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   Now in our eleventh calendar year
    PCR #513  (Vol. 11, No. 4)  This edition is for the week of January 18--24, 2010.

"Crazy Heart"  by Mike Smith
The Best and Worst of 2009  by Mike Smith
DVD Review: "Corrosion Corner"  by Will Moriaty
Absolutely Fabulous: The Fab Four  by ED Tucker
Revenge of Japanese Toy Shopping  by Jason Fetters
Life, Love and Kramer  by John Miller
Branching Out .... Golden Comments .... Movie Notes .... Money In The Bank .... Someone Got Fooled .... Passing On .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith

Revenge of Japanese Toy Shopping

This is the second in a series of articles dealing with the joy of Japanese toys that quickly become highly addictive to collect. I have already written about Toys R Us and please refer to last week’s PCR for that story.

Vending machines are everywhere in Japan and they offer items not found in any other country. Just take a leisurely stroll through one of the many shopping arcades and don’t be surprised to see vending machines that sell used panties with pictures of the past wearers included, condoms sold by blood type, Jack Daniels in the bottle for anyone to purchase without an ID check, and my own personal favorite, collectable toys.

Ever since I was young, I always loved those vending machines with pictures of toys on the front. You put in a quarter or two and out pops a bright colored plastic egg with one of the items inside. I like the thrill of not knowing exactly what is going to come out.

I was always a Robotech fan since that cartoon aired in localized form on US TV in the mid-80s so quite naturally the first plastic toy I wanted was from Robotech. I was leaving a restaurant, and noticed a row of vending machines and luckily enough found a Robotech machine. I can’t remember the name of the mech that came out, (pictured here with the gray face and white hands) but it looked cool anyway. I remember my buddy from high school owning a Zentradi toy that was a little larger than a 16-ounce Coke bottle and being the envy of the hardcore nerds from Robinson High circa 1989.

Robots toys were the most fun and the toys that I collected more than any others. In elementary school, I had a complete set of rubber robot erasers that saw many battles and fights on a sunny Saturday afternoon. So it is no surprise that I liked the Gundam cartoon. Although Gundam didn’t air on US TV back in the 80’s, I had the next best thing. A fellow geek that I met at Monroe Junior High School had videotapes of classic Gundam from the 70’s and those tapes were golden back in 1986. Ok, I admit the quality was bad, the commercials were left in (which in some cases was a plus because Japanese commercials can be completely outrageous and funny, sometimes more than the show you are watching), there were no English dubs, but no one else had them.

On one of my many adventures in Osaka, I stumbled on a Gundam vending machine and put in a 100 en coin (close to $1) to get a purple colored egg that contained RX-78-2 Gundam inside (pictured at right.) The RX-78-2 Gundam was seen in the old TV series called Mobile Suit Gundam and aired from 1979-1980, as well as, the movie trilogy from 1981-1982. Not content with that one, I went to the machine that featured the SD or Super Deformed Gundam that were smaller and cartoony. The one I got was the little green one with the red eye or sensor staring back at you. Next to the SD Gundam vending machine was a SD Ultraman and I couldn’t pass up one of those too. Everything in Japan can be SD’ed and thus made cuter to increase sells with Japan’s cult of cute.

Moving along to another fan favorite, and yes another robot, is Mecha Godzilla from the Toho movies. Mecha Godzilla came in individual plastic parts that you assembled together. A good-looking toy that had stood on my computer desk at home for years.

If toy robots are not your thing and you have trouble working up the courage to hook yourself up for a date next weekend, then how about a sexy anime toy?

I found a vending machine with Love Hina toys inside. Love Hina was an anime from 1998-2001. I bought mine around the height of Love Hina mania, sometime in 2000. Love Hina was an anime about a lonely geeky who is studying to get into Tokyo University based on a childhood promise that he made with a girl. Tokyo University is like Harvard in the US and it is just as hard to get into. The young man, now a recent high school grad, takes a job at a girls’ dorm while he studies for the college entrance exam. Many hilarious jokes and sexual situations ensue as he tries to manage a girls’ dorm as a timid geek.

Anyway, I put in my money and got one of the girls living in the dorm. When you turn her over, you get a panty shot. All from a vending machine.

That’s it for this time. Join me next week for a different avenue of Japanese toys to explore.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2010 by Jason Fetters.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.