Collector's Corner #8

on Tuesday, July 12, 2011.

Spotlight On... KingboyD (Myles C.)

 

Where do you live (general location only)?

Sunny South Florida (Paradise!).  If anyone is ever in the area, let me know.

 

How long have you been collecting?

I’ve been a collector for most of my life, but I’ve only been collecting these toys for about ten years.  When I was younger, I collected baseball cards, stamps, and coins.  Later in life, I started collecting comic books.  What a mistake.  While I enjoyed reading them, I always thought I would eventually be able to liquidate them at some point in life when I really needed the money (e.g., retirement).  I used to buy multiple copies of selected issues (like first issues, special covers, or crossovers), since I saw that those were the most valuable at the time.  However, with the rise of the internet and the advent of ebay, these all became near worthless.  Same with the baseball cards – there was a huge price drop.  Insane.  Anyway, I digress, because collecting of Japanese robot toys was never about value.  It was about love and passion for the hobby.

 

What got you started on collecting these toys?

I had a few Shogun Warriors and Micronaut toys when I was a child, and these were stored in my parents’ basement.  I never forgot these, and once in a while when I was over there visiting, I would sneak down and check these out.  When I decided to finally move down south from New York, I made a final trip to my parents’ house to reclaim these.  Now that they were in my possession and I started to recall some other pieces from the toy line that a friend owned, I began to do a little internet research.  And then I discovered the websites Wildtoys and Ted T.’s site, which helped light a spark.  Later followed ToyboxDX and Robot-Japan.  It snowballed when my wife introduced me to ebay.  After an ebay search for Shogun Warriors, it was all over for me.  I was sucked in.

In terms of why I specifically collect these toys, I can’t cite watching these shows as a kid.  I am one of those who never saw too many of these shows when I was young.  The only one I remember was Battle of the Planets.  It was so different than anything else on TV, and it definitely had an impact on me.  But other than that, I never really saw any of these super robot shows, so that is definitely not my influence.  I think it was just the fact that I always loved the toys from my childhood, and I remembered coveting the few my friend had too.  And when I discovered the whole Shogun Warriors line on the internet, I just wanted to get them all.  Then, when I learned that there were so many more never released in the US, I was flabbergasted and all hope was gone.  Maybe it’s the engineer in me that likes the technical design of them.  But also I have always been a big Sci-Fi fan, so I guess its just a natural extension of my interest in that genre.

 

What do you collect?

What don’t I collect?  I have a little bit of everything.  Or I should say a lot of some things and a little of much else.  My main focus is vintage diecast robots.  But I also have some Jumbo Machinders, Megazords, Soul of Chogokins, Gundams (models and figures), Henshin Cyborgs, and vintage vinyl robots, among other things.

In the last few years, I made vinyl kaiju another major focus of mine.  And this I consider really shocking - not that I collect these, just that it took me this long to get into it.  As a kid, I remember watching Godzilla flicks and their ilk on Saturday afternoons in New York (I grew up on Long Island), and these always had a huge impression on me.  So its only natural that my kaiju lust grew so strong and so rapidly too once I broke the ice.  In terms of kaiju, I have a few vintage pieces, but the bulk of it is newer stuff in the vintage style (i.e., more fanciful and less realistic), such as B-Clubs and M1Gos.  I also dig a few modern designs, like the Rumble Monsters Bop Dragons and the Dream Rocket Marnons.  I tend to avoid realism for the most part.  I do own a number of Bandai toys, but I bought these for the kids to play with.   

Modern_kaiju_s

 

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

I have almost always picked up whatever was available at the time.  I am not a MIMB perfectionist like some (not that there is anything wrong with that).  I prefer to have a lot of items where I can actually “play” with them, see how they transform and such, without fear of damaging them.  And I want to experience many toys.  If I focused on finer specimens, my collection would be much smaller.  So condition has never been as important to me as just having a wide representation of toys that I like.  If I get something that I really appreciate over and above most other items, then I will seek to upgrade and get a boxed, complete specimen.  But why waste all that money on something that might not be to my liking?  That is my general philosophy.  Well, it actually goes a little deeper.  I just can’t bring myself to drop too much coin on any single item (the vast majority of the items in my collection were purchased for under $100, and the most I ever spent on an item was probably in the $250 range).  I really try to limit myself with an upper limit, and would rather spend a certain amount of money on a lot of things than a single nicer item.

EDIT - I should probably add to my interview that I started collecting AFTER I was already married and had kids, so my budget really directed my collecting habits. I simply could not rationally purchase MIB items when I had more important things to divert my money towards (i.e., family and bills).

Also, except for a few select items at the top of my “want” list, I don’t typically search out specific items.  I typically do some generic searches, and when I see something that I might like and/or is for a good price, then I will jump on it.

 

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

I've never really counted.  I think I'm a bit scared to know.  As my collecting continues, I have less and less room for display and more and more in storage, so its tough to get a precise number.  I would estimate about 600 items (including kaiju).  That sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that most of my collection was bought loose, with playwear, incomplete, and/or broken.  

 

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

All of my robot related stuff is in a dedicated walk-in closet where I used the existing high shelving and also put in custom lower shelves.  I wish I had room for the boxes in my display, but alas, I don’t.  I do like the look of a mixed display like some collectors have.  But due to the sheer volume of toys I own and my desire to have them all (or as many as I can fit) out on display, there is no room for boxes.

Collection_1_s Collection_2_s Collection_3_s Collection_4_s

I try to group them by character, manufacturer, category, and toy type.  The majority of my collection is made by Popy.  These toys are grouped by character, with the robots next to the Popinicas from the same show.  Then I try to group them by a similar style of robot.  For example, I try to keep all of my vintage Sentai robots together (Bioman, Dynaman, etc.).  Other groupings may be by color or size or just where I have room and can fit something in.

Large_Maz_s

Most of my non-Popy vintage diecast toys are on another shelf.  Included here are Bullmarks, Takatokus, and Clovers, among others.  Some other items like this are on smaller individual shelves (like the Groizers and Jeeg; Shinsei and Star Mites; Koseidon and Izenborg).  One large shelf on the bottom is for black Gucci items.  Another is for mostly vehicles.  The top of this shelf unit is for modern toys, like the SOCs.  Then the large scale items (Jumbos, large vinyls, etc.) are way up top.  I am definitely limited in terms of space, so many of my Jumbo Machinders (and other large items like Big Scale Bases) are not displayed.

SOCs_1_s Gundam_shelf_s EVA_shelf_s

SOCs_2_s Black_shelf_s Jeeg_Groizer_shelf_s

The kaiju collection is separate.  All of my kaiju vinyl toys are kept on high shelves in my son’s room.   But they are not high enough!  ;)  These are mostly grouped by color and style.  (These photos are a bit outdated, and unfortunately I also have more items in storage for which there is no more room in my display.)

Kaiju_Collection_pic_3-09_1_s Kaiju_Collection_pic_3-09_2_s

Unfortunately, due to the cramped conditions in my house, my collection seems to have taken over more than these two areas.  I have plastic totes filled with empty boxes and non-displayed toys stacked in one of my sons’ rooms, and boxes and toys on the top of another closet.  Of course, I also have totes and other things piled up on the floor of my robot closet, so in order to get in there, I need to pull out a few stacks.  Not the most ideal situation, and it definitely detracts from the enjoyment and calming effect this collection is supposed to have upon me.  I guess a lesson to learn from this would be to collect within your spacial (and financial) limits.

storage_1_s storage_3_s storage_2_s 

 

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

Yes, as previously mentioned, I did manage to reclaim some of my childhood toys.  Among them are a Gaiking (one of my favorite pieces, and one I refuse to get rid of even if I could manage to upgrade), Raideen, Shigcon Jet, and Daimos Tranzer.  

Childhood_toys_s

My Micronauts were apparently more well-loved as a child (I do remember playing with these a heck of a lot more than the Shogun stuff), as these did not survive in as good condition as the Shogun stuff.  Plus my parents stored them near a hot water heater, and I guess the proximity (or maybe direct contact with the piping) melted some of the parts.  Very sad.  Strangely, I never really started collecting these again too.  I think that perhaps there were just too many of them and I did not want to diversify too much.  Also, in the early days of my collecting, diecast ruled.  There was something about the cold feel of metal, and to me, a toy was worth its weight in gold (so a heavier toy had more value in my younger mind).  I’ve since changed my stance on this and learned to appreciate more toys, like the vintage vinyl robots.

 

What is your favorite piece?

That is REALLY tough to say.  I have so many favorites.  Perhaps I can narrow it down to a few.  Among them are the Gaiking from my childhood, the Daiku Maryu SOC (particularly the black one), the black Gourai-Senpuujin set, the Big Dai X Blitzkrieg Combo, the Gokaiser trio, the Combattler DX (yes, I like this better than the Voltes), the Ghidorah Bullpet, and the Nakajima UFO base.  Am I forgetting anything?  Probably.

Nakajima_UFO_base_s Gokaiser_toy_lineup_s 

 

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

Hmm…  Perhaps the tough-to-find Star Mites series two toys.  Not too many super-rare licensed toys will appear in “played with” condition that will fit by purchasing methodology.  Well, one such item is the Gold GA-01 Mazinger I found loose.  I’m pretty happy with that purchase.  Its not too popular, but certainly not super-rare either.  I guess some other rare ones would be the various bootlegs I have, such as the Dunk-Z set and the Grendizer/Daitarn/Zambot mashup, or customs like my Black Raideen Jumbo.

Gold_Maz_s Star_Mites_rarities_s

 

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

There are a number of items.  Some I prefer to keep private to prevent unnecessary competition.  Some others I have been pretty vocal about.  Among these are the Jumbosaurus (Japanese Godzilla Jumbo Machinder), the Baragon Bullpet, and the Pegas Jumbo Machinder.  Others that I doubt I will ever own due to price limitations are the Bullmark deluxe Daibaron, the Clover giant diecast Zanbot, and a nicer Chokinzoku (mine is just a mere shell of the toy with broken parts, rust, and no steel plates or accessories).

In terms of modern diecast, I'd love to get a Gunbuster SOC, Maxfactory Godannar, and the diecast Konami Gurren Lagaan.  All three are currently priced out of my reach.  

There are vinyl wants too, such as a vintage large scale Bullmark Godzilla and Gomora.  

Of course, there are many, many more items I covet.  So much on my WANT list.  :'(

 

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

At first she was OK with it.  As she was quoted in Andrew Phillips’ book, she would rather have me spending money on toys and sitting home searching the internet than going out with buddies dropping the same money on alcohol in bars.  However, as time passed, the collection grew rapidly (as did the bills).  Now she looks on the collection differently and would rather I sell them all (for the cash AND the space).

My kids love it, more so the kaiju.  They continually ask me if they can have certain pieces, or if I could get them some more.  They always want me to just pull down my whole collection for play to make a giant battle.  Unfortunately, due to the price of some of these and the fear of scratching them up, that just can't happen.  But I do try to pull some down now and then for them to gently handle and gain appreciation for the craftsmanship. 

 

Did you have any great finds/scores in your collecting history?

I was always jealous of those who found old stacks of Godaikins in warehouses and scored the lot of them.  But I have had some more modest scores over the years.  Besides from the individual items I managed to nab for sick prices, some larger lots come to mind.  I once bought a lot of six boxed Daitarn Junior Machinders from a seller in Italy for less than the price of one.  Also, I recall working out a deal with a seller from Hong Kong to buy a large lot of toys.  The price was excellent, and among them was the Grendizer with Spacer, a Combattler ST, several JM arm attachment sets, and many, many other items.  An unbelievable deal and an amazing lot to acquire at one time.

I also found another amazing find that never came to fruition.  It was an Italian-made Daltanias bootleg in a set with a car.  Very rare.  I won it for a sickeningly low price.  Then I realized that the seller had listed four loose Godaikin robots (Voltes, Combattler, Daltanias, and Gardian) in an earlier auction for only $400, and it never sold.  I contacted him about this too and tried to work out a deal to get everything shipped at once.  Well, needless to say, the bastard took the money and ran.  Thanks heavens for paying with paypal through a credit card.  My first lesson learned on this matter (but I researched it in advance).  I should have gotten the Daltanias set first and then worked out something for the others, so at least I would have received that.  But by trying to save on international shipping, I lost out on it.

Daltanias_KO_set_1_s Daltanias_KO_set_2_s

In addition to acquiring rare toys, I just love to learn about the existence of new things.  I have spent countless hours searching through the auction sites and documenting toys, either legitimate releases or bootlegs.  In my searches, I've discovered many items I never knew existed.  And through efforts to acquire literature, I've found out about various prototypes that never made it into production.  One such toy was the Raideen mini figure.  So these are amazing finds too, in a way.  

 

Are there any toys you would like to see made?

Yes, my private wish was to see a Chokinzoku-esque type of toy made of Dangard Ace to fit his Popinica head ship, the Gard Rancher.  The toy was designed to form into the helmet, so it was only logical that they were planning to create such a toy.  Well, it never came to fruition.  I always kept this private in the hope that one day I would find someone in a machine shop to create it for me.  But recently this same desire was put into writing on ToyboxDX by Mike Parisi.  So now its out there.  Someone take it and run with it (just make me and Mike a spare set).  ;)

Dangard_1_wish_s

 

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

I get so much out of this hobby.  Pretty much everything mentioned above.  As I lose focus at times, this site is a great diversion.  Also, I really value the friendships I made through this board, and I have met many members in person and talk almost daily with others who live farther away.  Its strange – I feel closer to people here than those I see face to face (but being a homebody doesn’t help – I actually prefer sitting home alone vegging out in front of the TV or computer to heading out).  In addition, the joy I get from coming home and seeing a package waiting for me is beyond compare.  Ripping it open, holding that toy for the first time, soaking in its essence and machinations, that’s what its all about.  Of course, then it gets lost and forgotten in my shelves among the many other robots, much like the Ark of the Covenant buried among thousands of other crates at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

 

Any final thoughts you wish to relate?

I don’t see how people can break away from this hobby.  Its got me so entrenched in it that I can never see myself just giving it up and moving on to other interests.  Maybe it’s the fact that there are just so many toys of this style out there (and more coming out every day).  Or maybe its that I need diversions in my life to fill the time when I can’t focus.  But maybe its just that these toys are so damned cool and beautiful, and I enjoy the company and camaraderie of my fellow collectors.  So I hope to continue to see so many people stay or enter this hobby.  It always bums me out when people give it up, either willingly or by necessity.

Another diversion for me is to help out on the Robot-Japan website.  It’s a blast to be this involved and do more with this hobby.  If anyone out there ever wants to do some write-ups (articles) or just gallery entries, hit us up!  Or even if you have an idea or suggestion for something you’d like to see or like to see improved, let us know.  Your input is always welcome and appreciated.

One final thought – some of the most rewarding aspects of collecting and being part of this community is the get-togethers.  I was lucky enough to be involved in a few, and they were truly memorable experiences.  As strange and awkward as it might initially seem, you will in no time feel right at home when meeting face to face with brothers in this hobby.  I am not the most sociable person, but I never ran out of things to chat about when attending these gatherings.  I look forward to the next one (hopefully another R-J summit early next year!).

 

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