Collector's Corner #12

on Wednesday, September 07, 2011.

Spotlight On... magengar (Tony Vazquez)


Where do you live (general location only)?

Cohoes, NY

 

How long have you been collecting?

As of this time of year, five years.

 

What got you started on collecting these toys?

I’ve had Japanese robot toys throughout my lifetime, but back in my childhood years I was always careless with them, starting with my first Mattel Great Mazinga jumbo and a couple of old Shogun Warriors Monogram model kits (Grendizer and Raideen). The Mono’s either got smashed or lost parts through time, and my Great Mazinga jumbo got stolen while I was at school. Since then I swore that I’d someday collect these cool Japanese robot toys.

Every day walking home from school I’d browse the hobby stores to gaze at their Bandai Chogokin Shogun Warrior die-cast toys on display wishing I could have them; but of course I had no concept of what they, as toys, represented other than those which were familiar to me from their classic tv show origins.

Then around the summer of 2005 I started learning CG animation as a hobby and rendered a couple of “Mazinger” animation ‘movies’… I enjoyed my 3D animations, and dreamed of owning my own toy versions of the robots. Later on, I found a couple of small-scaled snap-together Gundam Bandai model kits in a thrift store, along with some broken Power Ranger Robot toys just so I can have them decorating my room.

Then around September of 2006 my dream of owning Japanese Robot toys started coming true, beginning with a few vintage Mazinger-Z Banpresto toys and paperweights I found online through a Moving Sale posted as a website by a guy from California. I was so wonder-struck at the sight of these Mazinger items that I wanted to acquire more Mazinger toys, and so I browsed the internet in search of more Mazinger toys.

During my search and browsing I stumbled upon a website at Trypod posted by our friend and fellow RJ-member TheMazingerZ… I was amazed at his collection of Mazinger specimens. That inspired me to begin seriously collecting Mazinger toys. Then with further web-searching I came upon Robot-Japan’s (old version) website and was further amazed by everything I saw. I immediately signed up and joined as a member, thus deciding to take this hobby seriously. I’ve been a member here at RJ since late 2006, and I still feel like a googley-eyed kid in a toy store mesmerized by my daily experiences, interactions, and viewings here at Robot-Japan.

 

What do you collect?

I honestly cannot pinpoint my focus on anything specific at this time. I would like to stay concentrated on my pursuit of any more Mazinger-Z related toys as I can find them; but I also have other favorite super-robot characters whose toy lines I wish to collect, such as Raideen and Gigantor (also known as Tetsujin 28), along with robots from live-action classic tv shows such as Johnny Sokko’s Giant Robot and Ambassador Magma (Magma Taishi), and of course my next favorite, Voltron (GoLion). But my main favorites are the Mazinger-Z toy items.

As for my preferred toy genres, I stick to the classic super-robot characters for their nostalgic value and fond memories of my childhood; with Mazinger-Z always at the top of my list. As for my preferred toy types, I love die-cast specimens such as the SOCs and similar die-cast toy lines by other manufacturers; but sometimes I can’t afford them, so my next appetites are plastic and vinyl super-robot toy specimens.

As for my preferred toy styles, I always aim for specimens which are closely sculpted in almost perfect dynamic likeness to their TV anime counterparts, in color scheme and sculpt. In the case of Mazinger-Z figures, I love the “Jet-Jaguar” silver- metallic look on the limbs of most Mazinger-Z robot figures, panel-lined or not; but, I also dig Mazinger-Z figures that are painted in the character’s anime color schemes. Chrome toys are nice, if I use them tastefully, otherwise I find them to be extremely reflective in photographic situations. So, I try to avoid chrome, except for the Soul Of Chogokin figures.

As for my preferred toy designs, the little “Super-Deformed” renditions of the toys are cute; but, I prefer a physical life-like and realistic design that would make the toy look as believable as a live robot design. The more realistic and dynamic its appearance, the better.

I apply all these things to action-figures, statues, resin kits, novelty items, and model kits.

I swear if I continue nit-picking further down to the science of this, I’ll be in such a tug-of-war between my favorite Japanese Robot toy collection categories that even Einstein would have a problem figuring me out! lol


What is your collecting philosophy (only purchase MIB, save and seek out specific items, etc.)?

Brand New: I love the box arts of these Japanese Robot toy specimens, so I try my best to preserve the box in good condition because their artwork drop-kicks me across the room with such dynamic colors and wonder, as in the joy of being trapped overnight inside a Japanese toy store… the box arts look so awesome, they pop my eyes out so far I’d need a bench-warrant to get them back! lol …I apply the same rule for MIB specimens. Quite often I might still leave the new specimen sealed inside its box or packaging for a good long while before I take it out of its package for play and display.

Used “A”: If the specimen came with a box that may have defects, I’d try to preserve the box art in such a manner as to cut it and frame it like a poster.

Used “B”: I love collecting specimens that have been played with or broken or parts of, and I keep those particularly for repairs and customizing projects… this aspect of the hobby really gets my creative juices gushing because I get to “Frankenstein” my own customized versions of specimens either from scratch or from loose and broken toy parts. If the toy came from the trash dumpster, or from a garage sale, or sold to me here at Robot-Japan in any used condition, I will certainly have hours of fun brainstorming ideas for what to do with it. With me, in the “Used” department, it’s ANYTHING Goes and No Holds Barred. Lol

In both categories mentioned above, I know I’ll always end up playing with the specimen sooner or later.

Budget-wise: I try to stick to what I can afford at the time or I’ll save up for the item as long as it’s still available. On a few occasions I had received specimens as gifts from members here at Robot-Japan, and those items are of very special sentimental heart-warming value to me. On other occasions, I traded items with members if I had more than one of the same item. When I shop for a specimen, I try to stick to my objective which of course would be my most favorite Japanese Robot character. Everything else in my hauls would be creative fillers that will end up being used for whatever project hits me upside my head.

Product Hype: I look for and read reviews about specimens I like before I decide to buy them. That way I can, at my own pace, warm up to any specific toy line item rather than just buying it on impulse and regretting it later. Quite often, toy specimens are like women (or men)… Not every woman underneath that burka is pretty!  “If she Aint as good as she looks, I won’t marry her.” Or….. (for our female members here at RJ) “You kiss a lot of frogs until you meet your Handsome Prince” lol!

 

Approximately how many items do you own (if you are comfortable answering)?

By now I’ve lost count of how many items I have, because my collection is scattered… I have a few items at home with me; and some are locked away in storage until I have more space for them at home; and my best items were shipped and stored at my mother’s home in Puerto Rico because I was almost ready to relocate there— but, I failed to follow through with that plan. I hope someday I will be able to settle down in my own stable long-term home environment where I can fully display ALL of my items in a single long-term showcase.

I often move around a lot and I live frugally, and I don’t own a car; therefore I try to travel lightly by not accumulating so many specimens all at once in any given time. When I joined Robot-Japan I was acquiring specimens almost every other week via eBay or through sales and trades by members here at Robot-Japan. But, for me, financial times have changed and lately I haven’t been doing any shopping unless I get a whopping paycheck that will leave me with some mad Splurge-Cash after my priorities are taken care of. Tax Refund season is my favorite time of year to contemplate shopping for more specimens; but there’s so many new cool items coming out in pukes that I just can’t keep up with them all… again, after my priorities are taken care of.

Except for my most recent acquired hauls, my collection hasn’t really grown significantly (except for some new Jumbo additions) since late 2006 into 2007.

If I may pull my own shameless plug, I invite everyone to visit my web pages at http://magengar.multiply.com in a folder labeled My Robot Toys to view what’s in my collection.

 

How do you display them (i.e., in or out of boxes, grouping, etc.)?

My display methods change from time to time, determined by how much room and wall space I have. For instance, I’d display my better items out of their boxes on their own shelves according to each robot character, by size and toy design type; and I’d set up a shelf area dedicated to displaying just the boxes.

At first, I used to display as many items grouped together on one or more shelves, but then the appearance of the display would look too “busy” for the viewer’s eyes… and so, I try to space my items a little further apart from one another so they’re easy to visually digest. I just can’t help changing my mind rotating my display setup from time to time, and I get so meticulous with trying to display my items as asymmetrically perfect as possible so my shelves won’t get weighed off balance.

After everything (or almost everything) is setup I sit back and gaze at my items for hours, and that “kid-trapped-inside-a-toy-store” feeling kicks in and bang-zooms me outta this world with such amazement beyond anything words and pictures can describe. One must experience this hobby in every which creative way possible to know and feel how beautiful one’s collected items are. And, it still doesn’t stop there! Lol

Once in a while I’ll take a specimen or a few specimens with me to display at my workplace so folks there can see the hobby I’m into. They make nice conversation pieces when folks say “Hey, I used to watch that show when I was a kid!”

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Are any items in your collection from your childhood (i.e., specifically owned and played with as a child)?

None survived, all gone in some way or another, I deeply regret… I’d been careless with all of my childhood toys since my very first toy as far as I can remember. Therefore, my main purpose for collecting in this hobby is my mere humble attempt to reclaim my childhood years and relive all the nostalgia this hobby brings. I wish I could go back in time and physically grab back those days and toys and bring them back with me now. I’m a grown man trying to be the soul of a child inside. The items in my collection now are my only physical connection to a better childhood I wish I had in my past.

If I could mention what was the one special item from my childhood, it would be my Mattel Shogun Warriors Great Mazinga jumbo back in the late ‘70s… it was a Christmas gift from my dad while I was in Junior High School… my dad had left home when I was 9 years old, and later on through his visitation rights he got me the Great Mazinga jumbo for Christmas. That Great Mazinga jumbo was my only deepest connection to my dad although I grew up without him in my life. I’ll leave it at that, because it’s too deep for me to discuss right now.

 

What is your favorite piece?

For as long as the effect is everlasting and unaccountable, my favorite pieces are the ones which hold the most sentimental value to me. I’ll list them in no particular order, but worthy of grateful mention…

My jumbo Getter Dragun: it was a gift to me from an RJ member during a time when I was having an emotional nervous breakdown… I was participating in a thread discussion when I suddenly freaked out and completely lost my mind while under stress from problems at “home” and during a period of unemployment. I had also just come out of a period of homelessness and was living in a Homeless Shelter. I’ll never forget the show of moral support and encouragement I received from members here at Robot-Japan. And, that a member reached out to me with the gift of the Getter Dragun jumbo— man, I can’t describe how much that touched my heart! To this day I still can’t thank that RJ member enough; but I surely will pass such a blessing forward to anyone at Robot-Japan, and anyone in general, in their time of need.

During Christmas last year I had this Getter Dragun jumbo on display at my work place; everyone at work who saw it, co-workers and customers alike, caught a small glimpse of my Robot-Japan world, and enjoyed its presence in our restaurant kitchen “guarding the kitchen all day and night”. I currently have this jumbo safely stored in U-Haul storage with some of my other jumbos, until I can arrange more wall space to display them. This Getter Dragun jumbo always reminds me that every cloud has a silver lining… no matter how hard it rains, there’s always a rainbow and sunlight on the other side.

My Soul Of Chogokin Great Mazinger GX-02R: I bought this item from RJ member TheMazingerZ during a time while I was homeless and sleeping in a lower level stairwell of a parking garage near the State Capital in Albany (NY).   I couldn’t help buying this item when I should have been focusing more on getting back on my feet. I had the money at the time, and I couldn’t let the opportunity to own this item pass, so I bought it. When I received it, I kept it still packed in its shipping box while I spent nights in the parking garage stairwell, guarding it with my dear life. I opened it and took it out for the first time to view it and hold it… I felt empowered to endure my current situation at the time. This item was my motivator, my drive, my strength to get out of the rut I was in. If I had anything to live and survive for, it was this item… for, behind it was (and still is) a dear friend at Robot Japan, among many other dear Robot-Japan friends, who have all believed in me that I should make it through and get back on my feet. Great Mazinger always lost a limb or suffered damage while in battle, but he always endured and triumphed over his adversaries, and he also had Mazinger-Z come in to lift him up when he was down. I felt the same way as I was coming out of my homelessness… I was down, but not out; and I had friends who believed in me. Weeks later I had landed a job which I still have to this day, and then I was able to find a place to live which is the rooming house where I still live today…back to the same rooming house (now in the room next to my former room) where I had joined Robot-Japan.

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I have other favorite pieces, but they are too many to list. The pieces I listed above will always be very special to me. That goes to show you how deep our relationship runs here at Robot-Japan, all because of this beautiful hobby.

No matter what you collect, there will always be significance in every item and then there are items which really do stand out for their meaning and their good effect on your life.

 

What is the most rare and/or unique piece in your collection?

I honestly cannot say. I’m still such a novice to determine what’s rare or unique by professional Collectors’ Grade standards; and perhaps those definitions may even vary from collector to collector. I have a small 4” vintage Banpresto Mazinger-Z figure that’s designed almost similar in articulation to that of a typical Revoltech figure, it’s made of a dense hard rubbery or vinyl material with lose joints. It was manufactured some time around the ‘90s. And, a Great Mazinger bust bookend made by the same manufacturer. I love Banpresto Mazinger toys, I have just a few of them. I also have a small vintage model kit Grendizer that was made by a company in Italy (back around the ‘70s or ‘80s maybe? I don’t know).

As for a unique item in my collection: a Chinese bootleg “jumbo” Mazinger-Z figure. It’s in the same toy line with Great Mazinger and Grendizer, all sharing the same body sculpt blown from the same mold.   I custom-painted my Mazinger figure. I love these “jumbos” and I wish I could have the technology to reproduce my own copies so I can make enemy robots for my Mazinger “bootie” (my personal abbreviated term for “bootleg”).

Another unique item that gets in my face is my LeReve vinyl Mazinger-Z (metallic version) figure. It’s the most anime-perfect Toei version sculpt I’ve ever seen.

Second to that is my Yamato vinyl Grendizer (anime version) figure of the same size as my LeReve Mazinger… I love these two figures! I took them both apart so that I could someday try making reproduction copies of them as resin statues or fully-articulated action-figures. Then there’s my 6” Bandai vinyl Jet Jaguar robot figure which is sculpted so accurately and beautifully. They’re all over eBay, but becoming more hard to find lately.

Last-not-least, my jumbo Gaiking which I won as a prize in a contest here at Robot-Japan for a video I shot promoting our Robot-Japan website… this jumbo’s nicely busted up so I can repair it or customize it or “Frankenstein” it into whatever robot character I desire! lol

 

What is at the top of your WANT list (if you are comfortable answering)?

Hmmmmmm… EVERYTHING! Lol, just kidding. I’d like to own the Fewture Gigabyte Super-jumbo Mazinger-Z and Great Mazinger; as well as that super-jumbo Mazinkaiser that was available in Hong Kong a few years ago, you know, the one with the long funky elbows. That’s a beautiful super-jumbo, if I may call it that. These three large figures would surely blow me outta my boots splattered across the street with such lightning-struck joy if I could ever hold these big boys in my arms… I don’t know if that would make the height of my collection experience in this hobby; but it would certainly keep me high for a very long time.


How does your significant other (if you have one) feel about your collection?

Let me start a fight with that person, and I’ll report back here with the results.

Hold on, wait one sec………POW! SMACK! BAM!………….! LOL! Just kidding, lol.

I don’t have a significant other……. Yet. Perhaps not for a long time to come. Until then I’ll remain a proud perpetually indulgent sinner. Lol!

My mom thinks I’m weird, but that’s no news to her since I’ve always been off-kilter since the doctor smacked the wrong end when I was born. Lol

My younger step-brother might envy me that I have so many Mazinger-Z toys, since it was he who further enlightened me with the Mazinger-Z classic TV show during the ‘80s while it was broadcast in Puerto Rico during my visit there. I may have to send him a Mazinger-Z item to celebrate his veteranship as a former US Army helicopter pilot having flown many missions over Iraq after 9-11… We grew up watching Mazinger-Z on TV during our youths, and he also had all the old Mazinger-Z mangas (Spanish language versions), so I’m sure he’s all goo-goo’ed over my Mazinger collection. Great guy he is.

My younger sister and her kids all like my collection hobby; they often visit me at my Multiply web page and on Facebook.


Do you have any good collecting stories you wish to relate (i.e., an amazing find or haul, meeting fellow collectors, etc.)?

I once lost the Brain Condor from my Medicom Real Action Heroes Great Mazinger figure when it dove off the shelf. I searched the floor around my room for weeks until I found it…… piercing my bare foot when I stepped on it. Luckily it didn’t break under my weight, but dang it sure hurt from its sharp pointy wings! Lol

As for meeting members, the closest RJ member in my area resides in the Hudson Valley near the NY state capital region, and other RJ members reside down-state in NYC and New Jersey. I can’t afford to travel, and I don’t own a car, otherwise I’d drive out or Greyhound out to visit them and hang out for a day or two for a nice exchange of our hobby experiences over coffee.

 

Are there any toys you would like to see made?

Yes! More of the out-of-print toys from the old Bandai and Banpresto toy lines. There’s something so intriguingly cool about them but I can’t put a finger it. I also wanna see a Revoltech Mazinger-Z and Great Mazinger being made, as well as Jet Jaguar, and the Gatchaman team.

I would also like to see a revival of the jumbo machinder toy line, whether Mattel or Popinica were to take on the project, but it would be nice to see any and all the jumbo machinders revisited, including jumbo machinder enemy robot characters to go with the hero robots.

And I would also like to see more novelty items such as super-robot T-shirts and other apparel.


What do you most get out of this hobby (friendship, joy, escape from everyday life, etc.)?

I enjoy the tight community we have here at Robot Japan, the friendship and camaraderie amongst our members. As a novice in this hobby, I’m learning a great deal from the veteran RJ members and forum staff. I’m also enjoying the view of members’ collections, they’re so inspiring. And then there’s the creative aspect of this hobby, with all the hobby-related fan art and custom toys crafted by so many skillful and talented members here at Robot-Japan… I certainly can’t get enough of that activity. Every day I log in I always look forward to new and exciting things, as well as a quick opportunity to chime in with one-liners wherever I can within the discussion threads. Laughter is the best medicine for anyone who is going through a tough time or a bad day, that they may suddenly encounter some funny remark or sarcasm I may post from time to time, and that person may find healing and uplift through whatever comments I post. I just love bustin up sharing jokes and good times here. I do the same at some of my Spanish hobby-related forums as well. It’s all good, and when you add all of these things up together it makes Robot-Japan the special place to be and the special Home away from home.

Back in my former days of being a musician, I’ve enjoyed that era. But then here I am in a new hobby, here at Robot-Japan, it never ceases to amaze me as I get so much out of this hobby. I’m glad to feel at home amongst so many folks here who share this hobby in common with me. At 46 I’m so goo-goo’ed over all these cool toy specimens and custom toys, like never before. I feel restless trying to figure out new ideas and cool things to give back to this hobby and to this community. Where ever I go, I proudly boast that I’m a member of Robot-Japan, with a goal to win new members for this community so that they also can enjoy this experience.

 

Any final thoughts you wish to relate?

I have many thoughts to relate, but never enough time and space to express them. I’m so grateful to be here, thanks to you all, and I intend to “grow up” (lol) here for a very long time to come. It’s good things like this hobby that dreams are made of, no matter what your dream is… stop at nothing to pursue your dreams and goals. Live and enjoy this hobby like there’s no “tomorrow”. As you experience this hobby, break from the norm and be creative with it; and don’t be afraid to take things here to newer levels.

And if you’re going through some dark hour, remember that you have so much goodness all around you. And of course this hobby, therefore cling fast to these things and hold on to them so that they may give you the drive towards the light at the end of any tunnel (or stairwell) you may find yourself in… Tough times don’t last, tough people do. And if you don’t feel tough enough, remember that you have many friends here at Robot-Japan who will stand behind you in every way possible. Believe in yourself, and believe in your toys.

Recommended for ages you and up. ;-)

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