Saturday, December 13, 2008

TOY ROBTOS vs H-TOWN:the battle continues

Vintage Space Toast Tour Houston 2008 has managed to turn another (supposed to be) vacation into a two week long hellish chaotic vortex brawl swindle onlaught blast off of anxiety, obsession, bouts with depression, bouts with old newspapers, snow in Texas, laser beams and repeated trips to the library. It ends in spectacular fashion today as my in-laws attempt to take care of my son for a couple of hours and I head off one last time to the main library downtown all by myself. Combaticons! The combination of myself and the Prince of Macrocrania was not enough to fell the mighty Jesse H. Jones Building. I think at one point he lost a whole graham cracker in the microfilm machine but I couldn't find it. Despite all of the madness and with the help of God, baby God, Baby Jesus and Santa Claus I have managed to get some pretty great new* toy robots ads for the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. (And by "God" I mean "GoDaikin robots".) After Houston we pack up Optimus Lime and Stroller and drive to my hometown of El Paso. I don't expect there'll be any more ads looking for the Space Palace Vintage Toasters but you know what they say-the road to Texas is paved with Autobot ads.

*twenty year old

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I got that new Transformers Sunstreaker from Hasbro's Transformers Universe line that's a really nice update to the old one from 24 years ago. It's great but one thing that bugs me is the lack of a chrome spoiler like the old one had. For the Japanese release of this new Sunstreaker Takara chromed the spoiler and engine and I really wanted that version, but not $25 really wanted it (which is what the toy robots importers were selling it for). My cheapness fascinates me because I remember my parents bought my Sunstreaker at Sears where Autobot cars cost $10.99 in 1984, which when adjusted for inflation is $21.67 in today's money. Why is it okay for my dad to shell out over 20 bucks to buy me toy robots in 1984 but I can't swallow the extra $3.33 24 years later? I would like to say it's because as a mature adult who knows the value of a dollar I recognize that $25 toy robots are not smart ways to spend one's money during the current economic crisis, but mostly it boils down to I am unemployed.


When I was a silly kid I used to glue aluminum foil to the parts of my toys where the chrome rubbed off hoping to restore them. Now that I am a silly adult I can afford much more expensive methods of getting the same substandard results. So I went to Hobby Lobby and spent some more of my wife's money on a foil plating kit hoping that I could magically chrome my toy robot Lamborghini spoiler just as good as the Japanses do, all the while knowing that it probably won't look as good and I'm probably going to end up spending more than $25 making mine look like ass. Then once I got home and read all the instructions I gave up because I am lazy. I was beginning to notice a pattern.


Since I hold Hasbro responsible for starting me on this latest downward spiral into robotarded idiocy, I really wanted to ask them why they didn't chrome the Sunstreaker spoilers in the first place. Thanks to Hasbro's Q&A session over at The Parry Game Preserve, they answered my question! I was expecting the answer to be something like, "Look dude, it ain't easy selling chrome robot lamborghinis to our target market of children and roboholic grown men when both are usually unemployed," or "Have you tried Reynolds Wrap?" Instead they pretty much admitted they use shitty plastic that bends too easy. They can try to sugar coat the truth with fancy explanations about plastic chemistry but in the end it turns out they're just as cheap and lazy as I am. It is cosmic justice. Cheap lazy robots for cheap lazy people. Unchromed toy robot lamborghini spoiler is the damning indictment of my generation. I am sure that at some point Obama held unchromed toy robot lamborghini spoiler in his hands and with a tear in his eye he looked up to the sky where baby Jesus lives and vowed, I will change this! But it will be too late for me. I deserve unchromed toy robot lamborghini spoiler because I am more machine now than man, twisted and evil. Also unemployed.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


I've carved a life out of living in the middle of nowhere so staying in the big city is always a shock to both my senses and wallet. Downtown Houston has dangers more perilous than any threat Indiana Jones ever went up against like $1.50 for 15 minutes in the parking garages, a bus system that doesn't sell transfers and $3 ATM fees. But every day this past week I've been braving them all with my son in tow so we can enjoy the mind blowing thrill of going to the library and searching through rolls and rolls of microfilm for old toy robots newspaper ads from 1987.


Actually, Vintage Space Toast Tour Houston 2008 is going pretty craptastically. The baby can't take sitting with me in front of the machine for more than three rolls before he violently melts down from the boredom and we have to leave. On top of that I find I'm getting a bit tired of all of this, like being the Indiana Jones of toy robots archaeology has gotten old. The more ads I collect the less likely it is I'll find anything new, and lately the vast majority of ads I see are things I already have at the Vintage Space Toaster Palace or in my backlog of ads I have yet to put up. Plus Houston has so much other stuff to see and do that I'm wondering if looking at microfilm for hours on end is how I want to spend my last week here. For instance, a local theater is showing Gremlins this weekend! Either I'm getting too old for this or I need to apply myself to my pointless hobbies more.

Friday, December 05, 2008


The Prince of Macrocrania and I made an unintended overnight stop on our road trip from South Dakota to my native Texas when shortly after leaving Oklahoma City I saw a billboard on the side of the road for the Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. I thought, "Action Figure Museum? Why have I never heard of that before?" Then I realized that while my life experience may grant me a Doctorate in Roboplasticology, when it comes to action figures I only have a couple of community college credits in Spider-Man that don't transfer anywhere. So instead of making it into Dallas as I had planned that night, I decided we'd stay in Pauls Valley and check it out the next day before moving on to Texas. The museum visit derailed and delayed my progress toward Houston just as action figures have derailed and delayed countless toy nerds' progress toward emotional maturity. But like Texas, emotional maturity really ain't all that great once you get there so you may as well have some fun playing with little plastic dolls for boys along the way.

Now I may be dumb about action figures but this was pretty much my idea of action figure Heaven (or Nirvana or Valhalla or that place they took Bilbo to at the end of Return of the King). There were glass case displays of GI Joes, He-Mans, Star Warses and others and a whole room dedicated to Batman. There were a couple of huge dioramas like the one of an action figure collector's room that they have a picture of at their museum image gallery. That was at least thirty feet tall and fifty feet wide and crammed with over a thousand loose and carded figures (including a Defiant Shuttle complex). That alone was worth the six bucks admission. Also there were assloads of carded and loose figures from hundreds of different toylines crammed on every available square inch of horizontal space throughout. I am amazed that anyone could erect such a massive public tribute to the last 30 years of the Wal-Mart action figure aisle. (Toy robots have inspired some erections of my own, but they are nowhere near as massive and I prefer to keep them private.)

Aside from a glass case located out front, there was another area dedcated to Star Wars at the back of the museum. It had a display with carded figures from many Star Wars lines from '78 through the present. That was cool but what I loved was the wall of newspaper clippings, cardbacks and ads for vintage Star Wars toys. They also had the new Hasbro Millenium Falcon on display which I have never seen out of the box. This area might not be all that impressive compared to some dealer booths at toy conventions or even some people's mom's basements, but to me it was fantastic being surrounded by this collection of reminders taking me back to my wasted, squandered, misspent childhood.

Would a more discerning action figure enthusiast like the Pauls Valley Action Figure Museum? I remember back in episode 55 of Big Kev's Geek Stuff, Kev went to the Toy Museum in Natural Bridge, Virgina and although that place way outclasses the Action Figure Museum I went to, Big Kev found it lacking. Now Kev is a bigger action figure fan than I so if he thought the Toy Museum in Virginia sucked then he'd probably hate this place and I imagine all of the same critisisms he had there apply here thousandfold. But I think museums dedicated to toys are a phenomenon in its infancy and they'll probably get better as they grow. The loudest critics may be collectors with collections that would dwarf these museums, but those guys ironically have no place to put them. If anyone wants to say the Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley sucks then go ahead, but first honestly ask yourself if anyone would journey across the country to your mom's basement and pay six bucks to look at your erection. It is probably not the kind of question an emotionally mature adult has pondered, but I can tell it's crossed the mind of at least a couple Oklahomans.

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.

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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.