KMH Over and Out….for Now

on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.

Kimono my House Toy Summit 2009

The square white-washed and worn sandwich sign with primitive KMH print was still propped up as it did for years. The square mundane door with steel reinforced window mesh was still on guard. Foot-worn coves in the squared off M.C. Escher-esqued stairs led up, as before; and the square roof still stood high in the sea of man’s concrete happy village of generic tope masses. However Ultraman, as always, was there to greet us and rekindle the soon-to-be former funk palace of Kimono my House.


Ultraman-tear-kmh

For those that don’t know KMH, it was the Japanese toy import Mecca that was born of silk robes and Takatoku Valkyries in the 1980’s. KMH brought us a ton of those baseball pitching Bullmark toys. They imported unwanted warehouse stock and out of vogue vintage toys. They brought us the countless Varidaroon and Varidoreen Popy diecasts (Go Ranger space ships). I am thankful that Yuki and Susan opened our minds to the brain altering drugs of Japanese toys. Coccaine for collectors.

Kimonos, baseball throwing dinosaurs, chogokin, dust and kittys. It always seemed that you could find every piece of ephemera you didn’t need through those doors. You could find what you wanted, but you needed the dough; you needed to be thorough; you needed to be focused. Then Yuki would constantly shock you with amazing generosity and unexpected gifts. Now they will be shutting to the retail public. There may be a future; there may be an online presence; there may be a private business; or this may be the end of an era.

So I squared my shoulders exiting onto the roof and tried not to slip on the ash-colored-puddles. Broken finger faded weeping Ultraman deserved a quick nod, but the Thermos lined case of soda (on the right) left me cold. The stunted and possibly bonsai plant frosting on this cake caught only my casual glance. Yes, the entire experience was just surreal with the worn blue gray mountains in the background, the misty gray clouds quickly rolling into town, the frosty breeze across the rooftop, the 9’ tall Ultraman, the un-stolen Kamen Rider kids swing, the cat-must warehouse, the cute-awful toys. It was the crusty well-traveled collectors that left me warm on the inside as we chatted in the numbing breeze.

Inside the official shop door it was the destination, the feel, the tense face of Yuki moment that I treasured. The crazy collector brothers swarming below, I was on the half-staircase downward, warmed my blood. Stale boxes and un-natural lighting wakened my senses as my eyes tried to capture images of gloss black, pink, red, blue, green, and silver products that overwhelmed. The TBDX, Collapses, GDI, Super 7, Skull-Brain, Robot-Japan, MaccrossWorld, Local-non-internet brothers made me pause. The internet digi-happy virtual world had de-evolved into that sorely-needed flesh-and-blood face-to-face meeting our human kind requires. It was a gathering and an event unlike any other I’ve attended. Gakeen in his inflated vinyl glory looked over us. Gozilla and Hello Kitty and Godsigma and Giant Gorg and Marmit Grandizers blankly gazed on. Ephemera screamed as we bounced off of cardboard and plastic in our clumsy toy-drunken stupor.

I was there for the moment, the people, and wanted a toy or two for my daughter. –A souvenir for posterity’s sake. The deep discounts weren't necessarily the draw. My hope was that the gyrating cash register and calculator cacophony would fund future endeavors for the store owners.

Then, as with every one of my visits to KMH, Yuki had one hidden gem and extra gift to not disappoint. He took care of me and gave a special gift for my daughter—a vinyl Big Bird and green Care Bear that had been standing guard for ages. Thank you.

Erik Sjoen and Alen Yen aligned the planets, planes, cars, trains, taxis and fan-base to create a worthy send-off for KMH. Thank you guys and helpers for organizing the event. Thank you’s to everyone that took time and gas and money to visit, trade, and share such an awesome, awesome vibe and event.

Post Parting Plus Mighty Orbots

Food and tea in San Francisco followed to wash away the past. TBDX and all of the splinter groups of loosely tied Japanese collectors wedged into parking. We trudged in traffic and up soy-sauce stained steps. Then amongst the frothing-crazy crowd of drunken spectators we began with tea and fat chewing.

It was slap-you-in-the-back-with-a-name-tag incredible chance to meet offshoot collectors like JimM or "VintageVinyl". -He hooked me up with a Bullmark hippo character. -Or meeting Mike a.k.a. "SlaveZero", who brought in a store display DaiApollon, or Harvey and his Mighty Orbots Taiwan bootleg, or members

Mighty-Orbots-boxcover-taiwan Orbots-inside

Orbots-toy-robot-side boxbk-orbot

here at RJ, CDX, TBDX, CJT, S7,or locals.... Almost beyond words. Some s ay that this was better than KMH. I just call it an entirely different semi-private experience with more hardcore chogokin. More 10 year old debates finally came into focus with facts.

I pulled out just a smattering of items after flying from Florida Friday. The carry on only afforded a few chogokin lions, a Takara Robot W, an AFA Deluxe Insecticon, Mazinger Z, and boxed Shogun Warriors Combattra feet.

Alen brought heavy vintage thunder. He wowed us with a <T> propeller firing Ideon (Maybe Tomy), Plastic deluxe for Sjoen, Edai Grip Jets, a Yellow Gatcha Jet from Oz (crikey), and a Mach 5 among other booty.

The-Three-Plus

Kingboy, Myles, brought over vintage goodies; Jason had samples of what seemed like everything. Duban brought his data file brain. Josh B sent his podcast soldiers with pitch correcting spit shielding mesh, double-typewriter-wide sound board, and a mic boom you could spear Godzilla with.

-And there were more and more from more and more fans to meet and be greeted and debriefed. –Fans and traders of fluff, of vinyl, of chogokin, of stories.

King Kong stomped into the party too. Two ton vinyl toting Mike Parisi wowed us with a mid-sized diecast Voltron and Freakin’ huge Bullmark DaiApollon display vinyl. His vibe, knowledge, generosity, and loot was amazing.

We had this gathering in a Chinese restaurant, of all things, amongst 1960's and 1920's dressed drunken cross-dressing acid tripping actors interspersed with Asian families, French speaking Goldrake lovers, maybe one food server, YoYo fighting school girl Anime lovers, mixed with Vintage chogokin, models, noodles, roasted chicken, dusty models, Sake, tea, Voltron, lazy Susans, crab parts, spicy steaming soup, beer, and toys. It was harmony on a freak-of-nature level unlike any surreal Clock-Work-Orange moment in my life.

Post Post Parting

Erik's townhome was a beer-happy chogo-paradise. Jumbos stared down at the viewing chair and his locked packed display cases. -Fortress X and a Takara X-Wing was by the T.V. for real entertainment. The bastard, but not bastard (undocumented) Popy Voltron "I've never heard of it" toy was in my hand.

My mind wasn’t and still isn’t coherent. It was sensory overload.

Thanks everyone for attending, contributing, or just being there in spirit. It was an ethereal event with poignant touches down to the last aircraft bound minute. There was a vivid moment of seeing all of San Fran stretch beneath me beside my A22 window seat. Wisps of puffy white cumulus reflected on the Hallmark like moment as I saw my airport, hotel, J-town, and now Emeryville. I was flying in, over, and now away from KMH and the Bay Area collector experience. I could actually SEE KMH, I think, below the jet slowly fade away to tiny mental pixels of black, to a blurry dot, then a savory memory Chopped into my soul with a Hanko.

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