Saturday, March 29, 2008

anime-style astroglide(ers)

Firstly, allow me to thank those who have nominated me for "most thought-provoking blog" over at The Anime Blog Awards, which is no longer a thing, apparently. No, I didn't know there were awards for anime blogs. Apparently there are, or were.

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!


Anonymous said...

"...yaw stability is supplied by the girl with the rabbit on her back." - That's genius.

I remember putting together these gliders as a child, but the designs I had to choose from certainly couldn't hold a candle to the Cosmo Zero.

And the Anime Blog Awards are a new idea that was made in an effort to create a greater sense of community amongst anime bloggers, or something to that effect. I'd say the nominations you've received are certainly well deserved.

d.merrill said...

The Anime Blog Awards have certainly made me aware of a lot of anime blogs I'd never checked out previously.... a lot of them seem... I dunno, moe-focused, I guess you could say...

Anonymous said...

"a lot of them seem... I dunno, moe-focused"

There's no denying that. Moe, as a trend, has been growing steadily over the years, spawning things like the online Saimoe tournament and permeating every corner of mainstream anime. Looking at this year's spring line-up, moe anime is right up there with shōnen-ai as one of the most popular fads for some godawful reason.

Perfect example: compare Do You Remember Love to this clip from the newest installment in the Macross franchise: Youtube

It's everywhere.

d.merrill said...

Makes me glad that, as I remind everybody, I'm not responsible for anything past 1985.

I used to get irritated at how the latest crop of anime titles held no interest for me, but the fact is that I am FAR outside the target audience. These days I concentrate on the things I enjoy, and let everything else take care of itself.

Anonymous said...

"...and let everything else take care of itself."

Like AWA? :)

Anonymous said...

Well, I nominated let's anime because of posts like this one. I just like stuff that dives into fairly obscure subject matter like this. Also your Dawn of the Geeks piece was good, along with a whole bunch others.

But yeah, I'm one of those evil moe-guys myself. But don't hate us. Well, some of us. Hate the rest of them :V

d.merrill said...

AWA seems to be surviving perfectly well without me sticking my big nose into everything... in fact I personally think the show is better than ever. I still worry about it too much, but I'm a worrier anyway.

ビリー said...

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Devlin Thompson said...

Did I give you this one? I'm pretty sure that I've got the full set tucked away somewhere

Unknown said...

I picked up a set about ten years ago on, and they really fly! I'm surprised that they’re still available to be ‘gotten’. Great post.

Dr. Mindbender said...

Man, and all this time I thought this was some sort of weird dream I had as a kid in Montreal back in the 70´s. Thanks for posting this, I´ve been mentioning this little factoid for years to friends and they always gave me that ´this dude is totally making that shit up´ look. I actually remember these costing .25 in my neck of the woods. I actually found a local store still selling the usual WWII variety a few years ago, and had to grab a few for posterity. Great blog, having lots of fun trolling through the archives!