Tuesday, June 02, 2009

VINTAGE SPACE TOAST TOUR PASADENA (part 1): Momma always told me a library is like a box of robots

My mom is from Los Angeles so when I was little I was able to go there on summer vacations and visit my grandfather's house where she grew up. I remember the summer of '85 when we were visiting L.A. and I got to go to the Universal Studios Transformers Base Camp. My aunt bought me my first Constructicons at a Thrifty Drug store there. I haven't been back to my grandfather's house since Botcon was last held in Pasadena in 2004. So after all these years I was really excited to hear that Botcon would be in Pasadena again, and not just because of its proximity to places of great importance in Transfromers cartoon history. I was excited because Vintage Space Toast Tour Pasadena would be a chance to look through the full uncut archive of Los Angeles Times microfilm newspapers and see my grandfather's house again. I didn't hit up the Pasadena library back in '04 so this time I swore I would take a couple days to spend at the library, just as normal people take a couple days to go visit Disneyland or Universal Studios when they're in Los Angeles. That excitement and anticipation I have over going to the library is why I initially wanted to name this post "Vintage Space Toast Tour Pasadena: SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG WITH ME JUNE 2009 UPDATE".


Sears 10/03/78
So finally after all these years, like a professional sport fisherman journeying to the perfect spot to fish the biggest, rarest fish, I journeyed to the Pasadena main library to search for the biggest, rarest toy robots ads. And holy crap is this Sears ad from October 3, 1978 a whopper of a find. So far as I know the only mechanized Shogun Warrior ever released in the US was Zargon, who was actually Gaiking (the guy with the skull chest and big horns) from the Japanese Mecharobo line, just renamed and repackaged by Mattel. In Japan, the Mecharobo line consisted of Gaiking and Combattler V, but the general consensus amongst toy robots archaeologists is that a Mattel version of Mecharobo Combattler V was never released in the US. Or was it? The great thing about this ad is that while Zargon is the name used, the line art depicts not Gaiking/Zargon, but Combattler V! Why would Sears use line art of a toy that was never released stateside? How would they even get line art of a toy that was never released stateside? Is this proof of a rare Mattel version of Mecharobo Combattler V? I don't know! It is quite possibly more likely proof of something else-that I am dumb about Shogun Warriors.


The Guild 12/14/83
I was already feeling a bit out of my league after finding Zargon-that-was-not-Zargon when I stumbled upon this 14 December '83 ad from a store called "The Guild" for a Zoid that I never knew existed. I wasn't at all aware that there was such a thing as the "Power Zoids" line but after much internet searching I found out this subline of the original American release consisted of two battery powered Zoids-Tank and Serpent. They were exclusive to Europe and the US and were never released in Japan. I thought the only battery powered Zoid from '83 was the Giant Zrk, speaking of which I found a couple ads for that guy, too. I remember last year when finding a Giant Zrk ad was like a holy grail of my toy robots ad collecting and then in Pasadena I found no less than three of them! The strange thing is that two of those Zrk ads came from stores during a time period (late 1983) that I swore I had already searched through before. Either I completely missed them or TRU and K-Mart ran ads in Los Angeles that they didn't run in the other cities I've been to. But while it was fun and fascinating to think L.A. was a source of exclusive content, it was also very disappointing when I found that after 1986 the Los Angeles Times microfilms no longer included the pull out ad circulars. All that post-1986 toy robots ad history is lost and it sucks because there are ads for certain holy grail items like the unconfirmed GoBotron Fortress that if they existed would probably have been advertised in a Los Angeles newspaper.

ToysRUs 12/01/83
KMart 11/06/83

Speaking of GoBots, Los Angeles had some of the best GoBots ads I have ever seen. While there's not much left to find that would excite me about Transformers or Voltron ads, there's still much to uncover when it comes to GoBots ads. For example, you know how every major licensed toy property from the 80s had an electric racing track? Ads for the Transformers and Voltron electric racing tracks have become quite common in my searches but I'd never found one for the GoBots race track until I found this Zody's ad from December 1st 1985. Ads for the GoBots model kits are always tough to find and this Sav-On ad from November 28 1984 is the first time I've ever seen one for the big Cy-Kill (which is the recolored Monogram version of the Imai Mospeada 1/12 Lancer Cyclone variable kit). Did Robotech have anything cool left for their own line?

SavOn 11/28/84
Zodys 12/01/85

Well I gotta cut it short now but in the final installment of highlights from Vintage Space Toast Tour Pasadena I'll show a pretty cool Godaikin ad, a super rare ad for those crazy Diakron Robot Cars from the Future, a heartbreaking Robotech ad, some ridiculous Voltron tie-ins and an old announcement for quite possibly the most insanely awesome store appearance ever by Wheeled Warriors the size of golf carts.


Weasel said...

Damn, I am impressed. More please.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams when I can make a Shogun Warrior and some Zoids and GoBots interesting to a die-hard Transformer fan!

Oh hey, I bought a pack of Bumblebee M&Ms yesterday. It was yellow and everything!

Weasel said...

Ah, geez, don't scare her like that, man. We know full well that 'Bee only shows up on brown (plain) M&Ms packaging. Have a heart, willya? I'm tired of talking her down from the ceiling fan.


Evil King Macrocranios said...

Oh whoops! I got that wrong! Didn't mean to cause a roboplastic apocalypse over there. Still, that's pretty funny.

agentmorris said...

EKM: So how many Maiden tunes did you have in your MP3 Soundwave during the VTSP dig?

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Lately I've been listening to podcasts instead of music when I'm at the library. In Pasadena it was lots of Guycast and Stuck n the 80s. But once I hit Florida I'm getting the new Maiden DVD.

Weasel said...

'Scuse me a sec... *smacks Prime*

I've got at least three empty M&Ms wrappers buried in a drawer. Take a wild guess who's on them.

But try as I might, I can't find the Robo-nougat bar. I am being denied BB's nuts, dammit! ;)

(Going to hell for that one.)

agentmorris said...

It's so awesome you get to come down here to the swamp. It's a beautiful wasteland all its own.


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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.