Wednesday, May 07, 2008

HOW ABOUT ROBOTS! OR: Vintage Space Toast Tour Cincinnati-Space toasters up and down the dial

I got a Zrkload of good stuff for the Vintage Space Toaster Palace while I was in Cincinnati. It may seem stupid that I showed up to Botcon three days early since I didn't preregister and wasn't doing any of the special tours or classes, but I did it because Botcon was actually secondary to the real reason I was there-to collect old toy robots newspaper ads for the VSTP at the Cincinnati main library. Instead of the library being where I went when I wasn't at Botcon, it was more like Botcon was where I went when I wasn't at the library. Making ad collecting the main focus of my Botcon vacation was only possible because the Botcon convention center/robot fan containment facility was downtown within walking distance of the library.

The Cincinnati library had some really nice microfilm readers and good quality microfilm. I was able to get better copies of some ads I'd run across before which was great, but what made Cincinnati an ideal place to look for old ads was the variety of stores they had back in the day. Along with robot heavy ads from well known chains like Gold Circle, Zayre, Toys R Us and Children's Palace, they also had some crazy named stores like Shillito Rikes and Swallen's. I'd never heard of these before but that's because I'm from the desert southwest where we considered stores like Revco and Pic 'n Save blessings from the retail gods.

There was this one Shillito-Rikes ad from December 8, 1985 I especially liked where the lead-in text is simply "HOW ABOUT ROBOTS!". IT IS NOT A QUESTION! Jim the ad guy was probably trying to figure out how to fill that square of ad space and he asks the other ad guy, "What should we put here, Bob?" and Bob goes, "I don't know, how about robots?" And Jim goes "Sounds good to me!" The ad goes on to describe their "great selection" that included "Zibots (sic) and Convertors". The problem is that if your selection included Zybotz and Convertors, then by definition it is not great by the standards of the day. But man it sure is awesome that this ad featured the Convertors Maladroid Zardak! Zardak is also known as "weird black recolor of the VF-1S from Macross/Robotech". Good job, Bob!

But the first ad that made me do a double take in Cincinnati was a Maijer ad from 22 November of '84 that featured the Max Steele Erector set! I couldn't believe I found an ad for something so obscure. I started thinking that I may be the world's foremost enthusiast of old robot newspaper ads when I found myself crapping my pants about a Max Steele Erector set ad. Maybe it's not so obscure, though. Max Steele's Robo Force was another one of those marketing onslaughts with all sorts of cross promotional tie-ins from books to board games to telephones. I've already found an ad for the Robo Force Pop-O-Matic game so I don't know why I got all excited about the Erector set ad. Max Steele's Robo Force was just like every other mega popular robot toyline in the mass merchandising aspect, except that nobody bought it.

But the Max Steel erection was nothing compared to when I found this Children's Palace ad from December 11, 1983 for the Zoids Giant Zrk! I was absolutely floored! I was Zrking off! Zoids newspaper ads have been extremely rare in my searching and now I had the big daddy bad ass of the original line. I still remember having the first three and I really really wanted the Giant Zrk when the commercials for it started airing, but I never got it. I remember Giant Zrk being an unstoppable colossus of plastic robot dinosaur parts, its mighty frame barely held together by countless thousands of little blue rubber Zoid pegs trembling under the massive nuclear-level power generated by two C batteries. Now looking back I think my childhood perceptions may have been distorted by commercial camera trickery and too much Froot Loops.

I really don't know jack about GoBots but I do recognize rarity when I see it, and this Toys R Us ad from December 5th of '85 advertises a pretty rare GoBot thing. It's the Guardian Headquarters, a put-it-together yourself GoBot base that's fascinating to me because it's scaled to interact with the Super Go-Bots. Unfortunately it's one of those cardboard cut out playsets that every kid thought was lame back in the day, which means now that they're adult collectors they all think it was awesome and everybody wants one, so consequently nobody can find them because there are probably only three surviving samples in existence. This is actually not that bad because by "everybody" I mean every hardcore GoBots collector, and those guys are rarer than the Guardian Headquarters.

But easily the rarest of the rare ass rare robot ads I have ever found was this Meijer ad for Takara's Kronoform Attakon and Invacepton robot spaceships from December 1st of 1985. I usually see Kronoform ads pop up but it's always for the Multiforce 14. I have never ever seen one for either of these two robots and for it to be so late in the eighties is pretty astounding for me. It only my speculation based on this ad as evidence, but I think Takara didn't stop distributing their own robots in the US despite having the Transformers license granted to Hasbro. Kronoform still being advertised as late as December of '85? I used to think the only post-Transformers product of theirs they kept distributing were the the Kronoform robot watches. This could possibly be dead stock or some sort of warehouse clearance so who knows. All I know is that the Invacepton is hard to find information on and thank almighty Chai Chai Rodrigweez for MicroForever.

That wraps up this sneak peek into the ads I found while in Cincinnati. I've got a lot of updating to do over at the VSTP. I kept wondering why I only had about 80 pictures of Botcon on my camera when the total number I took while I was on vacation was over 600. Around 500 pictures ended up being toy ads from 1983-1985. I guess I really didn't go to Botcon 2008, I went to Cincinnati 1984.


Heavyarms said...

Speaking of Converter Maladroids, did you get my e-mail re: Revoltech Regult?

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Holy crap! I'm an idiot! I just barely found your email!

That Regult is awesome! My first reaction is that the eye and the overall "head" look a little small, but that's just my own recollection which is probably bad. I don't think it'd be in scale with the Revoltech VFs, would it? I finally saw some Revoltechs over at Botcon and they looked like they'd be around 1/100 scale.

Heavyarms said...

Well, I would say that the Revoltech figures as a whole are a little stylized, so the design probably isn't spot-on show accurate. My Revoltech VF-1 stands just a hair over 10 cm tall, but if the legs weren't spread so far apart, I guess it'd be about 12 cm, which would make it 1/100 scale. Maybe a little smaller.

If the stand that comes with the Battle Pod is the same as the one that comes with the VF-1 (and it should be), the revoltech joint on the end of the stand is level with the VF-1's head. The Battle Pod looks like its about 2-3 cm taller.


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