Saturday, March 24, 2012

[RealxHead / リアルヘッド] Unsung Heroes (and Villains)

Most collectors probably consider 2006 to mark the end of ‘classic’ RealxHead releases. These three figures were released very early in 2007, and are typically lumped by collectors with the less sought-after ‘modern’ era RxH (2007-09). However, I posit that they are as deserving of adulation as any figure released prior thereto.

RxH - Mutant Head (MH-20)

RxH - Mutant Head (MH-20)

Mutant Head [ミュータントヘッド], catalogue number MH-20, was the first of the three to be released as a phone-order sale in January 2007. Because Mori did not use online sales (which he still does not), collectors actually had to call him on the phone to buy these figures. Super7 was able to purchase a small allotment of this MH for semi-public sale on their online forum.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

[Transformers] White Bumblebee

Transformers - Bumblebee (white)

Last weekend was the San Jose Super Toy Show, hosted by Time Tunnel Toys at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds. To me, the show is basically something to do on a Saturday morning. If the dealer isn’t flipping new Transformers or hauling thousands of dead stock Robocop figures, they usually know what they have and price it accordingly. In other words, don’t expect to find rocket-firing Boba Fetts at the bottom of a plastic tub of $2 toys. But every once in a while, you do find something genuinely cool.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

[Cronic / クロニック] Christmas 2008

As 2008 wound to a close, Cronic [クロニック] surprised fans with a lucky bag release at the winter Hobby Complex. I believe the deal was that for 10,000 yen, you would receive one fight-size figure (Zyuraiasu, Maverasu or Tripasu) and two small-size figures (Dorome, Dorogami, Ankoron or Nougaki). I’ve never seen one of these bags opened- and I wasn’t even really aware they were released- so I was both intrigued and confused when I saw a “Cronic Xmas Lucky Bag 2008” up for sale.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

[Dream Rocket / ドリームロケット] Prototype Marnon

Dream Rocket - Marnon (lottery item) (FPS 2007 10-07)

Dream Rocket - Marnon (lottery item) (FPS 2007 10-07)

While it may not look like much, this unpainted grey Marnon [マーノン] is a pretty significant item for Dream Rocket [ドリームロケット] collectors. Although most may not know it as such, this is the first Marnon made available to the public. But wait, you might be saying, I remember the first Marnon and it was that pink one released in two paint variants and an unpainted version. WRONG. About a month before the first production release, in October 2007, Dream Rocket provided a handful (about 4-5) of test shots in unpainted grey vinyl to the organizers of Patchi-Summit for use as lottery prizes. Being that you had to be there in person, in the moist basement of a skanky Japanese bar, to win these, they're next to impossible to find after-the-fact. Only the really crazy people go to Patchi-Summit.

Personal story- one of these actually did turn on an auction site after the aforementioned event. I half expected to walk away with it, given that Dream Rocket items rarely garner any significant competition on the aftermarket. To my unhappy surprise, I ended up in a bidding war with a major collector in Japan- by the time I gave in, the winning bid was at around $250. Boy am I glad I didn't win that one! There's a sentence I rarely use.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

[Max Toy Co.] Halloween Alien Xam

Max Toy Co - Alien Xam (MTC excl 10-07)

This Alien Xam is one of thirteen one-off customs painted by Mark Nagata for a Halloween release through the Max Toy Club in 2007. Club members were offered the chance to buy one figure, which would be selected at random upon shipping.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

[RealxHead / リアルヘッド] Pheyaos Man (フェオスマン)

RealxHead - Pheyaos Man (micro store release 12-11)

RealxHead - Pheyaos Man (micro store release 12-11)

Released in December 2011, this Pheyaos Man [フェオスマン] features a head cast in red glitter vinyl with its face painted a steely metallic blue. It's a really cool effect that suggests a corona of energy surrounding the hero's head, as seen with many fiery superheroes.

There were two additional eyes included with this figure (I suppose, in the event you want to swap them out)- one yellow-green cat eye and one standard red eye. A thoughtful addition that I'm sure many collectors will appreciate, but I think the standard yellow eye matches best. The wood-style business card has also been replaced with a white card, which I assume is a running change.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

[Modern Toy / モダントーイ] Giant Gamera

Modern Toy [モダントーイ] is a soft vinyl toy producer whose lineup over the past decade can only be described as an eclectic grouping of licensed properties. Beyond the Giant Gamera toys pictured below, they have produced and sold several variations of Paira Seijin (from Warning from Space) and an unpainted grey Robot Hack (from Captain Ultra, which may have been sold assembled or assembled and painted or as an unassembled kit). Modern Toy also shared a booth with upstart toy company, iluilu, upon the latter's debut at Superfestival.

Modern Toy's Giant Gamera was probably first produced in 1999, based on the imprint on its foot. Most sales seem to have occurred in the first half of the 2000s. Two versions cast in grass green and light blue vinyl, respectively, are the most commonly found and, I suspect, were sold through dealers or direct mail-order. There are a host of other versions, most of which turn up infrequently if at all: flesh vinyl w/ orange paint; flesh/pink vinyl w/ pink, red and blue paint (2 different versions); GID vinyl w/ blue paint; and orange vinyl w/ green paint. The majority of these were probably exclusive items from hobby shows, with the GID version distributed as a gift item.

Modern Toy - Giant Gamera (sample)

Modern Toy - Giant Gamera (sample)

This dark blue unpainted Giant Gamera bears a sticker on one foot reading "Sample T1" I don't believe there was a Giant Gamera produced in this color of vinyl, so it would probably be a production sample (i.e., a test shot). An unpainted red Tokyo Tower (otherwise identical to the painted version included with most production releases) was included when I purchased this figure- rather intriguing that they would bother to keep the accessory together with the main figure for a test shot.

Modern Toy - Giant Gamera

Modern Toy - Giant Gamera

I've come across MT's Giant Gamera in a pink and blue scheme a few times in the past. I thought the color combination was very eye-catching and unique for a Gamera toy; however, the very high prices always forestalled a purchase. Well this one came along at a reasonable price and I very quickly hopped on it. To my surprise when comparing it to older pictures, I realized that it featured a slightly different paint application than the past pink-and-blue versions (which only had blue paint on the rear 2/3 of the head and which may have used pink, rather than flesh vinyl). Accidentally, it appears, I bought a toy that I had never seen before. I can live with those kinds of accidents.

This version includes a painted red Tokyo Tower accessory, which is not pictured here. As a note, the tower can be gripped in Gamera's hand.

The stylized precision of this Giant Gamera seems to either draw people in or turn them off to the toy. You might say that it is the antithesis of the Bear Model school of sculpting. My only recommendation is that you find one and hold it in your hands before you say 'never'.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

[Glyos] Mraedis

Onell Design / Glyos - Mraedis Buildman

This Friday, Glyos collectors old and new will see the doors open to the Experimental Mechanics Division of the United Glyan Forces. A familiar Glyanaut takes center stage, along with a mysterious new Traveler...

But the EMD wave will also excite many veteran collectors as it features the return of 'safety orange' Glyos parts. This shocking shade of orange was first seen back in May 2009 when Mraedis Buildman (seen above) and Spartek Buildman (lurking in the background) were released as Warp Zone items. I've recently reassembled this pair (they were sitting in the parts bin for quite some time) and have reached a new appreciation for the construction/tech feel of the orange. I think it looks smashing combined with the bright white pieces of these Buildmen- sadly, the upcoming wave does not appear to feature white parts, but I suspect enterprising collectors will be able to obtain them from past waves.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

[RealxHead / リアルヘッド] Gatchigon (ガチゴン)

Updated group shot

A strange alien from a ruined world! Fleeing the destruction of his homeworld, Gatchigon and his tiny offspring have sought refuge on Earth. Are these peaceful travelers or are they merely preparing for . . . THE ROAD TO HELL???

It is with some trepidation that I begin to pen this article in an attempt to do some justice to a figure that is, without question, my favorite character in the RealxHead stable. I have also been told that Mori himself holds no small amount of affection for the Gatchigon.

Gatchigon [ガチゴン] debuted in the last few days of 2006 at the subdivision of the World Hobby Festival known as Sofvi Matsuri. At the time, it was one of only a handful of characters developed outside of the main line Mutant Zone Series. The resulting eyeless design that resembled a number of overlapping armor plates in humanoid arrangement was admittedly more abstract than the Mutant Zone characters. Adding to the enigma, each Gatchigon included a tiny, two-part mini figure that sort of looked like the bigger figure. It was legendarily unpopular on this side of the Pacific, showing up several times in a thread on the Skullbrain forums tactfully titled, “toys you hate.” Possibly due to the lukewarm reception, Gatchigon has seen relatively limited production through the years.

Gatchigon is an original character by Mori Katsura and the first of only two characters from a side story in the RxH universe: Lord of the Beast-Men (Lord of the Jyujin) [ロード オブ ザ 獣人]. (The second character is Cyclo-magnon.) The purpose of this grouping has never been made clear, or even whether or how it connects to the Mutant Zone story. Hiro Hayashi (aka, LiLJapan) graciously incurred the phone bill to speak with Mori on Gatchigon’s personal background: he is a bamboo-like alien who fled his ruined homeworld and arrived on Earth. The mini-figure that is sold together with many of the Gatchigon versions is supposed to represent a baby Gatchigon. For this reason, the full name of this character is “Lone Beast and Cub / Gatchigon,” a reference to the famous ‘70s manga epic. (Note that the RxH article in the Super7 Mook (“Mook”) contains an error in that it classifies Gatchigon as the fourth villain in the Mutant Zone II Series.)

MG-01, Dec. 2006 (WHF 15, Sofvi Matsuri)

RxH - Gatchigon (MG-01)

The first version of Gatchigon (MG-01) was cast in a smoky, clear-grey vinyl and filled with glow-in-the-dark shards of vinyl, before being sold at World Hobby Festival 15 in December 2006. I suspect that this Gatchigon used leftover vinyl material from the clear grey Ryuusei Ninja that also debuted at WHF 15 (but which figure provided the GID shards is anyone’s guess).

This figure was packaged with a mini-Gatchigon in unpainted dark green vinyl.

This figure has a nice heft in-hand, due to the weight of the vinyl shards. The clear grey material might seem a little lackluster, but this version really shines (literally) when given ample light and placed in a dark room. The glow produced by the shards accents the edges of the sculpt in a way that is not achieved by any of the other versions.

While there is no doubt in my mind that this Gatchigon was sold in extremely limited numbers at WHF, several have come up for sale in the past couple of years.