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.

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