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.