Monday, November 30, 2009

Real Vinyl

I have a problem. I have pledged that I won't spend over 20 bucks on any single toy purchase. This has limited me quite a bit in my collecting, but it has also allowed me to find some great deals specifically because I was trying to come in under my self-imposed limit.

I've recently gotten into collecting designer vinyl/ art toys-- specifically kaiju. Kaiju is a Japanese word that means "mysterious beast." Basically it's almost any kind of monster toy either made by the Japanese or made in the style of the Japanese. Kaiju toys are notoriously expensive, in part due to the high quality of the materials used and partly due to the fact that much of the production is a very hands-on process for the artists who make them. For whatever reason, the smaller figures tend to start off in the 40 dollar range.

When I first saw toys made by artist Mori Katsura of RealXHead, I fell in LOVE. These things are freakin' AWESOME! He's been making them for just a few years, and the runs on these guys are extremely low. The figures are hand painted by kaiju vinyl legend Goto-san. He's been working in the industry since the monster boom of the late 60's. So each piece of RealXHead vinyl has been painted by an artist who was into vinyl before I was in the world. I have a LOT of respect for that kind of track record!

RealXHead pieces are works of art, and they are priced accordingly. The smaller figures which stand at 3 inches tall run around $40. The bigger 6-7 inch figures go for $60-$70. WAAAAAAAY out of my comfort zone.

But then came Black Friday. Thursday night my friend Spencer and I sat up talking on the phone until 3 am when Super7, a pretty cool and pretty expensive designer toy store, was having its Black Friday sale. They had advertized discounts up to 75% off of retail prices. I saw a few RealXHead pieces on the sale page, so I knew it was then or never for trying these guys out.

I snagged the large-scale figure Vader Grow (I have seen the same figure called "Vader Glow" and "Beider Grow" on different sites, but I'll stick with Vader Grow). His retail price, as marked on the package, was $65. I managed to get him for $19.50. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Yeah!

Amazingly, when I got home from town today the package was waiting for me. Super7 is fast like a ninja on acid!!! That's one notch in their column!

Well? What do I think of the figure now that it's in my hands? Read on:

Who wouldn't love a grin like that?

Vader Grow comes bagged with a header card just like many traditional kaiju toys are packaged. I wish I could read Japanese. As far as I know that title says, "HA! I ATE YOUR BABY!"

I actually think it says "I'M AWESOME!"

Notice the $65.00 sticker there? Yeah... I didn't pay that. :)

This sucker is HUGE. I mean H-U-G-E, huge. He stands 7 inches tall at the tippy top of his lil' horn there. He's only articulated at the neck and shoulders, but that's to be expected-- traditionally kaiju toys are more about the sculpt and the paint job than the articulation. Even with only 3 points of articulation he's expressive as heck! Look at the head tilt there on that guy! He's got attitude!

I hope my pics do the amazing paint job here service... I can't begin to describe the depth that the different layers of paint give this guy. He has a great sculpt, but the paint just kills me! It's a black vinyl figure who was painted green and then wiped partially clean leaving green details in the crevices. Then there are airbrush sprays of metallic blue, gold, silver, green, and red. On top of that there are red details in the eyes added by brush. It all adds up to one impressive looking evil little guy!

Look at those crazy details. He looks like some kind of Japanese demon who has been taken over by an alien disease or something. I love how he looks like two totally different characters from different side views. He's SUPER sturdy, and the vinyl is very high quality stuff-- this isn't floppy soft vinyl like dog chew toys. It's rigid enough to hold a great shape and details, but soft enough to bend a bit with stress.

Here he is with some other vinyl toys and a Glyos figure so you can see the size difference. He's just a massive guy, and he's about as wide as he is tall!

The Armodoc from Onell Design looks perfect next to this guy! I've seen that the figures' arms and heads are interchangeable with the Armodoc, but I haven't tried it yet. I think I'll leave that for another day!

So this is a pretty kick-butt figure, and I'm officially in love with the designs from RealXHead. I'll still keep my spending under 20 bucks, but that doesn't mean I have to go without cool stuff like Vader Grow here-- I just have to look hard for sales and auctions!

The best part? The sale is still going on! You can snag several of the mini figures for 12 bucks each and some of the large-sized figures are still under 20 bucks each! Head on over to the sales page and check it out!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Cat is in Love With a Robot...

A few weeks ago I received an absolutely massive box in the mail. It was from an online friend who traded me an Armodoc (one of the coolest Onell figures that I had missed when they were released) for work on a toy he had. The package contained the Armodoc, a few extra goodies, and this monster of a toy:

This is the Armorbot, a vehicle/robot from the last few years of the original GI Joe: A Real American Hero line. I think it was called Star Brigade or somesuch. Pete, my online friend, had asked me if I could do some custom work on the Armorbot to make it more Glyos compatable and more authentic-looking-- I was more than happy to, because (A) Pete's a super guy, and (B) this would be the biggest thing I had ever worked on. How could I pass that up?

Pete wanted the cockpit fleshed out a bit, as the interior is super sparse. He added some parts and pieces he thought maybe I could use for cockpit parts. As you can see, the cockpit is rather blah:

One immediate problem I found is that someone likes this toy more than either Pete or I ever could: my cat, Mae.

She LOVES this thing. I guess she likes the outstretched claw that's just right to get a scratchin'!!!

Crazy cat.

As you can see in the first two pictures, the legs of the Armorbot are connected at the base so it can glide along on its wheel. However, it has articulation at the hips, so it's a shame the legs can't be posed apart. Pete asked that I fix that, and I was more than happy to do so:

I've been working on little things on it along and along... those pics were from the first few days the toy was here. As I get a few minutes here and there I add a bit or two. I finished putting the parts together for the cockpit and gave it its first few rough coats. All this will be touched up better as it rolls along. I just wanted to put some stuff out there for Pete to see, and I figured I'd share them here with anyone who is interested in working on custom vehicles or whatnot.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Behind enemy lines...

Just posted an auction for a new Clone Infiltrator Trooper figure I made today. Click the pic for more pics and information:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hazardous Materials

Just posted a new auction on ebay:

Click the image to see more pictures and some information about the character.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Walking Read

In October of 2003 a black and white comic book with a small print run called The Walking Dead was published by Image Comics. The writer, Robert Kirkman, had a simple idea behind the series: he wanted to know what happened to the survivors of a zombie movie after the movie was over. The series quickly became a hit, and it is currently up to issue #66.

The story follows a small band of survivors of a zombie apocalypse. The group, led by police officer Rick Grimes, transform from scared victims to hardened survivalists to brutalized victims again and again. The horror element of the zombies, as present as it is in the story, is just a backdrop for the human drama that is all too real. We see that the scariest monster of them all is humanity unhindered by conventional morality or societal consequences. It is NOT a kid’s comic book—it is dark and humorless and deeply moving at times.

I’ve been reading The Walking Dead since the summer of 2005 when I picked up volume 1 of the collected series on sale. Since that time I have read 9 volumes of the books, usually picking them up as soon as they were published. The latest volume, volume 10, came in the mail Saturday. I was not prepared.

Volume 10 is hardcore. It is NOT for the weak-willed. There has been some rough stuff in the book up until this point, but this one is as bleak as the book has ever been. The survivors have been trimmed down to a skeletal shadow of their former group. They are weak, scared, and ultimately abandoned in a world of danger. While the wicked human element is still a forceful presence, it takes a back seat this time to the undead. Kirkman reminds us very suddenly why we fear death. When the big event in the book happens you’ll gasp. I know I did. It takes a good bit for me to get worked up over a comic book, but this one did it. I have been waiting since day one of this book for the zombies to make their debut as the true monsters of the book, and boy do they do it in this volume.

I hope I’m being cryptic enough to not give anything specific away. The Walking Dead is the kind of book you love to share. It’s a great book that demands you read it all at once—no stopping with this one! Once you start reading a volume, you have to read it until the end. One part of the fun of sharing the book with others is not spoiling any surprises for them. That’s one of the main reasons I don’t have any links in this blog to information about the series—almost every source reveals too much to potential readers who are coming to this fresh.

If you think the book would be your kind of thing, I suggest checking out at least volume 1. You can find it at a great price here:

The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone By (Paperback) at

It’s only $7.94 there and shipping costs $1.00. That’s 9 bucks for a collection of 6 issues of an awesome series you won’t regret reading if you dig gritty horror and extremes of human drama. It’s not for the squeamish, and it’s not for kids, but it’s great for adults who appreciate a good scare!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mixed-up Monsters!!!

A lesson about eBay and carefully researching the items up for bid:

I won an auction for a 7 inch tall "Bandai" Godzilla from Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. The only similar sized figure of the GMK Godzilla that Bandai put out in Japan was the 9 inch standard scale figure. It looks a little something like this:

That particular figure is pretty darn popular among Godzilla collectors. The fact that I won it for a lot less than it was currently worth tickled me pink. When I got the package in the mail today... I noticed it was a good bit smaller than I expected. I figured the guy was guestimating the size when he said 7 inches... he was. Turns out he was guestimating that it was made by Bandai as well.

This is what I got in the mail:

Turns out that this is the X-Plus rotocast GMK Godzilla figure.

It's not a bad Godzilla figure at all... as a matter of fact, it's a VERY nice figure. It's just not the one I had hoped I had won. I went back and looked at the auction and realize that the figure in the picture is the one I got in the mail... it just wasn't a very clear picture, and I was excited to find it at such a low, low price. Turns out I paid exactly what this figure usually runs for on clearance at most stores. So I'm not horrible disappointed... I'll eventually find the Godzilla figure I was looking for, but i hope this is a lesson to all those folks who are hunting for deals on eBay: know your stuff and assume the seller doesn't. I don't think the guy was intentionally trying to scam anyone. He didn't seem to be a Godzilla expert or anything, and he had a lot of other Godzilla figures for sale that were Bandai figures. I think he just assumed it was the same thing.

The figure is a nice, well-sculpted piece that looks JUST like the costume in the movie. The paint apps are extremely nice-- a LOT nicer than the paint apps on any of my Bandai figures. It's not so much a figure as it is a statuette... it has 1 point of articulation that isn't really a joint... he comes with his tail detached and the junction allows for a tiny bit of rotation. Overall a very nice addition to my shelf, and at the price i got him I can live quite comfortably with him. He fits right in with my smaller scale Godzilla figures.

A shot comparing him with the other 6 inch figures:

I'll still wind up giving the seller a positive, because he packaged it well and shipped it out as fast as humanly possible. I'm going to send him an email and let him know there was a mistake in the listing, though, because I know some collectors are not as easy to please as I am, and he could get damaging feedback in the future for similar mistakes. I know it was his responsibility as a seller to know what he was selling, but I just don't feel like he deserved a negative. I know what it's like being a seller.

So let this be a lesson... be aware of what you are bidding on and don't be afraid to ask questions!!! I usually do, but I let excitement get the best of me.