos epitomizes the creativity and unconventional design that continues to make RxH a fan favorite in the world of Japanese vinyl.


RealxHead - Mutant Chaos (K-T 1st Anniversary exclusive)


VERSION TIMELINE:

(3/23/10 NOTE: This was originally a list of the 6" sculpt variations. However, there are so many new sculpts that I thought a chronological overview of the characters would be more useful.)

Chaosman [カオスマン] - December 2005- Chaosman adopts the Mutant Head body. (Not pictured)

Fighter Chaos [ファイターカオス] - July 2006- Fighter Chaos uses the Mutant Head body, but retains his signature arms.

Chaoslime [カオスライム] - September 2006- Not Mutant Chaos! Chaoslime is actually a pet of Mutant Chaos that lets him hitch a ride every now and again. (Not pictured)

Armored Chaos [アーマードカオス] - October 2006- When the enemies get tough, Chaosman dons an armored vest similar to that of villain Akrokaiser.

ChaoQ [カオQ] - October 2006- ChaoQ is a more child-like form of Mutant Chaos, with a small kewpie doll body. He even comes in phone strap size! (Not pictured)

Kochaos [コケオス] - December 2006- Perhaps to help him blend into ordinary surroundings, Mutant Chaos has taken on a cylindrical form, resembling the Japanese kokeshi dolls after which this toy is named. Note that there are 2 versions of Kochaos: Gachamon mini (not pictured) and a 'mid-size' (see below). (Gachamon mini not pictured)

Chaos vs. Bigaos comparison


Mutant Chaos 2.0 - Summer 2007- Busted and tired, the old Mutant Chaos mold was retooled in mid-2007. The new mold corrects the backward lean of the 1.0 sculpt.

Chaos minis - January 2008- Nearly all Chaos sculpts were converted into mini figures in 2008-09. The first of these were sold as blind-pulls at Superfestival 45. Two versions of a mini Chaosman were available, as well as an unpainted black mini Fighter Chaos (chase figure). (only Mutant Chaos mini pictured)

Beast Chaos [ビーストカオス] - May 2009- Beast Chaos is the first toy of a character from Mutant Zone III. MZIII introduces the concept of fusion, and I guess Chaos fused with a yak. Unlike most other characters, Beast Chaos originated as a mini version in May 2009. A 6" version would follow a few months later at the Shinto After-School Club event.

Chaos Man No. 1 [カオスマン1号] - August 2009- Chaos grows up... into a full-size action figure! Surprisingly hefty at 9" tall, the new Chaos Man now features articulated wrists and a rather debonair scarf. Guess he finally learned how to dress in Mutant University.

Chaos Man No. 2 [カオスマン2号] - September 2009- Who is this super-fly guy? Perhaps it is Chaos Man in a disguise. No. 2 has the body of Chaos Man No. 1 with a mysterious, new insect head. (Not pictured)

Chao-3 [カオスリャー] - December 2009- Eesh. I don't even know how to write this name in English. Chao-3 has the combined powers- and appearance- of the first 2. New hand attachment, too. (Not pictured)

Mutant Chaos Man [ミュータントカオスマン] - December 2009- Shouldn't this be Chaosman Man? No? Chaos Man gets back to basics (and picks up some fresh new duds) with the new full-size Mutant Head body. Don't let the first version slip by you- a few unpainted black Mutant Chaos Man toys were sold with a special year-of-the-tiger scarf at RxH's 2009 year-end party. (Not pictured)

Pheyaos [フェイオス] and Pheyaos Man [フェイオスマン] - December 2009 / January 2010- Worlds collide in 2010!... well, maybe a little before then. Pheyden's interdimensional travels bring him to the Mutant Zone (am I the only one that hears the Spiral Zone cartoon theme when I say that?). Mutant Chaos absorbs a bit of Pheyden, Pheyden takes back a little Chaos with him, and wouldn't you know it- a bunch of toys come tumbling out.

Pheyaos (pronounced 'Fey-us') is the mini version of the character resulting from Chaos' absorption of Pheyden's essence. It is an all-new sculpt and features articulated arms (unlike the other minis). The first white Pheyaos was previewed at 2009 San Diego Comic Con, sold at Superfestival 49 in Japan in September, and never seen again. Doh! The first Pheyaos to be officially sold in the U.S. was the full-color version in January 2010. (Not pictured)

Pheyaos Man uses the body of Chaos Man with an all-new head sculpt and the arm extension of Chao-3. Presumably, he is simply a full-size Pheyaos (proportioned similar to a Glyos figure). This one was first sold in December 2009 via Shinto Gangu, but U.S. sales were delayed until March 2010. There have already been a number of Japan releases of Pheyaos Man, which I doubt we will see here.

If you sense a bit of frustration on my part, it is because these characters have been exceedingly hard to obtain over here. Let's hope for some pleasant surprises in the near future.

Chaos Soldier and Chaos Trooper - February 2010- Glyos Custom Corps. 3 from Onell Design was titled "Chaos Invasion" as it featured resin-cast, Glyos-sized Chaos heads and probe arms that could plug into the Glyos connection ports. Sculpting was handled by artist Lamous Supreme. There were two different types of Chaos heads and one type of probe arm. Read more about the Glyos Custom Corps. here.

Chaos Soldier uses the Chaos head with the Glyos body.

Chaos Trooper additionally substitutes the left arm of a Glyos figure for the probe arm. (Not pictured)

Mame Chao-maru [まめカオ丸] - March 2010- I've seen all sorts of names for this guy, but this is the correct one. This is a one-piece finger puppet sculpt of ChaoQ, first unveiled in various colors at the RxH & Uamou show in March 2010. Mini Chaoslimes were also sold at that show. (Not pictured)

Mutant Zone II - Numerous Mutant Zone II (Villains) characters use the arm pieces of Mutant Chaos. Namely, Soldier Bigaos (also uses body of MC), Fighter Bigaos and Organ Bat. Most of these are mutations of the MZI heroes.


PERSONAL DATABASE:



RxH - Armored Chaos (MC-14)


Armored Chaosman is possibly the oldest Chaos sculpt in my collection. There is only one version of this character, and it was released in October 2006. He's unique among the RxH toys as one of only two toys (the other is Akrokaiser) to wear the armor piece. This color version also pays tribute to the Henshin Cyborg Beetleman outfit.


RxH - Fighter Chaos (MC-15)


This slime color Fighter Chaos was released in a set with the other 3 Mutant Zone heroes in December of 2006. While they were sold in blind-bags in Japan, Super 7 was kind enough to sort out complete sets for U.S. collectors (sadly, we did not have a chance at the lottery figures given away in said blind-bags). This particular Chaos holds particular sentimental value for me, as it was my first RxH toy. In fact, I even blogged about this guy way back over here. Even near 3 years later, the beautiful slime green vinyl never ceases to delight me when I take him out of the display case.


RealxHead - Mutant Chaos (MC-P04)


Speaking of the lottery figures, the Mutant Chaos shown above is one such example. This is MC-P04*, a yellow-eyed test shot for the Ramune set Mutant Chaos. It is fairly unremarkable as a test shot because the final product (MC-08) was also sold unpainted, making it virtually identical in appearance (aside from the absence of the white plastic BBs in the test shot). If you look closely at the torso and head, there are minor blue swirls in the vinyl- probably coloring agents that did not properly mix (and maybe the reason it is a test). This toy also has the dubious distinction of being the most expensive piece in my collection to date; I am ashamed to say how much it cost me to obtain, and it certainly would not sell for the same amount currently. An interesting historical item, nonetheless.


RxH - Armored Chaos (MC-P09)


Also displayed in the lottery event with the above MC-P04, this is an unpainted test of Armored Chaos. There are very few RxH toys that use more than one vinyl color, and the contrasting colors of its parts make for a very striking piece- even though it is just an unpainted production item. Although termed a "prototype," there are multiple pieces of this item in circulation.


RxH - Chaoslime (MS-04)


A Chaoslime approaches!

Simple, but tactile in design, Chaoslime never seems to enjoy the stardom of his more articulated brethren. This 'slime was a secret release at Superfestival 42 in April 2007. The colors pay homage to the lowly Slime of that famous Japanese RPG.


RxH - Mutant Chaos (MC-23)


Officially called the "Fungus Chaos," this toy was sold exclusively at Super 7 in June 2007. Simply one of the best RxH toys out there. That's about all there is to it.


RxH - Mutant Chaos (MC-25)


July 2007 brought yet another Mutant Chaos release at Superfestival 43; this was also the secret release from RxH. I've always felt bad for this guy, since it seemed to be one of those pariah releases that everyone was in a hurry to dump when the RxH prices dropped. Despite that, this is a pretty limited version and a vinyl color that was never used again for the whole Mutant Chaos body.


RxH - Mutant Chaos (MC-27)

kju-mutantchaos1-1


This pearl black Mutant Chaos was exclusive to the online store, Kaiju-Taro (now part of Kabushiki-Gaisha Link), where it was sold during the store's one year anniversary event in July 2007. Included with this toy was a pair of senbei (rice cracker snacks) in a separate bag. One senbei was shoyu flavored and printed with the RxH logo, and the other lobster flavored and printed with K-T's logo- the idea is that the toy represents the nori (dried seaweed) often wrapped around senbei. The black vinyl material has a very slight shimmer in bright light. Still one of my favorite Mutant Chaos figures because of the thoughtful design concept and understated execution.


RxH - Mutant Chaos (Toy Karma ltd 9-07)


In September 2007, Toy Karma was held at Rotofugi's gallery in Chicago, Illinois. Among the many toys exclusive to that show was this Mutant Chaos, cast in bright green vinyl (which, unfortunately, does not photograph very well) and painted with a variety of pastel colors. The vivid green and light colors make me think of colorful mold and Easter eggs, and help this piece to stand out in a crowd of other toys. This one can be found without much trouble if you are in the U.S.

As far as we can figure, this was the first Mutant Chaos to use the 2.0 mold.


RxH - Mutant Chaos mini (3-08 release)


In February 2008, a mini-size Chaosman would mark the beginning of the RxH mini-figure craze. Interestingly enough, mini Chaosman and Fighter Chaos preceded the mini Mutant Chaos.

Despite the craze for RxH mini figures, I did not buy many of them. This was one of the first, released in March 2008; my only purchase from the mini-size Chaos family. Most of the mini-size figures inevitably add or subtract something that I liked about the original design. Mini Chaos and Bigaro, however, really capture the essence of the original toy.


RxH - Kochaos (6-08 release)


Oh, and I guess Kochaos is technically a mini-size figure (uses the same head). This is the first version of the mid-size Kochaos, released in June 2008. As mentioned earlier, these are cleverly designed to look like a kokeshi doll- tall, cylindrical Japanese dolls, typically made of wood and often with a 'nodding' head piece. I wonder how hard it would be to make this a 'nodding' vinyl...


RxH - Mutant Chaos (3-09 store release)


My next Chaos purchase didn't come around until March of the following year (2009), but this one definitely made it worth the wait. Cast in robin's egg blue vinyl ('mizuiro' as some term it, meaning "water-colored"), this Mutant Chaos was given a black wash before being sprayed with a rainbow of colors. Owing perhaps to the variety of colors and complex painting style, it has tremendous visual impact. You might notice that I use the term "store release" to note the origin of this toy. Whereas most releases where either event exclusives or normal releases prior to this point, the opening of Shinto Gangu led to certain releases being reserved for in-store sales (i.e., to be purchased by walk-in only) as opposed to phone or mail orders. Of course, some of these would find their way stateside. There are also "secret releases," which are extremely limited in number and/or reserved for family, friends and good customers of Mr. Mori.


RxH - Fighter Chaos (4-09 store release)


This Fighter Chaos was also a store release, sold in April 2009. The fluorescent colors over clear, bubble-filled vinyl are simply breathtaking, bringing to mind the colorful candies and toys sold at Japanese summer festivals. RxH experimented with color sprays on bubble vinyl very early on with a pair of Mutant Chaoses (MC-L03 and MC-L04). As that pair is very difficult to find today, this piece was a welcome addition to many fans' collections. This one is packaged wearing a black scarf, which I removed.


RxH - Beast Chaos mini (SASC ltd 6-09)

RxH - Beast Chaos (6-09 SASC ltd)


As Mr. Mori begins the third chapter in the Mutant Zone saga, Mutant Zone III, Mutant Chaos joins the ranks of the original characters given an entirely new sculpt. In order to match the power of Kaiser Head and Evil-Bat, Mutant Chaos must utilize the strengths of wild animals to become the powerful, new... Beast Chaos!

Beast Chaos is one of the newest Chaos iterations, being a combination of Mutant Chaos with various animals. This is the sort-of first release for the 6" figure, a ball-throw game prize for the Shinto After School Club event. There were actually many, many versions of Beast Chaos given away at this event because 4 colors of vinyl (light blue, fluorescent pink, orange and fluorescent yellow) were used in combination with 1 of 3 different eyes (yellow cat eye, googly white eye or colored doll eye). The total number of potential combinations is 12, and I have seen 11 of them. I like this blue one because it looks like Cookie Monster! Om nom nom nom nom. Ahem.

The beige mini Beast Chaos was a consolation prize if you were coordination-deficient.


RxH - Chaos Man (store release)


Mutant Chaos would also make the jump to a full-size figure as well, with a 9" Chaos Man being sold in August 2009. This figure utilizes an entirely new Chaos head-sculpt and a new body with proportions more befitting an action figure.

This is the standard size Chaos Man (not to be confused with the 6" size Chaosman). If you are unfamiliar with the vinyl vernacular, 9" 'standard size' originated with Bullmark and Marusan toys in the 1960s, and has become an industry term among collectors. RealxHead toys are typically grouped with vinyl "fight figures"- roughly 5-6" in height with squattier proportions- so the evolution to a semi-proportionate, standard size figure is most interesting. Although I originally speculated that the 9" Chaos Man was simply a human-sized version of Mutant Chaos, RxH has since produced a 9" Mutant Head, suggesting that these comprise a different line of toys altogether.

The version shown above was an in-store release in August 2009.


RxH - Chaos Man 2 (Kaiju Blue excl 12-09)


As mentioned earlier, Chaos Man No. 2 is simply No. 1 with a new head sculpt. I think the new head fits the 9" body even better than the traditional Chaos head in both balance and texture. The reptilian ear indentations are my favorite feature.

This Chaos Man No. 2 was sold exclusively at Kaiju Blue on December 31, 2009. According to the official store blog, only 4 pieces were offered for sale, making it one of the lowest production official releases ever. Somewhat unfortunate, since the half-fade style is a fan favorite among RxH collectors.

Another collector once commented that the effect of the half-fade is as if the character is emerging from 'stealth mode.' I have to say that I completely agree. The half-fade is very attractive as an aesthetic effect, but more than that, it feels like one of those special edition action figures that feature clear or glow parts. Even the overspray on the clear portion of the body- which I would normally criticize- works with the effect. It gives the impression that the particles of the character are fading into visibility.


RxH - Mutant Chaos (12-09 store release)


A small number of the above Mutant Chaos were sold in-store in late December 2009 as part of an end-of-year celebration. Unpainted green, silver, orange and pink versions were sold as well. The vinyl has a pearlescent effect due to the inclusion of a fine, reflective powder (this is what I suspect, anyhow). These were distributed in the U.S. through Lulubell Toys in a blind pull system.


RxH x Onell - Pheyaos Man (12-09 store release)


Also sold at the same in-store event (as the above Mutant Chaos) was this clear Pheyaos Man. Pheyaos Man just looks fantastic in clear vinyl. Moreso than other clear toys, the smooth 'bubbles' of the head and arm attachment have a wonderful glass-like appearance. You are also given a clear view of the internal construction- particularly the smaller 'plugs' that connect the forearms.

The doll eye for this Pheyaos Man is grey with a larger-than-normal pupil and no iris. This is similar to the eye that was used for a famous test shot of the bubble vinyl Mutant Chaos. A bit nostalgic for the RxH old fuddies.

This Pheyaos Man was sold wearing a white scarf, which has been removed.


Onell Design - Glyos CC3 Wrecker Chaos (2-10)


I've done a good bit of discussion of the Glyos Custom Corps. in my other article, but this was my single pull from Custom Corps. 3 in February 2010. And fortunately, it turned out to be a Chaos type! This one is a Chaos Soldier with the 2nd head type. I've been told that the hairy head is intended to be Beast Chaos, but I have more fun imagining him as the crotchety old veteran of Wrecker Command. Why in my day, we didn't have them Buildmen... we disassembled our colleagues for spare parts and no one complained!



I ended up trading the Wrecker Chaos Soldier furry-head guy to a fellow collector who, apparently, needed them like air. I liked the Wrecker colors well enough, but I'm not married to them or anything. So off he went on another trip back to the other side of the U.S., and in exchange, I received...
Onell Design - Glyos CC3 Metalluma LR Recon Chaos (2-10)


...a Chaos Trooper! I certainly couldn't resist the temptation of owning the probe-armed version of the Glyos Chaos. The arm is a two-part resin piece that can swivel at the elbow.

This Trooper is part of the large CC3 Metalluma subgroup, placed with the Long Range Reconnaissance Unit (a rather eccentric bunch with the remainder of the team consisting of a Hermit and Sincroid). The metallic blue of his armor, and brainy grey-red of the Chaos parts, pay distinct homage to the Metalluma name. A matching metallic-blue Sarvos head is included.

I still can't believe we have Glyos toys with Chaos parts. Too crazy.


RxH - Mutant Chaos DR1 (SF52 ltd 4-10)

RxH - Mutant Chaos DR1 (SF52 ltd 4-10)

RxH - Mutant Chaos DR2 (SF52 ltd 4-10)

RxH - Mutant Chaos DR2 (SF52 ltd 4-10)


I never thought I would have the opportunity to reference Dream Rocket in a RxH article, but these days it seems that there are no nevers.

Last December, we had a chance to speak with Mr. Yajima of Dream Rocket, when he visited the U.S. as a guest artist at the Double Punch show. He commented that he is interested in painting the Mutant Chaos, which really surprised me. RxH is pretty far from DR's normal fare- although perhaps not, when you look at something like Marnon.

Without warning, Dream Rocket made good on his intention and appeared as a surprise collaborator at the RxH collective at Superfestival 52 in April 2010. Two- possibly three- varieties of Mutant Chaos were sold in blind bags at 5,000 yen a piece (slightly more than normal retail). Very few must have been made, as my normal dealer told me that they sold out before he could get there. A real pain to get. But that's what makes it fun, eh?

What can I say? There is absolutely no way that I could criticize this combination unless he dunked it in cat pee and set it on fire. Even then.

Dream Rocket took a glossy black vinyl Mutant Chaos and used some mystery combination of hand-brushing, airbrush, black wash and clear coat to create the amazing results seen above. People have faulted these as being 'too busy,' and I while I can't say they are entirely wrong, I find it a refreshing take on an old favorite. The multitude of colors and textured black wash have a complex, organic sense to them, not unlike the encrusted rocks of a tropical reef. DR's characteristic attention to detail does not fall short here; they are absolutely flawless in execution.

Perhaps if we are lucky, we will see a second collaboration between my two favorite companies...


RxH - Mutant Chaos (5-10 store release)

RxH - Mutant Chaos (5-10 store release)


A rather mysterious fellow that came and went without much notice, this Mutant Chaos was an in-store release in May 2010.

The paint scheme is rather clever, because it uses a black wash on top of black vinyl. This breaks up the paint colors without being obvious about it. Something about the color arrangement just says "Halloween"- the green, orange and yellow have a 'pumpkin patch' vibe about them- and it is suitably different from other releases to-date that this will not become just 'another Chaos.'


RxH x Onell Design - Chaos Trooper (Onell excl 5-11)

RxH x Onell Design - Chaos Trooper (Onell excl 5-11)

Future mutants from another universe! Since the tear in the space-time fabric caused by Pheyden’s exploration into the Mutant Zone, Phase-powered Chaos hybrids have streamed into the Glyos universe and back into the Mutant Zone. Are these peaceful brothers of Mutant Chaos or are they evil hybrid clones? And more importantly, who is behind the Chaos invasion???

The second crossover figure collaboration between RealxHead and Onell Design recently marched into the Mutant Zone- the Chaos Trooper [カオストルーパー]! Originally conceived as a Glyos-scale toy with custom urethane accessories, the Chaos Trooper has come full circle to be realized as a full-size RxH vinyl figure.

The unpainted beige vinyl version shown above was displayed at Superfestival 56 in April 2011 and sold via Shinto Gangu at the end of that month. Onell also received an allocation of the initial release Trooper, which they sold via their webstore at the end of May 2011.

RxH x Onell Design - Chaos Trooper (micro store release 5-2011)

RxH x Onell Design - Chaos Trooper (micro store release 5-2010)

This is the first painted release of the Chaos Trooper and second release overall. The faint silver sheen over black vinyl, combined with the darker Chaos colors on the head and arm, make for a exceedingly nice toy. Despite being ~25 releases deep on the Trooper as of the date of this post (although certainly not all in my possession), this one is still my favorite.

RxH x Onell Design - Chaos Trooper (store micro release 6-11)

RxH x Onell Design - Chaos Trooper (store micro release 6-11)

By my count, this is the 16th release of the Chaos Trooper. Using a subtle grey vinyl base with embedded micro-glitter, this color scheme is evocative of classic sci-fi and aliens. Suprisingly, this release appears to have been painted entirely with wipe and wash techniques- no airbrush! The restrained black wash does wonders to bring out the hard technical lines of the body design.

This Trooper was initially a micro release from Shinto Gangu (or RealxHeads) in June 2011, with a few brought to SDCC the following month.


RxH - Mutant Chaos (prototype)


And finally we come to this rather mundane flesh-colored Mutant Chaos. But not really. You can see my earlier blog post about this prototype figure here. I call it a general prototype, rather than a test shot, as I don't really know where it originated in the development process. Most commonly, you will see unpainted samples called test shots, i.e., unpainted versions of the final product. Less common are 'color tests,' in which the figure is tested in a certain color of vinyl, but never mass produced in that color (I've noticed this phenomenon to be fairly specific to vinyl toys). Obviously, color tests are considered more desirable among collectors. Then you have the actual test shots, which are the initial samples of a toy pulled from a new mold- usually in grey, flesh or other odd colors. There's not a lot of different between color tests and test shots, except maybe the purpose for which they are used. There are also the original (clay) sculpt, the wax sculpt and paint samples. All of these fall under the banner of 'prototypes' per general toy lingo usage. Some companies will also refer to the initial release of a toy in unpainted vinyl as the prototype version, although this is sort of a contrived usage of the term.

I believe this is an early test shot of Mutant Chaos, possibly one of the first few pulled from the mold. Significant is the fact that sculpt details are much sharper than later releases (possibly signifying a 'fresher' metal mold), as is the use of the old style eye (used only on MC-01). The toy is also cast in flesh vinyl, a typical material for initial samples due to its availability, low cost and neutral coloration. Other odd details about this toy include a wobbly head (probably some deformation in production) and numerous scuff marks. Very interesting from a historical standpoint, and I feel fortunate to have something like this in my collection.


RxH - Fighter Chaos


If you are new to collecting RxH, the assortment of Chaos characters and paint versions may seem well, chaotic, at first. However, the complexity of the sculpt, the modular concept of the toys and the variety of paint and vinyl combinations make this figure very easy to love. As his shape-shifting power would imply, Mutant Chaos can find a form to please nearly any collector.


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*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 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 past events and toy releases: 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.

- See Prototype, TFWiki.net, at http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Prototype (last updated, July 12, 2009) for more information regarding the production process of mainstream toys.

- See also April 9, 2009 entry, Toy Karma blog, at http://toykarma.blogspot.com/2009/04/kaiju-comrades-art-show-tokyo-japan_09.html (last updated April 9, 2009) for information on the production process of Japanese vinyl toys.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

[Etc.] Jones Soda - Monster Mojito

Bringing back a tradition begun on my old blog, I'm planning to throw a few drink reviews up on RxM! Mostly because they are easier to write than toy articles.

Monster Mojito

So here we have the 2008 Jones Soda Halloween offering, Monster Mojito. Yes, you read that correctly, 2008. In a misguided attempt at historical preservation, I saved one of each Halloween soda that I bought last year. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Jones would re-release the same flavors this year (seasonal flavors were usually unique to the year of production) in the exact same packaging. Lazy bums! While this does steal some of the historic thunder of my review, it does increase its relevance to the percentage of the public that does not collect novelty drinks.

I use a categorical evaluation system, which compares beverages based on their performance in 5 areas: (1) packaging, (2) initial smell ("First Whiff"), (3) appearance, (4) initial taste ("First Sip"), and (5) drinkability ("Finishing the Glass"). In other words, if you can't chug down the entire putrid glass, it loses points. Or maybe gains points, depending on my mood.

PACKAGING

Usual Jones schtick. Funny photo in b/w. I guess they use semi-Halloweenish photos.

FIRST WHIFF

Doesn't really have much of a smell.

APPEARANCE

Milky white liquid. It looks kind of tasty.

FIRST SIP

It tastes like a lightly carbonated mojito. So I assume, because I don't actually drink mojitos. If I were to imagine an alcoholic drink with mint leaves crushed in it, this is how it would taste in my imagination. The carbonation seems sort of flat- probably because it is over a year old. I am underwhelmed.

FINISHING THE GLASS

Easily done, as the flavoring is very light. It really tastes like nothing more than Sprite with a hint of mint. I think my tap water is more monstrous than this soda- more minerals at any rate.

OVERALL

The scariest thing about Monster Mojito is the sense that you are sampling the drink of hipsters everywhere. While it is a legitimately limited flavor (only sold in the Halloween assortment), mojito does not have a strong Halloween association for me and the soda flavor itself is pretty weak. I would not buy this one again.

Show me you care, Jones Soda, and appease my lust for revolting drink flavors this holiday season. WIN BACK MY LOVE.

2 Months of Max Toy!

I normally try to avoid the event and release postings these days, but I'm so excited to hear about these 2 events that I can't help myself.


First, beginning on November 12th, there will be a Max Toy Exhibition at the Kaiju Blue gallery in the Marui One Shopping Mall in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. There will be custom toys, including customs of Kaiju Tripus by notable Japanese toymakers and artists, as well as artwork and t-shirts for sale. As a special exclusive for this event, Mark Nagata has painted, numbered and signed a run of 8 Kaiju Eyezon toys (the one in the photo?). An unpainted pink Neo-Eyezon, the newest collaboration between Max Toy and Dream Rocket, will also be available.


Second, December 12th will be the opening reception for Kaiju Invade San Francisco / Beikokuten, taking place at the Double Punch gallery (in SF). Along with Max Toy, this show will feature work by Dream Rocket (yay!), Sunguts and Matt Walker (aka, Dead Presidents). Artists will be in attendance, meaning that you actually have a chance to meet Mr. Yajima (Dream Rocket) and Mr. Ichimiya (Sunguts) WITHOUT buying a plane ticket to Japan. No other details available at this time, but you know, I'm sure there will be toys for sale... There usually are.

Oh, but the reason that I am excited is that I will actually be in Japan during the opening of the Kaiju Blue show, and back in the Bay Area for the Double Punch show. Crossing my fingers that I can actually make it to both!

All information and images found via Max Toy blog (http://www.maxtoyco.com/brain_content.htm). I hope Mark doesn't mind me re-posting them here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

[Yonezawa Toys / 米澤玩具] Sebirah

Yonezawa Toys - Sebirah

Yonezawa Toys is a company perhaps best known for their tin and mechanical toys from the 1960s (see Doc Atomic's blog, Attic of Astounding Artifacts for many excellent examples of Yonezawa's work during these years). Less known, except to the devoted, is their brief undertaking in vinyl toys in the early 70s. I am not as familiar with Yonezawa's history as I should be, but most of the materials that I have seen place their vinyl production during this time period. These non-mechanical toys included both licensed toys (from such properties as Red Baron and Totsugeki! Human) and original (non-licensed) kaiju. Yonezawa's original kaiju from this era have enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity, in particular as many new vinyl companies have made toys inspired by these original designs. Yonezawa would also combine mechanical know-how with these original vinyl creations to produce a series of walking and sparking vinyls. Although mechanical vinyls are largely overlooked by collectors, I find them to be a fascinating combination of toy 'technologies' of the day.

Yonezawa Toys - Sebirah
Want a bird's eye shot? Pfft, pervert.


Sebirah (above) is one such toy from Yonezawa. An original design, it is classified as a 'friction kaiju' due to the set of wheels on its belly that allow it to roll along. The large plastic plate on which the vinyl shell is mounted gives this toy a very unique look- almost like a carved statuette. If you look closely, there are limbs sculpted into the sides of the toy. I love the basic design of the character, which resembles a chameleon crossed with a nudibranch; there is really nothing else like it.

Yonezawa Toys - Sebirah

I only wish that I knew more about these toys. They turn up so infrequently (or there may just be very low interest) that the information out there is very limited. It was really only by accident that I found this one. I don't even know if it was sold loose, bagged or in boxes (mechanical vinyls were typically sold in boxes, much like tin toys)- at any rate, I have never seen an example of a box for the friction toys. Presumably the name "Sebirah" is given on the box, as it does not appear to be written on the plastic base. Much like other producers of non-licensed vinyls, Yonezawa has left behind many unanswered questions for the inquisitive collector.