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Why Gaijin?
Gaijin: A savage, barbarian, foreigner, and westerner. A derogatory term used by the Japanese for any westerner.
Now that you know what a Gaijin is, you are probably wondering why I would call a column on Japanese toys, Gaijin.

It's because I am a Gaijin.

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Transforming Gundams
Transforming Gundams

E-mail Column Gaijin and say "Hai-ya!" here.

My Holy Grail: Tall-headed Mazinga.

Holy Grail? Every toy collector has his or her own Holy Grail. Every now and again someone comes with a question like "What is really, really rare. What's the Holy Grail of (insert toy line here)?" This is never an easy question as very little is known about most vintage toy runs. Rarely do we know the original production numbers or distribution of a vintage toy, so making assumptions about which piece is a Holy Grail is almost pointless.
Having said all that about Holy Grails being really hard to nail down for vintage toys, imagine how hard it is for vintage Japanese toys?

Looking for pictures of one and stumbled across another.
Awhile ago a Japanese mook (Magazine Book) was released that contained the most complete collection of Jumbo Machinder (Large Japanese Robots imported as Shogun Warriors in the 70's see: Return of the Gaijin Machinders). This mook titled Gangu Jensi #2 (Toy Life #2 in English) was the first publication to contain pictures of a Jumbo Machinder villain named Garada K7. This piece is so rare that up until the publication of GJ #2 it was only rumored to exist. I bought the mook as reference material and to see this rare Holy Grail Jumbo villain.
While looking at all of the great pictures in GJ #2 I noticed a comparison shot between two different Great Mazinger Jumbos. I asked a friend, Matt Alt, to translate the text for me (whole book is in Japanese of course) and what he told me was that it was a comparison shot between the 1st and 2nd versions that Popy had made. 1st and 2nd versions? I had never heard of this 1st version that had a taller head. I almost fell out of my seat.

Now it's personal.

Why would I lose it over another version of a Jumbo? Simple. There were more versions of Great Mazinger (Mazinga here in the U.S.) made then any other Jumbo. Mattel released 4 different versions as part of the Shogun Warriors line, 3 domestically, and 1 released in Europe only. I have all 4. I also have 2 different bootlegs (unauthorized and unlicensed) versions made in Europe and the recently reissued copy of the Japanese Popy version (based on the 2nd and more common Popy version I found out, not the tall headed 1st version). That makes a total of 7 Great Mazinga Jumbos, the largest collection of them that I know of. Up until the release of GJ #2 I had no idea that there was another Popy version out there. Now I had to find one.

No way!
I searched high and low and had simply given up trying to find one, seems very few people outside of Japan had ever seen one. Even my connections in Japan were unable to find one. I was searching eBay and came across an auction out of Italy and noticed that the seller had listed it as "The first Popy one", at first I thought he was making reference to the fact that the Popy version was released first and the Shogun Warrior one was released later. I waited forever for the pics to load and they were taken at an odd angle and I couldn't tell much about the size of the head, however it looked like he had two ridges inside the head compartment and I knew that he should only have one. I pulled out my copy of GJ #2 and low and behold the tall-headed 1st version had had two ridges!

The opening bid was for $200 and the shipping was pretty steep from Italy, but I went ahead and bid anyway, knowing I would be outbid as soon as somebody found out this was the rare one. He had several defects and wasn't even close to mint, but he was in pretty decent shape and should have fetched more then $200. I waited 7 days to be outbid and won it for $200. I found out that most of the collectors that I talked to didn't realize that it was the 1st version one, or that there was even a 1st version.

I cleaned him ups and replaced several parts including an extra wing attachment. In the end he is still by no means mint, but very displayable and the centerpiece of my Jumbo collection. I have seen 1 other one since, but it was in worse condition, way overpriced and for sale in Japan only.
My Grail.
I guess the real thing I learned was that what constitutes a Holy Grail, may differ from one collector to another. While the rest of the Jumbo Machinder community was looking at pictures of the ultra rare Garada K7, I was looking at the tall-headed Mazinga. As rare as it is I really have no desire to get a Garada K7 and if I found one for a cheap price I would have to turn around and sell it to someone who had set it up as their Grail.
My Mazinga collection is still not complete. I am missing three bootlegs made in Hong Kong. One is a yellow-legged version (only seen a pic of) , one is a white-legged version (fellow collector has the only one I know of) and red-legged version (never seen, but may be more then a rumor ).
For more about the Tall-Headed Mazinga click here
For More about All my Mazingas click here
Brad Walker collects American and Japanese action figures, customizes them, and "hangs out" by sitting on the hood of a car drinking Colt.45 at his local Dairy Queen parking lot. "Gai-Jin" is what he calls himself, but most folks call him "white trash". You can reach him at gaijin@zappowbang.com if he can get his PC to work, and if he's in a good mood he will reply.
You can also visit his custom action figure site here: http://members.tripod.com/~bwalk06/. For "big ass robot shampoo bottles (Shogun Warriors)" go here: http://members.tripod.com/~bwalk06/shogun/.

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