Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Rochester Toy Show

A few months ago Alicia and I ventured out to Rochester to check out a vintage toy show at the Village Gate. It was surreal to see countless tables filled with random action figures and collectibles from the 80's and 90's...if I had been able to attend an event like this when I was still in college I would have gone completely bankrupt buying a ridiculous amount of G1 Transformers and McFarlane toys. Since I've had to reign in my compulsive toy collecting in recent years, I managed to just enjoy the opportunity to see so many of these rare and unusual pop culture relics in person.

This event was actually closer to a flea market than a traditional toy show, which meant that the prices were really great but the presentation was a little...rough. Most vendors had toys that were packaged in ziplock bags with prices written in sharpie, then piled into cardboard boxes in front their setup. A selection of eye catching pieces would adorn the surface of their tables, but to see the majority of their goods you'd have to get down and start rummaging through the unorganized clutter. I could very happily do that for hours, at every single table...the only reason I didn't was because I was limiting myself to just a few purchases, and I knew that if I started digging I'd probably find a bunch of stuff that would be hard to say no to.

I did find a few gems that day, all of which were great deals that also fit nicely with my current shelf setup. As soon as we walked through the doors, I saw this guy at the very first table.

Vintage Voltron

I've always been enamored with Voltron (aka GoLion) ever since I first caught a glimpse of the show when I was probably around 7 years old. For some reason I'm pretty sure whatever channel it was airing on only showed up at my Grandparents house, so I could only see a few random episodes when we were visiting and I got lucky enough to catch it on a Saturday morning. Still, it remains to this day my favorite giant robot design. I mean...five huge robot cats that combine to form an even bigger robot with a massive, ridiculous sword that can cut through entire spaceships. It's perfect. Between this and those early episodes of Robotech warping my young mind, my future anime obsession was inevitable.

I also found a tiny Zaku in a giant bin overflowing with mini toys.

Mini Char’s Zaku II

There was a mixture of blindbox figures and gashapon toys piled high, each one stored in a tiny ziplock bag. While I was examining the Zaku, the seller wandered over and helpfully pointed out, "Ah yes, that's from Japan." I smiled and nodded as I continued to dig through the sea of individually wrapped plastic trinkets.

This tiny version of Char's Zaku II is exactly 2" tall counting the helmet protrusion, and I later discovered that it's actually a "Cube Mate." He's pretty neat, the blocky base shape is obviously influenced by Kubricks and there's a spot on his head where you can attach a keychain (which was missing from the one I bought). He looks good next to my other Super deformed Gundam toys, which tower above him despite their relatively diminutive size.

The real treasure, however, was this amazing piece right here. Monster Robot!

Monster Robot!

At first, you might be fooled into thinking it's just a really cool looking battery powered robot toy...but wait!

Monster Robot Revealed!

It's not just a robot, it's a MONSTER ROBOT. I fell in love with this thing as soon as I saw the box. I was staring at it for a few minutes until I had the courage to pick it up and inspect the package further. I just assumed it would be way out of my price range, most cool vintage toys are just insanely expensive these days. I hopped on the bandwagon way too late, and now that they're steadily rising in popularity it's difficult to find any affordable pieces.

So, when the seller saw me holding the box and said, "Fifteen bucks" I practically yelled, "I'll take it!"

I haven't found much info about this guy, but it looks like he was made by a company called Alps sometime during the late 60's or early 70's. I originally thought he was a bootleg, based on the generic box art. However, according to a few online retailers, it looks like he's the real deal!

I like to think that the monster wasn't satisfied just being a glowing, fire breathing sir, he went out and got himself a giant robot suit to REALLY do some damage. Here he is in action:

The batteries are running low, so he moves and screeches a bit slower than intended, but I kind of like it that way.

All together it was a great toy show, Alicia picked up a few She-Ra figures for her collection, along with a wide selection of vintage clothing from a nearby shop. I'll definitely be coming back next year, possibly with a little more money in my pocket, just in case there are new treasures to be found.

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