Collecting in the Pre-Internet Era

Discussion in 'Vintage Vinyl' started by liquidsky, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. liquidsky

    liquidsky Vintage

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    Okay, here are a couple questions for the "elders" who were collecting prior to the rise of the internet/Web, so roughly before 1994-5.

    What was the scene like in the 80s and early 90s? Was your only option to board a plane and go to Japan? Were there specialty stores in the US? And if so, how would they advertise or get the word out? Was there a network of collectors who knew each other? And if so, how did they come to find each other?

    Take us back to those pioneer days...
     
  2. Frank Kozik

    Frank Kozik Mini Boss

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    it sucked.

    I collected a LOT of diecast J toys 1980-1988 and basically u could get stuff from

    Atomic City in Austin
    Kimono My House in Berkeley
    Books Nippon (sometimes) in Chicago.

    all the stuff was super expensive as basically, you where paying double or triple retail. I remember paying like 400 bucks for some of the big stuff.

    occasionally u could get stuff at collectibles shows.

    it was al like 'word of mouth'..my connection was James Hughes at atomic city. That guy got like ALL my money every month. He was totally closed-mouth as to where he got his stuff.

    A few people ( Danzig, Tim Kerr, Jeff Zorlac etc got stuff from Japan and would sell it or trade it-I did a lot of trades with Danzig back then)
     
  3. BloodDrinker6969

    BloodDrinker6969 Die-Cast

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    What did he want in return? Blood? Dead children? Bloody Hot Chicks eating dead children?
     
  4. Frank Kozik

    Frank Kozik Mini Boss

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    toys man.

    I remeber once Danzig was on his hands and knees in my living room making 'monster and war noises' as he pushed some fucking toy around.

    it sort of freaked me out.

    There was also a LOT of overlap back then with tin space toys.
     
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  5. VinceB

    VinceB Toy Prince

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    My x-mas just came early thanks to Mr. Kozik. :D
     
  6. Frank Kozik

    Frank Kozik Mini Boss

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    he wasnt quite so 'scary' to me after that interlude.
     
  7. BloodDrinker6969

    BloodDrinker6969 Die-Cast

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    Who was ever scared by Danzig? Anyway, sorry to derail this, mere mention of Danzig always makes me change the subject. I'd say, though super funny, that story makes him semm COOLER in my book.

    Seems tough, even 10-15 years ago collecting things like Star Wars toys was way tougher let alone before the dawn of the internet and collecting something MUCH harder to find.
     
  8. turtletooth

    turtletooth Post Pimp

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    It was fucking horrible back then.

    It wasn't quite as bad for me as it was for Frank. New Jersey is somehow connected to Japan through some invisible nexus, so lots of Japanese toys miraculously appeared here. Bandai had their U.S. headquarters here for a while. Also during the big Japanese economic boom of the '80s lots of Japanese business men moved here with their families. Meeting these Japanese kids at school is what opened my eyes to how cool the toys were.

    There were some Japanese stores that had things occasionally(especially in Fort Lee). Some comic stores where the owner collected vinyls and would offer his extras in the store at crazy mark up. There were ads in the back of magazines, like G-Fan. I picked up alot of stuff at local Sci-Fi and Horror conventions. Of course there were mysterious dealers. I've met drug dealers who were more upfront about their sources. Some of these guys are still around and can be heard grumbling about the internet and cursing YJA under their breath.

    Eventually Outerlimits opened up and they were 15 minutes up the road from me. They got me alot of good stuff.
     
  9. hillsy11

    hillsy11 Post Pimp

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    See, I thought the 80's were GREAT. Massive amounts of stuff at TRU like Godaikins and all sorts of other stuff brought over at random, it seemed. Dunbine, Dougram, and Xabungle stuff all made it over onto TRU shelves. I would also see/get a ton of imported stuff at a monster toy show a ways outside of Chicago (Popy Gatchaman, Ultraman, and Kamen Rider). I wasn't as fortunate as some of you Left Coasters and your stacks of Robocon toys in SF and LA, but it sounds like I was better off than some.

    Almost forgot...there was a little drug store near my house that ALWAYS was stocked with Godzilla's Gang vinyls...

    Yet one more thing (the memories come rushing back slower these days), Pony Toy-Go-Round in Yaohan (now Mitsuwa) in Arlington Hghts outside of Chicago always had cool, albeit pricey, imports from Nihon...
     
  10. Frank Kozik

    Frank Kozik Mini Boss

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    the main drag was NO ONE I ever met could read or understand japanese so it was totally impossible to find out what other toys there where in a series, or even what the fuck they where . It was all a huge mystery and I am sure i got ripped off a million times. But man..they made some fucking rad toys back then, unbelievable quality. I didnt care much for vinyl then, my bag was big diecast and abs..like a full sized Spaceship Yamato that lit up..all the Douram stuff, macross etc. I was also into the weird kiddie show stuff like Mr 8 and so on. I still have some of that stuff. I had a really big Tetsujin 28 and astrobiy collection as well.

    but yeah, it was very frustrating and very expensive and most collectors where like, really lame and greedy and there was like zero 'bonding'. everyone was at war basically.
     
  11. turtletooth

    turtletooth Post Pimp

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    That's exactly right. If you met a guy at, say a convention, who was also buying Godzilla crap and you asked for any info they'd look at you like you just cursed their mother.

    Thank God I never really went down the diecast road. Except I remember saving my allowance for months to but a Red Shoulder Scopedog from a comic shop. Still have it.
     
  12. Chad Hensley

    Chad Hensley Post Pimp

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    Take Frank's and Hillsy's comments, mix 'em up, and that's pretty much it.

    Frank forgot Modern Toys in Dallas.

    In the South, some major toy stores like Toys R Us, had old stock hanging around.

    Plus, on skateboard trips, I use to get kids to bring me their 2 foot Shogun Warriors. The kids didn't want them and they were more than happy to give them away to some crazy skaters. By then, I also had skaters in other states going to toy stores for me to see what they could find.
     
  13. Anonymous

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    Collecting in the Pre-Internet Era
    i wouldnt say i was a huge collector back then, but i would take trips to the one cool comic store in my state that carried some bandai toys and then i would go to the ny g-con to get my godzilla fix. bandai stuff sucked but it was still way better than all the shitty trendmasters stuff. when i saw some of the stuff at g-con it blew my mind.
     
  14. hillsy11

    hillsy11 Post Pimp

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    Man, how could I forget about the Shogun Warriors at TRU in the 70's. I remember always being able to find the goofy diecast vehicles and the diecast minis, but rarely the larger diecast 'bots. I seem to recall seeing lots of the Godzilla Jumbos in relation to the others, in the stores...
     
  15. Frank Kozik

    Frank Kozik Mini Boss

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    the real harsh deal is that when I finally DID get to go to Japan for the first time I was super-stoked and my first question was:

    where can i go to find old toys and hello kitty stuff?

    my trendy rich fashion designer japanese hosts looked at me like I had just ass-fucked a baby on their dining room table while crapping myself.

    they where like? 'only weird perverts know that stuff' and I had to go find it all on my own.

    then///BxH blew the lid off.
     
  16. hillsy11

    hillsy11 Post Pimp

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    I would have loved to see Forest Gangu and Godzilla-Ya in their prime. Alas, I didn't make it to Japan until 2001.
     
  17. turtletooth

    turtletooth Post Pimp

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    Yeah.....and?

    Sounds like they knew what they were talking about.
     
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  18. Jeff_N

    Jeff_N Toy Prince

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    oh man, this was the place i would go to all the time, i would drive down from CT and spend tons of time and money there.

    is it still open?
     
  19. missy

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    he still plays with toys...here's me doing my best "evil pose" with him at comic con while i interrupted his toy shopping at S7. heh.

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Dean

    Dean Prototype

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    When I was a kid in the '70s I wasn't "collecting" but my brother and I were huge kaiju movie fans (and monster movie fans in general.) Our dad would drive us up to Japan Center in San Francisco where my bro would buy kaiju toys from the various shops that had them. As I recall none were toy stores per se, but several shops had Ultraman and Godzilla toys. (Some still do although not many, and the toys aren't the kind that would generally appeal to many here.) I don't recall any magazines that helped us to learn more about Japanese monsters ... we just caught every rerun of movies and tv shows that we could. We did have Famous Monsters of Filmland, the great Ray Harryhausen book, books on the Universal monsters, that sort of thing. As y'all know, Super7 is now at Japan Center. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for Westerners who were consciously collecting to collect back in the '70s, especially without the advantage of SOME nearby toy store that carried Japanese monsters. I wish my bro and I had kept our toys, but at least we had a great boyhood indoctrination that helped with familiarity to some extent when I got the neo kaiju bug. I seem to remember this thing called a "library." :)
     
  21. turtletooth

    turtletooth Post Pimp

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    They were closed for a few years, but just reopened a few doors down in a much smaller location.
     
  22. Frank Kozik

    Frank Kozik Mini Boss

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    I first came to the US in 1976 or so and do remember that Tandy had some Giant Shogun Warriors and a little Ultraman stuff, but back then ( I was 14) I thouhgt that stuff was lame.
     
  23. missy

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    skylar and i keep talking about driving up for this. tell them not to close again until we get there. ;)
     
  24. ElvisFromHell

    ElvisFromHell Comment King

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    I first got exposed to Japanese vinyls at a store in Boston called Day Old Antiques run by Mike Z (he used to be in this tiny hole-in-the-wall in Newton - it was like rummaging through someone's basement - awesome). He had the bandai ultraman kaiju and some vintage bullmarks which blew my mind at the time - I'd never seen that stuff before nor knew anything about it - and thus began my descent into hell.

    Anyhoo - it was tough as hell to get vinyl figures back then - Mike would write to his connections in Japan (letters, not email) and order stuff then get the box and it was sometimes not what he thought he was ordering or the vinyls has writing on the feet, etc. A lot of communication problems back then - plus he had about 5-6 guys he was "supplying" (and in different parts of the country - we'd always wonder "how did that guy in Illinois ever find out about vinyls) and there seemed to be a pecking order. You'd have to wait months for a new shipment to come in, he wouldn't get that many and they'd be gone quick.

    Then it was a process of seeing if i could find elsewhere something I'd seen in Day Old that had gone to another collector - I remember calling KMH and Steve Agin and trying to describe what i was looking for (I didn't know the names back then) "um, yeah, he's a red guy with bumps on his body and a horn with a stalk like thing coming out of his body." Yeah, right!

    The whole thing was a completely mysterious world - i remember asking Mike "how many different monsters are out there" and he would say - "like hundreds, so many it never ends."

    He used to sell a lot to Coop and I think Danzig too (Mike used to sell records in Japan which is how he got exposed to it all and he told me that Danzig got exposed to this stuff while on tour over there. Side point - i once bought some records from Howie Pyro on ebay and we got to talking (he was touring with Danzig at the time) - Howie also collected japanese vinyl at the time and we were going to do a trade but it never materialized).

    I also remember seeing my first M1 - the green semi-nigen - and I remember being transfixed by it because the vinyl was unlike anything other toy I'd seen at that point. It had such a wonderful, quality feel to it. It was super-expensive at the time (maybe $90) and M1's were like impossible to get. i think those were the days (early 90's) when Yuji only made like 1 or 2 figures a year.

    To sum it up, basically i had only one source - although I'd occassionally buy stuff via phone from KMH based on a description of the item tehy gave me over the phone - stuff was expensive, hard to get, you had to wait a long to get it, and you really had no idea what other stuff was out there which sometimes made me hesitate on a big purchase because maybe there's something even wilder that I want more. A big learning curve too - learning the names of these guys and the companies that made them so i could speak intelligently to people about what i was looking for.


    Oh, yeah - i also remember buying from House of Monsters in Chicago - I can't remember the guy's name but he was a dentist, i think, who ran this shop in his off hours only on the weekends. I went there once when I was in Chicago and that store was amazing - just piles of crap everywhere - it was like a treasure hunt and just about everything was stuff i hadn't seen before. Pre-internet sucked but on the other hand, when you hit a vein like House of Monsters, it was an awesome feeling and you'd try to buy everything you could afford because you had no idea when, if ever, you'd see this stuff again. In a way, the internet has taken some of the charm out of it - you can now find just about any figure you want for the right price.
     
  25. ElvisFromHell

    ElvisFromHell Comment King

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    oh, yeah - can't leave out Jim C of Club Daikaiju - although I can't remember if he was pre-internet. But that guy was a font of information - super-helpful and seemed to be best friends with Yuji at M1 so Club D became a major source for a lot of figures. He's also offer to pick stuff up when he traveled to Japan. A gentleman and a scholar - literally!
     

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