NINJA CAPTOR vintage vinyl

I’m not especially familiar with the 1976/77 Toei tokustatsu property¬†Ninja Captor, but I do like the character design.

The elemental-themed costumes combined garishly decorated crash helmets, superhero utility belts and go-go boots with primary-colored mesh that evoked ancient armor. I also like the fact that there’s a fat guy on the team…

These 5.5″ vinyl figures manufactured by Popy were contemporary to the 43 episode TV run back in the day. They are articulated at the shoulders and waist, and included a red plastic handheld signature weapon. While the figures, often in beater condition, and somewhat common, those little red daggers and ray guns seldom survived some Japanese kid’s childhood to today.

Fire-Stealth Captor 7, like all red 'ranger' types was team leader.
Gold-Stealth Captor 5 is the super-car and robot mechanic.
Flower-Stealth Captor 3 is a girl, so she gets a pink flower theme... cuz she's a girl. Girl.
Water-Stealth Captor 2. There's always one guy on these teams with the sense to pack a good old fashioned GUN instead of some flying boomerang or magic wand.

In addition to these, there are brown, green and orange figures I have yet to score. Being a very cheap line, they all use the same body mold, even for the girl, the short guy and the chocolate chunk.

Check out this fantastic pop-up book over at A Japanese Book. You get a better notion of the notion of that futuristic superhero ninja motif from this art. The TV show seems more concerned with the transforming giant robot stuff…

Something I bought for myself LAST Christmas…

When you’re a niche geek within an already geeky niche you tend to do your own gift shopping. My session of retail therapy last holiday season was these:

While I’m not the biggest tokusatsu fan out there, I do like the brazen absurdist nature of Akakage, and its importance in the ninja TV pantheon goes without saying. This set of 4-5″ retro-styled vinyl figures was produced in 2000 by Marmit.

'Red Shadow' himself is the tamest of the three. That pompador should be a lot more pronounced in front.
Shirokage is a nice sculpt, one of the only MAKI FUYUKICHI licensed toys ever produced.
Nice as it is, this sculpt of Aokage doesn't nearly capture what an annoying little shit he is on the show...
A nice touch was this stand/background prop in the form of Shirokage's spy kite.

I only wish there was a gigantic toad head for them to pose on, or some of the kaiju produced in larger scale.

This will be my last post before Christmas, so happy holidays everyone!


LION MARU knockoff?

About fifteen years ago now, I purchased a small collection of Bullmark Tiger Mask vinyl figures (like these) at a toy show in Ohio. Erroneously in that batch was this 13″ Kaiketsu Lion Maru figure, vintage early 70’s. It has no manufacturer’s markings or date, and I’ve been told it is likely a Chinese knock-off or unlicensed piece, which makes it even cooler.

I’m assuming this piece is indeed contemporary with the show’s original run, as it was in a collection of early 70’s vinyl that has never been reissued. It’s in amazing shape for its age, too. The rooted hair is still silky, no splits on the vinyl cape or cuffs, rubber boots still soft. I’m lucky I guess. Over the years I’ve entertained some offers from other collectors on this, but you’d have to be swinging some heavy yen…

The Dokuro ninja jobber is a modern piece in the same vein, released late 2009.

Chiba as Hanzo by Marusan

Retro-styled like a kid’s vinyl toy from the 60’s, this 10″ figure of Sonny Chiba as Hattori Hanzo from Kage No Gundan (aka Shadow Warriors) is absolutely BOSS! I’m not a big fan of boutique vinyl and the high-end collector market, but when I saw this Marusan limited piece on eBay a couple years ago I had to jump.

I’m blown away by how the Marusan sculptors skirt the fence between fealty of portrait and the sensibilities of children’s toy design. The anatomy is cartoonish, but the accuracy to the property is dead on.

Japanese toy companies like Marusan, Marmit and Bulmark have produced these weird kiddie-styled figures of obscure or adult-oriented properties over the past decade. Guess the idea is to produce the toy you would have had as a toddler if the licensing mentality of today existed back then. No one in their right mind would have licensed Zombie Michael Jackson or Angry Red Planet or myriad R-rated action properties to a vinyl toy line back in the day, but now we can enjoy the ‘what-if’ figures that never were. Limited edition runs mean they can hone in on some beloved cult properties never viable for mass-produced merch, like Matango or the scuba-creature from Atragon, or, yes… Hanzo from the decidedly un-toddler-friendly Shadow Warriors.

MAGIC SERPENT (part 2)

posted in: 1 - Film and TV | 0

022

The main-event of Kairyu Daikessen is an extended kaiju beatdown between dragon and toad, with a castle destroyed in the process.

030

029

032
This longshot actually begins a DIALOG scene between the monsters! They cut old-school rasslin' promos on each other, then proceed to have fun storming the castle.

027

033
In Japan, dragons don't breathe fire, toads do.
035
But the dragon is a big hoser himself, so it's a pretty even fight.
036
It's toad warrior vs. reindeer rex is the original MMA (Mixed Monster Attack).

039

040

041
This giant spider (species: Arachnus Deus Ex Machinatus) flies in at the last moment to save the day.

043

044
And in the fashion of all good movies, it ends with an explosion.

Kairyu Daikessen is actually more available now than it ever was back in the day. Beautiful widescreen subtitled editions are floating the trader seas under titles like “Dragon Showdown.” The only legit US release is burried on a double feature disc with a Gamera flick, and it’s the pan and scan AIP dub. The American version has it’s charm though, as all the monster “voices” were replaced by ones more familiar to US audiences (Godzilla, Rodan, Ebirah included).

gameras

Here’s some additional ephemera from the rare but beloved film:

presspic
Japanese publicity departments were superb at crafting these staged press photos that would summarize the movie in a scene that never actually happens. Best use of this practice ever is in the press stuff for WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS. Google it.
mag serp toys
I'd possibly be willing to trade a kidney (not necessarily mine) for this set of 7" vinyl dolls from, I believe, Marusan or Marmitt.