Friday, November 26, 2010

[Microman / ミクロマン] Amazon Acroyear

Microman - Blue Amazon Acroyear and Mushikeller (1979)

While this definitely deserves a thorough photo shoot, I am too jazzed about finding one of these to finagle with things like f-stops and QUALITY at the moment.

Micro-nuts will immediately recognize this jungle-dwelling duo as the blue Amazon Acroyear set from the 1979 lineup of Rescue Microman. (For those wondering, the popular Kamen Rider Amazon series was long gone by then, having aired nearly 4-5 years prior.) While I am not much of a Microman guy (only a few boxes of those), the Amazon Acroyear has pretty much everything you could want in a toy. Mechanical parts and chrome. Yep. Clear bits? Yes, and AMAZING head sculpt that makes me want to roll it on the table for a saving throw. There's even a little vinyl monster henchman in the set to satisfy the sofvi heads.

Microman - Blue Amazon Acroyear and Mushikeller (1979)

Microman - Blue Amazon Acroyear and Mushikeller (1979)

In the box... and all the parts on the table. When you find one, be certain that the little plug bit is in the box. It is very easy to miss and without it, the back fan will not attach to the Acroyear figure. Unfortunately, whether or not the plug is in the box is not visible from the outside (but if the seller shows the figure with the back fan attached, you're good).

Microman - Amazon Acroyear(1979)

Great manga-style box art.

Microman - Amazon Acroyear (1979)

One side of the box has the name and catalogue no. of each Amazon Acroyear and its henchman monster:

A371 Blue Amazon President [ブルーアマゾン総統] - Mushikeller [ムシケラー]

A372 Red Amazon President [レッドアマゾン総統] - Tokageras [トカゲラス]

A373 Green Amazon President [グリーンアマゾン総統] - Urokoman [ウロコマン]

Of interest is the President ('Soutou') designation- Amazon shares body parts with its forerunner, the President Acroyear. I don't know what the official relation is between the two.

Microman - Amazon Acroyear (1979)

Another side of the box has a neat cutaway drawing of Amazon with some specs:

Head --> Crystal Head [クリスタルヘッド]

Spear --> Mad Spear [マッドスピア]

Left chest --> Amazon Kaiser [アマゾンカイザー] (I will never understand the Japanese fascination with this word.)

Chest --> Some sort of condenser device (Shukoushi souchi)? [集光子装置] (Someone help me with the proper terminology.)

Back fan --> Cutter Wing [カッターウイング]

Crotch --> Deathmad Transmitter [デスマッド発信器]

Hand --> Punch Booster [パンチ倍力装置]

I didn't get any of the paperwork with this one.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Oh yeah, onoya!

onoya - Ness-ko Kaiju

Searching the Japanese auctions isn't all about crafting the perfect search string and learning translations for your favorite toy brands and characters. Sometimes it's about typing in "kaiju" and rifling through the piles of B-Club reissues, bootleggy candy cards and eraser figures. Sometimes it's about having a few hours to blow on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

onoya - Ness-ko Kaiju

I almost passed over this vinyl when it blew by me on the auction lists (5,284 auctions don't exactly read themselves to you). The bag was so dirty, and at first glance I figured it was some cheap plastic/rubber knick-knack that you strapped to the top of an underwater motor for some o-furo fun. I was wrong about the plastic and rubber part. You know that feeling you get when you open up a trunk that you bought from the flea market and find the liner stuffed with $100s? Yeah, me neither. But I'm pretty sure it would be similar.

So blah blah blah, I won the auction (surprising number of bids), paid the ludicrous EMS fees and had my musty knick-knack shipped to me in the Rolls Royce of international shipping options.

I had to crop this photo to edit out all of the boxes and toy crap in the background. My house is like one of those scenes from Hoarders... 'cept my stuff is awesome. To find something this obscure and preserved in-bag, well, I felt a twinge of guilt opening it up (imagine the folks who open up Egyptian tombs must have similar sentiments). But the world must know.

onoya logo

This is the logo for the production company: onoya. Not a name familiar to most vinyl toy collectors. I suspect that onoya was either a very small company that disappeared years ago, or a spin-off from another (possibly, better-known) company.

I don't think a Japanese toy of the Loch Ness Monster (which, by the way, is what this toy represents) would be complete without a map explaining the location of the lake. The former U.S.S.R. is simply marked "Soviet." America (both North and South) is absent entirely. I love the quasi-scientific nature of the backer card in the bag; as with so many Japanese toys of yesteryear, there was just so much effort and detail put into every aspect of the product.

The text on the header reads "Ness-ko Kaiju" [ネス湖怪獣], or Loch Ness Kaiju. There is even furigana above the katakana... maybe so the kiddies could read it? A little blurb below says, "Is it really there? It's said that there are people who have seen it... Realistic and cool floating action!"

The little red and white doodad in the bag is a Mabuchi underwater motor that could be plugged into the vinyl toy, giving it a means of locomotion in the water. Mabuchi Motor is still around, incidentally, and I've seen this type of motor on a number of modern hobby products.

Ok, enough with the foreplay... on to the main event! Out of the bag for the first time in 30 years!!!

onoya - Ness-ko Kaiju

onoya - Ness-ko Kaiju

Onoya - Ness-ko Kaiju

I'm going to come out and say that the sculptor took a lot of creative liberties with the Loch Ness Monster. The back fin, maybe. But I don't think I've ever seen a representation of the creature with a nose horn. Most depictions go for a giant sea serpent, a plesiosaur or some kind of sauropod. This is definitely more interesting than the traditional stuff, so I say that I like it.

onoya - Ness-ko Kaiju

As I mentioned, this was not a cheap blow-mold or rubber toy- full vinyl with airbrushed paint. The style of the sculpt reminds me a lot of my Marushin dino, particularly the texture and head and eye design. It's also a huge treat to see the vintage metallic paint in pristine condition- often the metallics will oxidize due to exposure to sunlight, air, etc. leading to a drastically changed matte appearance on many vintage vinyls. The arrangement of metallic red and blue over green vinyl is a bit like some of the Hawaii-export Bullmarks (Ikarus Seijin)... although perhaps a bit unfitting for a creature from the depths of the chilly Scottish Loch.

Onoya - Ness-ko Kaiju

Finally, turning the toy over, the company logo is printed on the belly of the toy, along with a tab to hold the motor (placed appropriately where most dinosaurs are depicted to have their genital flaps). And why is the logo on the belly, and not the foot? Well, each foot has a little hole melted into it. Serving as a kind of rudimentary ballast mechanism, the holes would allow the water to enter the toy and partially submerge it. Otherwise, it would probably just turn on its side and float.

And so, for the sole purpose of your few minutes of amusement, I have defrocked a rare vintage toy. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

[Cronic / クロニック] Black Parade Maverasu

Cronic - Maverasu (Black Parade JP 11-08)

Black Parade! Those words will play at the heartstrings of any Cronic collector.

What is Black Parade? Black Parade was a series of four shows showcasing Cronic's work that began in October 2007 and ended at the close of 2008. The first show was held at Super7, and the remaining three at One-Up in Nakano Broadway. Each show featured a large number of one-off customs from Cronic [クロニック], with original artwork also present in the first show. Black Parade was a display of Cronic's talent in peak form; sadly, it would also effectively be his last hurrah before disappearing into the woods with his airbrush, paint and a large assortment of 1/12 scale fantasy weapons.

Cronic - Maverasu (Black Parade JP 11-08)

This Maverasu is from the 2nd Black Parade show (the first Japan show)- you can see it front and center in the display case in many photos of the event. The little slip of paper beneath the toy is sort of a certificate of authenticity included with all items sold at the Japan shows (One-Up also marked each certificate with a special rubber stamp).

Cronic - Maverasu (Black Parade JP 11-08)

Cronic - Maverasu (Black Parade JP 11-08)

Besides being my absolute favorite Cronic character, this Maverasu combines two great themes of Cronic toys: stuff inside and clear color fades. When you get down to it, no one really can blend colors quite like Cronic. Particularly on clear vinyl. His sense of color arrangement is unmatched in the sense that he can bring together dissimilar colors to create a surprising and balanced arrangement. The metallic lavender over clear aqua on this Maverasu is a perfect example of this.

Cronic - Maverasu (Black Parade JP 11-08)

The beads are also glow-in-the-dark. ...kind of.

Cronic - Maverasu (Black Parade JP 11-08)

The red seems rich and decadent against the pastels elsewhere on the toy.

After putting my Cronic collection on indefinite hiatus these past two years, I am thrilled to start it up again with this fantastic piece of soft vinyl history.

Check out more Black Parade coverage here:

Black Parade @ Super7 (via Toybot Studios)

Black Parade 1 @ One-Up (via Kaiju Korner)

Black Parade 1 @ One-Up (via kadomiumtank)

Black Parade 2 @ One-Up (via kadomiumtank)

Black Parade 3 @ One-Up (via kadomiumtank)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

[Glyapaedia] Purple Space Rain

There is something endearing about the first few waves of Glyos figures. Nothing against the polished presentation and character-driven lineup of current releases, but the first few figures really convey the feeling of something cooked up by a couple of friends in an attic full of toys. I don't know if it's the shameless re-use of the Pheyden and Exellis molds in all varieties of homage colors (which would, ironically, become independently iconic in the Glyos community), or the variation in paint application between versions (it was not yet a settled fact that Pheyden has pupils and Exellis does not).

Onell Design Glyos - Nebula Pheyden (normal 2-08)

Nebula Pheyden is one of these fellows from the formative days of Glyos. Still holding the distinction of being one of the few solid purple Glyos figures, what sets Nebula apart from his brethren is his 'reverse pupil.' He looks like he was ripped straight from an 80s-era Marvel newsprint comic where they didn't run the white ink for his eyes.

Most of the early figures don't have much of a back story either- the idea was that we were supposed to come up with our own Glyos universe, if you will. Clever in theory, but Matt Doughty probably didn't appreciate the woeful lack of coherent imagination possessed by most toy collectors (self included). Fortunately, some folks don't need to have every aspect of canon spelled out for them in a Wikipedia page... Folks like John K., aka Doctor Kent, who runs his rather entertaining toy blog, Fans of Pheyden. Nebula now has an an unofficial background story as a scientist and inventor forever changed by absorbing of the cosmic energies of a nebula. I like it, and hey, my army of multi-colored Pheydens needs a scientist, so that works.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

[RealxHead / リアルヘッド] MH-L01

Check out the latest addition to the Mutant Head database (which, by the way, has been newly formatted!):

MH-L01, Feb. 2005

RxH - Mutant Head (MH-L01 7-04)

RxH - Mutant Head (MH-L01 7-04)

Getting closer to the beginning (MH-01), this is a pretty good consolation prize.

This Mutant Head was the very first 'limited' RxH toy to be produced. It was sold in July 2004 at a store called "Toybox Hoop," which has likely since gone out of business (no web address to be easily-found, at least).

Mutant Heads are peculiar in that there are a very large number of limited MH releases in comparison to the other figures. Many of them are very similar in appearance, and nearly all are virtually impossible to track down (in fact, this one was not even available to be photographed in the Super7 Mook!). I suspect that Mori was simply experimenting with various color arrangements on airbrushed toys (the Oni-Heads were primarily paint-masked, with the exception of one) without really intending to make a limited offering.

MH-L01 is simply a painted version of the unpainted MH-01- and the paint style is nearly identical to the blue MH-06. It's very cool as a historic piece, but I'm not sure if I would buy it as a normal release.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

[Glyapaedia] A Classy Combination

In nearly every major science fiction toy line or property, white and black variations are a recurring theme. Stormtroopers and (now) Shadow Troopers (I guess Darth Vader was really the obvious choice there). Ultra Magnus and Nemesis Prime. Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.

Onell Design Glyos - Eclipse Pheyden (normal 3-08)

Onell Design Glyos - Empire Exellis (NYCC 2008 4-08)

Glyos continued this proud tradition in the late spring of 2008 by releasing the duo of Eclipse Pheyden and Empire Exellis. Eclipse Pheyden was sold through the Onell webstore in a mini release in March 2008.[1] (This is technically a version 2 of Eclipse Pheyden, as a very limited number of version 1s were created from off-white Standard Exellis parts and hand-cast urethane heads.)[2] Empire Exellis was exclusive to New York Comic Con 2008 in April 2008, but a number were sold through the webstore as well.[3] Nerd fact: Eclipse and Empire are two of the only three production Glyos to exchange Pheyden and Exellis torsos (the third is Andromeda Pheyden).

In their production configurations, Eclipse pulls off the swap a little better than does Empire. The slim white armor is very striking against the black head and extremities.

Exellis' head has a unique appearance due to the prominent pupil on its eyes. Very few, if any other, Exellis versions have this added paint detail. Hyper Exellis may have this detail as well, but I'm not certain without checking.

The detailing on Empire is pretty rough compared to current Glyos figures. Onell has certainly come a long way in terms of its production standards.

But ultimately, I think it was Onell's secret design to have the parts swapped between Eclipse and Empire:

Onell Design Glyos - True Eclipse Pheyden (normal 3-08)

Onell Design Glyos - True Empire Exellis (NYCC 2008 4-08)

Those names make a LOT more sense when seen this way. Recombined Eclipse also became our first (unofficial) Classified Glyos figure (an official Classified Pheyden would have to wait until the Soul of the Traveler release in September 2010).

Classified all-black figures are a neat 'gimmick' version that have made their way into the Glyos lineup. Nearly every major character has received the Classified treatment to-date.

Onell Design Glyos - Classified Sarvos Mk II (SOTT 9-10)

Onell Design Glyos - Enforcer Sarvos (SOTT 9-10)

Soul of the Traveler (SotT) introduced the first all-white counterpart to Classifieds- the Enforcer Sarvos. (I guess Empire Exellis kind of counts, but he had a lot of paint detailing.) Supposedly introduced in response to demand for DIY figures for customizers, Enforcer was also neatly shoehorned into the SotT story as one of the Glyaxian troops, along with Classified Pheyden and Sarvos (I was waiting for the MJ-style synchro dancing, which sadly never happened). My only complaint is that the new white PVC seems to pick up dirt and smudges much more easily than the old material (suppose that is the trade-off for parts that can be disassembled without breaking your hands).

Onell recently also released an all-white Pheyden torso and head w/ Scar Pheyden head set to complement the Enforcer Sarvos.

The classic colors of sci-fi live on in Glyos.


[1] The Mystery Trio Arrives, Glyos Transmission Web Log, March 15, 2008, at

[2] October Toys forum/ Onell Design / Glyos/ Metran Times, thread titled "What is Glyos? + Official Checklist and helpful links," (page 1, post 1, dated April 7, 2009, 5:08 a.m.), at (last visited November 6, 2010).

[3] New York Comic Con, Glyos Transmission Web Log, April 7, 2008, at

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halloween Wheels

Mattel Hot Wheels - 2010 Scary Cars 5-pack (Target excl., 9/10)

Halloween... Hot Wheels?

Omg, how have I not heard about these before?? For the past 5 years, Mattel has been producing holiday themed Hot Wheels cars to celebrate the two most holy days of the years: October 31st and December 25th. Holiday. Themed. Toys. Maybe it's just my deprivation of decent holiday-themed sodas over the past couple of years that makes holiday object lust fill me to bursting. I was also a gigantic die-cast car freak as a kid (and frankly, I'm surprised that has not manifested itself before now). Anyway, these are awesome and I want them all.

Our Target has been relatively bare (or picked-over) in recent months, as far as Transformers and the Iron Man deluge of 2010 are concerned. As a result, I have picked up the bad habit of grazing in the other aisles of childrens' products. This has led to such questionable purchases as the 11" tall Batman Proto-Batbot and Battle Force 5 Hot Wheels cars.

Following my usual passes through the action figure aisle this past Saturday, I made my way over to the toy car section. I really don't understand how kids choose toys these days- every line is over-segmented to the point that I feel like I have to read the package to figure out what I am buying. But out of the morass, THIS jumped out and latched on to my eyeballs like a HL2 headcrab:

Mattel Hot Wheels - 2010 Scary Cars 5-pack (Target excl., 9/10)

Nothing makes toy-buying choices clearer than a trio of jack-'o-lanterns staring at you from the side of a box. I've even bought My Little Ponies simply because they were Halloween themed. (No, really.) This 5-pack of store exclusive "Scary Cars" is still priced rather affordably at $4.29- heck, that seems worth it just to get cars in a box that cool. But maybe that's just me.


Seeing this in the Scary Cars box really hit me with a wave of nostalgia. Rodzilla is the old-timer of this set, hailing from way back in 1988. I can actually remember seeing this guy in KayBee Toys as a kid (and later with my younger brother).

Mattel Hot Wheels - Rodzilla (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

Rodzilla translates well into a Halloween set, cast in a fierce hue of red with gold and orange chrome details. Very AD&D Red Dragon.

Mattel Hot Wheels - Rodzilla (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

I don't think I owned the original, but the neck is pretty loose on this one. Not a surprising problem given the likely age of the molds.


This is a fairly new model of Hot Wheels car. I'm not a huge fan of the tampographed designs printed all over the car body. Maybe it appeals more to people in the custom car and hot rod culture- I don't know.

Mattel Hot Wheels - '59 Cadillac Funny Car (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

Mattel Hot Wheels - '59 Cadillac Funny Car (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

That aside, I do like the basic scheme of matte black and clear orange, which do have a certain look of class on the Cadillac body (minus all of the crazy patterns).

Mattel Hot Wheels - '59 Cadillac Funny Car (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

The car body can also be lifted up to expose the motor beneath. The placement seems a little improbable since I am pretty sure that the driver has to sit near the windshield to see out. ...unless it's a GHOST DRIVER.


This is the weakest piece in the set. The car design and orange plastic that comprises most of the upper body of the car are not bad on a bottom-line aesthetic consideration- it is the ugly printed patterns (again) and the opaque plastic windows that kill the appeal of this car.

Mattel Hot Wheels - The Gov'ner (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

Mattel Hot Wheels - The Gov'ner (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

The overall look is just really cheap; sub-par for the normal Hot Wheels offering. Bleh. BLAAAAHH.


I would call Torpedo Jones the sleeper hit of the 2010 set. Most people will be attracted by either Rodzilla or Phantasm when they pick up the box, but the execution of this car is simply brilliant.

Mattel Hot Wheels - Torpedo Jones (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

Mattel Hot Wheels - Torpedo Jones (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

Torpedo Jones is an old-timey open top race car that premiered as Hot Wheel..s in 2002. There is quite a bit of metal in this car, and most of the non-metal is chrome plated, which does a lot to eliminate that 'cheap plastic' look. I don't think the car design is based on anything in particular, but I do dig the ample mechanical detail and shiny bits. Shiny. Pipey.

But this Torpedo Jones has a supernatural secret!- when you turn off the lights, the driver GLOWS IN THE DARK:

Mattel Hot Wheels - Torpedo Jones (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

This brings to mind countless ghost stories of unfortunate drivers that were killed in a dangerous race, only to return to run the foggy roads on moonlit nights. Or something. Very clever use of the driver piece, in any case.


Ok, let's be honest. If you bought the set, it was probably for this car. Phantasm is a newer car model that was also some sort of Wal-Mart exclusive chase item a few Halloweens ago. Yeah, I'm sure it was a gigantic pain in the arse to obtain (I'll tell you how much harder it is to find years later when I get done finding one on eBay). So Mattel brought the ghostly Phantasm back this year- and in Hal-lelujah Jordan CLEAR GREEN.

Mattel Hot Wheels - Phantasm (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

Mattel Hot Wheels - Phantasm (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

The car design is fairly bland without the clear plastic thing going on. But maybe it was a good choice for this type of item, since the large curved planes on the car body surface show off the internal structure better than a more complex design might. What more can I say? It's clear green and it's beautiful. The car is also really lightweight compared to the others, since it is made entirely from plastic.

Mattel Hot Wheels - Phantasm (2010 Scary Cars 5-pack, Target excl., 9/10)

I also like the little ghost Hot Wheels logo on this one. As Garfield says, nice touch.

After buying this set, I found out that there is a corresponding set that is exclusive to Wal-Mart. So guess where I am going sometime this week.

And then I found that they make Christmas-themed cars...

I think I am in trouble.

Mattel Hot Wheels - 2010 Scary Cars 5-pack (Target excl., 9/10)

I also found a black DeLorean DMC-12 on the same trip. Commence loud humming of the Back to the Future theme in the Target aisles... which were mostly empty! (Benefit of going to Target at 8:30 am on a Saturday.)

Mattel Hot Wheels - DeLorean DMC-12

[Shirahama] Go Kumon!

Shirahama - Kumon (1st ver.) (WFS2010 7-10)

Like a diligent mother hen warming her eggs, I have been sitting on this review. Has it really been 3 months since last Wonderfestival?

Kumon [クモン] is the latest creature to be cast in Japanese soft vinyl. Emerging from the mind of newcomer Shirahama, designed by Yatsuashi and sculpted by Kiyoka Ikeda of Gargamel, Kumon has some serious lineage... but who knows how they were planning to fit all those names on its feet!

The first version of Kumon was sold in limited quantities at 2010 Summer Wonderfestival in July. The header is hand-printed by Shirahama on traditional Japanese paper in two different versions. Since then, Shirahama has also produced several one-offs and a new version for the recent Superfestival.

Shirahama - Kumon (1st ver.) (WFS2010 7-10)

Shirahama - Kumon (1st ver.) (WFS2010 7-10)

The name "Kumon" was probably chosen because of its dual meanings: 'kumo' is the Japanese word for spider; I've been told that a reading of 'kumon' can also mean 'agony.' Kumon additionally happens to be the name of a Japanese accelerated math after-school program (hopefully unintentional on the part of Shirahama- unless he's gifted with a sick sense of humor).

Shirahama - Kumon (1st ver.) (WFS2010 7-10)

Shirahama - Kumon (1st ver.) (WFS2010 7-10)

Although one might be inclined to pass Kumon off as yet another skull-faced patchi-kaiju, I think that would be a rather unfair statement. Owing to the tastes of its creator and masterful sculpting of Ikeda, Kumon has a level of polish on par with the best M1 and Gargamel vinyls. The skull is integrated into the sculpt and provides textural contrast with the surrounding spider-fur. Paint colors- dark silver and gold metallics- are also well chosen and given a balanced application to the glossy black vinyl. Kumon exudes a sense of planning and refinement that is rare among new vinyl toys.

I should mention that the toy is articulated at the arms and mid-section. Not at all obvious from my photos.

Overall, a very strong first showing from Shirahama and Kumon. Not typical vinyl fare, but a company to watch for collectors with tastes outside of the mainstream.