Friday, September 30, 2011

[RealxHead / リアルヘッド] Night Lights Fighter Chaos

RealxHead - Fighter Chaos (micro store release)

RealxHead - Fighter Chaos (micro store release)

This Fighter Chaos [ファイターカオス] features a paint scheme by RealxHead used for several micro-run releases. It’s quite popular among collectors due to the eye-catching appearance of the multi-color paint on black vinyl. For lack of a better term, I call it the ‘night lights’ paint because it captures the look of out-of-focus city lights seen at night.

Most of the ‘night lights’ RxH have been very limited event exclusives sold at the several RxH shows held at Kaiju Blue (back when the shop/gallery had a physical location). Mutant Evil and Mutant Doku-Rocks have been released in this scheme. I don’t think this Fighter Chaos was sold at Kaiju Blue; in fact, I’m not even sure of the release date as this is the only one of this figure that I have seen.

One interesting note about this figure is that it features an extra-heavy coat of clear coat, which gives it a glossy, polished look in comparison to other RxH.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

[RealxHead / リアルヘッド] Hyper Glitter Chaos Man X

RealxHead - Chaos Man X (micro store 08-11)

RxH fans have finally caught a lucky break in the last few months- a handful of U.S. stores have begun to carry new RxH releases after a long hiatus in availability.

Rotofugi is one such store, and it was from there that I picked up this 1/8 RxH Chaos Man X [カオスマンX]. (Most people call these “adult RxH”, but whenever I hear that, I feel like I need to start putting little black bars over my photos.) Perhaps aptly named, Chaos Man X is something of an enigma. This is the fourth original head sculpt for the 1/8 Chaos Man body with a much more distinct ‘metal hero’ vibe than the other Chaos Men. Who is he/it? Who are any of them for that matter- No.2 looks like a bug for cripes sake. I like to imagine that X is a future evolution of Chaos Man 1 that travels back through time to change history. (My toys demand context.)

RealxHead - Chaos Man X (micro store 08-11)

RealxHead - Chaos Man X (micro store 08-11)

This Chaos Man X also features a really neat vinyl technique that Mori rolled out just recently. New hyper glitter vinyl! This may appear to be clear red vinyl, but it is really clear vinyl crammed with metallic red glitter. Crazy! Earlier ‘hyper glitter’ vinyls used rainbow glitter with different colors of clear vinyl to create this effect; the use of a single color of glitter here (rather than colored vinyl) is remarkably different and visually stunning. For some reason, the look of this vinyl reminds me of the ‘computing’ effect from 80s cartoons that would use flashing squares of lights to show intense processing action. You know what I mean.

Love the streamlined Chaos Man X head, the slick hyper glitter vinyl and the metallic silver, red and blue that harkens back to robotic heroes of the 70s. This one definitely hits the mark on all fronts.

Friday, September 9, 2011

[Grumble Toy] Custom Manmorah

Grumble Toy x Amapro - Manmorah (artist custom)

Today I have something shameful to admit: I have been remiss in my collecting duties. Long a fan of the original character offerings of Grumble Toy, I have not purchased a Manmorah toy until quite recently despite its availability for nearly 2 years.

Grumble Toy x Amapro - Manmorah (artist custom)

What is a Manmorah? In the words of creator, Chris (of Grumble Toy), Manmorah answers the question of, “What if my pet lizard Baxter was a woolly mammoth?” Well Chris, I suspect you’d need a bigger tank. Thankfully, artist (and co-creator) Ainsley came up with a better response, and the resulting toy was sculpted and produced by Amapro [アマプロ] of Japan.

At roughly 9 inches in length and 5 inches at its highest point, Manmorah is Grumble Toy’s largest toy to date. As an interesting feature, Manmorah can be posed both on all fours or rearing up on its hind legs. This may be a nod to vintage vinyls that were sculpted in a standing pose, even where the original character typically appeared on all fours.

Manmorah was first cast in milky white vinyl, the first version of which was painted by Grumble Toy and sold via their online store in October 2009. Since then, Manmorah has been produced in both clear pink and black vinyl, and made available by Grumble Toy primarily as an exclusive item at art and toy shows. Amapro has also offered several Japan-exclusive versions of Manmorah on milky white and clear pink vinyl at various toy shows.

Grumble Toy x Amapro - Manmorah (artist custom)

I was lucky enough to find this dazzling version of Manmorah on sale at a store in Japan. It is a one-off custom painted by Chris as a display piece for a comic convention in Winnipeg (the base is milky white vinyl). A collector in Japan purchased the custom, but it later came up for sale again when said collector sold off a large part of their collection. Having now landed in this collection, I can tell you that it is here to stay.

While Wormrah and Chou-cho tend to garner the most attention from soft vinyl fans, Manmorah is an overlooked gem in the Grumble Toy stable. Beefy and fun, I highly recommend it for standard-size vinyl enthusiasts. Wouldn’t you like to bring one home today?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

[Mospeada] (Lan)Say What, Gakken?

Gakken/Lansay - 1/35 Legioss Iota

Gakken/Lansay - 1/35 Legioss Iota

Let me take you back to the year 1993. Bill Clinton had begun his first term in the White House, the world acclimated itself to the shiny, new Windows 3.1 environment, “Bobbitt” entered into the national vernacular and Magic: The Gathering saw its first general release as 3rd Edition. (I’ll let you guess which of those facts was not entirely sourced from Wikipedia.) But more importantly for us, 1993 was the year that my friends and I discovered Robotech.

The local video rental store, which carried all three Robotech series and The Sentinels movie in VHS, provided my weekly fix. They also had edgier stuff like Clash of the Bionoids (aka, Macross: Do You Remember Love) and Macross 2, but the restricted content stickers (cartoon boobies) on the video boxes removed any hope I might have had of seeing them at the time. My friends and I also pored over The Sentinels art books- checked out from our library- and Palladium RPG (yes, a Robotech RPG) sourcebooks. Video rentals and libraries; these were different times, friends.

Unfortunately for us, it was nearly a decade since anything Robotech had actually aired in the U.S. and new merchandise was few and far between. Playmates Toys did us a solid when they released reproductions of the original Matchbox toys under the brilliant-but-doomed Exosquad line. But in Hawaii, we got something even better. Back in the 80s and 90s, a store in Honolulu called Jelly’s was THE place to get your comics, gaming and anime merchandise (they sell mostly used books and music these days), and around 1993, someone unearthed a bunch of dead stock Gakken Mospeada toys. These were the overseas versions made in Singapore with garish boxes ambiguously marked “Mospeada / The Henshin Robo.” I remember seeing both the DX and smaller transforming Cyclones; not sure if any of the Alpha/Legioss turned up. At $15 a pop, the smaller Cyclones satisfied my need for some transforming motorcycle hand candy; the $50 DX Cyclone was unfortunately beyond my means. It’s hard to imagine now, but these sat around in the Jelly’s stores for a year or more before completely selling out.

I didn’t know until fairly recently that these were international versions of the Gakken Mospeada toys (sold without reference to the Robotech name), and had believed them to be high-quality bootlegs. Even more strangely- these overseas versions were also distributed in France by a company called Lansay Toys. (Lansay is also the source of the mythical TLEAD toy.) So, in summary, you can find Mospeada toys from Japan, U.S. and France, with varying forms of packaging.

While I still lust after the DX Cyclone in my dreams (where it is still sub-$200 MIB), I had a nice stroke of luck recently when I found this unopened 1/35 Gakken/Lansay Legioss. This is more of a packaging variant than anything else, and is generally not highly sought after (most collectors prefer the version that was made and sold in Japan). However, it is something that I’ve wanted for a while and the price was right. (Can’t say that the tacky chrome-gradient lettering doesn’t make me wax a bit nostalgic as well.)

The 1/35 Gakken Legioss is the best rendition of the Alpha Veritech to date, in my view. Toynami and CM’s Corp. have both released updated toys of this mecha, but neither really captures the delicious blocky aesthetic of the Gakken- show-accuracy be damned. And man, this thing is even bigger than I thought! The Glyos figure next to it is about 2.5” tall and could almost stand in for the pilot.

So knock another one off ‘the list.’ If you’ve read through this wall of text, thank you for indulging my bout of collector’s nostalgia. Now how 'bout that DX Cyclone?