Sunday, October 16, 2011

[RealxHead / リアルヘッド] x Mirock Toy

RealxHead x Mirock Toy - Chaosman
A highlight of the San Diego Comic Convention in 2010 was the set of bizarrely gnarled and knobbled RxH figures revealed at the Global Figure Symposium booth. They looked more like table legs and Victorian era iron railings than the smooth, organic mutants to which we had become accustomed. Opinions were mixed (I love them) and some continue to hate the figures’ crouched, Gollum-esque stance, which has been compared to copping a poop in the bushes.

As would later be related to us, these were not new RxH characters, but rather reinterpretations of Mutant Head, Mutant Evil and Chaosman by artist Kaneko Yohei [金子 ヨヲヘイ]. Kaneko brings a fresh look to soft vinyl toys due to his training in wood-carving and the traditional Buddhist artwork influences that inspire his work. As you may have now guessed, the original sculpts for these figures were created in wood, not clay. Kaneko produces his own line of soft vinyl figures under the company name “Mirock Toy” [ミロクトイ] and continues to work with RxH in developing new collaborative sculpts. Most recently, he created a large vinyl statue called the “Asura Trophy” [アスラトロフィー] and sculpted one version of it with a special RxH head. (Mori then combined the Asura head with the Mutant Head body to create the new Mutant Asura-Man [ミュータント アスラーマン] figure.) You can read an interview with Kaneko at the sqdblstr blog here to see the unique perspective that he brings to the hobby.

RealxHead x Mirock Toy - Chaosman V2

RealxHead - Chaosman V2

Always a fan of experimentation, Mori continued to expand the RxH stable using Mirock’s Chaos head. First, the Chaos head was popped on to a mutant body to create a Mirock-style Chaosman. We’ll call it the Chaosman V2. Chaosman V2 was exclusive to the RxH show at the Kaiju Blue gallery in Shinjuku in October 2010. Like this Bigaro, very limited numbers were sold in blind bags. This is the only version of Chaosman V2 released to date.

RxH x Mirock Toy - Chaosman V2 (micro 10-11)

RxH x Mirock Toy - Chaosman V2 (micro 10-11)

The second Chaosman V2 was sold from Shinto Gangu in October 2011. While this one seems to reuse the body from a Nov. 2008 Mutant Head in a rather efficient manner (but what became of the head?), the head has been separately cast in clear blue vinyl and it is given a rather jaunty red scarf. I think the bright blue and red scarf play off each other particularly well here.

RealxHead x Mirock Toy - Chaos Next

RealxHead x Mirock Toy - Chaos Next

Mori scored a solid hit, however, when he merged the Mirock Chaos head with the body of Nextman, creating Chaos Next [カオスネクスト]! Nextman always cut an odd figure next to the other Mutant Zone characters because of its narrow torso and long, lanky arms- almost a step between the 1/8 RxH toys and the original Mutant Zone toys. But these proportions mesh well with the cylindrical Mirock Chaos head, as do the harder edges of the Nextman sculpt.

Chaos Next debuted in the first week of December 2010 with a distinctly vintage aesthetic: a green-heavy paint scheme sprayed over beige-flesh color vinyl. This version of Chaos Next (above) was exclusive to a show held at Shinto Gangu (featuring RxH, Cord Viper, Skull Toys and Atom A. Armwrestler) on the day after Christmas. The cold weather and post-holiday timing made this a show for the truly hardcore! I prefer this black version of Chaos Next to the first release because it re-uses the classic paint scheme from MC-03.

RealxHead x Mirock Toy - Chaos Fighter Next

RealxHead x Mirock Toy - Chaos Fighter Next

Chaos Next was taken one step further in July 2011 when RxH released Fighter Chaos Next [ファイターカオスネクスト]. This character adopts the Mutant Chaos arm and probe in place of Nextman’s arms. There have already been several versions of this popular new character, including a couple in hyper-glitter vinyl and one in MC-03 black. However, the above Fighter Chaos Next (also released in July 2011) instantly grabbed my attention (and pulled out my wallet) with its bright neon colors on glow-in-the-dark vinyl. The lighter paint scheme jumps out from the other recent RxH with darker coloration, much like the MC-07 ‘Jyarinco’ Chaos.

RxH x Mirock Toy - Mutant Asuraman 2 (micro 8-11)

RxH x Mirock Toy - Mutant Asuraman 2 (micro 8-11)

RxH x Mirock Toy - Mutant Asuraman 2 (micro 8-11)

Mirock and RxH's next collaborative figure, Mutant Asura-Man [ミュータント アスラーマン], is formed by combining one of the three head types of Mirock's Asura Trophy with the RxH Fighter body (i.e., the Mutant Head body). The serene 'normal' head is Asura-Man No. 1; the cyclopean RxH head is Asura-Man No. 2; and the skull head is Asura-Man No. 3. Pretty convenient that the Trophy heads fit on the RxH bodies, no?

This Mutant Asura-Man No. 2 was the first such mash-up to be released, sold in August 2011. Unlike later releases, it features an all-new paint scheme that has been likened to the classic Cosmo Knight Alpha exclusive RxH figures. (Several following releases appear to use the bodies from unsold RxH figures with a Mirock head painted up to match.) The head on this figure is not unpainted black vinyl, but is given a faint silver lustre to create a gunmetal finish.

Mirock Toy and RxH is a team-up that caught us completely off-guard, but now seems like an obvious fit. Mirock’s approach with traditional motifs and wood-working techniques ties in to RxH’s combination of Japanese and pop culture in its toys. For both RxH and soft vinyl toy collectors, Mirock’s work carries my highest recommendations.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

[RealxHead / リアルヘッド] In Black

RealxHead - Mutant Evil and Head (unknown release)

Sometimes less is more. And as any aficionado of JP vinyl will tell you, this is particularly true when it comes to black vinyl. Unpainted black releases have been a long-standing favorite of JP vinyl companies. Oftentimes an unpainted black first release is referred to as the ‘prototype’ version. This is a misnomer as it is really a production piece. (I believe this practice began with Secret Base, who released the first Skull Bee as an unpainted black “Prototype Ver.”) As such, these two are not prototypes in the technical sense; they are very limited unpainted releases that were given out to friends and regular customers at Shinto Gangu (probably around the 4th quarter of 2010).

RealxHead - Mutant Head (unknown micro store release)

RealxHead - Mutant Evil (unknown micro store release)

For the RxH collectors with an elephant memory (or, I suppose, the Mook near at hand), this is the second unpainted black Mutant Head [ミュータントヘッド] to see public release. The first was MH-L02, an unpainted version of the legendary Thrash-Out MH. (Yes, it is the ugly R word- reissue. There may now be more than 10 unpainted black MHs in circulation. The horror.) For Mutant Evil [ミュータントイビル], however, this is the first unpainted black version to be (un)officially released. I know there is at least one collector out there that is very happy to see this out there. He probably already has one.

I cannot deny the simple beauty of glossy, unpainted black vinyl. These are among the most photogenic toys that I own, and it is hard not to make them look absolutely amazing. Elegant. They are definitely elegant toys.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

[RealxHead / リアルヘッド] Day Lights Bigaro

RealxHead - Mutant Bigaro (Kaiju Blue excl 10-10)

This Bigaro [ミュータントビガロ] features a counterpart paint scheme to the ‘Night Lights’ Chaos seen in my last article. Instead of black vinyl, multi-color paints are sprayed over a white vinyl base in what I’ve termed the ‘Day Lights’ paint scheme. While I initially thought that the two paint applications were very similar, after seeing them side by side, there is much greater paint coverage on this figure and even a few splashes of gold paint. You can hardly see any of the white vinyl, except on the tips of the fingers and toes.

RealxHead - Mutant Bigaro (Kaiju Blue excl 10-10)

RealxHead - Mutant Bigaro (Kaiju Blue excl 10-10)

Bigaro was sold in very limited numbers (along with 11 other available figures) at RxH’s “Shinjuku Battle Royale” event, held at the Marui One / Kaiju Blue exhibition space in October 2010 (see coverage here from Kadomiumtank’s blog: リアルヘッド真宿バトルロイヤル). I believe sales were conducted by giving attendees lottery tickets, by which they could win the ability to buy the blind-bagged figures. Not surprisingly, it is quite difficult to track down any of these releases.

Like the previous Chaos, there is a generous helping of clear coat on this figure. I think the ‘Day Lights’ paint scheme works perfectly with Bigaro’s sculpt by taking advantage of the large, flat areas on the outer shell piece.