Monday, December 13, 2010


I'm gonna post a double shot of Japanese retro ads today to kinda make up for a lack of posting. The first ad is for the Sylvanian Families Big Light-up House set. For 25 years Epoch(Tomy) has been creating very elaborate print ads for the toy line. Even though I have been collecting for years, I have only a fraction of these ads. This house is a great addition to their line-up. Having working lights means you don't have to pay for the extra light sets, so that alone makes it a good buy. This is currently being sold in the Calico Critters line as the "Luxury Townhome" set.

The second ad is one of my favorites from the early G1 Transformers line. This highlighted the arrival of the Constructicons and Dinobots to the scene. Since Laserwave (Shockwave) had just recently been released, here is present here instead of Megatron. Convoy is still here commanding over the good guys. Now the really cool thing, and one that didn't happen often, they advertise a giftset! The VSY giftset with Grimlock vs. Soundwave gets tease. Also, part of the ad mentions a contest going on where you could win the Soundwave cassette deck. Very cool!

Friday, December 3, 2010


Ever since I was 8 years old I loved this toy line. When I got a Force 2X for the first time, it was before I knew of Robotech and at a K-Mart. I mention the K-Mart thing cause in the time that I knew the line was around, that was the only store I ever found them. Had I been able to find them at Toys R Us or a Children's Palace maybe I could have gotten a Force 50 or 51 as a kid, but I didn't.

And when it comes to what I did get, it wasn't much. I had the Force 20, 21 and 22 sets. I was a poor kid, so getting the smaller sets was perfect. I had only one larger set, the Force 41. Those 4 sets were enough for me as a kid, they got plenty of love and affection from me. Of course as an adult, I was able to grab the sets that escaped me as a kid. Now I get to make much larger robots. The following shots are of the combined Force 40, 41 and 42 (or more accurately, C-10, C-11 and C-12).

The problem is now I want more, and I am looking to anybody who has some to trade or sell me. And I don't just want the Revell Roboteh Robolinks, I'll take anything related to these, from any country.

And with that little bit of begging, I'll with finish! :)


Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I am a huge fan and collector of Sylvanian Family (Calico Critters) toys. I've even made it to the Sylvanian Families restaurant in Tokyo.

I wanted to post more videos and I figured since this one was already rendered I would just put it up here. It used to be on an old site of mine before I closed it. The video is from a Japanese magazine promotion. It's about 5 minutes long, and in Japanese. Sorry, no English subtitles. But it's very cute, so I don't think you'll care if you are a fan of Sylvanians. Enjoy!

Monday, November 29, 2010


This ad features the New Microman MicroBorg. Takara's MicroBorg series of figures would come out just a year before they moved onto to heavily promote the Micro-Change Series of toys. While not ground breaking, they were neat in a way due to their combining toy figures and model kit like parts.

Also featured in the ad are the Armored Suits. Released in two forms, the Double Cannon and GlacSniper feature robotic armor that change into vehicle like forms. These I feel I would have loved a kid. And barely making the cut, the Acroyear AcroSatan. AcroSatan must have been just an afterthought for inclusion the ad, you barely get a glimpse at the figure.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


This is some translated manga I had done for my old website back in 2002. The manga had been translated 3 years earlier and never Photoshoped into the pages. I had colored the cover page in part around 2001. I never actually finished the project. I recall posting an unfinished reduced resolution version on the site but was never really satisfied. I was about to re-post the manga in a cleaned up finished format with a previous blog in 2008 but plans fell through. So in rummaging through old files I figured I would just post it here as I have little else to post on this blog right now that isn't a complete mess of unfinished work.

Please forgive the rough translations, I didn't re-translate it, and it's the same 2nd year Japanese student translation it was back in 1999. The story features the first look at what the Daguon team's DagBase could really do. Up to this point in the animated series and manga, it was a stationary, static construction.

Manga published 1996. Created by Hajime Yatate (story/concept) and Kazunori Aihara (art).

Pages read right panels to left.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


These are no longer as rare as they once were. I need to just get that statement out there before anything else. After Hasbro's typical "Re-issue! Re-package! Re-package!" form of marketing there's really nothing that rare at all about them. But, they were at a time, harder to find, and quite desirable for that reason. The reason I bought this wasn't for the scarcity or monetary value at all. I bought these for the art history they stand for.

I grew up a Star Wars fan, a fan of the movies, the toys and the art. I had a glimpse early on of an art portfolio from the original Star Wars film and fell in love with the work inside. When the "Art of Star Wars" book were released I bought it right away. I just absorbed the beautiful artwork and imagery of Ralph McQuarrie's work. To this day I just sit in amazement at the art when I look through the Star Wars art books. So when Hasbro decided to honor the man who helped shape the entire Star Wars universe I was extremely excited.

The first figure released in the McQuarrie style was the Stormtrooper. I didn't get him, I never even saw him in the stores. The next figures that were going to be for sale at retail outlets would be in stylized packaging, so I was hopeful. I managed to find the Stormtrooper and Darth Vader McQuarrie figures after a good amount of searching. I didn't even realize the Stormtrooper I had found had a rarer coin inserted, which to this day means almost nothing to me anyhow. I had quickly popped them out of their plastic prisons and fell in love with the McQuarrie designs all over again. These pictures were taken the day I got the toys. I only just recently found them again while searching old CD-Rs for old Transformers toy pics.

This pic below is just a digi-deco I did for fun. When I first saw a Gundam robot back in the 80's the first thing I though of was the McQuarrie Stormtooper. And yeah, I think that image came to mind for good reason.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


A new ongoing feature for the blog. The Retro Ads posts will feature old toy ads from Japan. Anything I feel like posting may show up here, as long as it's a toy, and an ad.

First up is an ad for the Takara Android A Uchoujin Space Alien figure. Along with the main focus toy, you can see the UFO 7 toy, the Android A and Robot figures as well.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Japanese Toy Stores: 1984

When I think of toy shopping in 1984 I think of K-Mart, Transformers and G.I.Joe. I often wonder what it would have been like to shop in a toy store in Japan during that same era. Thanks to the magic of photography, I can get an idea.

At the same time I was saving money to buy a Huffer, or Firefly figure, these kids were going home with Bioman, Mospeada or Diaclone toys.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


In the early days of the Machine Robo franchise Bandai opted to forgo a animated television series for printed media advertising. Not the best of options of course, and rectified in 1986 with the Revenge of Chronos series debut. To say the print campaign was a failure however would be a great mis-representation of what the "Machine Robo Club" was. Part of that media blitz in the Machine Robo Club was toy news, mailed in custom pictures, create your own Machine Robo character contests and monthly comics. There were a few different points in time where Machine Robo manga comics were printed, each at a different stage of the original 80's toy line. The first series focused mostly on the original toys up to about 1985. In 1986 the focus shifted to the Revenge of Chronos era, and the stories and art changed to reflect that. In 1987 the manga followed the then current Battle Hackers storylines.

This blog gives you a look at the first series of Machine Robo manga, this one featuring the introduction of the Battle Armor 5 power suits system. Yes it's very kiddified and simple, but the toy line was for kids after all.

note: Comic reads from right to left. I've made a few arrow notes in some panels to show this.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Transformers: SAYBERTRON 6 doujinshi

Finding decent Transformers doujinshi fan comics isn't so hard these days. That wasn't the case 12 years ago. I had known of a few doujinshi created by Transformers fans in Japan when I first took the trip over there. I had hopes of finding some of these and maybe get an idea of what the Japanese fan had envisioned Transformers as. Sadly, I looked and looked and found almost nothing over a 2 week stay. I say "almost nothing" cause while I found nothing in a story based format, I did find a great fan created art book.

I picked up a copy of "Saybertron 6" in a doujin shop in Akihabara. I don't know if this was the 6th in a series, or a six member team creating the art. Probably for legal reasons, details are sparse in the book about the creators. The one thing I did know then, as I do now, the art is amazing. All drawings are done in inked drawing style, sans computer assisted ease, this book shows a wide variety of Transformers from G1, Europe, Japan and even the Action Masters. Here is a very small sample of the art in the book:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Transformers: Boss Original G1 Figures

A trend has been underway in Japan for the last six years, the inclusion of small gift items with the purchase of a beverage. Buy a 20oz. Pepsi, get a free Pepsi Man cap-figure, buy a Coke get Final Fantasy mini figure. A wide array of little toys and trinkets have been made available for years, but none that I wanted to collect as badly as the Boss Transformers collection.

Boss is the Suntory brand of coffees sold at markets and convenience shops. A beverage not likely linked to promoting a kids line of toys, these were more suited to the adult collector. And with that marketing direction, these fell into more limited venues of sale, cutting out toys shops, department stores and the like. The limited availability, and the fact that product not sold quickly would be disposed due to expiration has made these quite a bit more rare than other Transformers themed novelties.

The Boss line has three distinct varieties. One part was for two unique full size Mini-Con figures, another for three golden colored plastic G1 style sculpted figures. The third, and I feel the best, was a set of ten G1 animation styled figures in color with some limited articulation. Each of these figures came sealed in a baggy and stored in a small plastic capsule. The capsule doubled as a stand for the figure. A catalog was included with each figure and could be used as a backdrop image. The backdrops each had an Autobot and Decepticon choice, with a total of five different catalogs, making ten different scenes.

The figures ranging from 2 inches to just under 2.5 inches are not very tall, but they do hold a lot of personality in their sculpts. The list of characters is your typical run down of G1 favorites; Optimus, Megatron, Bumblebee, Jazz, Starscream, Soundwave, Ironhide, Wheeljack, Shockwave, and maybe the lesser popular, Astrotrain. Personally, I feel this is the best set of novelty figures made for Transformers since the decoys of the 80's.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Little Pony Japanese t.v. spot

In 1985, Takara worked in partnership with Hasbro to release the My Little Pony line in Japan. The initial line showcased a completely new look to the Ponies. Extremely rare these days, these Ponies are quite sought out by Pony collectors.

This ad aired in 1985 even features a snippet of the classic MLP jingle.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Beastformers: Takara "Gumball Beasts"

There's been a lot of speculation about certain aspects of the Japanese Beastformers toy line from Takara. I don't know if any part of the line has had more discussion about what was produced than the vending sales products. These toys nicknamed "gumball beasts" due to their method of distribution were completely exclusive to Japan. These vending sales toys came in two styles, "Real Type" regular beast sculpts and "Deformed" style designs. The deformed type beasts were original designs to Takara, Japan and sold nowhere else. The regular sculpt vending beasts were the same molds used in Hasbro's Battle Beasts lines outside Japan. These regular beasts came in two ways, colored, or in a creamy off-white color.

There is no indication as to how many beasts were inserted into bubbles for the vending machines. Catalogs included with the toys had originally stated that 15 types of regular beast figures were produced. The issue that has plagued the Beastformers collectors has been this initial catalog. It states one thing, then says that what they show may not be correct. The dispute that is most often brought up is about the white colored Beasts. Being the much more valued toys in the vending line, it's stands to reason that people want to know for fact what was released. That first catalog doesn't do anything but confuse.

*Note: Real type vending beasts do not come with weapons.

Thankfully, Takara issued a second catalog with their white vending beasts later on. This catalog not only shows the line of beasts produced in white, but why they were produced in that color. The whole gimmick behind the white beasts is that you are supposed to color them and create your own Beastformers warrior. This wasn't a new concept in toys when Takara issued these figures. Bandai had offered monthly prizes to kids for some of their toys using the same paint-it-yourself gimmick. Takara was even using the same idea in their Transformers line right about the same time. So here we have a look at the actual official list of Takara's white vending machine Beastformers figures.

White Leo
Big Serow
Battle Bear
Yellow Giraffe
Killer Fish
Black Turtle

Friday, April 16, 2010

Transformers: TF The Movie promotional items

In the mid to late 90's the popularity of Transformers was coming back into media. The release of Generation One videos was a much-anticipated event. The re-release of the Transformers Movie in Canada saw great demand for the film, and shortly later it was going to be re-released in both the United States and Japan. To go along with these releases quite a bit of promotion was done. Here are a few items that were used.

Rhino Video had a tie-in with Suncoast and Media Play video stores that gave away a free "Classic Collectible Card" with any pre-order of the film. Suncoast had issued these types of cards for other releases as well. They are in essence a seri-cel of sorts taking a single frame of a movie and printing it on a clear celluloid like plate to mimic a piece of film. The cards were simple, but cool for a freebie.

With Beast Wars airing on t.v., Japan was also looking to re-press the Transformers shows on laser disk as well as push video releases. This banner poster emphasis the Beast Wars connections as they promote the re-release of Transformers The Movie.

Kin Niku Man: Phone Strap Figures

I was walking by a mobile phone shop on a trip to Japan in 1999 when a package caught my eye. As I was walking by a stand I thought I had noticed a KinNikuMan item. I went back and found a display of newly released phone straps that had figures attached. Released by the company UNIFIVE, and priced at just under $10. I bought Robin Mask, who is if one of my favorites from the KNM series.

The package includes on strap that features the attached character's name on it. The figure is a re-issue Kinkeshi with a full paint apps and a hook drilled into it for the strap loop. The cool thing about these releases is the addition of a bonus figure. These "mystery" figures were unknown at the time of purchased incased in a small box inside the sealed package. The bonus figures were original colors of re-issued first generation sculpts. There were premium chase gold versions also included. I got a clear purple Mongol Man figure in my pack. Which was cool as I am also a Ramen Man fan.

These sets were not produced in great numbers, and don't show up for sale a lot. When they do surface, they are luckily not too expensive.