Collector's Corner #4

on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

Spotlight On... mikedeco (Mike de Coninck)


Where do you live (general location only)?

I live in Brussels/Belgium


What do you collect?

I collect Jumbo Machinders.


How long have you been collecting?

Collecting stuff is really something strong in my family. It seems that everybody is collecting something, so since I was a kid, I was surrounded with people collecting things.  So I've been collecting stuff also since I was very young and found my real center of interest and focus around 1999 when I bought my first Jumbo Machinder.  Before that I was collecting talking banks and toys, watches, comics.


What got you started on collecting these toys?

As a kid here in Belgium, I only remember Grendizer who was called Goldorak here. It was probably the only super robot tv show that was broadcasted here.  One day my father came home with a Jumbo Shogun Warrior Gaiking and I loved that toy very much. I was of course a bit sad as it was not Grendizer but he was a very cool toy and I've play a lot with it.  Then the Shogun Warriors have faded in my memory for a long time and I discovered them back around 97 when a good friend started collecting them.  He had a very nice collection and he also started collecting Jumbo Machinders. I was really enthusiastic with those big guys and impressed by his collection.  He quickly got a huge collection and spent a huge amount of money on that. There were a lot of amazing designs but from what he told me it was really hard to find them and quite expensive.  Each time I was going to his house I was running on the first floor to watch his amazing collection and talk with him about them. Then he showed me one of his new additions to the group, the Unifive Garada K7.  I really liked the design and since it was brand new I decided to order it at HLJ. This was the begining of a long long trip.  After that I found a nice boxed Raideen here on ebay Belgium and a boxed Dragun in a toy shop. After I had those 3, my friend offered me a Grendizer and a Mazinger and looking at them together was a totally different feeling and I knew I had to have more of them.


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

My philosophy has evolved a lot during the years. When I started I was pretty sure that I would not be able to get rare pieces as it was hard for the wallet.  So I've started with cheap and easy to find shogun warriors and trying to find them in good condition and with the boxes. Then there was a few Machinders in my friend's collection I wanted to have also, like the Kamen Rider V3 or Tetsujin 28. From what he told me it was not that hard to get in Japan.  I was lucky since another friend was living in Japan and he helped me to get my first Popy Machinder. I was pretty slow in my collection before that. And when I started with the real Popy toys, I tried to get more and more.  But money is not falling from the sky so I've try to get what was affordable for me then and always in the best condition as possible but in this specific hobby it's pretty hard as prices are high on a lot of pieces.  So if one was not complete or a bit broken but it was still in my price range I was going for it and trying to make it look good and clean it and complete it as much as possible later.  Then I scored a Danguard on Ebay - this was really amazing since I was pretty sure that I will never have it. The same seller also had a nice Daimos and a Getta 3. He agreed to keep them for me a few weeks so I had the time to gather some spare money. Suddenly I had some of the hardest to find but coolest Machinder on my shelves.  That day I realized that with some luck and some patience, I can probably go further in my collection and try to get some pieces I was not even dreaming of.  With a lot of toy karma and some luck I was able to gather most of them today. They all are not perfect, I have some very nice pieces, some restored pieces, some with original boxes, some with repro boxes, but overall I think I've more or less managed that in a good way.  Of course some days I think that I should have been a bit more patient and tried to get maybe more MIB pieces, so maybe less at the end but maybe higher quality. But on the other hand I've done with what I was able to do at the time and I can maybe upgrade a few later. Even if today's prices are pretty insane.  One of the things that has evolved in the years is the focus in the manufacturing company. I've started with Shogun Warriors and Unifive. Then tried to get a few Popy, then also some bootleg and Italian Mattel Astro Robots and now I've decided to focus more on the Popy Heroes and Villains.  And my philosophy today is maybe more wise as I've decided to try to get one or two nice pieces during the year. Waiting for a nice specimen or a rarer piece.


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

I think it's something around 60, it was around that last time I've counted.


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

Displaying them is something important for me. There's nothing like a good shelf of Jumbo Machinders and seeing them together is really amazing.  So I've first displayed them on long shelves, always longer. And then one day I decided to buy display cases to put them all away from the dust and far from people grabbing them.  I really like to display the boxes also as their design is amazing and it's really a part of the collection.  During all the years I've taken pictures of my collection and how it was displayed. It's funny to see the evolution.  The first picture is probably the very first pic I've take of my collection. It was in 2002 so almost three years after I started. As you can see I was pretty slow at the beginning.  


Number 2 was a long shelf on the wall, it's also my first Popy Machinder with Kamen Rider V3.


Then the third one was a transition picture. My office was moving so I've bring all my Machinders with me at home.  


The next picture is in 2005 and shows the new set up in the new office. A continuity of the long shelf.  


Then I had to put a lower shelve as the collection was getting bigger and bigger. Same for the next one but I really love the lights on that pic. It was taken by night with long exposure and it shows well the mood of the office.

05_2006_s 06_2007_s
In 2008 I've order my display cases, so I had to store all the big guys in a room for the time I put the cases together.  


And the last two picts show my collection today in the new display cases.

08_2011_s 09_2011_s


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

Not at all, I don't know where my old Gaiking is.  I should maybe try to dig in my parents' attic but I doubt he's there.


What is your favorite piece?

That's a really hard question as I love them all for a specific reason. I love Getta One and his little rubber underwear. Getta Poseidon and his folding legs. The design of the Jumbo T28 is just perfect. The weird look of the Astro Robots.  Danguard and his removable helmet and unique accessories, same with Daimos. The Popy Grendizer is just a pure wonder. The Daiku Maryu is probably the best toy ever made. They all have something.  If I had to only pick one, I would need weeks to decide. It's just impossible.


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

This might sound funny but the more unique and rare pieces for me are custom made Machinders. I was lucky to score Tom's Garada K7 replica and I've make a replica of Rokuron Q9.  So those are probably the most unique pieces. But since they are replicas, I'm not sure it's a valid answer. Probably the most rare one is the Ultraman Leo. I'd looked for one for a long time, even if it's not my favorite one. I had to have one to complete my collection.  The Astro Robots are a pain in the ass to complete also. And probably one I'm super mega happy to have is the Daiky Maryu since it's really a mystic toy.


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

Well, all the Popy Machinders I'm missing to complete my collection are fighting on top of my list. But I know there's a few there that are just an untouchable dream like the original Garada K7 or the Grendizer Spazer.


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

 I'm very lucky for that. It's not that she's into it also but she always pushed me when I was hesitating to get a new piece.  But my collection is at my office so she doesn't see it that often and this might help also a lot I think. Especially with that kind of collection that can take a lot of space quickly.


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

There's maybe a funny story about me as a super robot collector, it's just that I'm just a super noob with super robot.  Like I was saying before, I only knew Grendizer as a kid and even if I'm collecting those big guys, besides their names, I don't know a lot about them.  I have only watched a few episodes of some of them, but I know nothing about them. I love those toys for their design, pure and simple. I look at them as pieces of art, like a painting or a sculpture.  When some people are saying that I'm crazy collecting that, I usually reply that some people are collecting paintings and put way more money into that and when I look at my collection, I'm probably more happy than they are.  And I also joke about the fact that those toys are going to pay my retirement later.  :))


Are there any toys you would like to see made?

I'm really sad that Unifive has stopped doing their reissues. Honnestly, I wish they had done a lot more of them.  This would have been more affordable for a lot of people and since I collect them for their design and not the "value" I would have loved to be able to get more.  I also wish that more projects like the Super Shogun Stormtrooper can see the light. I'm not a big fan of all those new jumbos made of vinyl. Poly is for me one of the keys in the essence and spirit of true Machinders.  And I dream to be able to be part of something like that one day.


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

There are a lot of things I like in this hobby. First it's the pleasure of the eye. Honestly, I'm able to look at my collection all the time when I'm at work and It's just pure pleasure.  I'm really lucky as I've been able to meet probably the three biggest collectors in this hobby. And it was just pure joy being able to see their collections, share stories as they all are in this hobby a long time before me.

Then of course there's the other collectors - the community is really friendly and people are always sharing a lot of tips and tricks and always ready to help.  One of the funny aspects also and it's the case in most collections, it's the search for info, ghost stories - it's almost like toy archeology sometimes.


Any final thoughts you wish to relate?

Maybe not a thought but more a thank you. I'd like to thank all the people who spend some time doing things like this website that helps people connect with each other and push the hobby a little further.  And thanks also to the other collectors for their inspiration and help.





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