Thursday, September 29, 2011

Toy Beauty - Marmit Ultraman Taro

Ultraman Taro 12" (1/6th scale), Marmit, Japan 1995

Toy Beauty - Mego Magnetic Batman and Robin

12" Magnetic Batman and Robin, Mego Corporation, America 1977

Thanks to my bestest pal Mar-God for helping me acquire these wonderful and kinda rare pieces, especially complete and in this kinda shape, pretty much mint. The Dynamic Duo can be seen here scaling my kitchen fridge searching for some ne'er do wells or perhaps a late night snack. Keen eyes will note that Robin's head is fairly close to the Gabriel Lone Ranger, while the grimacing Batman is an interesting, and kinda intimidating counterpart to the head found on the more serene 12" version. Great pieces indeed and a very proud addition to my collection.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Toy Beauty - Mattel Retro Action Superman

A keen eye might note that while this is the RA Superman, I've replaced that oft maligned Mattel body with the far, far superior ZICA one with, well...Super results. Much better proportions and a more natural musculature help him to look alot more heroic and even make those completely disproportionate boots look more normal. I strongly urge anyone who has any of the Retro Action figures to order a few ZICA bodies and see the difference. I hope to do a more thorough analysis in the future. Also apologies for the long layoff, busy season at work and 10-12 hour work days can make Jack a dull boy...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hot Toys Superman - UPDATE

I found this image perusing the ultimate Superman Blog Supermania. SuperFan Sebastian Columbo created this side by side with the use of the original HT press shot and a Photoshop touch up. As you can see some small tweaks to the eyes, jawline, curl and width of the neck would make this release perfect. Lets hope the folks at Hot Toys are listening.

Inside Kung Fu Spiderman Cover

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Death Ray

Finally my prayers have been answered and someone decided to make a Death Ray toy! From Press POP, the Japanese company behind the Enid Fashon Doll from years back as well as many other cool toys based on the works of Clowes, Bagge, Woodring, Pruett and Ware. This 12'' Doll will be limited to only 200(!) pieces and goes on sale tomorrow for $105 USD. Assumed to tie in with the upcoming hardcover D+Q re release of the celebrated 23rd issue of Eightball originally published in 2004.

And I was just thinking of trying to make a Mego custom from a Spiderman beater I had...this is really a dream come true...hope I get one! More information at the official Press POP site here.

The Death Ray Hardcover is expected in stores Fall 2011.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Toy Shelves

I woke this morning and had a look outside to see what the weather was like and as I glanced to my right, I noticed how good the top shelf of one of my more neglected toy cabinets was looking. Neglected only because it's in a front room I spend very little time in but I've managed to keep adding pieces here and there as I endlessly shuffle my other display cabinets contents. This top shelf represents a good cross section of pretty much all of my toy interests, you have some vintage American and Japanese 70's pieces (Mego Iron Man, Lone Ranger, Micronauts and Spiderman) as well as some of the vintage vinyl (Kamen Rider, Ultraman), newer Japanese vinyl and die cast robots, as well as some 80's curios...I really like variety and organized clutter, not a fan of sets and grouping. I've always made my display philosophy more like that of a random crazy persons toy store I'd wander into on vacation and spend hours there deciding what one piece I'd buy...enjoy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ohtsuka Kikau 1/10 Tiger Joe

Part Medicom RAH and part Mego, the Ohtsuka Kikau Hyper Hero 1/10 scale Real Action Doll Collection is an interesting anomaly in the world of Japanese toy collecting. I know very little about the line and any knowledge is based on the tiny bits of information I've culled over the years. It does not appear to be the most popular of lines for collectors, as I've yet to meet anyone outside of JohnnyBoy who actually knows what they are and owns a few. They appear a bit pricey in the aftermarket from the prices I've seen them going for on Yahoo Japan. Generally selling from 3,000 to over 100,000 ¥ depending on the character. I have to assume they had lower runs of some characters or offered them as Magazine or contest exclusives. Their licenses run the gamut of usual Japanese properties, with Kamen Rider dominating their output, Fist of the Northstar and Kinnikuman, Saint Saya and Mazinger and then an odd selection of various Toei Tokusatsu shows like Gavan and a few based on various Ultraman incarnations. But the mystery gets stranger, I've recently come across images of a terribly expensive Dynamite Gokin Darth Vader with die cast armor of all things! Wow!!

Image via poster onetoy

Personally I have three, Kikaider, Yellow Gao Ranger and the recently acquired Tiger Joe from the Lion Maru TV series. I picked him up fairly cheap, in the 4,000 ¥ range, mint and never removed from the box.

And what a beautiful and unusual piece he is! Like Lion Maru, he's the usual anthropomorphic bipedal magical cat Samurai. As I have never had the pleasure of seeing more than the opening and closing sequences of the show, the box art dictates he's perhaps an adversary. Once opened, the box contains the base 1/10th scale body, body suit which is made from an almost terry cloth material head, cape, scarf, sword and the usual assortment of hands, including one for use with Lion Maru, if you are so lucky to own him. JohnnyBoy told me horror stories about how much difficulty he had piecing together his Ninja Arashi. or the uninitiated, these 'toys' are sort of a hybrid model kit, I have to assume born of the garage kit generation of 1980's Japan or maybe a simple cost cutting measure, so it's not unusual to have to use a knife to trim off excess plastic or glue some parts together. Tiger Joe requires a bit of trimming, the boots and a small portion just below the head.
Otherwise everything else goes together fairly easily.

The only other kit like assembly detail was the use of two faced tape (provided) to secure the chest plate to the front of the costume. Some incredible details highlight the beautifully sculpted boots and gloves. The Belt actually has a working buckle, not just Velcro. The sword is some sort of galvanized plastic with weight to give the impression of metal. No detail is spared and it's glaringly obvious that again, the Japanese just cannot be beat when it comes to making toys, in any scale. The details are so fine on this piece that it is hard to image they are even in the same scale as Mego's, appearing even smaller because they actually get the physical proportions right.

These minute details should make any fan of those terrible DC Direct 12" dolls weep and gasp, they are almost the equivalent of Hot Toys for this scale. A bold statement indeed. It appears the company no longer exists with an attempt to log onto their website redirecting me to a generic server page and all item listings on HLJ are labeled as discontinued. Based on the character output it appears the line died in the early 2000's. Research tells me they've actually been around since the 1970's with a very familiar logo, usually associated with die cast. In any case, if you've ever considered it, I can only give these pieces high marks, especially if they can be found inexpensively, but be prepared to do a little assembly work. Don't think I want a complete collection but I'd definitely live to pepper my cases with a few more pieces.

Hot Toys Superman

Finally, after a tease earlier this week Hot Toys have released some official publicity shots of their 1/6 Superman based on the likeness of Christopher Reeve. One of the most requested and awaited 12'' figures of all time, and so far HT did not disappoint. Sure it's a hair off, the eyes and as some have mentioned the thickness of the neck, but there is no doubt that the artisans at Hot Toys will strive for their usual level of perfection and make a few tweaks before he arrives in late 2011.

The Sideshow exclusive comes with the Kryptonite necklace Lex Luthor placed around his neck when he was trapped in the pool of the villain's underground lair, before he was freed by a good-hearted and definitely sexy, Miss Tessmacher. Here's hoping they treat this property as more of a line and less of a one off.

I'd love to see, more than a Zod, Lex or Clark, a version of the eveil alter ego hard drinkin' Superman from the terribly flawed Superman III (SDCC Exclusive?) Preorder now folks, this is going to sell faster than any previous HT offering guaranteed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Toy Beauty - Visible Innards Edition

El Hombre Invisible, Cipsa, Mexico 1975; Henshin Cyborg Double Nine, Takara Japan, 1999; King Walder Jr, Takara Japan 2000; RAH 100 Micro Batta, Medicom Japan 2003

Toy Beauty - Silver Kamen

Silver Kamen Vinyl, Japan, Manufacturer Unknown, Unknown Year (Modern); Super Action Heroes Silver Kamen, Marmit Japan, 2001

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Toy Beauty - Syroco Spiderman

This was a pleasant surprise. Having been a big fan of the Dark Horse Classic Comics Characters line of Syroco styled figurines since the beginning, I have unfortunately not actually bought all that many, A) Due to their pricing usually in the $50 range and B) they are so niche, actually finding them in stores is pretty rare, in fact in the 10 or so years since they've been churning them out, I've happened across only two (Felix The Cat and The Green Llama)! I still hold hope that I'll wander into a Comic Shop one day and find a whole bunch of them on clearance at 50% off, in the meantime I did grab the Golden Age DC ones with the exception of The Flash, and find those a bit hit (Batman) and miss (Wonder Woman) but they have their charm and are definitely an acquired taste geared exclusively to collectors in my age bracket.

Judging by the press image of the first planned release Spiderman, the Marvel ones already look a whole lot better and I'll bite, especially with news that Daredevil, the FF and The Avengers are all on the way in their classic Silver Age versions, it's like Marvelmania all over again!

For the skinny, check out the official DH press release here

Friday, May 6, 2011

Toy Beauty - Klingers

Spiderman Klinger, Durham Industries, USA, 1980(?)
Image Courtesy Mego Museum Member VintageSpideyfan

Gawd, I love Marvelmania, especially the years '78 to say the mid 80's. These were the years I was just devouring anything I could find with Spidey, Cas or Hulks image from Grocery Store Gumball prizes to Utility belts to bike accessories, if it existed, Marvel could put Spiderman on it! I especially love coming across oddball items like these Klingers, imagine having this clipped to your brown velor collar in home room ordering a Choose Your Own Adventure from the Scholastic Book Club Catalog...those were the days!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Toy Beauty - Tiger Mask

Tiger Mask II, Popy Japan, 1980; Tiger Mask Real Action Heroes, Medicom Japan 1995

Toy Beauty - Captain America

Left to Right: 12" Captain America, Mego USA 1970; Comic Action Heroes Captain America (sans Shield) Mego USA 1976/77; Captain Action Captain America, Ideal USA 1966

From my personal collection, three of my absolute favourite pieces, I mean, who does not LOVE Captain America, especially in figure form? Anxiously awaiting the new Captain Action Silver Age inspired offering from the latest Captain Action relaunch and of course, cannot wait to see what Hot Toys does with the license, please make a classic comic inspired Cap!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mega Size Gundam - Building the 1/48th Scale Giant Part 2

Finding the time to work on this is kit is harder than I thought, The Stanley Cup Playoffs and lots of overtime at work are making free time scarce. But as I said in the first post, this kit is really easy to put together, I figure 3-4 hours maximum with no painting or detailing.

Looking at reviews of Gunpla kits online is making me wish I had worked on the panels, it's not too late the kit is large enough and can easily be broken down but I'm not 100% confident in my skills just yet.

Smooth sailing, this thing is going together like a dream. And just like when you start thumbing that last 50 or so pages of a good book, I'm taking my time.

I attached the legs to the crotch area and built up the torso. The amount of articulation and range the joint have is pretty amazing.

I also attached the back pack and rockets, again these parts are aching for some weathering and details, but I'll just have to be happy with a more toy like finished product.

Next up the arms, shoulders and the head, and we're pretty much done. I'll be sure to include more detailed pics of the finished piece.

I'll tell you, trolling the Gunpla sites if anything re awakened my interest in Turn A, so much so that I'm considering the MG kit for my next project, this time with plans to paint and detail.

Stay tuned for the last part this week.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mega Size Gundam - Building the 1/48th Scale Giant Part 1

Jumbo Love

To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Gundam Bandai released what is still to my knowledge the largest Gundam kit ever created, at 1/48th scale, 375mm or 15" this thing is huge, the box it's self is almost Jumbo sized.

Gundam never 'worked on me' as I often say to JohnnyBoy, no matter how much I've been into Super Robots, I've always found the overly complicated tech of Gundam unattractive compared to the brighter, simpler 60's-70's Robots that dominate the shelves of my collection. The only Gundam I own is a Chogokin from the Turn A Series, which of course is the least popular of all the designs due to it's elegant simplicity.

In the past year or so, the older designs of the original1978 series started becoming more prevalent due to the Anniversary and the latest series being a throwback design wise to the first series. The more I was seeing the RX-78, the more I finally realized how beautiful it was in its simplicity, and like any compulsive toy addict, I had to have at least one. But not just any one, the biggest one.

I was fortunate enough to have a co worker from Japan that was visiting her family in Osaka over the Christmas holidays, anything you'd like me to bring back she asked...well there is one thing I replied.

Scoring a great deal off of, within a few weeks a giant box arrived at my workplace containing two of these giant beauties (one for me, and one for JohnnyBoy). And then like all of the model kits I've accumulated in the past 20 years it sat there in it's box. I used to love building model kits, but full time work lazyness and other adult commitments have prevented me from making the time to sit down with some plastic and glue and make the magic happen. The advantage of the latest Bandai Master Grade kits is the builder has the option to paint all the details they desire or leave it as is and the kit still looks great. These kits don't even require glue or paint, they are so intelligently engineered, they're practically a fully functional toy puzzle.

So I sat down the other night, determined to at least make a dent in the kit. I had a personal bet that it would take me an hour to make one leg, and I wasn't far off...I got two done in an hour and a half.

The box once opened was pretty intimidating, to be honest. Over a dozen cellophane bags filled with color coded parts and despite the lovely full color instruction booklet, everything is in Japanese but very easy to understand. It only took me 20 minutes to make my first mistake, which required me to struggle for 10 minutes to unsnap a portion of the leg I had just tightly secured. I guess they assume that more seasoned model builders are assembling these kits, and I overlooked the fact that due to the symmetry of much of the robot, most related instructions are only shown once, lesson learned. After that it was smooth sailing. The parts detached neatly from the plastic sprues, everything fit together perfectly, and all of the joints were beautifully articulated with a nice firm stiffness and even as a life long fan of Japanese toys it was never more apparent to me how incredibly well designed and engineered these pieces are, pure genius. Anyway, as I stated, after a little over an hour and a half both legs were done, I was mentally fatigued and I want to savor the experience as much as possible so I'm saving the rest of the kit for the remainder of the week. Stay tuned...

   almost 10" of pure leg

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Toy Beauty - Taekwon V

Taekwon V, D-Model Korea, 2007(?)
Image courtesy kaijutoho

Toy Beauty - Kotetsushin Jeeg

Kotetsushin Jeeg Tin Walker, Takara Japan 1970

Collectors or Hoarders?

As I was going through things yesterday to prepare for a post, rummaging through numerous plastic bins it hit me how much of a fine line there is between collecting and hoarding, and how quickly one can accumulate and ungodly amount of stuff. This after my fist major move in over 5 years and finally being talked into thinning out my collection via a dealer table at a local show. But this is what this blog is all about, the sickness and disease that is collecting, ugh...some days it makes me sick to my stomach and feels like an overbearing monkey on my back, whereas most, I love everything I have and could not bear to part with one piece...this sickness.

Toy Beauty - Magnemo Love Edition

Left to right: Baron Karza, Mego U.S.A, 1977; Totila, GIG Italy, 1985; Microman T401 Cerberus, 1975 Takara, Japan; Wiscid, GIG Italy, 1985; Koutetsu Geeg Robo, Takara Japan, 1998 (re-issue)

Many of the luckier collectors my age played with Mego's Barzon Karza or Force Commander when they were kids back in the 70's, but who would have thought that all these years later we'd be discovering more cool variations of the basic magnet construction.

One of the more interesting finds I've come across in the internet age are the Fantanauti line from GIG Italy. Basically an inventive substitute for Mattel's uber succesful He-Man line of the mid 80's, not quite bootleg but to my limited knowledge never saw distribution out side of Italy. The line seems to be made up of two humanoids and two vehicles, all utilizing magnet joints making them completely compatable with the other similar Mego, Takara Magnemo action toys. And the most amazing part, they are in scale with the new Mattel MOTUC toys, were the Four Horsemen perhaps inspired by these toys when they decided on the size of the Classics line? Who knows, if I ever bump into them at a Con, I'll be sure to ask if Totila may one day join the line.

Another great figure is Jeeg, based on a popular cartoon series and created by Go Nagai, originally released in 1970 by Takara, they were kind enough to reissue him in 1998 after prices for the original were shooting through the roof. Pretty much the same body used for Karza with a new head and much more colorful palette, this is easily one of my all time favourite toys.

Takara also released Magnemo toys in the smaller Microman scale in 1975. I recently picked up this sample with no previous knowledge that it even existed. Despite being a bit too small to swap parts and a tad rusty, he's a really great piece.

The coolest thing about these toys is the ability to exchange parts enabling you to make your own fun concoctions. I'm a bit too old for that part and definitely keep the pieces with their original owners, but it's nice to imagine a kid on Christmas morning with a few of these making his own imaginative and bizarre creations.