Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Night Updates

Raw Head

Total overhaul to the Chaos Family article.

- Changed the formatting so that it is hopefully easier to follow.
- Updated with several new sculpts/characters that were not previously mentioned.

Minor update to the Marusan Ultra Kaiju article.

- Updated with new Galapagos and header card information.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

[Onell Design] Glyos Custom Corps

Onell Designs - Buildmen

For some reason, Glyos system toys have escaped scrutiny on this blog for quite some time. The main reason is that they are given ample coverage on other websites, not to mention Onell's official blog, and I hate writing redundant articles.

To provide a brief background: Glyos system is a toy line designed by Matt Doughty and sold through his company, Onell Design. Debuting at the 2007 San Diego Comic Convention to a mild, but warm, reception by toy collectors, Glyos began with a starting lineup of only 6 toys. The line centers on Space Traveler Pheyden, and a missing Sincroid leader, Exellis- but the real 'hook' of Glyos is the toys' ability to be disassembled and recombined, much like the old Magnemo toys from Takara or building bricks. Since 2007 the ranks of the line have swelled rapidly along with an ardent fan following. We have even seen Glyos (or Gu-rai-osu) make an appearance or two at Japan shows. You definitely need to be speedier with your clicking fingers these days since nothing sits around for long in the Onell webstore. Well, nothing except phase arms.

On a spring afternoon in 2009, Glyos creator Matt decided to give his fans an extra treat by selling dozens of unique, hand-painted Glyos figures in randomly drawn blind bags. To our surprise and delight, many of the figures featured resin-cast heads of obscure or marginal characters from the Glyos universe (often those deemed too difficult to mass produce). And thus the first Custom Corps. was born. It was a runaway hit with Glyos fans and spawned a series of subsequent CCs, both produced in-house and in collaboration with other artists.

The Custom Corps. waves thus far have been:

1.X - Produced in-house by Onell Design.

1.0 - The one and only and limited to 69 total figures (oh, stop snickering). Do you have one? Better make it your avatar on the Onell forum.

1.1 (Dimension Drifters) - Intended to represent an alternate reality universe with a focus on Phanost and Sarvos, CC 1.1 consists of over 102 figures. Each figure is hand-dyed and packaged with a "relic" part.

1.2 (General Phanost) - CC 1.2 was a limited production run of several blind-bagged figures. You would receive either General Phanost (standard or reverse Altervoth colors- and a few powered-up gradient versions), Phanost in gradient Phase Armor Mk. III, or Lost Phanost. CC 1.2 also corresponds to the two Glyaxia mini-passcodes.

1.3 (Force Delphi) - The long-awaited Delphi CC is finally here! Apparently playing a key role in Passcode 5: Soul of the Traveler, the mysterious Delphi are represented in all of their forms.

2.X - Produced in collaboration with Dead Presidents / Matt Walker.

2.0 - War Monger. Mostly Buildmen and Crayboth... with a splash of Sarvos.
2.5 - Nemica Gobon. Featured in Passcode 2: The Ghosts of Nemica.
2.6 - Ceberus Gobon & Hades Pheyden. Key characters in the Glyos universe...
2.7 - Armodocs. As the name implies.
2.8 - Granthan Gobon. Featured in Passcode 5: Soul of the Traveler.

3.X - Produced in collaboration with RealxHead / Mori Katsura.

3.1 (Chaos Invasion) - The largest Custom Corps. ever, CC 3.0 totaled 262 figures. The iconic Mutant Chaos head and arm were made available to the general public for the first time.

4.X - Produced in collaboration with Hellopike.

4.0 (Altered States) - Consider this a collection of characters from the side stories of the Glyos universe, some as of yet unwritten...


Onell Designs - Custom Corps Sincroid (#17)

CC 1.0 was the formative experience for many of us in non-mass-produced Glyos. There were not many made relative to later CCs and we each were limited to buying 2 figures. So I think these tend to be the most cherished of the custom waves.

As an added bonus, each figure included unique artwork from Jesse Moore.

Onell Design - Glyos CC1 - Granthan Ops Sincroid (4-09)

My CC1 figure is this Granthan Ops. Sincroid soldier. Granthan Ops. were created as a 5 figure team in CC1; 2 of these were Sincroid soldiers.

Onell Design - Glyos CC1 - Granthan Ops Sincroid (4-09)

Sincroids are, for lack of a better term, advanced mechanoids in the Glyos universe. Exellis is a type of Sincroid, as is Noboto. These are the basic Sincroid grunt units. Granthan seems to be a planet, so I would guess these are Sincroids modified to operate in the Granthan area. Granthan Ops. Sincroids were featured in the first passcode game, so they can be considered official Glyos canon.

Onell Design - Glyos CC1 - Granthan Ops Sincroid (4-09)

This color scheme did not appeal to me at first as I find the orange/yellow clash with the black to be a bit flashy. Nonetheless, it is one of the few Passcode characters that has not been sold as a production piece; the head is a resin-cast piece limited to custom waves.


CC 1.1, Dimension Drifters, introduced a new color palette into the Glyos world. Whereas most other Custom Corps. utilize bright, eye-catching paint schemes for a fresh action figure feeling, 1.1 figures were dyed in dull, dark or muted tones. These look like machinery that might be found in your parents' garage or toys that have spent years in a sandbox. The aesthetic reminds me very much of the dusty world of Issaris in Gear's Edge.

Onell Design Glyos - Custom Corps. 1.1 - Phase Drifter Pheyden (12-09)

Through a trade, I acquired this CC 1.1 Pheyden. It is built from the clear green parts of Phase Pheyden dyed into the dark and murky tones of standing pond water; not sure where the green arm and leg connectors come from.

None of the CC 1.1 characters are from official canon, so you are free to create a story for them as you will. I've unofficially deemed this fellow Corrupted Bio Pheyden- after Bio Pheyden was infected in the Villser battle, this universe's version was able to contain the virus... but just barely. Although the virus grants him incredible strength and regenerative ability, each solar cycle is a struggle for Pheyden to maintain his mental control over the virus. Eventually, he fears, his mind will merge into the virus' directive and his power unleashed upon Glyos.

Onell Design Glyos - Custom Corps. 1.1 - Phase Drifter Pheyden (12-09)

The relic included with my 1.1 figure is a clear dark cherry red Tracker Phase Arm.


Onell Design Glyos - Custom Corps. 1.2 - General Phanost (6-10)

My General Phanost figure came in a black blind bag that was huge and bulgy, so I knew SOMETHING good must be inside. And it was! I pulled one of the Phase Armor Mk. III variants- Matt produced a rainbow series (Phanost gradient) of these armors, with a handful of each color made. Perhaps it reflects a surge of power that washes off of Phanost when he phases in the Mk. III armor for the first time.

Onell Design Glyos - Custom Corps. 1.2 - General Phanost (6-10)

The Mk. III Armor is an impressive hunk of Glyos toy. The toy is constructed from both clear and GID pieces, which were either painted or dyed to create an attractive color fade over the toy. Mk. III also features a couple of tweaks from the Mk. II Armor- the cylindrical arm cannons are replaced with Gobon-style arm blasters, and a v.2 power pack is attached to his back port.

Finally, the Mk. III figures were packed with an extra arm part, made out of clear and GID pieces dyed to match the main figure. An amazing deal for the continued $25 pricing of Custom Corps.

Onell Design Glyos - Custom Corps. 1.2 - General Phanost (6-10)


Onell Design / Glyos - General Phanost (Gradient Phase Armor Mk. III)


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

As the name might suggest CC 3.0 introduced Glyos-sized resin parts of RealxHead characters Mutant Chaos and Beast Chaos into the mix of custom parts. Don't quote me on this, but I believe Lamour Supreme was responsible for sculpting the Chaos parts. These had made appearances on blog posts and at a show prior, but nothing widely available to the public. I love RxH, so of course I had to throw in my hat on this one. Each figure also came with a second head.

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

And I originally pulled this purple and green Chaos soldier. According to the official CC3 chart, this is part of the 7-unit Wrecker Command team. But look closely at this one- he has a slightly different head. There was only one made of him. I figure him to be the grizzled veteran of the unit, telling war stories to the young pups. He is Kup.

We have our suspicions as to the origin of the Wrecker designation (curiously, there was also a Reverse Wrecker unit). It has been hinted that this name will have special ties to RxH. What this means remains to be seen.

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

The second head included with my CC3 was a forest green Sarvos head that matches the Wrecker green armor.

Onell Design - Glyos CC3 Metalluma LR Recon Chaos (2-10)

Later, I traded my Wrecker Chaos Soldier for a shiny new Chaos TROOPER. This Chaos Trooper is a part of the Metalluma Long Range Reconnaissance Unit; his comrades rather inexplicably include a Hermit and Sincroid.

Onell Design - Glyos CC3 Metalluma LR Recon Chaos (2-10)

The Chaos' probe arm is an amazingly miniaturized version of the larger toy.

The Trooper also came with an extra Sarvos head painted in the same metallic blue as the toy's armor.

CC 3.0 unseats RxH from the designer toy realm and pulls it closer to the world of action figures. This is a great thing. It makes the material more accessible to collectors who may be put off by the comparatively high prices of normal RxH. It is interesting to note that the collaboration moves in both directions as RxH is also working on larger (more expensive) vinyl versions of Glyos characters.

The appearance of the Chaos Soldier makes me think that Chaosman has been placed into a containment suit for outer-space combat. An empty back port presents a good spot for jump jets or an over-the-shoulder cannon, should you have a few spare bits laying around. Pheyden's dimension hopping tendencies come in handy here as an easy explanation for the presence of Mutant Chaos in the Glyos universe. So there must be more than one Chaos in Mutant Zone. I guess?

Onell Design - Glyos CC1 & CC3

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Japantown, San Jose

For most of us today, the word Japantown brings to mind a small population of aging, family-run businesses on the edge of the less desirable parts of town. Sometimes, said parts are also called "Chinatown."

But there was once a point in history when Japantowns served an important function as the social epicenter of the newly immigrated population. Over the years, this function has become less crucial as the Japanese integrate into the general U.S. population. Now they are more like "the place with that new anime store." There are actually only 3 remaining official Japantowns in the U.S.: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose. I have had the good fortune to live near all 3 during my time in California.

San Jose's Japantown (or Nihonmachi, (lit. 'Japan city') as it is sometimes called) may be the most unassuming of the 3 remaining. It does not have the Hollywood star power of Los Angeles' Little Tokyo (F&F: Tokyo Drift) or the upscale decor of San Francisco's J-town. Frankly, I was a little surprised that there even IS a Japantown in San Jose. But outward appearances belie its unique charm.

This past Saturday, I went down to take a closer look at the residents of San Jose's Nihonmachi.


Kogura Co., Nihonmachi, San Jose, CA (3-13-10)

Kogura Company is the mom-and-pop store that stocked Japanese products when you were a kid- assuming that you grew up near such a store. I'm fairly sure that I saw Mom and Pop working the store while I was there.

The maroon-hued sign outside still reads "Oriental Arts" despite the general distaste shown for such term by the anti-oriental Asian population. But it is fairly accurate. Kogura Co. carries the 'fancy' products that you might need for home decoration and special occasions: Japanese dolls purchased to celebrate the birth of a child, doll display cases, vases for flower arrangement, and Zojirushi rice cookers and water heaters- staples in any Japanese home. I even saw a bagged giant Kewpie doll in one of the aisles.

If you're wondering why I was in there, I was scouting out prices for the doll display cases (which look very nice with vinyl toys inside of them).


Nichibei Bussan, Nihonmachi, San Jose, CA (3-13-10)

Nichi Bei Bussan stands alone, away from the relative bustle of central Nihonmachi. Although it is a quiet stop for Japanese goods and martial arts equipment these days, the high ceilings and peculiar scent of wood and Japanese newsprint unmistakeably mark this store as a place where things happened back in the day. You can almost feel the Issei population milling around the counters, picking up new American products and Japanese necessities alike. Near the back of the store, a pair of small glass cases contain various memorabilia from NBB's history, including several customer registry books.

To my amazement, I discovered that this company has been in operation for over 100 years- the first store was opened by Shojiro Tatsuno in San Francisco in 1902. Surviving the 1906 earthquake, Great Depression and Japanese internment of World War II, this San Jose store (opened after WW2) is unfortunately all that remains of the family business. While it may not be the social center that it once was, the significance of Nichi Bei Bussan to the Bay Area Japanese community is undeniable.

Visit their website and read more on the history of the store here.

And, no, they didn't have any Bullmarks in the back. I checked.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Inbas Seijin [インバス星人]

Kaijuuken x Dream Rocket - Inbas Seijin set (WHF15 ltd 12-06)

Today's article is kind of an odd one. I am going to talk about a packaging variant that only about 0.01% of toy collectors will even know or care about. If you fall into that category, by all means, read on.

At the end of 2006, Kaijuuken [怪獣軒] and Dream Rocket [ドリームロケット] collaborated to release a figure set of Inbas Seijin [インバス星人] and Chiguris Seijin [チグリス星人] from Silver Kamen [シルバー仮面]. I still don't know the details of the collaboration, but suspect that Dream Rocket was responsible for painting this particular version. The set was sold at the now-defunct World Hobby Festival's Sofvi Matsuri.

Kaijuuken x Dream Rocket - Inbas Seijin set (WHF15 ltd 12-06)

Anyway, so the point is that this toy was somehow sold with two different types of packaging. One (more common) version uses the normal Kaijuuken header.

Kaijuuken x Dream Rocket - Inbas Seijin set (WHF15 ltd 12-06)

The second (seen above) uses a Dream Rocket header AND encloses an unfolded Kaijuuken header in the bag. In addition, the Kaijuuken header has an interesting stamp in old-style characters. Until I bought this one, I had only seen this packaging variant in photos. Now we know it exists.

Kaijuuken x Dream Rocket - Inbas Seijin set (1-07)

There do not seem to be any differences between the two figures other than the packaging. It is an odd little mystery as to why they were sold in this fashion- maybe some were packaged for sale at the show and some sold through mail-order? No matter which version you may find, however, it is undoubtedly a stunning and memorable piece.