Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reunited...a tale of Gaiking Bazoler and his nose missile

Thirty-four years ago, back in the halycon days of 1974, my family lived in Tokyo, Japan. My dad had been granted a Full-Bright fellowship to spend ten months researching and writing about the variations in the forms of the Kata (movements) in various well-known Kabuki plays. He spent many hours viewing these plays over and over again, live in the Kabuki-za and in the process began translating these shows and then adding highly detailed stage directions, something that had never been done at that time in an English translation. From that time period, he emerged with two manuscripts, which would eventually be published in 1979 as The Art Of Kabuki-Five Famous Plays and A Kabuki Encyclopedia (These links are to revised versions of the books). In 1976, a year after our family had returned to the United States, my dad directed a version of the Kabuki play Terakoya at Brooklyn College, from his translation. An earlier post here showcased my brief role in the play, forever immortalized on video.

While we were in Japan, I of course, bought lots of toys. Lots and lots of toys. Or should I say, my parents bought them for me. I had many of the early die-cast Popy figures (and some vinyl, too) from the popular live action and animated TV series of the time. Kamen RIder, Mazinger, Kikaider, Inazuman Flash, Mecha Baron, Denjin Zaboga, Getter Robo, Robocon and a lot more. One of the characters I had was the Triceratops tank from the animated show Space Dragon Gaiking. It should be noted that some of these figures were released a few years later in the United States by Mattel, under the name Shogun Warriors. The toys were released with their original Japanese lettering and stickers for the most part, though Bazoler does have some English on one side of him. I'm not 100% sure if it was like that on the original Japanese release - all the photos I've found of Bazoler so far in my books don't photograph him from that side.

Since I was kid, I actually got to play with all these toys, which is something I'm most grateful for. Fortunately, I was smart enough to hold on to a fair amount of them (no boxes, though), but unfortunately, most of them have only survived as worn down and broken remnants of the proud, shiny toys they once were. Kamen Rider Amazon is missing half of his left leg (not to mention signature scarf), Mecha Baron has broken headwings, Zaboga no longer has his fist on a chain right hand, and so on. Even in the shape they're in, I'm thankful I still have them, as a good number have been forever lost to the ages. Where did my Jumbo Machinder Getter 2 ever go? I know we brought it back from Japan, but somewhere along the line it either got sold at a garage sale or thrown in the trash (hard to imagine the latter). In the box, today, a Mint Getter 2 Jumbo Machinder would command upwards of $1500 on Ebay.

Besides the broken toys and the lost ones, I still have bits and pieces of figures. A missile here, a hand there, a pair of legs there. One of the pieces I had was a dinged up, but still shiny silver curved missile of some sort. I didn't know what it was for until a few years ago I came across a photo of Gaiking Bazoler, the tank triceratops, in a book of Japanese toys and recognized the piece as his nose! So I had his nose, but no figure. I took the piece and put it safely in a plastic bubble (the kind you get from Japanese vending machines, with some kind of PVC toy inside) hoping one day I might be able to have the figure it went with.

Since the advent of Ebay, I've been able to replace some of those lost or broken toys of my youth. I've kept the originals, but replaced my Zaboga, Kamen Rider Amazon and a few others, with boxed and fairly mint versions of these characters. Every now and then I'd come across a Bazoler, but a complete one, and with the box they're in the $200 and upwards range. Luckily, last week I came across an auction for a loose Bazoler, but missing his nose missile! Unfortunately, he was also missing his two white plastic horns, but I figured if I could get him cheap, it was worth it. So, I put in my $25.00 bid and I won! Today, Bazoler arrived and he has been reunited with his missing nose missile. Or the nose missile has been reunited with Bazoler. Not that they were from the same box, of course! But, thirty-four years later, one Popy die-cast toy has become that much more complete, and in the process, I suppose, this more than thirty-four year old man, has as well.


jason quinones said...

cute story!

i laughed...i cried...i learned a little bit about myself...

The Keeper's Notes said...

hahah! Thanks for the comment, brutha!