Firstly, allow me to thank those who have nominated me for "most thought-provoking blog" over at The Anime Blog Awards. No, I didn't know there were awards for anime blogs. Apparently there are.
For the past forty-odd years, the unstoppable juggernaut of Japanese cartoon merchandise has impacted every corner of the globe. This colorful path of destruction has left many an inexplicable piece of merchandise bobbing in its wake. Which brings us to today's topic of discussion - little toy gliders.
This brightly-colored styrofoam glider was found in a dollar store somewhere, and immediately caught the eye of any anime fan in the vicinity. Obviously this is a flying model of the New God Phoenix from Gatchaman II, which is the 1978 sequel to the popular 1972 Tatsunoko anime series The Brave Frog. No, wait, I mean Gatchaman.
Anyway, these dinky little stunt glider toys are merely one example of the crazy world of unlicensed toys based on Japanese anime that seeped through the semi-permeable membrane of the Pacific and found their way to toy stores, flea markets, dollar stores, hobby shops, and souvenir stands across America. In future Let's Anime posts we'll be taking a look at all sorts of similar items, but right now it's all about the gliders.
As we can see from the handy guide on the back of the package, this series of gliders wasn't limited to Gatchaman sequels, no sir. #1 is of course our Phoenix. #2, however, is from a completely different show from a completely different studio - it's the Comet, from the 1978 Toei series Captain Future , based on the 40s pulp hero created by Edmond Hamilton. #3 is of course the Cosmos Queen, the super starship from Leiji Matsumoto's matriarchi-riffic retelling of the Monkey King legend, 1978's Starzinger. This was shown in the US, retitled "Spaceketeers" as part of Jim Terry's "Force Five" package and features the only space suit designed with a miniskirt. Thank you Leiji.
#4 and #5 are reimaginations of the Cosmo Zero and the Cosmo Falcon, both from Space Battleship Yamato. Did they ever make an official model kit of the Cosmo Falcon? This cheap unlicensed glider toy might be your only chance to hold one in your hand! #6 is the G-4 from, again, Gatchaman II, piloted by Jinpei the Swallow.
But cheap Taiwanese knockoffs aren't the only flying anime-themed objects hurtling briefly through our skies! Check out this prototype unmanned aerial vehicle:
Apologies for the poor image. It's a photocopy from a page of the original print version Let's Anime #3, which in turn was a photocopy of a photocopy from a picture that appeared in an aviation hobbyist magazine of unknown provenance. Anyway, it's a model plane version of Nausicaa's "mehve" or "mowe" or however it's spelled, her powered glider/airplane thing as seen in the film Nausicaa Of The Valley Of Wind.
Who made it and why is anybody's guess. Here's a closeup of Nausicaa and her little pet fox-squirrel Teto, apparently painted on plywood.
Who knows what quasi-legal anime merchandise is hurtling through the heavens above? Keep watching the skies, junior birdmen!