Blue SWAT figure by Bandai 1994

I have recently gotten into a kick of buying older Japanese toys. Lots of vinyl and diecast toys, stuff from the late 70s to fairly current releases. It came when I had a certain desire to branch out into something different than what everyone else is talking about and reviewing. It also comes from a lack of being wowed by most modern release toys. Most of the best stuff hitting shelves right now is coming from companies like Marvel Select, Mezco, NECA, DC Direct, and other “specialty retailer” companies who are putting forth a lot more effort in their releases than Hasbro, Mattel, and Playmates. I’ve come across some really awesome pieces over the last 6 months, and some of them I found at the flea market.

I found this still boxed Blue SWAT figure on E row at the Oldsmar flea market only a month ago. You never know what you’ll find stashed in old flea market booths and this particular booth was full of all kinds of treasures, shame most of them I owned already. Tucked behind Marvel Famous Covers figures on a rear shelf was this boxed figure. Originally it had an outrageous price tag of near $60 on it, after talking with the owner and seeing that the figure was missing a gun and shoulder pad he dropped the price significantly. I’m not usually much for an incomplete figure that I may never find the pieces for but at the final price he was willing to give me the figure for, I’ll deal with it.

The premise of the show is a Space Mafia invades Earth while the human race is busy tearing itself apart with war and crime (some elements of pollution too because it’s the 90s!). The Japanese government establishes the Blue SWAT, a military-like world police to combat the evil Space Mafia. Things go awry when an alien infects the chief of Blue SWAT, causing him to blow up headquarters and all but three Blue SWAT members perish in the explosion . Members Show, Sig, and Sara are left alone to defend Earth from the Space Mafia with their assortment of equipment and weapons.

 
 
 

Blue Swat was the 13th installment of the Metal Hero Series from Japan. Those not familiar with it, some of the Henshin Hero footage from the Space Sheriff series was used to make VR Troopers and Juukuo B-Fighter was used to make Beetleborgs. Watching these series in their original entirety is nothing short of amazing and sure makes what we grew up with seem very juvenile. In Japan, Blue SWAT was not well recieved by their children’s demographic due to it’s very sinister undertones but the adults loved it. Airing for 51 episodes and a full length movie, Blue SWAT still remains one of my favorite hidden gems of the Henshin genre.

The Blue SWAT figure I got at the market was Show. He comes packaged wearing a blue lame’ sleeveless jump suit and snap on armor pieces. I wasn’t really too impressed until I noticed the chestplate was heavy die-cast metal and hinged instead of being made into two pieces that snap together. He doesn’t look like much in the package but fully suited up he’s got a great Daft Punk look to him. All of the larger weapons have firing mechanisms and great details like flip down shoulder rests, red “laser” lights or sights. Every crate opens up to store equipment and the smaller cases have alcoves to fit the specific weapons inside. Unfortunately, one of the cases is missing a pistol but it doesn’t really take away from the overall displaying of the figure. One of the best things about the figure nearly being complete is the instructions were tucked away inside. A great bonus for a 20 year old toy from the other side of the world.

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Raging Nerdgasm #285 – SHFigarts Red Ranger

Stuff I Consider Bullshit: How I Feel About Toy Karma

It’s a word I hear thrown around a lot, toy karma. I don’t think it really hit it’s stride till the popularity of the Toy Hunter show. I don’t care for the Toy Hunter show and I’ll go into greater detail in the near future. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I hadn’t really heard of the term till it’s repeated use on the show. Now I hear everyone talk about it, throwing it around but I’m fairly sure they don’t know what they are talking about. I have to say that when I hear it, I wince and close whatever tab on my browser it came from. I hear it and I’m almost feel like it’s some kind of open-ended threat like, “Oh yeah, send me something good and I’ll get around to sending you something junky that you’ll just have to accept because it’s a trade in good faith.” Seriously, it’s shit like that I’ve dealt with personally and it makes me sick. Almost to the point of just not dealing online.

Firstly, I need to get something clear, I am nowhere near stingy. I have random giveaways and I always pack the boxes with extras. Everytime I pack a box for a sale or a trade, it gets filled with extra goodies. Every transaction that leaves my house gets a little something extra packed it. I don’t think of this as toy karma, I think of this as being a decent person. Early in my toy dealing career I would do business with some friends I made overseas. I’d get whatever Godzilla or Ultraman figure I was buying but I’d also get like an old magazine (sometimes a month old or a few years old), some candy, another smaller toy….just whatever. I came to find out it’s a very Eastern way of doing business. Later on I’d see KidRobot adhere to the same cultural ideal when doing business with them. Which I have to say the Dunny Swatch we got from them was the coolest thing in the box and we didn’t even order it. It’s a way of life I adhered to a while back and I don’t expect anything in return, I think I’d feel bad for expecting someone to reciprocate when it wasn’t part of the agreed deal in the first place.

Now, this last year I had gotten sucked into five open-ended trades. Two panned out and to be honest I felt like it was a little one sided when you give six vintage Star Wars figures and get modern Happy Meal toys from the last couple of years or incomplete 90s Toy Biz Marvel figures. And somehow I feel like a poor sport complaining but I’d rather had held onto my vintage extras and I sent the pile of Croods Happy Meal toys back to the sender and terminated communication with them. The other three never came to fruition and it’s probably for the best. I’m not going to hound someone to come through on their end of a deal, I’m just going to remember it down the line when something else comes up. Everything I’ve given away (and that’s how I pretty much consider it because I donated those toys when it comes down to it) I’m not going to miss, I’ve got plenty of stuff to burn through but I do have to say I’m personally insulted.

I have to say the personal insult I’ve endured is what makes the phrase a turn off for me. And I know people who don’t mean it in the way my brain has misconstrued it and I know I can’t be the only person that has gotten seriously jipped in one of these transactions.

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1978 Bendy Godzilla from GLJ

If I was asked which character in history has had the most impact on my life, I would have to say Godzilla would more than likely outrank Benjamin Franklin but would be just about equal with Nikola Tesla. Godzilla has been a very big part of my life, it was the first monster movie I was introduced to as a child. Throughout my earlier childhood and up to her death, my grandmother bought me Godzilla toys for my birthday on a yearly basis. Several Imperial brand Godzillas, the Shogun Warriors one from Mattel, numerous model kits and even a couple of Horizons large vinyl figures. She had a connection with someone in her doll club who’s daughter was a professional wrestler in Japan and every so often I got 3-6 inch Bandai vinyls too. This, of course, led me to buying Godzilla and other Kaiju toys into my adult life. But there has been one particular Godzilla I’ve wanted for a very long time.

(I just like this photo.)
(carded photo care of www.plaidstallions.com)

Well, there’s several I want to add to my collection but one in particular that’s been slightly out of my price range and pretty much unbeknownst to me until recently. Back in the mid-late 70s, AHI made many monster related toys. Granted, for an officially licensed product of Universal Studios and by today’s standards the designs are comical and childish looking but they hold a particularly fond place in my heart. I mentioned in an earlier blog I had acquired an AHI Dracula and I consider him a prized possession, but it fueled the fire to acquire more of the collection. These are a pricey venture, even loose and beat up AHI bendies fetch $30+ and I just can’t consciously spend that much on something I know I’ll find in a 4/$1 bin at a flea market. I’m good at biding my time till a deal comes my way. Even Creature from the Black Lagoon and King Kong got in on the AHI bendy action but, sadly, no Godzilla. He wasn’t part of the Universal Monsters, Godzilla belongs to Toho and Toho rarely ever licenses their brands outside Japan. But one day while searching Plaid Stallions website I found the perfect Godzilla to compliment the AHI collection I was amassing.

(www.flickr.com/photos/ragingnerdgasm)
(www.flickr.com/photos/ragingnerdgasm)

A company I’m still researching about released a licensed Godzilla bendy very much in the same vein as the AHI monsters. In 1978, GLJ released a bendy Godzilla on a very goofy looking card depicting the figure itself engaged in battle within what looks like a model train table. Honestly, the creativity makes me want a carded example even harder now. During one of my recent trips to Planet Retro in downtown St Pete I saw a loose bendy Godzilla nestled between different sofubi in a glass cabinet. I was already there on another mission to buy something for my wife so I had to take a gamble and leave it behind till my next payday. The owner of the shop and I are cool and he would have held it for me, I just have a strange thing about being one of “those guys” who gets into a habit of having friends hold things for me till I got the money to buy it. I’m very particular how I handle business, I pay people what they want and if I can’t afford it then let someone else buy it. It’s a strange thing to some people but being a vendor at times myself, I’ve gotten to be a very “money talks” kind of guy. To make an already long story short, I came back and bought it.

(www.flickr.com/photos/ragingnerdgasm)
(www.flickr.com/photos/ragingnerdgasm)

Finally getting the GLJ Godzilla in hand makes me happy I didn’t get him when I was a kid. I was never rough with my toys but he has a feel about him like he wouldn’t survive long in the pocket of an rambunctious 7 year old. He’s the right color green to be complimentary to the memory of the Godzilla he represents and the spines that run down his back and tail are painted white at the tips so the stand out against the green. The whole body is given a black paint wash to make what I assume is their idea of sculpted scales to pop out. The scales in question make Godzilla look more like your fingers after a long swim, all pruned and wrinkled. The look on Godzilla’s face is somewhere on the scale of “I want to give you a hug” and “I want to give you a hug and poke you a little with my penis….and maybe eat your face”. The big goofy grin is infectious though, I could just sit and stare at this toy and still get the same kind of joy out of it in a year from now that I’m getting at this moment. It is a bendy and while all of the wires in mine are intact, the thickness of Godzilla’s body prohibits much of the movement. The tail bends freely but only looks good in it’s original prone position. I still consider the toy a win for myself and my collection, I wouldn’t have bought it if I hadn’t felt differently. There’s a lot of crappy Godzilla merchandise but this is far from it.

(www.flickr.com/photos/ragingnerdgasm)
(www.flickr.com/photos/ragingnerdgasm)

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Arco Sumo action figure

Arco Sumo action figure

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Sumo from Arco