Monday, February 28, 2011

Die Cast Darth Vader (Takara, 1978)

Once again, count on the Japanese to deliver an awesome, but weird, version of a Star Wars character. This time, they performed their magic on everyone's favorite baddie, Darth Vader.

With his overly long legs, Vader looks a lot like a late Seventies/early Eighties anime character (think Captain Harlock, for instance). Takara also took some liberties with the facial sculpt and a few smaller details, but all in all, I really like their interpretation of the toy.

Vader's limbs are plastic, his torso is metal, and his cape is vinyl. Yes, it's tied in a bow around his neck. Yes, that has to be incredibly embarrassing for the dark lord of the Sith. It's probably why so many people get force-choked.

Unlike many of Takara's die-cast Star Wars figures, Vader doesn't fire missiles. (I'll let you take a moment to process that. Amazing, I know!) Instead, he's armed with a cool glow-in-the-dark lightsaber, which fits in his hand via a small peg. Cool!

That's not his only weapon, though. Vader must have been shopping in Chewie's local Wal-Mart, because he's also armed with a mean looking bowcaster. (Yeah, I'll you take a moment to process that one, too.) The weapon comes loaded with two glow-in-the-dark crossbow bolts; it uses a rubber-band mechanism to fire them.

Very. Odd.

Vader also comes with a nifty display stand, and everything's packed inside an attractive box. As I've said before, the Japanese created some amazing packaging, and the combination of bright colors, an imposing photo of Darth Vader, and cleverly placed text makes this a great example.

This proved to be the hardest Takara die-cast toy for me to add to my collection. I'd been hunting for about a year, trying to find one that wasn't massively overpriced by delusional dealers. Finally, an example popped up on eBay -- where else? -- with an auction format (as opposed to a buy-it-now). When the auction ended, I was glad I'd waited -- I ended up snagging it for about 2/3 of what I'd expected to pay. Sweet. The force was strong in this one, I guess.

I'll admit, getting the toy was a little bittersweet. I was glad to have it, but I immediately missed the hunt. I suppose that's the double-edged sword of collecting... Nothing to do about it but set my sights on the next toy! Which, trust me, I've already done. Ha!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wind Up R2-D2 (Takara, 1978)

According to legend, this is George Lucas' favorite R2 toy, and I can see why. By giving everyone's favorite droid an extra pair of legs, and then turning his standard legs into arms, the Japanese company Takara transformed R2 into one weird, weird little 'bot. Weird... but fun.

Apparently, Lucas was so enamored of the wind up R2s that he bought them for members of the cast and crew of Star Wars. He also suggested that Kenner produce the toy; Kenner declined, wanting to avoid creating competition for their own figure. However, Kenner Canada did release a carded version of the toy (in Japan, it was sold in a sealed baggie).

I've gotta say -- I agree with George on this one: the wind up R2 is a really cool toy. I love all the detail crammed into this little guy (and he is little -- smaller even than Kenner's R2-D2 action figure). The stickers, the chrome accents, the detailed sculpt... He sure is classy! 

My Star Wars collection started as specifically a collection of R2 figures, and I remember how thrilled I was to finally snag an example of the wind up in good condition and with both stickers. I was really getting into the Japanese R2s, and for some reason, I saw this as the ultimate symbol of that particular corner of the hobby. I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe it was the George Lucas thing, or just the strangeness of the figure (because few people can do strange like Japanese toy makers). Maybe I just like that it makes me smile every time I look at it.

...Probably all of the above...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Posting Schedule. Because I Suck.

Okay. I realize that as time passes, my posts become more and more infrequent. I've got good excuses -- I'm a hard working freelancer who's just trying to raise enough money to buy more toys! -- but I admit, it's still pretty lame.

So here's the deal. From now on, this blog will be updated twice weekly. Most likely on Sundays and Wednesdays, though that's not in stone. On the other hand, I reserve the right to post more often if something cool comes up.

Would I prefer to update Galactic Awesome daily? Sure. Is that possible for me right now without simply reposting all the news you guys get from a bunch of other, more responsible bloggers? No. No it's not.

Anyway, that's that! New post -- a substantive post -- on Wednesday!

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Question For Fellow Bloggers!

A question!

Would people use a virtual chat room if I were to set one up? I envision it as being a place for like-minded collectors to meet up and discuss... whatever they feel like discussing. It'd be available to both my blogs, which means there could be some interesting cross-over. 

The chat room would always be open, so in theory, anyone could pop in whenever they felt like it. No need to schedule anything in advance (though there's also no guarantee anyone else will be there...)

I'd have to implement some level of security to avoid spammers, trolls, and all the other annoying denizens of the 'net that swarm to open, free, online chat sessions. The means, probably, either a list of pre-approved email addresses, or perhaps some sort of invitation system. Of course, everyone's privacy would be a priority, and if I do end up soliciting your email address, I'll never use it for anything other than making sure you can join the chat. 

So... What do you think? Should I set it up? If enough people comment positively, I'll go ahead and set it up in the next day or so.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Star Wars Collector's Archive Podcast

Are you a fan of Star Wars and Star Wars toys? Your answer better be yes or you're probably in the wrong place...

So assuming you're still reading this, you really need to check out The Star Wars Collector's Archive Podcast, better known as the 'Chive Cast ( Each month, co-hosts Skye and Steve bring you more than an hour of news, discussion, and interviews -- all focused on Star Wars and vintage Star Wars collecting.

It's a fun and informative online romp, and Skye, Steve, and their assorted guests explore every nook and cranny of the hobby. Figure variations, different styles of packaging, pre-production notes, hobby history, collecting anecdotes, market discussions -- they drop mad knowledge. Some of the topics can be a little esoteric, but they're always approached in a way that makes them accessible.

The 'Chive Cast celebrated its one-year anniversary in January, and you can dig through all 12 of the show's episodes by visiting the web page. There, you'll also find photos and links that illustrate some of the discussions.

So go check it out. If you're a fan of vintage Star Wars toys, believe me, these are the discussions you're looking for. (Booooooo! Bad Star Wars pun!)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...