Saturday, November 29, 2014

When as a collector, you need some self control.

I try to buy items I really want when I see them, because I know that these days stores just don't stock as they used to 20 years ago, 10 years ago or hell, even 5 years ago. Some Target stores around me will go 4-6 weeks without a re-stock. It would have been unheard of years ago, now it's just common place. I've waited on things before, and I've been burned. When an item never shows up again at retail I have to fall back onto the secondary market where greed has planted deep deep roots. I don't want to pay $120 for a Transformers toy aimed at pre-school kids that was retailing at $8 just six months ago. These are of course the times I sit back and wondered if I should even be collecting any longer.

Imaginext DC Super Friends Bane Battle Sled

imaginext batman BANE BATTLE SLED dc comics fisher priceimaginext batman BANE BATTLE SLED dc comics fisher price

This is one of those Imaginext surprises I love. The item kinda came out of nowhere, showing up in a link of a shop, and then in stores shortly afterwards. It is also one of those toys I was super excited for and just had to have the first time I saw it, even though I really had more important items I needed to be buying. My impatience won out, I bought it. It's a fun little vehicle, however it's in no way a comic based vehicle Bane would be riding. As for Bane himself, this one is a new sculpt, and original sculpt actually. The first issue Bane used the basic blank Imaginext figure buck, and like some of the other DC villains getting new and updated figures, Bane got a fresh and much improved toy.

Playmate's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Leonardo

Nickelodeon Leonardo TMNT Ninja Turtles playmates comic action figures

Here is another one of the toys I wrote about wanting and having a hard time passing up with each trip to the store. Well, on a trip to Toys R Us I finally grabbed the newest TMNT Leonardo, and by luck with a BOGO 40%off, I grabbed the Classics Collection re-issue Leonardo too.

Nickelodeon Leonardo TMNT Ninja Turtles playmates comic action figuresNickelodeon Leonardo TMNT Ninja Turtles playmates comic action figures

I immediately got the camera out to take photos hen I got hm, I'd wanted this toy for months. I was thinking that I should maybe grab the Raphael figure, and I really like the various costumed Leonardos, Metal Head, Kraang, Mutagen Man and a few others. And then I was at about 8 figures I wanted to buy. No. No, no-no-no. This is why I didn't buy the Leo in the first place, I didn't want to get stuck collecting another series of toys that I may just end up selling (at a loss of course) some day later. I finshed taking pics of the toys still in package and set them aside.

80s eastman laird 1998 Leonardo TMNT Ninja Turtles playmates comic action figures80s eastman laird 1998 Leonardo TMNT Ninja Turtles playmates comic action figures

I really like these,but I don't trust myself as a collector. I've made a lot of bad choices based on my own issues with the "gotta have them all" bug, and just an overall addictive streak that runs through my life. I recall very vividly how much I loved the first few years of the original 80's series, and I wanted more of these as well. Nostalgia can be a real bitch.

80s eastman laird 1998 Leonardo TMNT Ninja Turtles playmates comic action figures80s eastman laird 1998 Leonardo TMNT Ninja Turtles playmates comic action figures

So what happened after some thought on these guys? They are really cool toys, I'd love to have them, but if that means they open the flood gates to more money spent, more collectors issues, and time and funds taken from others things, I'll pass. I never opened them up and ended up returning them to the store. It will be easier on me to avoid collecting them if they are out of my house. Sure they will see catch my eye with every visit to a store's toy section, but I'll just have to deal with it. They're just toys.

comics dc comics fisher price imaginext batman TMNT Ninja Turtles action figures

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Transformers Generations Jetfire: Let the taunting begin!

Last month I posted about toys out in stores or soon to be out that I was watching for. Some of these I was only lukewarm about, while others I was pretty hot for. Two of the items I was really after, I got. And at a cost I find rather cheap I might add. The Meijer grocery/department store had a sale on Transformers, and what was a $25 Whirl and Roadbuster I bought for only $16 a piece. I almost didn't get the Roadbuster, it was only on the last day of the sale that he showed up on shelves, lucked out there. They are easily worth the full price of course, but saving $20 is a nice little gift. Another nice thing is that I no longer have to look at them in stores and feel crappy when I walk away without them. Now that's the job of another toy.

Dorvack pre-Transformers Diaclone hasbro Japanese Robots Takara Transformers トランスフォーマー マクロス

This past Monday I was playing chauffeur to my wife as she started her Christmas shopping. A stop at Toys R Us to grab some G.I.Joes for her nephew marked the first time the new Transformers Generations Jetfire was to taunt me. He's a beautiful sight, no doubt. However, at the price of almost $50 (at TRU), I easily passed. Not only did I have just $19 to my name, but even with an extra $30 I was gonna have to skip out on him. It's a big toy, it's surely sized to the cost, but never the less it's still almost $50! And my rationale was this, at this price I could buy much rarer, and much more desirable vintage items. So I walked away knowing he was to meet me again sometime in the future.

hasbro Japanese Robots macross robotech Takara Transformers トランスフォーマー マクロス

 Later in our shopping extravaganza we hit Target for household items. And lo and behold Jetfire was there to taunt me another time. He even lowered his price, and was now only $39.99, mocking me almost, cause he knew I still couldn't afford him. I seriously can't pay $40 for this toy. If I can find one maybe even just $8 cheaper, that I can manage. I could justify $32 for this item. I'm pretty sure. I guess I'd have to really be there in the moment. Now I really like this toy, so don't let what I'm going to say further down make you think any different. You can like something, and see it's faults. (Transformers fans!!!)

This toy features a pretty lazy design. It's a robot with a big ol' jet on his back. He's wearing a jet-pack, literally. It has those fake alt mode add on bits that I think are real cheats when it comes to Transformers. If the robot, the main robot body that is, wasn't so damn gorgeous I think there would be a hell of a lot more bitching about the toy. I know there were some gripes when news broke that in some bizarre twist of fate the Hasbro version was to have chromed weapons and the TakaraTomy one wouldn't. In person the chroming actually looks really nice. And when I can't justify the full price on a Hasbro one you can bet your life I won't be putting money down for an import.

hasbro Japanese Robots macross robotech Takara Transformers トランスフォーマー マクロスhasbro Japanese Robots macross robotech Takara Transformers トランスフォーマー マクロス

And when all is said and done, if I end up getting the toy then great, if not I have a perfect Jetfire already sitting in my collection.

hasbro Japanese Robots macross robotech Takara Transformers トランスフォーマー マクロス

hasbro Japanese Robots macross robotech Takara Transformers トランスフォーマー マクロス

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Imaginext DC Super Friends Hall of Doom play set!

I've said it before, I'll say it again here, I love the Fisher-Pirce Imaginext DC Super Friends brand. It is seriously coming close to taken over my top spot for favorite DC toy line. And this line is aimed at 3-8 year old kids. Coming up we have news that something may hit retail just around the holidays, something that has never been made in play set form before, the Legion of Doom's Hall of Doom!

Hall of Doom Lex Luthor dc comics imaginext バットマン イマジネックスト アメコミHall of Doom Lex Luthor dc comics imaginext バットマン イマジネックスト アメコミ

All we have so far is a Previews solicitation, and a Amazon place holder listing for the toy, but that's enough to get Imaginext collectors talking. What they're saying however is split. Most love the idea that FP is making the Hall of Doom, but about 50% of those folks hate the execution of the toy. I'm in the other 50% who either don't care or really like, I really like it. This will fall into the basic play set size that Imaginext has for it's $20-$28 price range. It's not going to be a DX large scale sized set which I think most had hoped for. Looking at the reality of it, it's a villain based set, based on a decades old design, will kids care it's not 70's Super Friends cartoon accurate? Coming along with the set is a new Lex Luther figure. A figure in this general look was released along with the other Superman sets, but it was merely a re-paint of the 70's style Luthor that came with the Armor Suit. I'm super excited for this new figure as it looks to be a better representation of his 80's armored look, sans the helmet/chest piece. With this figure and the chest protector helmet part released in the prior 2-pack, you can make an pretty good Super Powers Lex Luthor figure.

I know a lot of collectors are unhappy about this Hall of Doom, but if sales of non-hero based toys this size can stay consistent, maybe we'll see larger sets in the future. I don't know how good or bad the sales are compared to hero and villain toys, but you'd think the bad guys sell pretty well since this whole post will be about new Super Villains seeing release. Coming soon, and as of yet not known if they will be exclusive to Target's Justice League sub-line, a Riddler Hot Rod and a Penguin Copter.

Riddler Hot Rod batman dc comics imaginext Super Powers バットマン イマジネックスト アメコミPenguin Copter batman dc comics imaginext Super Powers バットマン イマジネックスト アメコミ

Both vehicles will fall into the lower $15 priced basics assortment, and features new figures. The Penguin Copter continues to add to the Penguins growing arsenal of what has been mostly just water based vehicles. The Riddler Hot Rod is however just a souped up auto that will replace the car the Riddler had been available with before.

Riddler Hot Rod batman dc comics imaginext Super Powers バットマン イマジネックスト アメコミPenguin Copter batman dc comics imaginext Super Powers バットマン イマジネックスト アメコミ

Both beings being brand new sculpts is cool, I like to see Fisher-Price not rely on the same old tools, but it's not quite a two run homer here. The Riddler was really in need of a full update. The original figure sued the basic male Imaginext blank body with an original head. The 2nd version kept the blank body, and then added a painted blank basic Imaginext head. We kinda went backwards on that one. This new version features his pin-stripe suit look, and is quite cool. Maybe be great for custom works too. The Penguin figure however,this one doesn't quite outdo the original. I'll really have to wait and see one in person to make a final judgement, but missing this figure doesn't seem that big of  a deal right now.

So there we have it, the next 3 big DC Imaginext releases coming soon are all bad guys, all upgrades of previous figures, and all basic price points. These may make a fun holiday gift to myself.

batman dc comics imaginext Super Powers バットマン イマジネックスト アメコミ

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Your "digital collection"? Oh really?

I've heard several collectors talk up their collections as of late...their "digital collection" as they put it. When I first heard of someone with a digital collection, I was caught off guard for a second, did they really mean as in only pics and files on electronics devices? Yep, they did. And they don't actually buy things?  Nope, not to the extant that many collectors do. After my initial introduction to the practice, it came up more frequently. The idea of collecting not only just pics online, but pics online of other peoples toys seem ludicrous to me. As a collector it's almost toy blasphemy. Let's not even take into account those who only collect MISB or AFA, they at least have the items in hand, now the new thing is to just have pics? When I read that even well known collectors have kinda come on board with digital collecting, I just couldn't believe it. Is the economy that bad? Has the sheer craziness of online pricing finally started to drive collectors out of the marketplace? I couldn't really wrap my head around the concept, so I just kinda let it go.

This weekend my big project around the house, besides weather proofing the windows, was trying to just a lot of my toy related paperwork, books and catalogs organized. My goal is to try and get as much scanned over the next few weeks as I can. I keep thinking about how each time I've moved into a new place over the last 10 years it's gotten harder and harder. I've slowly gotten rid of more and more toys in this time, but in a cruel twist, I've taken on more and more books. A box of toys can be relatively light to move, a box of books is murder on the back. I've thought about getting rid of a lot of this stuff and just keeping scans. And sure as shit, it hit me, I'm creating my own digital collection. Now the reasons for doing this may be completely different from other collectors I've run into, but I am still doing it all the same. Funny how that works.

So as for the scanning part of this weekend's work, I'll share a little tiny bit. Some of the stuff I have goes back more than 20-25 years. And I don't mean it's dated from the 80-90's, I mean it was bought back then when I was a kid. Some of those items are old toy magazines. After reading Maz's great collector interview with Karl Hartman, I wanted to make sure I scanned all my old books that they contributed to. I really wanted to have copies that would last as the originals slowly begin to fall apart from age and use. And of course in anything I do toy related,I spent a good deal of time going over the material instead of scanning it.

Japanese Robots 1984 Transformers Takara トランスフォーマー タカラ ミクロマン MicromanJapanese Robots 1984 Transformers Takara トランスフォーマー タカラ ミクロマン Microman

 This is I believe the first article that Jon and Karl Hartman helped the folks at T-AFD on, an updated price guide for the Transformers toy line. Now this was done just as G2 appeared, so it's been some time, but boy the prices? I dream of going to places and finding these toys at these prices. And to think, at the time some of these prices seemed high? The first article also featured a small color section and in it the mail away Reflector, which until this pic appeared I had never actually seen. As a kid nobody I knew had one, and I only ever had a Powerdasher and Downshift from mail in.

Back in 1993-94 these guys helped me realize that I wasn't some lone weirdo who still liked Transformers as an adult. There were lot's of weirdos who still like Transformers as adults. I have a good portion of the Hartman articles, but I don't have any intention of putting them online. Most of the books are still available cheaply online from either the publisher or random sellers on Amazon/ebay.

Japanese Robots 1984 Transformers Takara トランスフォーマー タカラ ミクロマン MicromanJapanese Robots 1984 Transformers Takara トランスフォーマー タカラ ミクロマン Microman

Aside from the toy magazines, I've been going through company catalogs this weekend as well. This is where some really neat stuff comes into the picture. Next up is the dreaded kid's magazine scans, and then comics. Great to look through, boring as hell to sit around and scan.

Japanese Robots 1984 Transformers vintage toys Takara おもちゃ トランスフォーマー タカラ ダイアクロン 玩具 ミクロマン Microman

Saturday, November 15, 2014

完全である!何が次か?: Perfection! Now what?

I've been collecting Cobra Commander figures since the time I got the Sears exclusive Cobra Missile Command HQ play set back in the early 80's. I've always really liked the Commander, in the comics, int he t.v. show, not many Joe characters have really grabbed my attention in all the various media tie-ins like he has. I think I can safely say Cobra Commander is my favorite G.I.Joe character. This is why I have come to this question in my collecting, now that Hasbro's has produced the "Ultimate" version of him in 3&3/4-4inch scale, do I need to buy another new version?

This figure is about as close to the "perfect" action figure representation of Cobra Commander as I could ask for in this scale. Aside from one quality control issue where the chrome head comes fitting too snug on some figures causing it to snap the neck peg, I can fault this figure at all. I actually bought 3 at full retail, and have been looking for more at the discounters who got some of the overflow stock.I really, really like this toy.

I've bought all the 25th, 30th, modern era Commander figures. The first original uniform version was good, I felt some aspects of the figures proportion were off, but I still bought each color version that came out. As Hasbro started to make new uniform versions, they got better. The last one to come out prior to the Ultimate CC, was the SDCC exclusive pilot Commander, and that figure was awesome. And it was essentially just a kit-bash. But now, with this Ultimate Cobra Commander representing the best version of the original CC to date, I just don't think Hasbro needs to ever do another in this scale. And this isn't the feeling I've never held for the ARAH version, or the first 25thh version, I've actually never felt that you couldn't improve on something until this figure was released. I don't hold the same feelings for some of the other Ultimate figures, even Storm Shadow who is about the closest to the next really "Ultimate" version could use some really work.

I'd likely still buy a more toy accurate color hooded CC if Hasbro made a variant Ultimate figure, but the bonus hooded head really does work. Aside from that, I hope Hasbro will focus on newer incarnations of Cobra Commander, or figures using as of yet un-updated ARAH uniforms, like the Star Brigade CC.

g.i.joe hasbro Cobra Commander ultimate action figure toys G.I.ジョー タカラ ハズブロ アメコミ

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Transformers the Movie SDTK vinyl re-issue, and my story about the original.

So you may have heard this already, a company in Europe will be pressing a new re-issue of the 1986 Transformers the Movie soundtrack on vinyl. The only cool thing about this news for me was that a limited (if 1000 is really that limited) will be in clear blue. I love clear and colored vinyl records, but I don't love the TF:TM soundtrack. I'm not one to really allow rosy eyed sentiment blind me (too much), and that album is bad. I do however love the cover jacket illustration, which is taken form the original movie poster.

It's great to see this news of release though, because I am sure there's a lot of folks who do want it, and I'm happy they get a chance at it. Last I checked, there's horribly greedy people on ebay and Amazon asking obscene amounts for the originals. This isn't a post about how I won't be buying this new release though. This post is really about how I used to own a copy of the original vinyl SDTK, and what I did with it.

I first got the TF:TM sdtk on record back in 1994. I was living away from home and at a shop that sold a lot of punk/ska/indie stuff, and just happened to have a junk bin of sorts filled with old crap. One day while wasting time searching for what I'd guess was likely old Elvis or 80's synth-pop records I flipped to a copy of the TF:TM sdtk, I was ecstatic! It was marked at only $1, and was my buy of the day. Now I knew full well the songs were pretty horrible, but having that record,and the art on it was pretty cool. My brother had the CD for some time before this, s it wasn't even an issue of ever having to play the record. Which was in really nice condition. So after the purchase, it sat in my record boxes for a few years.

When I moved back home, and had a place to display my collection, I pulled out the TF:TM album and at first had it prominently displayed. Over the span of a few years, it got shifted and then buried behind what I felt were move important and interesting items.

Fast forward to about 2001 and I'm already getting burned out on collecting. I've just been buying too much, and a lot of it was collectors impulse. Just buying things I didn't want just for the sake of buying things. At this point I started my first really big collector's purge. I was going to a toy show in Japan in a few months and gathered up a bunch of things to take and sell. 

The toy show I was at was small, fan run, and really, pretty damn awesome. I was sharing space with my friend Himawari, and next to us was Maeda from the now closed CyberKozo. Setting up on my other side was a guy who looked to just be a fan as well, with a mish-mash of stuff. Most of what this guy was setting up was just washing away in front of me as it was nothing I collected, until...

The guy whips out a vintage Diaclone/Microman split store display piece and just rests it at the top of all his goods. I quickly run from out behind my table and ask how much it is, and I get the dreadful horrible answer "sorry, not for sale, display", which is a shitty trick that is played out a lot in Japan. Lots of stuff on tables that isn't for sale, but left there as eye catchers to generate interest in the table itself. Himawari tried later to get a price, and was shot down, I can't remember if he had his wife try too, doesn't matter, none of us got anywhere. I went back to just setting up my table, bummed that the coolest thing I'd seen so far at the show wasn't even for sale.

As we got close to the opening of the show I was just putting out the last bit of randomness I had brought to sell. I had some 1984 Transformers party supplies, some Marvel comics, and the TF:TM vinyl record which I just felt I no longer needed in my collection. The second I set the record up, and before I can even get a price on it,t eh seller next to me dashes over and is freaking out, he desperately wants the record. Apparently he was a big TF:TM fan and collected memorabilia associated with the film. The roles are now reversed, and he's pleading with me for a price and wants to buy. I genuinely didn't have a price in mind, and I kinda paused to think it over and in that time he just grabs the Diaclone/Microman display and says "trade!"

Uhm, hell yeah!

So among a few other little things I walked out of that show selling most of the items I had, and in possession of a pretty awesome piece. Which if I think about, only cost me $1.

1984 Diaclone Japanese Robots Microman Transformers ミクロマン トランスフォーマー ダイアクロン

Saturday, November 8, 2014

リイシュー!リパッケージ!リパッケージ!:Re-issue! Re-package! Re-package!

I love reissues.

Sorry dealers and sellers of vintage toys, but yeah, I really love the idea of new releases of old toys. In fact, the closer the reissue is in detail and design to the older toy the better. I don't believe in making toys exceedingly exclusive, or creating such scarcity that items reach thousands of dollars. It's one thing when items that really are actually rare but demanded go for crazy money, it's another when a toy produced in the hundreds of thousands a year or two ago shoots up to $60-$80 a piece. Greed seems to be enveloping the collectors market these past few years. Since about 2008 I have seen markets just climb exponentially, to points I would not have imagined beforehand. If I were to win the lottery, I would no doubt work on trying to re-issue so many of the toys that I feel still have a serious demand, and are too cool for those who can't shell out $6000 a piece to miss out on a chance to own them.

One of toys toys that's to thank ( or blame) for me being in the toy fandom and writing this now is the 1996 Romando Microman 21 Command 1 re-issue 5 pack. That along with the earlier Microman 21 gold Eiji set allowed me to buy older toys that were very much out of my price range. I was able to enjoy playing with toys that I wasn't even able to have as a kid, and at a great price. This of course opened the floodgates on Microman desires. Along with a few cheap vintage pieces I was able to get so much more when Takara themselves started to re-issue many older Microman toys.

Best of! Most of! Satiate the need... 

For all the love I can throw at re-issues, there does need to be boundaries, or rather some set of rules. Like I said before, I prefer to have re-issues as close to the original as possible. In some cases that's not legally possible these days, I can understand that. What I can't understand is when it's wholly possible to do something, and there's no rational reason not to, and yet you don't. Then there's the idea of making re-issues that while not like the original, but because of advance marketing or changes in production of the vintage piece leave a void that was never filled, still doesn't get filled even when people have been clamoring for something for years! I guess a blue Bluestreak Transformers comes to mind as one of these possibilities.

I don't mind that Takara reissued an old Diaclone campaign toy, but what does get me is that they didn't do a good job of it. The silver Streak was even worse. I kinda hated the first re-issues of the Destron jets, thankfully some follow up reissues would fix some things. I feel that from about 2000-2004 Takara was just way too greedy about things, and sadly missed great opportunities to make better products, which may very well have created great income. They just lacked any sense of patience. There were a few gems in those years of course.

But they can never taint you in my eyes. No, they can never touch you now...

Even when companies fail to do a job right, I have to credit them with the attempt. I know that in almost all cases they are not doing it for the fans, but rather to cash in, I'm still super happy re-issues continue to come about. Now I need to go play the lottery.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

ウルトラ消し月!: Ultra-Keshi-Month!

So just for the hell of it, and the fact that November has 30 days in which to do it, I'll be posting a new Ultraman keshi-rubber toy figure each day on Twitter.

So check them out here:

レッドキング Redking Ultraman ウルトラマン 怪獣 Bandai keshigomu