Leica M9, f2/35mm Summicron lens, 2nd version.
Archive for the ‘Nostalgia-mongering’ Category
I’ve been spending some time cleaning out my studio, and when I found these 70′s vintage Popy toy catalogs, I felt the need to scan-and-share. Aside from the obvious and gratuitous display of voluptuous toy pr0n, I’m digging the photography and graphic design, which, like pretty much everything from Japan, goes that extra mile to make even the most simple piece of promo/commercial ephemera look irresistible. Just look at that type treatment! Probably hand-drawn, too. The JM (standing for “Jumbo Machinder”) shield/stamp on the back is wonderful too.
Look at that photo! What red-blooded little kid could possibly resist its siren song? Not me – I have collected a lot of the stuff depicted on this page.
This catalog was included with a boxed Jumbo Machinder accessory fist attachment. Jumbo Machinders were two-foot-tall renditions of anime giant robots, made from the same blow-molded plastic used to make shampoo bottles. Due to the storage constraints of the typical Japanese family home, very few of them survived the seventies, and all but a few ended up as gomi.
Here in America, Mattel brought over a few hardy examples and sold them as Shogun Warriors.
I guess those little red missiles and spring-loaded fists weren’t enough of an injury-to-the-eye liability magnet for Popy, so they brought out a whole line of accessories to complete the job.
I have yet to find a complementary kid-sized eyepatch with a Popy logo, but I’m sure I’ll turn one up eventually.
Clearly ZZ-6 is the money melon of the accessory fist series. It is a giant fist, made from a boulder, that SHOOTS MISSILES. I can think of no better example of the uniquely Japanese concept of AWESOME AND DESTROY.
And then there’s ZZ-8, the Fortress Of Fists. For when you need a Guns Of Navarone-styled rocky emplacement to proudly display all this lethal weaponry.
Each of the accessories came with a proof-of-purchase coupon, and when you had a complete set, you could send away to Popy for this little beauty, a suitcase/robot garage for your jumbo.
This is another, smaller catalog from another box, with a nice selection of jumbos and diecast chogokin.
The guys on the right are Jumbo Machinder villains, all from Mazinger Z. These are some of the rarest items in the jumbo pantheon. The guy in the middle of the bottom row, named Garada K-7? Only three are known to exist. The last time one was on the market, it sold for five figures.
It’s that time of year again… Wednesday morning, I hit the road with my copiloto, Gerie “Th’ Perfesser” Bledsoe, race car in tow, on our way to La Carrera Panamerica 2009.
Last year’s race was cut short for us, due to gross mechanical failure, but this year, with a new engine and master builder/mechanic Todd Landon along for the fun, we hope to do much better than last time.
Updates will be made on this here blog, as time and Mexican internet tubes permit.
For more photos from last year’s race, click here.
I know that some of these images are controversial or downright offensive in these more PC times, (just like i’m offended by hipsters wearing Che Guevara t-shirts, but that’s another story) but I ask you to consider the era and intended audience. Roth’s entire output was meant to be obnoxious and offensive to the "squares," as his customer base consisted of surly teens, hot rod hooligans and outlaw bikers, all groups who loved to provoke the ire of the buttondown crowd by using symbols and images that were in bad taste. (see also the “sick humor” fad of the sixties.) Likewise, Roth’s Vietnam output was intended solefy for the poor bastards drafted and shipped overseas to fight in a war that they had no interest in fighting. To the extent that these images feature racist asian imagery, well, yeah, of course they do. I think the guys sweating in the jungle in ‘Nam were less than concerned about offending the sensibilities of the people they were killing and being killed by. If it’s any consolation, I know for a fact that today’s armed forces don’t allow imagery like this to be used anymore.
Here’s a few choice gems:
P.S. All this stuff is © copyright Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, so don’t be a fink!
I apologize in advance to those of you bored with the toolblogging, but if I can’t use the internets to obsess over some topic to the point of mania, I would be forced to do something productive with my time.
Another great weekend for the garage sales. Among the bounty, this lovely old tool cabinet. I called it from the car, much to the consternation of Mr. Jalopy. I didn’t realize until later that it was in fact a Snap-On brand cabinet, which caused a bit of friction, as that is strictly Hooptyrides territory. Jalopy and I subsequently came to a gentlemen’s agreement regarding future garage sale tool finds. He gets first dibs on Snap-On, and I get first dibs on Plomb. Everything else is up for grabs! Otherwise, we would be little better than savages!
Having quelled a potential mutiny aboard HMS Hoopty, I returned to the studio with my prize. It looks quite presentable after a little elbow grease and careful application of a wire wheel, having lost much grime and rust, but not a bit of wabisabi. The perfect place for my Plomb tool collection.
I’ve been going Plomb crazy since I got those two ratchets a while ago, and my collection of Plomb tools has grown exponentially. (Ebay is a dangerous place for a man with a flush bank account and poor impulse control.)
Every day it seems that the mailman delivers a box containing a dirty wrench or a clanking collection of old sockets. I’ve been spending like a drunken sailor on shore leave. Fortunately, very few STDs can be transmitted via online auction.
Why have I gone overboard with these old tools? Well, for a perversely curious person with advanced packrat syndrome, such as myself, there is no greater joy than discovering some new thing to collect. Serial numbers and model names to remember, history to uncover, objects to covet, these are truly the things that make life worth living. Allow me to share a little bit of what I have uncovered so far.
Plomb Tools started here in Los Angeles shortly after the turn of the century, making tools under the Plomb brand until 1948, when they lost the brand in a trademark dispute, and changed their name to PROTO (short for PROfessional TOols.) Just like hot rodding, they were born in L.A. and achieved an aesthetic high point just before 1950.
The tools themselves are beautifully designed examples of a certain school of industrial design that flourished between World Wars 1 and 2. Not quite Art Deco or Streamline Moderne, but comfortable within those categories, it perfectly represents a certain era in time.
Just look at that logo. “Streamlined Tools” indeed. These are two NOS boxes of 9/32″ drive 1/4 WF-11 sockets. I should have included something for scale, as these suckers are tiny. You could swallow that whole box like a piece of sushi, one gulp.
All the Plomb tools with a WF serial number were part of the “Wright Field” line of tools that Plomb manufactured for the U.S. Armed Forces. Any tools that might have been used to work on a Jeep, Sherman tank, or P-38 are tools worth having, as far as I’m concerned. You could almost say these are Nazi-killing tools, and who would have a problem with killing Nazis? Not me, brother.
More WF stuff, an incomplete 3/8″ drive socket set. I’m already working on getting the missing sockets, don’t you worry. I could just imagine finding this under the seat of an old hopped-up ’40 Ford quietly rusting in a barn somewhere.
Three 3/8″ drive sockets. The bottom two are the same serial number, 5249, but different styles, and the top is a WF-21. I know Mr. Jalopy will crab that I haven’t properly cleaned these tools yet, but I was caught up in the moment.
Assorted 9/32″ drive sockets, and two HUGE 3/4″ drive sockets, a 1 7/8″ and a 2″ You could serve cocktails in these things.
Of all the stuff I’ve gotten so far, this is my favorite. A 1 1/4″ crowfoot wrench, 3/8″ drive. It’s large, about two inches across, about 3/8″ thick, and satisfyingly heavy and chunky. I’ve been carrying it around in my pocket like a rabbit’s foot ever since I got it in the mail.
Just look at the ratchet hole. A raised lip, gently rounded on the outside, with a countersunk bevelled edge on the inside. The complex shape of the inside of the wrench. These touches add absolutely nothing to the functionality of the tool, and are only there to bring a little beauty to an otherwise utilitarian object.
How can something so simple and seemingly prosaic be so beautiful? If I saw this crowfoot wrench reproduced at a massive scale, inside MOMA resting on a pedestal, it would seem perfectly at home.
Update: Hmmm… one of my readers, Bret Haller, emailed to say that he believes the tool box is in fact a Craftsman, and I tend to think he knows what he’s talking about, since he nailed the year of production, 1975, which was stamped on the inside. I guess Mr. Jalopy isn’t quite the Snap-On expert he claims to be…
Just the other day, I was having yet another conversation with Mr. Jalopy about the halcyon days of our shared youth. Sure, the seventies always gets a bad rap; in many respects, deservedly so. Just forget about the gas lines, rampant inflation, and polyester, and try to remember the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, fiberglass-bodied Chevy Vega funny cars and Evel Knievel.
Our conversation began (as it almost always does) with a discussion of the glory days of drag racing, reflections brought on by the purchase of the book mentioned in the previous post. Truly, giants stomped on MOON aluminum accelerator pedals in those heady days, ten-foot-tall, mutton-chopped gladiators whose driving skills were matched (indeed, sometimes exceeded) by their reckless, uninformed-by-focus-groups-style and showmanship. “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Connie “The Bounty Hunter” Kalitta, Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney, “Jungle Jim” Liberman, (and his bodacious muse, Jungle Pam!)
These were our bellbottomed gods and goddesses, coming down from the shag-carpeted comfort of Mt. Olympus in their metalflaked chariots to feud and fight for the entertainment of we mere mortals. The giants all went away eventually, and real drag racing went away with them, with the last example of the extinct species left in the person of motormouth pitchmeister John Force, bless him.
Drag racing was not the only place these sideburn-sporting titans battled with the fickle forces of Horsepower. From Formula One and Indy, all the way down to small-time demolition derbys, it seemed like our American birthright was finally being realized in a select group of crazy bastards willing to strap themselves in behind (or in front of) a Very Bad Idea and throw themselves at danger like flinging a water balloon at an electric fan, their only reward a shiny trophy, a can of Old Style, and the admiration of some sweet young thing with Farrah hair and a tube top.
Of course, if the subject under discussion is that of heroes dedicated to commiting acts of complete insanity involving internal combustion, lack of concern for life and limb, and white-toothed, white trash showmanship, then you need go no further than the apotheosis of the breed, Evel Knievel. He is the end point of the evolutionary line, the Tyrannosaurus Wrecks that tests the sustainable limits of the ecosystem. After he is gone, only small furry rodents remain.
It would be hard for someone born after 1980 to understand the hallowed place Evel held in the imagination of a kid back then. Forget fakes like Superman and Spider-Man, we had a real-life superhero to worship, a hero who dressed like a star-spangled Elvis, rode a Harley, smashed his bones like brittle Ortega taco shells, and who, in his ultimate act of insanity (and some would say of hubris) climbed into a red-white-and-blue rocket and shot himself over the gaping chasm of the Snake River Canyon. Like Icarus, he didn’t complete his flight; missing the far side of the canyon, he plummeted to the canyon floor, narrowly avoiding drowning in the river below. I can still remember witnessing this event on ABC’s Wide World Of Sports. just as I can instantly recall his painful slo-motion Caesar’s Palace crash, the Zapruder film of my generation. As a kid, I had all the Evel Knievel toys, of course, and later tried to jump drainage ditches on my dirt bike in imitation of Knievel, earning a broken collarbone for my troubles.
Yes, Evel was perhaps the ultimate example of the madness of the seventies, and held an honored place in the kid pantheon alongside Fonzie, Catfish Hunter, and those fat, minibike-riding twins from the Guinness Book of World Records (the book we couldn’t wait to order every year from the Scholastic catalog.)
This wasn’t meant to be merely another empty exercise in nostalgia-humping. As fun as it might be just to blather on about all this stuff, the more important question is this: what happened? Why did these giants vanish from the earth, only to be replaced by bilious actors, slutty anorexic debu-tarts, and insolvent vulgarians with orangutan hair-hats? When will the giants return?
Over at The Sneeze, Mr. Sneeze has a very funny post about the toy he always wanted, and never received, an Inch Worm. In the comments, loads of nostalgia-addled thirty-somethings (sadly, much like Yours Truly) trade hilarious war stories about the toys that got away, or got broken. Reading these comments filled me with a sweet, guacamole-like wave of nausea, as I remembered my own moment of supreme childhood toy horror, involving my beloved Shogun Warrior Gaiking.
Shogun Warriors were Mattel’s first attempt to get American kids to make their parents buy Japanese toys. This would seem to be an inspired idea, since at this time, the seventies, Japanese toy technology was at its most crazed zenith, and American toys, well, just sucked. The Shogun Warriors line consisted of repackaged versions of characters from popular anime shows in Japan. (The fact that American kids had seen none of these Japanese programs at that time apparently escaped the attention of the marketing department at Mattel, but no matter.)
The big guns in the Shogun Warrior lineup were these big, 24-inch missile-shooting badass robots. Known as Jumbo Machinders in Japan, these stiff-limbed, crudely-rendered figures were made from the same greasy plastic as bleach bottles. What they lacked in posability, they made up with firepower. Each of the Shoguns (Raydeen, Mazinga, Dragun and Gaiking) shot various and sundry missiles, projectiles and body parts in a flurry of cornea-damaging action.
Of the four, clearly the most desirable was Gaiking. The American Gaiking, itself a bare-bones version of the far more elaborate Japanese jumbo, featured a helmet with huge horns, a skull-shaped chest with missiles that shot from the eye sockets, and most importantly for our little story, a jointed arm that bent at the elbow, with a fist that could be launched with deadly accuracy towards both family pet and little sister alike. I think you can see why no self-respecting nine-year-old could possibly exist without such a wonderful toy.
The big event in my home every fall was the arrival of the Sears Christmas catalog. I can still remember the smell of the ink and wood pulp of those catalogs as I type this post. I mooned over that damned Gaiking all that fall and winter, and bless my indulgent parents, they actually got one for me. And I promptly broke the fucker.
The details of the incident have been lost in the mists of time, or perhaps I just willed myself to forget. As I alluded to earlier, the weak point of the Gaiking design was in the fist-firing arm that bent at the elbow. The connection point was a flimsy hollow peg that locked into a ball-joint on the forearm. This is where things went awry. The connecting peg snapped off cleanly at the base. I was DEVASTATED. I cannot express to you the horror I felt as the nightmare unfolded. My father tried his best to repair the broken arm, using a wooden dowel and gallons of glue, but sadly, it just wasn’t meant to be. Eventually he manged to cobble it back together into a semblance of normal function, but it was ruined for me, and Gaiking ended up stuck in the back of a dark closet.
Of course, as is seemingly the case with all members of my generation, when I entered my twenties, I had an overwhelming atavistic compulsion to buy back my childhood at a premium. Getting a replacement Gaiking wasn’t enough, however, and I just kept collecting until I had the entire Shogun Warriors line, and finally, a huge collection of Japanese toys that have completely overwhelmed my home and studio. Why? I don’t know.