Sunday, February 28, 2010

G.I.Joe: Kabaya Candy Toys (Cobra H.I.S.S.)

In 1986 the Takara toy company licensed the Hasbro G.I.Joe brand for release in Japan. It lasted only a year. However, its failure should not be associated with a lack of promotion. Takara relied on it's marketing of the Transformers brand to guide it's push of G.I.Joe. The Sunbow cartoon was dubbed and aired in Japan. Comics were printed, magazine stories run, books distributed and cross-marketed novelty and candy items sold.

Takara had a working relationship with one of the kings of candy toy production, Kabaya. G.I.Joe received two different types of candy toy assortments. The first and smaller of these types was the "G.Ijoe Chocolate: Super Mecha & Character Model" line. This line featured 4 G.I.Joe and Cobra vehicles, each with a figure.

The best of these sets is the Cobra H.I.S.S. tank. The H.I.S.S. came with none other than Cobra Commander himself. The set came package as a unassembled model. The instructions were simple, as was the building of the toy model. Given these are aimed at about the 5-8 year old market, no candy toys are ever very difficult to assemble. When done, you have a small H.I.S.S. with the Commander standing by to give the order to retreat.

In terms of rarity, these things are way up there. The market for candy toy items in Japan is expensive, and expansive. Candy toys can command hundreds of dollars in Japan. Finding these cheap would be best left to buying from U.S. based collectors who may have them for sale.

Battle Beasts: Beastformers Striped Carp

The Japanese extension of the Battle Beasts line, Beastformers, contained a good deal of unique products. The limited edition prize toy Striped Carp is one of them. It's part of a category of ultra rare items from the Beastformers line. It also falls in the category of the ugliest Beasts ever made.

When I first found out about this figure, a friend and I were toy hunting in Japan. We came upon a unopened display box of Beastformers. This "Punch Box" display was part of a Takara campaign for the line. Kids would buy a chance to punch a hole into the top of the display and get the prize inside. Most of the box was filled with your everyday Beastformers. Lucky children could come away with special much rarer toys. The chances of getting a Striped Crap should have been 1 per box. However, some boxes have been found with no Striped Craps included. Since there's little in the ways of proving that a box was shipped without the special item 23 years later, it could be that some boxes had them removed.

When this discovery hit the net, it sparked a lot of interest among the Battle Beasts community. Not all of it gushing love and adoration. One collector mentioned that it looked like a Clear Carp figure that a factory worker mistakenly dripped soy sauce over. Most collectors wanted the figure however and it became a top ranked figure on their want lists. To this day it still ranks high in terms of rarity.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Transformers: G1 Eject (prototype)

In 1986 Hasbro and Takara were heading into new territory, the first year in which most of the Transformers would be newly developed toys. Early work on some molds was done using existing toys, kit-bashing actually. This year Autobots would get their own assortment of cassette warriors. Using conceptual moldings, some leftover Frenzy pieces, and a few Diaclone stickers, they created a Eject mock-up.

The toy would be finalized just a short time later and shown at Toy Fair in it's final form.