Tuesday, December 02, 2008

When wanking to the GoDaiKin catalog just isn't enough

There's a book with a lot of pictures of old japanese toy robots. I don't actively go out looking for reading materials about toy robots but I found it at the used book store so I thought, hell yeah. It's one robot a page for 200 pages and the pictures are so well lit with such fine composition that it reminds me of a catalog of diamond jewlery, except toy robots. This is a level of photographic professionalism usually only seen in posters of exotic sports cars with motivational sayings hanging on the walls at sports bars. As I flip through the pages I wonder what is more retarded-that this subject matter was afforded this level of reverence or that I just paid six bucks for 200 pictures of Japanese toy robots.


"Super #1 Robot Japanese Robot Toys 1972-1982" highlights some of the best Japanese toy robots from the period between 1972 and 1982. Knowledge of these toys is what differentiates the elite toy robots enthusiasts from average scummy ignorant American Transformer fans like me. It is understandable. Die hard robometallico fans look down upon me for not knowing what a Dairugger is in the same condescending manner I dismiss as uncultured those who don't know which Dinobot was the Tyrannosaurus (which means that deep down inside they must wish they were Rob Thomas like I do). Still, having some knowledge of what toys came before the Great Toy Robots Wars of the 1980s is important if one is to write about toy robots with any degree of credibility. The authors' robocredibility gets established in the 22 page introduction where they chronicle the history of Japanese toy robots, which all sounded very robocredible until I got to the end where they stated Transformers were released in the US in 1983. Getting what year we could first buy Bumblebee at K-Mart wrong doesn't seem to affect the book's glowing reviews at Amazon, but it kind of deflates my Desert Dogs. No matter. I will now take what they got right about Japanese toy robots, combine it with what I know of American ones and nominate myself as the Roboplastic Laureate of the Central Time Zone.


I am most grateful for Super #1 Robot because it gave me the opportunity to see what toys all those snobby hardcore oldschool Japanese robots collectors have built robometallic shrines with in the most honored areas of their closets and garages. I used to feel bad for not knowing or having all the old Japanese robots, then thanks to this book I realized they were stupid. While there are some great toys like the Takara Henshin Cyborg and the stuff that went on to become Shogun Warriors and GoDaiKin, the vast majority of the rest of the pages in the book are filled by toys that look like thier designs were inspired by mexican wrestlers or gumball machines. I do realize that Japan is not the only guilty party here. It's natural to wonder if there were overlooked toy robot lines the US market may not have imported from Japan during that time, but after looking through all the wierd design motifs incorporating elements of everything from cooking utensils to various salamanders, I think another fitting title for this book would be "Japanese Robot Toys, 1972-1982: Don't Worry, You Didn't Miss Anything Good".

(Here's the part where I complain that they left out Super Most Important Robot #1-the red Countach LP500S Super Tuning robot Lamorghini that kicked off Takara's Diaclone Car Robots line in late 1982. Instead, S#1RJRT1972-1982 has ten pages dedicated to Macross mecha, the line where the majority are the same F-14 robot just with a different head.)


Super #1 Robot leaves me impressed not by the design of these toys but by the skill of the photographer and if he does another book with pictures of mexican wrestlers, various salamanders and bubblegum machines I'll be the first one in line. Aside from lovers of vintage Japanese toy robots who own these already I can't see what broader appeal this book would have short of being a freakshow of robot toys. I'd say it's definitely worth 6 bucks just for the picture of the one I call "Super Racist Blackface Robot Cat". I can't see paying the full cover of $18 bucks unless you feel that owning this book is the minimum criteria for having credible roboplastic opinions for your blog about Megan Fox's butt or your sports bar needs pictures on the wall for a "Robotroid Breakfast Cereal Mascots from Planet GoBotron" motif.


Rob said...

I think I found a picture of the blackface robot cat you mentioned.

I also found this.

Heavyarms said...

I think some of the robots featured in Super #1 Robot are ones I took pictures of when I went to seen Invasion: Japanese Robots from the Collection of Warren Schwartz at the LSU Museum of Art.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Oh god Rob, the real thing is worse than any of those!

Heavyarms I remember that post being the first time I ever wrote a comment on someone else's blogspot. I should have remembered you were the first to tell me about that book! And what's up with Mister Anonymous commenter hating on the collection guy? What an asshole!


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