"Japanese Toy Robots!" by Andrew Phillips

Written by Myles on Thursday, November 11, 2010.

In late-2007, a new member of the forum (tuck2197) joined our welcoming ranks after discovering a robot toy of a bygone era.  Many will remember him as forthcoming on photography advice, and he was involved in positive sales transactions with several forum members, myself included.  He dove into the hobby with the goal of collecting specific toys that he would photograph for a project he had conceived.  In his own words on the forum...

"Howdy all. I have been a lurker on this site for a few months now. I am a photographer and have recently discovered all of these cool toy robots that I never knew existed when I was younger.

So a while back I started working on a new photography project, I wanted to pursue still life photography mainly because I was not very good at it and wanted to see if I could find a way to branch out my skill set (I typically shoot portraits, nudes, and urban landscapes). Around that time I discovered a vintage matchbox Voltron toy (I remembered the cartoons from my youth) and thought that toy robots would make a great subject for still life’s, I could incorporate my skills as a portrait photographer. As I started doing research looking to see if I could find more interesting robots I remembered all the cool Robotech comics I read when I was young and quickly discovered tons of more cool toys. It wasn’t long before I came across the terms Chogokin, Godaikin, Popy, etc...that eventually lead me to this site. So a few months ago I set aside a pot of money and started scouring E-bay and this site looking for robots I thought would make great subjects for my photographs. The idea was to buy a bunch, photograph them, then resell them and buy the next bunch. For the most part that worked…but more and more often I am finding it harder and harder to resell some of these gems, so as I am sure you all guessed I now have a small collection.

So what started as a way to break free from my normal MO, has now morphed into what I hope will be a body of work worthy of a show and I am also looking to publish a book using a self-publishing site like Blurb. So this is where I need your help. I don’t want this body of work to just be about the images, I have seen the book Super No. 1 Robot and the Japanese books basically cataloging the various robots, I think the images I am producing are definitely much different. Not only that I haven’t really seen anything that covers the people doing the collecting. So I would like to explore the hows and whys people love these robots and how they incorporate this in their lives."

And so began the journey towards the creation of a book on not only the robot toys, but the collectors who have dedicated themselves to this hypnotic hobby.  As quoted by the author in his book:

"Soon I became just as fascinated with the people who collected these robots as with the robots themselves.  This is when my project started to evolve from a simple skill development exercise into the final form you are holding in your hands."

Andrew put out a request for volunteers to complete a questionnaire.  Many forum members responded to Andrew's request and provided information on their collecting philosophies, how they got started in the hobby, etc.

The book was issued through blurb, a website where any person can create their own published book!  Andrew's book contains many impressive, artistic photographs of both contemporary and vintage robot toys and characters, including Mazinger Z, Golion, and Optimus Prime.  While most collectors tend towards bright, colored photographs of the toys in all their glory, Andrew opted for black and white old-school style photos that are his preferred and mastered medium (see his website Green St Photography).  Its nice and refreshing to see these toys in this perspective, especially considering the age of many of these items.  Included in the book are over 50 pages of photographs.  A sampling of a few of his photographs is presented below:

Book_Golion_s Book_Red_King_s Book_Grendy_s

In addition to the sleek photographs, Andrew included a discussion on the history of some of the toy lines and his research into the collectors themselves.  We often look in detail at what we collect, but rarely delve into the whys.  Andrew has sought to do just that.  There are plenty of great quotes and insights from fellow forum members throughout the book.

I'd highly recommend that all interested collectors look into this publication.  The photos are fantastic, and the book is well organized and informative.  If you haven't jumped on this already or were previously unaware of its existence, now's the time to pursue it.  The book is offered in two sizes - a 10" x 8" book (in both hardcover and softcover editions) and a 13" by 11" book with premium paper.  You can even have it forwarded to the author for signature, if so desired.  Ordering information can be found by clicking here.

Note:  All images copyright of GreenStPhotography


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About the Author



Myles a.k.a. Kingboy D calls the paradise of South Florida home.  This closet case collector relishes online gaming as well as a zinc fix away from the children.  Myles is a tour-de-force of once lost archives and a collector of all toys pre-loved.