Saturday, June 5, 2010

[RealxHead / リアルヘッド] Collaborations

Reflecting the spirit of communication and business relationships that truly defines the formative years of new vinyl, RealxHead [リアルヘッド] ultimately expanded beyond the borders of Mutant Zone. Mori Katsura has lent his talents to a growing number of store owners and toy companies in creating collaborative figures. The list now includes Jyarinco, Ichibanboshi, Pop Soda, Superposition, Kaijuuken, Cord Viper and Onell Design. Each, of course, still possesses the unique RxH touch.


JYARINCO

Jyarinco [じゃりんこ] is a well-regarded vintage toy shop in the Machiya neighborhood of the Arakawa ward in Tokyo.

rxm-jyarinco

This store had one of the most fascinating collaborations with RxH, consisting of a set of two characters named Goro [五郎] and Saburo [三郎]. Given the moniker "Devil Dogs" by western collectors, Goro and Saburo actually represent a mythological creature known as the Jinmenken [仁面犬] (literally, 'human-faced dog'). Modern day sightings of Jinmenken are not unheard of in Japan- one company even made eraser toys of them. Granted, however, the traditional Jinmenken has a more human appearance than the demonic visages given to RxH's creations. Read more about the Jinmenken at Pink Tentacle.

RxH x Jyarinco - Saburo

Appearing contemporaneously with the giant Bigaroid (another collaboration), the Jinmenken were among the largest RxH toys to date. They continue to have the distinction of being the only quadrupedal sculpts from RxH.

RxH x Jyarinco - Saburo (1-09 store release)

Pictured above is Saburo (I don't have a Goro, although a matching version was produced). This was an in-store release at Shinto Gangu in January 2010. While I had previously avoided the Jinmenken since they are often quite pricey, this one really appealed to me because of its more natural, doggy coloration (prior versions ranged from black- ok- to the mescaline-induced coloration of the Pop Soda dogs). This version of Goro and Saburo can still be found fairly easily as of the date of this article.


ICHIBANBOSHI

Ichibanboshi [一番星] is another beloved vintage toy shop in the less off-the-path location of Koenji in Tokyo's Suginami ward. You may better know Koenji as the home of Gargamel's flagship store, Thrash-Out, or the Gojira-ya bar and toy shop. Unless it is open for business, Ichibanboshi is virtually indistinguishable from surrounding buildings.

Beginning at the end of 2006, Ichibanboshi was favored with not one, but three collaborative figures with RxH. In order of release, these are: (1) Ryuusei Ninja Ichibanboshi [流星忍者 一番星], (2) Gekkou Ninja Mikazuki Joe [月光忍者 ミカヅキジョー], and (3) Uchuu Ninjuu Vader Glow [宇宙忍獣 ベイダーグロー]. All characters feature the title "Ichibanboshi Ninja Retsuden" on their headers, which translates to something like 'Ichibanboshi's Ninja Biography Series.' I rather like the fact that the characters follow a thematic sequence in both nomenclature and dress (to an extent). They seem like members of a supernatural hit squad- the foot soldiers or crack assassins of Akrokaiser.


rxm-ichibanboshi-1

Ryuusei Ninja Ichibanboshi was the first RxH collaboration, debuting in late December 2006 at the Sofvi Matsuri sub-event of World Hobby Festival. Sadly, the last WHF was held in May 2008... so no more Sofvi Matsuri for us. Clear grey was followed by a striking full-color version at Winter Wonderfestival in February 2007. Although probably intended more as a 'prototype' release, the clear grey vinyl is fitting as the 'shadow form' of a ninja.

RxH x Ichi - Ichibanboshi (MN-01)

The first part of Ichibanboshi's name means 'shooting star ninja.' 'Ichibanboshi' is both the name of the store and a term referring to the first star of the evening.

RxH x Ichi - Ichibanboshi (MN-02)

Ichibanboshi has probably been produced in the greatest number of variations of the 3 collaborations, and arguably, is the most popular Ichibanboshi (store) character as well. While I think the design and sculpt are well done- particularly the patches, rivets and buckles sculpted on his uniform, something about the toy never sat right with me. Perhaps it is the star emblazoned on Ichibanboshi's forehead or the doll eye that stares out from beneath his eyepatch. I honestly cannot put my finger on it. It's a nice toy, but not an all-time favorite.

So maybe you are now wondering why Ichibanboshi's GOOD eye is covered by the patch. According to an official source, the eye contains his mysterious power. Once exposed, his power is released... but releasing this power also rapidly drains his vitality! He must therefore keep it covered during all but the most crucial moments.


rxm-ichibanboshi-2

RxH x Ichi - Mikazuki Joe (MZ-01)

In August 2007, Ichibanboshi was joined by a second teammate: Gekkou Ninja Mikazuki Joe. There were two figures initially sold at the summer Wonderfestival- a 'gold mist' paint version and an unpainted clear grey version (following the pattern set by Ichibanboshi). The full color version followed the month after at Superfestival 44.

RxH x Ichi - Mikazuki Joe (MZ-03)

Where Ichibanboshi's name referenced stars/meteors, Mikazuki Joe is lunar themed. 'Gekkou Ninja' means 'moonlight ninja.' Mikazuki is also the Japanese term for the crescent moon. Although this was never explicitly stated, I believe it is implied that Mikazuki Joe is a lycanthrope, given the furry animal arms busting out of his sleeves.

I was really excited to see a teammate for Ichibanboshi when this was released, especially in matching color schemes. The paint application quality for both full color versions of Ichibanboshi and Mikazuki Joe is on par with any of the old style RxH releases. Make no mistake: these are classics.


rxm-ichibanboshi-3

The third, and thus far, final, entry in Ichibanboshi's ninja series is Uchuu Ninjyuu Vader Glow. Vader Glow was shown first as a prototype in red vinyl at Hobby Complex in November 2007. This version was never publicly released; the first normal release was instead cast in pearlescent sea green vinyl and sold unpainted. This was sold at Winter Wonderfestival in February 2008. To date, only 4 different versions of Vader Glow have been released, making it one of the most underrepresented characters in the RxH universe.

I initially thought that Vader Glow's descriptor, 'Uchuu Ninjuu' was a thematic divergence from the other Ninja Retsuden characters. 'Uchuu' means 'space,' and 'Ninjuu' is probably a coined term derived from the first character for 'ninja' and the last character from 'kaijuu.' So you have star ninja, moon ninja... and space ninja monster. What's up with that?? But think about it. When you look up at the night sky, what do you see? Moon, stars and black, empty space. So perhaps space ninja monster beast ogre is the last piece in the formation. Or, more likely, I am just making this up.

Another thought I had while writing this is that Vader Glow looks a bit like a fusion of Ichibanboshi and Mikazuki Joe. One eye, giant horn sticking out of head. Tentacle arm is a bit of a mystery, I'll admit. I guess even ninja fusion monster ogre space beasts get lonely...

RxH x Ichi - Vader Glow (WF2008W ltd 2-08)

This is the first, unpainted version of Vader Glow that I mentioned earlier. The toy feels very substantial, owing to its thick limbs, and it is jam-packed with sculpted details, such as rough patches between armor plates and clothing folds and wrinkles. Offhand, I would say that Vader Glow is the most technical of RxH's works.

RxH x Ichi - Vader Glow (4-08 release)

The second release of Vader Glow at Winter Wonderfestival in February 2008 would be the only Vader Glow to be painted without use of a wash/rub technique. Red and metallic gold over black vinyl give it a very traditional feeling.

RxH x Ichi - Vader Glow (SF 50 ltd 9-09)

Skipping the one version that I do not have, this is the most recent release of Vader Glow. It is a particularly difficult version to find because it was sold only in blind-bags at the Superfestival 50 event in September 2009 (or via the Lulubell scavenger hunt, over here). 'Heavy glitter' as it has been called is an iffy material in my view. We were all impressed when the first (RxH) toy was made out of it. But then it was used and used and used. And all of the toys started to look like tinfoil sculptures.

However- this Vader Glow does it right. The black wash over the glitter vinyl is light, but picks out all of the details of this intricate design. I'm not real keen on heavy glitter vinyl at this point, but I wouldn't mind seeing this style transferred to other figures.


MIROCK TOY

See THIS ARTICLE on RxH's collaboration with Mirock Toy.



ONELL DESIGN

See THIS ARTICLE on RxH's collaboration with Onell Design.



RXH X ???

These are the fruits of RxH's collaborative efforts that do not fall into an easy grouping. Many are only 'paint collaborations,' in which RxH created a paint scheme for the toy of another company, or vice versa.

SINBAD TOY

Sinbad Toy [シンバッドトイ] is a company with a confusing history. Previous toys had been branded somewhat erratically as either "Sinbad" or "Sin+Wombat." Wombat Toys may now be directly affiliated with Marmit; we had thought Sinbad to be entirely out of the picture. Now it seems Sinbad Toy is back in business with a revamped Chicken Fever sculpt and a new mini Chicken Fever.

Sinbad's revival began at the Shinto After-School Club event in June 2009, at which special RxH versions of the Chicken Fever and Crazy Thunder (pictured below) made a surprise visit. These seem to have been released in very small numbers. My Crazy Thunder is numbered 003- I would be very surprised if they made it into the double-digits.

Sinbad x RxH - Crazy Thunder (SASG ltd 6-09)

Sinbad x RxH - Crazy Thunder (SASG ltd 6-09)

Crazy Thunder is among the most underappreciated of the new vinyl toys... and maybe its fans prefer it that way. This is the first one that I have owned and I find it fairly impressive. The character, of course, heavily references a famous monster from Mirrorman- with numerous intriguing adaptations, such as the lightning-bolt wings and scorpion sculpted on its back. Crazy Thunder's head is reversible, so you can display it with either the 'normal' face or an eerie, cycloptic face on front.

Sinbad x RxH - Crazy Thunder (SASG ltd 6-09)

I don't know why I took the profile photo with the head reversed, but I did. This is the 'real' head (ha ha) of Crazy Thunder.

The RxH paint scheme is certainly nothing to ignore either, and is one that I wish we would see in more production releases. Being that these were sold in such small numbers, I wonder if they were painted by Goto or by Mori himself.

-----

- With respect to release and show dates, credit and thanks to Datadub's resources (http://fig-lab.com/blog/ and flickr site (http://www.flickr.com/photos/datadub/)), Kadomiumtank's Sofvi Blog (http://pink.ap.teacup.com/kadomiumtank/) and Super 7-The Book, vol. 5, issue 1 (2007), without the help of which I would never have been able to pin down release orders or dates.

- With respect to the background information for Ryuusei Ninja Ichibanboshi, credit and thanks to Skullbrain.org member, BEYOND (http://liljapansworld.blogspot.com/).


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent information regarding the Ichibanboshi releases. I'm trying to finish up my Mikazuki Joe and Vader Glow collections. Do you have any for sale?