Thursday, June 28, 2012


Florida Supercon starts tomorrow! As you can see from the little personalized schedule widget thingy below, I am trying to pack my weekend with as much José Delbo, Denny O' Neil, Roy Tomas, Gregg Berger, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Alan Oppenheimer as possible.


I tried to get into the Supercon mood by re-listening to the podcastalypse I recorded there last year. While the interviews with Ken Lashley and Gregg Berger were pretty cool, I think the parts where I was doing the solo con reporting could have been a little more interesting. So here's to hoping the podcastalypse I'm recording this weekend at Florida Supercon 2012 comes out a whole lot better (and also that Larry "Lion-O" Kenney forgets all those uncomfortable questions I asked him during his panel last year!)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


The 46th episode of the Roboplastic Podcastalypse is as much fun as taking a 1.21 jigawatt taser beam to your earholes as I fire up the GoBackaTron 1985thousand and contemplate how swap meets in comic shop parking lots, overpriced Ebay auction nostalgia terrorism, cloning yourself the hard way, and going to the library too much are all actually time travel secrets of the Mandalorian moon masters. Would you trade a 1985 Matchbox Zentraedi Officer Battle Pod for a 2007 Hasbro TIE Interceptor? Is fifty bucks too much for an old button made out of aluminum foil with robot holograms on it? When did Kenner's original Star Wars figures and Hasbro's initial wave of Dinobots first hit the stores anyway? And would you believe me if I said I saw a Wookie with 9 backs? All this plus mysterious kindergarten secrets from 1979 my talking Boba Fett doll whispers in my ear in this "THE BEST TIME I EVER HAD IN 1985 IS THE ONE I'M HAVING RIGHT NOW" edition of the podcastalypse!

Or download it directly


The cheapy bins at the Tate's Community Park and Swap outdoor selling/trading event were really awesome. I was digging through the 25 cent bins to find my son something and I scored a Sonic the Hedgehog figure, an R2-D2 and some recent Transformer movie Happy Meal toys which were cool but then holy hell I found a five inch Shogun Warriors Great Mazinga. In the 25 cent bin! It was missing the jetpack and the swords but that bin was so amazing that they were probably there and I didn't look for them thoroughly enough. Well had the day ended at that point I would have been happy but then I found some cool Robotech vehicles in another bin. I got them both for 20 bucks! Not bad, but I figured that's about the going rate for this Playmates ExoSquad reissue stuff. But when I got home I realized that wasn't what these were!


So it turns out the weird blue tint on the Veritech from the Swap & Meet wasn't the only clue that this was an original '85 Matchbox release. It didn't have the Playmates copyright stamping and the boosters were also a different shade of green. All the pictures I'd seen online of the original '85 release showed it being rather white and that's how I remembered it so I didn't think this one was an original. I thought it was some kind of goofy Playmates variant color. But if you look really closely at the above picture with the original on the left and the Playmates ExoSquad version on the right, you can spot the slight blue tint and other differences. It's really hard to capture the light blue tint with digital cameras but it's obvious in real life. As for the Zentraedi Officer's Battle Pod, I traded that away at the Park & Swap for a 2007 Hasbro TIE Interceptor before I realized it was the original '85 version. I cried about that a little and it sort of started this depressive spiral of contemplation about the nature of materialism, nostalgia, and some of the latest embarrassing things I've done in the name of American toy robots of Japanese toy robots. I may not know original Robotech when I see it, but I know quality robotarded entertainment when I'm listening to it in my head, so I whipped out the recorder and vwaa-laaa!

Hecht Co. 09 March 1978
Otasco 30 March 1978


So I spend a lot of time in this episode looking for the best way to get the purest nostalgic hit possible short of jumping in a real time machine. But then I end up deciding it's pretty cool living in the present because of all the many ways there are nowadays to live in the past. Even if I could go back 1978 and witness the launch of the very first Star Wars figures, I wouldn't have the same experience as someone else in 1978 living in Chicago or Pennsylvania or wherever. But nowadays through the GoBackaTronian marvels of microfilm and internet newspaper archive sites, I can dig up ads from different cities and relive the fun as if I were in multiple places all at once, which wouldn't be possible in my single time machine scenario. So as I check out the above ads from early 1978 and see how stores initially only had nine Star Wars figures available (Death Squad Commander, Jawa and Sand People were not listed among these initial assortments), I wonder if the future would be an even better place to investigate the mysteries of the past. The conventional wisdom is that there were twelve Star Wars figures originally and not just nine, but these ads go contrary to that. I have faith that with the help of future technology, by 2078 we'll definitively know how exactly Star Wars figure assortments shipped in 1978. I just kind of wish we could come to a consensus on the what year the Dinobots originally came out before my 110th birthday in 2084.


    Not bad for ten bucks!

    DrugFair 02/03/85
  • Post Tate's Community Park & Swap excitement
  • Tantalyzing and mysterious Robotech score
  • The 50 cent bin Great Mazinga
  • Trading an '85 Matchbox Zentraedi Officer Battle Pod for a 2007 Hasbro elite TIE Interceptor
  • Last minute TF collector case adventure
  • promo-Voltron / Robotech power hour on WPWR Chicago
  • commercial-Robotech Wars VHS tape (It's the last one)
  • Lowdown of contents of the $10 TF collector case
  • Always lift up the tray!
  • Radio Free Cybertron segment about the tanking secondary market for G1 Transformers
  • Paying six bucks for Devastator at a garage sale in 1988
  • Slight trader's remorse
  • Color differences between '85 Matchbox and '95 Playmates Robotech vehicles
  • Getting a $15 B-Wing at K-Mart
  • The different nostalgic effects resulting from buying old crap
  • Mainline, substitutionary, and placebo nostalgic effects
  • Roger Barr's "Yeah That Exists" YouTube episode triggering Lazer Blazer Transformers button memories
  • Paying way too much for a hologram button
  • The $48.50 time machine
  • Succumbing to the overpriced buttholery of nostalgia terrorists
  • New segment on the podcastalypse-F.I.S.H.B.O.T. (Fuck I Should Have Bid On That)
  • Everyone wants the host to be sad
  • Fishbot #1-The Decepticon pack of Transformers Color Me Stickers
  • Nobody will appreciate those stickers as much as me (except the guy that won them)
  • commercial-TIE Interceptor / B-Wing
  • commercial-Early Bird Certificate
  • Live from Ft. Lauderdalius Maximus
  • Hot tip on a Dinobots ad
  • Different levels of nostalgic effect achievable through non-materialism based time travel
  • Longing for a more immersive time travel experience
  • The kid who would bring his Boba Fett to kindergarten in '79
  • Alternate methods of getting the purest nostalgic high
  • Cloning yourself the hard way (and letting him play with your toys)
  • Living through 1978 twice in one life
  • Living multiple childhoods by reading multiple different newspapers
  • The nostalgic effect of being a giant Boba Fett on the moon
  • The technological evolution of old newspaper ad looking
  • Online archives like googlenews and
  • The misconception that Dinobots were first released in 1985
  • Dinobots in an October 26, 1984 Eaton's ad
  • ...and also a December 9,1984 Eckerd ad
  • Still going to the library to hunt down ads
  • Combatra, Micronaut and Star Wars ad looking made easy
  • The early 1978 excitement retail stores had over getting Star Wars figures
  • Early Star Wars ads with only 9 figures in the line
  • The technologically obsolete Vintage Space Toaster Palace
  • Florida Supercon where Denny O'Neil, José Delbo, Bill Sienkewicz and me will be there
  • Don't Rocket Punch your friends!

Do as I say, not as I Buy-It-Now

Saturday, June 02, 2012


The 45th episode of the Roboplastic Podcastalypse combines the fantasy of outer space with the creativity of interlocking building modules and the fun of a powerful, pull back motor! Yes it's a Robotroidian Podcastalypse as the Nostrodomatron reflects on Takara's 1984 line of Diacloneish, Legonian toy robot building block sets that were neither Diaclone nor Lego but that really kind of reminded you of them. Wasn't knocking off Legos to make robot cars in 1984 a trademark violation? Wasn't EVERY Takara robot car toy in 1984 some kind of trademark violation? What were the differences between Robotroid and its Japanese counterpart, Bloccar? Did Robotroid inspire famous erotic poetry in the late 90s? And what the heck is Kre-O supposed to mean anyways? All this and more brick-a-brac than you can fill a galactic trailer with in this BLOCK ON! edition of the podcastalypse!

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The best visual documentary series on 70s sci-fi action figures
At the dawn of the Modern Roboplastic Age (around 1977), the Japanese toy robots Picassos otherwise known as Takara had a partnership with American action doll makers Mego, providing Takara a North American distribution network for their Microman line of sci-fi robot figures (that for whatever reason had fabulous hairstyles). The resulting rebranded Micronauts started out strong but Mego died after eduring fierce North American competition from Star Wars, Shogun Warriors,Starroid Raiders, Star Team and about a billion other lines with 'star' and/or 'war' in their name. Possibly because metrosexual robots were not as big a hit as they expected, Mego went bankrupt in 1982. Undaunted by the loss of their North American distribution partner, Takara still had future hits Blockman, Bloccar, Dougram and Diaclone ready for overseas markets. So they found alternate means of distributing their sci-fi robots in North America, usually involving US based toy companies who shared Takara's philosophy that the key to marketing robots was to use lots of glowing grid patterns on the boxes.

Robotroid boxes evolved from the previous year's Diakron, which had a packaging design that would be adopted for Transformers. Robotroid packaging is radically different from its Bloccar counterparts.


Takara eventually let Revell take Blockman and distribute it as Robolinks and let Hasbro rebrand some Diaclone and Microman toys (the ones that did not have fabulous hair) as Transformers. Their partnerships with other companies didn't stop their direct distribution business, though. North America's appetite for toy robots was so ravenous and Takara was so prolific at making them that they continued directly distributing their remaining lines throughout much of the critical period of history known as the Toy Robots Wars of the 1980s. Initially Takara took Diaclone and sold it as Diakron in the US and in '84 their Bloccar line (which was pretty much Diaclone reborn in Lego) became Robotroid. Hasbro's Transformers (a.k.a. 'Super Grid Robots Package Diakron') line went on to attract an underground cult following thanks in large part to masterful usage of grid patterns but unfortunately Bloccar/Robotroid's grids were not powerful enough to sustain it beyond one year.

The Bloccar 201 / Robotroid Space Station was the largest set produced in both lines


To note the differences between the way Takara packaged Bloccar and its American counterpart Robotroid is to get a glimpse into their perceptions of the two different cultures they were marketing to. One would imagine Japanese children would be obsessed with robots and American children would be obsessed with cars, but Takara played against cultural stereotypes and featured car modes prominently on their Bloccar packages and robot modes on the Robotroid ones. It is as if they are saying to Japanese children, "Yes you can use these to build robots, but you're a Japanese kid and you can already build a robot out of anything, so check out this CAR." And to the American kids the message was, "Yes you can use these to build cars, but you're an American kid and you can already build a car out of anything, so check out this ROBOT." They even incorporated 'car' and 'robot' into the brand names, emphasizing two entirely different aspects of the same toys depending on which market they'd be sold. But would they have been more successful if they'd swapped the two approaches and pushed the car aspect in America and the robot angle in Japan? And what the heck is 'Kre-O' supposed to mean anyways? Really, what's a Kre-O?


Here's my best attempt at compiling a list of all the sets released under both Robotroid and Bloccar. My Japanese is terrible so I may have screwed up some of the name translations (or not even attempted them). The following pictures are from the backs of the packages of the larger Robotroid and Bloccar sets.

Robotroid Robot 001-Enforcer
Robotroid Robot 002-Space Racer
Robotroid Robot 003-4 W D
Robotroid Robot 004-Command Turbo
Robotroid Robot 005-Space Coupe
Robotroid Robot 006-Ambulance
Robotroid Robot 101-Space Camper
Robotroid Robot 102-Galactic Trailer
Robotroid Space Station / Klonar Robot

Bloccar 001-American Patrol car / Patrol Robo
Bloccar 002-F1 Racing Car / Racing Robo
Bloccar 003-Off Road Car / Off Road Robo
Bloccar 004-City Car / City Robo
Bloccar 005-Open Car / Open Robo
Bloccar 006-Ambulance / Doctor Robo
Bloccar 101-Camping Car / Space Craft
Bloccar 102-Trailer Truck / ???
Bloccar 201-(possibly) Space Station

This'd be better if I had the Diaclone yellow Hi-Lux, red Ligier and red City Turbo, but you get the idea


The awesome thing about the six Robotroid mini sets is that they have parallels in terms of their vehicle modes with models used as alt modes for Takara's other line of transforming robot cars, Diaclone. This speaks strongly of their Takara lineage (and also of my insistence on finding Sunstreaker in every yellow car I see).

They're triple take-a-parters!


The Robotroid deluxe sets don't have direct parallels with Diaclonian alt modes but they hint at an interesting transforming concept-triple changers with spaceship modes. Imagine a robot with a traditional, super mundane vehicle mode but then another form that's a wild, sci-fi spaceship of some sort. It's like if the Millennium Falcon transformed into a school bus or like if the Macross transformed into a garbage truck. It's like if a space shuttle turned into a train!

From the 1984 Takara toy catalog thingy


Seriously, what does Kre-O even mean?

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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.