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Super #1 Robot |
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, February 27, 2011 Share
With Tranformers 3 due to open in July, and visions of childhood dancing in my head, I thought about the greatest toys a kid could have. Back in the 70's, when Mattel's Shogun Warriors debut, robot toys where all the rage. I remember that I couldn't get enough of them. With movies like Star Wars, and TV shows like Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galatica, the time was ripe for a robot invasion from Japan.
Luckily for me, what helped to spark those wonderful memories of long ago, was a book that I ordered online from a used bookshop. Super #1 Robot: Japanese Robots Toys uses beautiful images to chronicle robot toys made from 1972 to 1982. Author Matt Alt packs a lot of wisdom in his short introduction. Mainly, this book is mostly pictures of all the great comical, scary, strange, and cooliest robot toys that have ever been made.
Japanese society has long since loved robots, so it is no surprise Japan was the leader during that all too brief 10-year span. A Japanese company called Popy partnered with Mattel and thus Shogun Warriors was born. Popy made the toys and Mattel sold them in the U.S. Marvel also had a Shogun Warriors comic out. I remember being mesmerized by those wonderful Shogun Warriors toy commercials that always came on during Saturday morning cartoons.
The next wave of toys came from a partnership between Takara and Mego Corporation, when miniaturized toys called Microman hit American shores. The Microman toys were renamed Micronauts and soon several young children, myself included, were out hitting now default stores like Zayre's to collect as many Micronauts as possible. The toys were cool enough and again Marvel helped out by making a Micronauts comic. For all Sci Fi fans that loved superheroes, running around just under the radar in a tiny size, Micronauts was a dream come true.
The biggest toy craze to hit American was when Takara and Hasbro began selling Transformers in 1983. Transformers was a spin off of the Micronauts and had a much greater impact thanks to a highly successful cartoon show, a feature film, comic books, but most importantly, cool toys. The idea that a robot could transform into a car, boat, or plane was just too great. All the toy stores in the 80's were filled with Transformers and although the cartoon did little more then serve as toy advertisement, the Transformers craze has never left the U.S. With revamp movies out and Transformers 3 due out this Summer, the toys are making a retro comeback.
In closing, Super #1 Robot is a great book that serves as a visual history to the artists and companies that worked together to create some of the best robot toys of all time. A lot of imagination and talent were involved as rival companies set out to out due each other. I like to look at the toys from '72, which are at the front, and see all the little changes that were made to make each robot look better and better. There are even pictures of contemporary toys that are popular today. If you have any interest in toy robots, then this book is a great guide. Just be careful that you don't blow your life savings wanting to collect them all.
"The Asian Aperture" is ©2011 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.