Sunday, February 1, 2015

[私のホビー生活] 私のホビー過去: [My Hobby Life] My hobby past.

Almost 100 blog posts in and you may be getting an idea of what I like to collect, but probably have no idea why. I'll try to fix that now.

Like many, what I like, styles and genres I'm partial to, and things that just overall just me excited were exposed tome early on. Now those early run ins with sci-fi, monsters and what not have remained in my mind for years now, molding and shaping what I like to watch, buy and collect. Now I don't let nostalgia really run my much. I'm always open to new things and new takes, but I'm not always going to like them. I think a lot of collectors are always trying to recover or I should say re-capture past times, sadly I don't feel that is even possible. In trying to re-live the past, you could very well miss of on something in the present that may take you by surprise. But let's put the the present in the future, and focus on the past in this post.

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone with these influences...
Ultraman Japanese super hero ウルトラマン www.gangustars.comStar Wars 1977 Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader

My earliest t.v. watching comprised of cartoons like Tom & Jerry, Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse and the Super Friends. I was however completely taken over by Ultraman, Johnny Sokko and Saturday afternoon Godzilla movies. Of all my t.v. influences Ultraman really made a huge impact. My t.v. loves really had my attention captured until sometime in late 1977 when on a second run in theaters my parents took me to see Star Wars. Everything changed after that. I didn't even know for ears that I didn't see the film when it first hit screens, still don't care because it's impact would have been the same.

Star Wars cemented the idea that spaceships, robots, larger than life authoritarian villains and heroic upstart rebellious youth. While I would get cool toys like the Shogun Warriors Godzilla and space LEGO, Star Wars ruled my toy box. My Christmas and birthday lists, my allowance,  gifts from doctors visits, all Star Wars. While my two younger brothers shared some enthusiasm for Star Wars, they definitely had other interests. In 1982 both of them found G.I.Joe, and then a year later Masters of the Universe. I was really taken in by either, and until 2 years later would only own 2 G.I.Joe figures, Flash and Snow Job. I didn't buy a Masters toy until finding a Battle Armor Skeletor sitting in a store 2 years after it's release. That was the only He Man toy I ever bought while the original line was active. Right up to and just beyond the release of Return of the Jedi, I was a Star Wars kid.

Then in 1984, oh man...
Transformers Hasbro Takara トランスフォーマー www.gangustars.comGobots Bandai Japanese Robots robots マシンロボ

While I may not have gotten on board with G.I.Joe right away, by late 1983 with much of the credit going to the Marvel comic, I finally came around. I loved the comic, and with a more mixed offering of figures in 1983 I was slowly finding some interest I them too. It was in a G.I.Joe comic that I saw a small blurb about what looked like robot warriors named Transformers. I vaguely remember getting the toys and the comic at about the same time. I can't say for sure I had the comic before the toys, I know my old mini-mart would carry some older issues stuffed behind newer ones. I do know that nothing before blew me away like the Transformers would.

At first I only had a few of the smaller guys, like the MiniBots Huffer and Bumblebee. Money was an issue for my family, so it stands to reason why I mostly had the little guys...and Gobots. Gobots were pretty big in our house. I wouldn't say it was only because Gobots were cheap, but let's face it, between the smaller Transformers and the smaller Gobots, Gobots were just better toys. Most Transformers fans will go to their graves before ever acknowledging that but I think it can be safely said. Christmas of '84 brought about a few larger guys, including Optimus Prime. For the next few years Transformers was the new Star Wars, and it dominated my wish lists. But unlike Star Wars, where I didn't really by anything but that, I still tried new stuff. In 1985 M.A.S.K. really was fun and I got some of those. I loved the Battle Beasts when they hit, as well as Air Raiders then C.O.P.S., I was still also getting more and more into G.I.Joe toys. I was slowly becoming a very Hasbro-centric toy buying kid. Then it was time for high school.

My 8th grade year saw me dump most of my Star Wars and Transformers at a garage sale. I was more into comics, but more importantly getting into music. For the next few years toys were kinda off the radar. I still had my G.I.Joes, but they sat in boxes. Stuff like Kenner's Batman would come about, TMNT got big, Micro Machines, all things my brother bought and played with. I was apparently growing up.

After a few years away, robots come back into my life...
Takara Sunrise Brave Series Might Gaine 1993 マイトガイン 勇者シリーズ www.gangustars.comCG Robo Bandai 1993 Machine Robo Gobots

Some time in late 1988 I started renting videos of Japanese imported cartoons. I have no doubt sparked by my interest in Robotech a few years earlier and the similarities in visuals. I wouldn't be so blown over by what I watched over the years, not until a small comic shop had a few guys huddled around a t.v. watching Dragonball Z in 1991. While some of my friends were absorbed with Akira, Fist of the Northstar and Vampire Hunter D, Dragonball was just overall more inviting to me. Having just sold almost all my childhood toys, and half way through high school I found myself falling back in love with sci-fi and now more than ever Japanese heroes and monsters.

I started getting copies the Dragonball Z t.v. series from the comic shop, which than moved on to the actual Japanese manga. Discovering a Japanese bookstore and grocery store in my area opened me up to all kinds of trouble. I was now buying multitudes of candy toys, food items like Gundam popsicles, getting my Dragonball fix weekly in Jump, times were great. While at the bookstore one day in 1993 I grabbed an issue of  T.V.Magazine because it had what resembled Transformers on it, I was intrigued, and it was only $6. Well it wasn't actually Transformers at all, it was at the time better, it was Brave Express Might Gaine. While it was only a pictorial with a few pages of art and a page toy advertising I needed more. After a few more monthly pick ups buys and using one of the magazines as a guide, I walked over to the videos section and found a corresponding tape. This was the start of my next big robot crush.

If it were not for the discovery of the Brave Series I doubt Id be writing this blog now. Sure Transformers were re-launching with Generation 2 but it was just more of the same I saw in 1984. But of course I bought them. The only other thing that kinda really seeped into my consciousness in 1993 was Bandai's CG Robo. As a Gobots kid I immediately connected with CG Robo. Knowing that Bandai had a hand in Gobots didn't hurt. Unlike Transformers G2, CG Robo was a whole new branding of the similar Gobots (Machine Robo) concept.

Here, there, and over in Japan...
Pony Toy Go Round Chicago Yaohan Plaza Brave Series, CG Robo, Gobots, Japanese Robots, robots, Star Wars, toys, Transformers, Ultraman, ウルトラマン, トランスフォーマー, マイトガイン, マシンロボ, 勇者シリーズ

Sadly I wouldn't have a CG Robo toy until 1994, and by then it was over with. I had bought the toy at Pony Toy in a Chicago suburb. In fact I made several trips there from Michigan over the years from 1993-1997. I would buy up loads of books, toys and whatever else I could find that wasn't available at my shops back home.  I had also started learning Japanese at this time. The next logical step was to just go to Japan.

I kept telling myself that I wasn't ready to go to Japan, it was too expensive, I wouldn't know my way around. But then while attending BotCon '98 in Anaheim me and a bud saw a sign advertising BotCon Japan 1998. I missed out on BotCon Japan 1997, I could have went, I just didn't have any confidence that I could do it on my own. Now with a partner in crime, we decided on the ales floor in California that we wouldn't spend any money and just focus on attending the show in Japan. Making the show in Japan would open up all kinds of good and bad doors for me over the next 10 years. It would be my most fruitful and humbling span of collecting. But no matter what has happened, I had fun.

Here I sit and another 6-7 years have gone by since my most active collecting period. I still hold onto my love of robots, monsters, super heroes and stuff. I've sold most of my collection and I buy a  lot less than I did, I also don't participate in fan gatherings and conventions anymore. Having just turned 40 I can safely say that these things I was supposed to completely grow out of as a kid have had a pretty good hold on me, and I doubt that they will be gone from my life when I am writing about them at 60.

Forever and ever...Ultraman.
Ultraman tattoo art cute ウルトラマン

Brave Series CG Robo Gobots Japanese Robots Star Wars toys Popy Bandai Machine Robo Transformers Ultraman ウルトラマン トランスフォーマー マイトガイン マシンロボ 勇者シリーズポピー バンダイ スター・ワオーズ

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