Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Resolutions - 2008 revisited

Well, a year came and went... and as with most people, I met essentially zero of my resolutions from 2008!

2008 Resolution #1) Control my spending on stuff I don't really need. Reign in those costs!
Well, here I got the closest. I still bought many things I did not need... but at the same time had a mini nervous breakdown about having too much shit around
when I cleaned out/reorganized everything back in June. Ever since then, I more or less have been forced to curb spending due to lack of money. Maybe due to the economy and $4+ gas, maybe do to prices going up... but Celga hasn't been as friendly to me the last half of the year heh.

2008 Resolution #2) Keep a sketchbook/journal.
This lasted about a month. I did actually draw and write some, but alas, I am even a perfectionist in my own head and my shitty drawings and ranting writing was embarrassing for even me to read/view. So like any good self hating perfectionist, I just quit so I don't have to face failure.

2008 Resolution #3) When sketching/writing, stop erasing so goddamn much!
When I did draw, I did so with a pen, so maybe I met this one?

2008 Resolution #4) Work on more art.
Nothing. Zero. Nada.

Does entering (and winning!) the S7 Custom Zag Contest count?

2008 Resolution #5) Lose 15 pounds.
I gained 10. Great.

2008 Resolution #6) Become a big brother in Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
Not sure what happened here... I wasn't even close. I'll just blame it on the economy.

2008 Resolution #7) Take a martial arts class.
This one I can blame on the economy... i.e. my lack of disposable income. Nothing at all happened here.

As promised, here is my update! I will follow soon with new resolutions to not reach! What's the point, really? Just to make myself feel guilty?

Toys at work

I have a shelf of randomness here at the office. A couple Kinnikuman Romandohs, some tin wind-up robots, a talking Krusty the Clown doll, Transformers Decepticon Soundwave, even a little Green Lantern drawing by GL creator Mart Nodell signed and in a little green frame!

I have some little stuff in front... Sucklord's Suckpeg and a Microman buddy for him, some random Kinkeshi, and a cool wooden Gama-go Deathbot. I want to get the rest of those.

Speaking of Mart Nodell, the other side of the shelf has a big vinyl Pillsbury Doughboy orgy going on. You can usually find these little guys on ebay for pretty cheap. The older sculpt is softer and better in my opinion to the new one.

And down below beside the phone I have happy Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man (from the 80s) standing in the hand of a larger, more menacing Stay-Puft.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


still trying to figure out this mobile blogger thing.

Happy holidays from Mr. Pinwheel!

And me too I guess...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Goro by U.S. Toys

A little header at the top of this entry for a little toy. Actually, this toy has no header... this is just a part cropped from the little box that comes along... more on that later!

Here we have U.S. Toys Goro (ゴロー)!

I can tell you're excited about this one.

Goro was a monster appearing in the second episode titled Goro to Goro of the Japanese television show Ultra Q (ウルトラQ) in 1966 - the precursor to Ultraman which started in '67.

Ultra Q was unlike Ultraman, it was more of a sci-fi mystery show apparently (I've yet to see the show, unfortunately), and often featured giant monster suits that had been retooled from Toho movies like Godzilla (Gomess in Ultra Q), Baragon (Pagos), and Goro here that was originally the King Kong suit used in the Toho movie King Kong vs. Godzilla (キングコング対ゴジラ).

Goro himself was a normal monkey that was made huge when he ingests the chemical Helypron Crystal G. A boy named Goroh tries to hide Goro, but is unsuccessful, and giant Goro wanders into the city in search of milk. The monkey loved him some milk I guess! Eventually Goro is tranquilized and transported to an island with normal size monkeys.

Thanks to the Ultra Q wikipedia entries for all this info! I learned something myself today.

There have not been a ton of toys made of Goro as far as I know. I guess being in only one episode of an obscure TV show from the 60s gives you a back seat to King Kong. There was the stylized Goro made by Bullmark back in the day (and since rereleased by M1Go I believe), a rubber Goro handpuppet that I owned for about a day, and a realistic, McFarlane style action figure Goro made by X-Plus recently.

I also have a mini version of the Bullmark Goro made by Bandai and a vinyl Goro coin bank that I will review soon. This U.S. Toys Goro is about the same size as the mini Bandai Bullmark Goro, only lacking the articulation.

This Goro did not exactly come packaged as many kaiju and Japanese vinyl toys are. He came with an unassembled box that when assembled would be a great little building for Goro to stand on. It even has a broken hole you could punch out if you were so inclined. I'm far too anal for that haha

There are other U.S. Toys figures with similar packaging, and I think it's great. It reminds me of old drugstore purchases where the box a cheap toy would come in would double as a playset of sorts. There's cool, hand drawn artwork as well that adds to it I think.

Very cool packaging, but I only wish that it actually came in the box instead of just loose beside it. That is nit-picking entirely.

As with other U.S. Toys releases I have seen, Goro is small, playful, and an overall loose interpretation of the original beast. It has a lot of character, and works well for the size that it is. The fur is subtle, as are the soft lines throughout the sculpt i.e. short, stubby fingers, smooth elbows, the saggy tail, and the funny facial expression.

As with most minis new and vintage, he is jointed at the waist and has his arms in a permanent upwards state. No posing with this little guy, but that's OK I guess.

Overall an above average sculpt that makes up for lack of detail with character and cuteness.

Nice, subtle paint job on this figure. It is cast in a warm, brown vinyl, and a lighter brown/tan is used on his hands, face, feet, chest, and back. The blends are soft and excellent all around, adding to the soft sculpt. No flaws to speak of, this paint job is obviously carefully done.

The eyes and mouth are painted by brush, and are very well done as well.

There seems to be a tiny bit of overspray on the shoulders perhaps, and some welling around the edges of the eyes, but it can be easily overlooked given how small the details are on the figure.

Good job all around.

Pricey. If you're on the fence about any U.S. Toys figure, the price may be a hindrance. I've not done much exploration in the aftermarket for these, but these minis can cost more than half of what a new Real Head figure costs, and are less than half the size.

Positives: fun sculpt; cool package; nice paint job

Negatives: small for the price

I cannot give this an general recommendation for everyone due to the price... that really makes it more niche, but if you are a collector of Ultra Q characters or gorillas, you will not br disappointed by this little guy. Just remember he is tiny!

Monday, December 15, 2008

King Kong by Mego

Well, now we have a vintage toy that didn't bother making a fake King Kong... they give us the real thing! Here is a figure from the 1970s: King Kong (キング コング) by Mego.

Mego is an American toy company established in the 50s, but they really caught on full steam in the 1970s. The company obtained King Kong rights for toys along with the much hyped 1976 King Kong movie remake. Oddly, there was only one figure of King Kong himself actually produced in the U.S. (which came with a big shooting game), and there was also a plush doll. Other items released in the U.S. in this movie marketing campaign were punching bags, models, even a weird straw that had Kong climb a building as you slurped liquid through.

In Japan, however, there were a couple King Kong figures produced for Mego by Bullmark. Gotta love Bullmark! There was a funny wind-up that had long arms stuck up in the air, and the classic waddly feet that you always see on wind-up walkers... and there was this more realistic vinyl figure with a silly little car to hold on to.

I was very fortunate to come across a Mego King Kong page at the Mego Museum website, so thanks to them for the info on Mego's Kong releases!

The main head attached to the top of the bag for this toy, despite being the same on both sides, it really cool. The King Kong illustration is one seen on much of the Mego Kong packaging at the time, but it still looks great, and is cropped well for this card. The sunburst and big red text to the side is kitschy and fun, and the loud colors and rows of stars make it stand out... just as a giant ape would I suppose.

They make up for just having the same front and back to the header card by actually including a background card in the bag along with the toy. I included flat images here of the front and back, but in the package, the bottom folds underneath, making a little platform for the toy to stand on. It's a cool little backdrop with an illustrated city street behind the big ape himself. On the back, there seems to be some King Kong stats and other information.

Very nice overall packaging, especially for a vintage vinyl toy!

For its size (about 6 inches tall or so), this is a nicely detailed figure. The vinyl isn't the greatest quality, but you run into this a lot with older toys. (I was also lucky to find this still sealed in the bag, so the condition is great). The hands and feet in particular are nicely sculpted.

I like the menacing face, but the teeth/fangs are a little crooked as they jut out of the mouth at a weird angle. And the fur is kind, but adds a lot of detail all over.

The arms are articulated at the shoulders which is nice, even though with the arms down the figure appears awkward for some reason. I think the legs are a little long for a gorilla, but they may have been left that way for balance sake. It stands relatively well, although the car in his hand makes him a little top heavy when his arms are raised.

And the car... wow this thing stinks. It looks like a battleship with waron wheels. It totally does not fit the scale or style of this figure, and I have no clue why they even felt it necessary to even include it. If they wanted to include some cheap plastic accessory, they should have chosen a hollow skyscraper roof or something for him to stand on. This crappy car doesn't even stay in Kong's hand all that well.

Not the greatest paint application on the figure. You can tell this toy was mass produced in a hurry, as the paint appears to have been sprayed on in the general location without much attention to detail. Same story with the brush applied teeth and eyes.

While the colors work well... there is some nice, subtle coloring on the toes... there are places on the chest and under his nose where the paint is uneven. A more deliberate application would have been better here to ensure proper coverage. Also, the brushed paint on the teeth is very sloppy, even extending onto the lips. The pupils are crooked also, we are seeing a Kong lazy eye.

This toy can still be found around for pretty cheap considering the age. I even found one still stapled in the bag for not much at all. I assume these were made in mass quantity to hype the King Kong movie, which leads to the lower price.

Positives: Cool, medium sized King Kong toy, nice hands, great packaging

Negatives: Shitty car accessory, too-quick paint job

The package may be the saving grace for this toy. While it's pretty cool having an actual Kong as opposed to a bootleg, it doesn't have the same feel and charm as some of the cruder vintage pieces that were also mass produced. Not sure exactly what it is. Regardless, Mego (and Bullmark) still did a good job with these, and I would recommend it to gorilla/King Kong completeists without hesitation.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Betakong by Sunguts

Another gorilla! Yay!!

This little guy's name is Betakong (ベタコング) from the Beta Kaiju Series (ベタ怪獣シリーズ).

This one brought to you by the good folks at Sunguts (サンガッツ). Actually, Sunguts is one person from what I understand, who sculpts a wide variety of characters from Gamera and Godzilla to his beta series like this or manga characters created by Shigeru Mizuki. All in all, they are solid, quirky little sculpts that are pretty distinguishable from other toylines out there. I'll have another Sunguts figure that is sort of gorilla related that I will write about soon... a caveman! Although I believe the caveman is from a Mizuki character.

This toy is what appears to be another take on the classic King Kong bootleg, but I suppose it could be a random gorilla too.
On an aside, I've decided to ditch the number scoring, as it was beginning to feel sort of arbitrary to me. I still want to keep the categories, however.

Not a bad header, but not a fantastic one by any means. It does not seem to relate to the Betakong besides the sticker on the back that gives the name and price. The front looks pretty cool with some illustrated Sunguts characters. The yellow is bright and would stand out well, and the card stock it is printed on it nice and glossy and heavy. The back isn't great from an artistic standpoint, but at least it's informational, right?

Very Sunguts-y sculpt. While I typically like for my toys to be at least somewhat articulate (joints, not speech!), the perma-arms up pose here doesn't bother me all that much. It's a funny pose that I most likely would have him standing in anyway. Even though it is slightly bigger than a standard mini (I'd say this gorilla is in the 4-5 inch tall range), he is jointed like a mini only at the waist.

The facial expression is great, and the teeth are a nice touch. This and the body proportions give the figure a very cartoony feel, which fits in with much of Sunguts figures of the recent past.

I don't really care for the fur texture on the figure. It looks rushed as you can still see the excess material pushed out of the way where the knife or whatever tool just made the lines over and over. it could have benefitted from a little smoothing I think. Maybe if there were more fur marks, this wouldn't seem as glossed over as well.

The figure is cast in brown vinyl, but it is a nice warm tone, and the paint on the chest and ass are delicately applied, fading out nicely into the brown vinyl. The yellow, while not being realistic when considering the brown is moreso, works well in contrast. The eyes feel a little wonky, but the brush-applied face is a nice contrast to the softer paint on the body.

Overall, a very simple, but very effective paint job.

After shipping from Japan, this figure is not the cheapest, but it isn't ridiculous either. Being a gorilla-head, it was a good buy for me.

Positives: Fun sculpt; nice, simple paint job

Negatives: Overly simple fur pattern, arms stuck in UP

Solid entry from Sunguts here. It is not a stand-out piece, but it's fun and pissed and fills in that little gap in your gorilla shelf quite nicely.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Tofurkey Day!

We went to the Triangle Vegetarian Society's annual Thanksgiving Day Feast! We ate ourselves sick on vegan cuisine then came home to pass out in front of the fire for awhile. Fun day for all!

Except the poor turkeys....

I swiped this image from RedYoda. You can check out his blog here

Happy Thanksgiving (one day late)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Marusan Originals Wishbook

In the spirit of the Sears Christmas Wishbook, I've crafted a crappy little Marusan Originals Wishbook page. So if any of my tens of readers comes across these somewhere, I'd love for you to let me know!

I've fallen in love with these fun, crude sculpts... they remind me so much of the drugstore toys I used to crave as a kid.

No priority here... the numbers and letters are simply for reference. Even if you don't know here to find them, perhaps you can just enjoy the little blurry pics and how many of these there actually are. I swiped the images from the scan of some sort of Japanese catalog.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Marusan Originals

Well, damn.

My New Years resolutions have totally fallen by the wayside. I guess that's how it usually goes.

I didn't realize it had been almost 4 months since my last post! I even have a lot more apes/monkeys to write about!

Anyway, thought I would at least attempt to start this back up (yet again) with a little update on my latest stuff.
I've been really into these Marusan original sculpts lately. Crude, relatively inexpensive patchi kaiju that are just fun. They remind me the most of those random drug store toys you'd get as a kid and make up the story for. Marusan made many of these in the late 90s, I guess before the "boom" that kaiju/Japanese vinyl toys re-experienced a few years later.

I won a great lot for cheap on Yahoo Japan recently, so eventually I'll be writing about them I'm sure. I haven't bought much at all lately, and these could probably be the last again for awhile. (Don't worry... I still have a lot to write about... and PAINT!!! ugh... that's another story completely)

You'll notice the Giant Gorilla in there from a previous entry of mine (I only had a tiny version of that brown color, however.) There's a couple robots, what looks to be a Gamera rip-off, even a clear Ultraman rip-off! I lucked out finding all these together. There are many more I may have to track down, but I am excited about building a completely patchi kaiju bookshelf.

Friday, July 25, 2008

MechaGonira by Amapro

MechaGonira (メカゴニラ) by Amapro (アマプロ) is just a little different than the other gorilla toys I have written about so far. What we have here is essentially a mashup of King Kong and a lesser known monster named Garuban.

This toy is actually based on a diecast toy from the 1970s. You can see the toy here to the right. I'm not entirely sure what company produced this toy... or what the toy is even called, but it shares a body with the diecast Garuban figure made by the same company. Since the head is attached only via magnet, I guess it was very easy to somply sculpt a new plastic head for the existing metallic bodies.

Fast forward to today, and you have Amapro creating a vinyl toy paying homage to this obscure little toy here.

Header //2 out of 5//:
I like the fact that this header is bigger than would normally be on this size figure. I also like the artwork found on the front... the style is immediately recognizable.

But the header is a generic header for Amapro apparently, and the name of the figure within seems to be simply stamped in the upper right corner. The back is just plastered with information and a cheesy spacescape.

Sculpt //3 out of 5//:
For me this is the strongest element of this toy. While it is lacking articulation, which is pretty significant (only the arms move... not even the head turns!), it is an interesting sculpt and a great homage to the obscure toy.

The textures all come together well here, with the chunky garbage limbs and torso meeting the smooth metal-like surfaces of the chest and shoulders, to the organic face and nicely molded hair. The sculptor elected to go with a simple star on his chest as opposed to a door like on the diecast. I'm not sure I like the star all that much because it seems out of place to me.

The horn on the forehead as well as the tusks protruding from his mouth are a nice touch I think. And the bejeweled eyes are just great, as they were on the old toy.

The vinyl isn't the best quality, but it is nice and solid. The figure is also well balanced, which is good since you cannot position the legs at all.

Paint //4 out of 5//:
Nice, classic kaiju style giving highlight where needed and not going overboard. There are quite a few colors here surprisingly with the darker blue laid over the lighter blue vinyl, as well as the nice gold and silver metallics as the main highlight, and even some darker, sludgier silver on the knees and elbows.

Value //?? out of 5//:
I cannot remember what I paid for this as it has been quite some time! I don't really see them pop up all that often, which either says it's a nice, solid release, or that no one cares to see them. I'd think if it ever showed up, you could find it for retail or so.

Overall //3.5 out of 5//:
Positives: Nice paint, interesting character, cool homage to an obscure Japanese toy.

Negatives: No articulation except for shoulders, vinyl isn't nice and smooth

I've decided to get rid of the Coolness category because it sounds lame. I can just talk about it here!

This toy isn't the greatest, but it's quirky and cool nonetheless. I like the paint, and gorillas and junk monsters are always OK in my book. You won't regret picking this one up if you like what it looks like here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Giant Gorilla by Marusan

As promised, here I bring you these fugly guys: Giant Gorilla (ジャイアントゴリラ) by Marusan (マルサン). These are virtually the same across all colorways, so I will write about them all at once. Come to think of it, that is probably a better idea than how I have been doing it if i plan to show off the same sculpt in different colors right around the same time.

I had a quote in the Buta No Hana Gorilla article explaining Toho's hesitancy in allowing companies to make toys called King Kong, and instead the vinyl toys manufacturers made giant gorillas to avoid any potential legal problems with Universal.

I found some Marusan history in the Super7 Mook (a great resource for these as well as Secret Base and Real Head toys by the way) that was released late last year.

Marusan was in the midst of a kaiju boom in the mid-1960s thanks to many movies and the Ultra-Q show on television, and Marusan moved from tin and plastic toys to the cheaply and quickly produced vinyl toys. The company produced vinyl toys from 1966 to 1969, but eventually closed and were bought out by three former employees who went on to form Bullmark.

The Giant Gorilla was made in 1967, originally in a dark blue color and perhaps others that I do not know about. All of my Giant Gorillas are reproductions that Marusan produced from the original molds in the 1990s. There is a large brown one out there that I have yet to come across, but I have a spare blue one so maybe I'll just get to painting!

This gorilla rides the border between official Toho monsters that Marusan released and their completely original offerings that came later on. Masusan not only released these, but other of their original sculpts in the 90s.

Header //3 out of 5//:
While the painted header is really cool, Marusan really just offers up what seems to be a generic header with the name of the toy inside printed in the top right corner on the front. On the front you get to see a Thor type character giving a swift flying chop to an evil chicken, then some generic monsters swooping in to fight or fornicate on the back.

The header is larger than most I have seen... similar width but about twice as deep.

If the header had more to do with the toy inside, I would like it a lot better. The imagery is very cool.

Sculpt //3 out of 5//:
Despite my simian bias, I will be the first to admit that this is a pretty crude sculpt.

The mouth is not quite a mad roar and not quite a smile. The facial expression does not say angry as I expect a giant gorilla to be. He just looks kind of bored or possibly like he is singing off key....

...about gorilla stuff...

I like the bulky look of the hands and feet, but the arms in particular feel crooked in a way. The hands come off the forearms less like a menacing fist and more like he is saying YAAAAY while shaking his fists in excitement.

It seems perhaps that the sculptor was going for some semblance of realism with the sculpt as evidenced by the legs. Gorillas have very small hind legs compared to their arms, and walk using not only their feet but their knuckles. The legs here seem so be aiming for that shortness with a giant ass (common theme with gorilla toys?). Since the gorilla is standing on two feet as opposed to two feet and two knuckles, it makes the legs a little crooked and awkward.

All of this said, the sculpt is very endearing to me. This toy was not made for geeky collectors like me, but rather for kids to buy en masse and tear up in their sand boxes and bathtubs. And for this, it is great! It is stylized enough to be fun and original and not just a gorilla statue, and the small details like the tiny teeth, fur, toenails, nipples etc. bring it all together.

It is very solid and well balanced. The arms are positioned perfectly to lay a big punch on an invading Godzilla... the mouth is open for roars and bites. These apes would make great playthings.

Paint //3 out of 5//:
Average all around. These gorillas were originally mass produced, so simple, direct paint jobs were going to work best. Lots of paint would just get chipped off on the playground anyway. These reproductions are made to just reflect the paint jobs of the originals.

The blue gorilla is obviously cast in blue vinyl, and from what I can tell is the closest to the original color (which was a darker blue). There is yellow on the chest for contrast, and red eyes and tongue.

The gold might be my favorite with the silver spray on his chest and red eyes and tongue here too.

And the pink has a very similar color scheme to my pink Buta No Hana gorilla with yellow on the chest as well and gold eyes! The yellow on the chest here is a little oversprayed onto the armpit, which is always a little disappointing.

All of them have the same silver teeth.

Coolness //4 out of 5//:
I like that they are awkward and ugly... and knowing the history of these adds to the coolness for me. I can totally geek out and talk about it with someone who might ask.

Value //5 out of 5//:
These do not seem all that popular or hard to find (except maybe the brown one floating around. You should be able to find these for 10-15 dollars each which is a fantastic price for such a solid piece. I have never seen a vintage one, but be prepared to pay much much more for one of those.

Overall //3.75 out of 5//:
Positives: Bulky, fun to play with, history, can find them on the cheap

Negatives: Awkward gorilla shapes, generic paint jobs, take up a lot of space

These are great to have for the history behind them, or if you want them to punch the shit out of your other monsters. If you like the look and can find it for cheap, it's definitely worth the pick up. But otherwise, you won't miss it much in your collection.