Yes its true Santa is coming. Not sure what to ask for, for Christmas? Have a loved one in your life that likes all things robot and toys but your eyes glaze over when they start talking about their hobby and you have no idea what to get them? Well we are here to help with this handy, dandy guide which I have cleverly named “The 2008 CollectionDX Holiday Buying Guide.”
I asked each of our creative contributors for their top pick in three categories, cheap, middle of the road and expensive. Well when you ask a dozen people for their interpretation of “cheap”, “moderate” and “expensive” you are bound to get all sorts of interpretations of that.
So I present in their own words our creative staffs picks of “good-things-to-buy-for-robot/Japanese/toy-fans.”
Nekrodave is our resident Jumbo expert and all around Movie Monster fan. Dave writes some of the best reviews on our site and has a way of entertaining you even when you don't collect the type of piece he is reviewing. Dave has impeccable taste and if you ever have the chance to pick his brains about good movies to try he's also your man.
“2008 saw some big changes for me as a collector and those changes will be reflected in my picks for this years CollectionDX Holiday Buying Guide. Having given up on collecting modern robots, you'll not hear me championing any SOCs or similar toys. As impressive as they are, if I'm not buying them, how can I tell you to? Instead, I've got to be true to myself and recommend the things I still like.....Jumbos, kaiju and monsters. And even within that group, there wasn't a whole lot I bought this year.”
“With that in mind, here are my picks for this holiday season. I'm breaking them up into three price ranges. $1-50, $50-$100, and $100+. Just like last year, I'll include 2 picks in each category, in case one is sold out or inappropriate for your gift recipient.”
“My first pick in this price range only gets in because it's on sale for the holidays. The Destroy All Monsters Battlezone King Ghidorah normally retails for $69.99 but is currently available for $50. With a great shelf presence, a beautiful sculpt and light and sound features, this is a must have for kaiju fans.”
“12" monster figures are back with a bang thanks to Amok Time Toys and their best offering so far is easily this figure of Rondo Hatton. Limited to only 500 pieces, yet still retailing for only $49.99, Rondo is a great value on top of being a fantastic tribute to this screen legend.”
“50 years after the movie's release, 2008 was a big year for the Invasion of the Saucer-Men and this pre-painted resin statue knocked my socks off. 14" tall, limited to 300 pieces and only $80? Duh. No monster fan would be disappointed to find this under the tree.”
“Ok, here I have to make a confession. I haven't actually bought this next piece myself yet and I'm not sure if I will. I'm still not confident enough in my model building skills to take a shot at it, but if there is a model fan in your life, the Moebius Models re-release of the Aurora Big Frankie is this year's big news. Much like the Unifive re-issues of the Jumbo Machinders, Big Frankie here is a faithful reproduction of a classic that has been tooled just differently enough to be distinct from the original. Also, parts are not interchangeable with the vintage piece which will help protect the integrity of the original kit. A glow version is also available, but is limited and will cost more.”
“Amok Time makes the list again, this time for their absolutely superlative fixed posed statue of Vincent Price from the Pit and the Pendulum. With a light up cauldron, magnetic hands and a dead on portrayal of the character, this is sure to please.”
“I really didn't get any other $100+ toys for the year so where does that leave us now? I know.. skip it. Give your favorite toy collector a gift card that they can put toward the upcoming Super7 Jumbo Stormtrooper in March! They'll thank you later... ;)”
Sanjeev is King of the Glow and our resident Kaiju fan. Sanjeev is a well rounded collector who dabbles in a bit of everything but eats, breaths and drinks all things GLOW. Want to know what little piece of glow-in-the-dark-vinyl is worth the outrageous price tag? Sanjeev is your man.
“Okay, we talk about them a lot, but there's a reason for that. Glyos figures from Onell Design are amazingly fun...and for short change, they'll bring you WAY more play value than a GI Joe guy or deluxe Transformer at the same pricepoint. Now, with the Glyos Phase Arm and Gobon Blaster, you can mash up the parts and start to create even wilder combos!”
“Looking for a mid-priced toy for the collector on a budget? Well, if vinyl is your thing, one of THE hottest toy lines this year, hands down, has been Toygraph's Space Troopers. Don't believe me? Check out this thread on Skullbrain! On the aftermarket, these guys can range anywhere from $40-80...and they're totally worth it. They have that simple 50's-style cold war alien look, like in Mars Attacks. They usually feature glow and/or translucent bits and cool weapon options. Pure fun!”
“For the "ow, my economy!" category, I pick Yamato's GN-U Hagane Danguard Ace.
“I'm a famous opponent of modern gokin because they tend to be designed by people more concerned with cartoon-accurate looks and gimmickery, than with creating a fun toy. But lightning strikes twice at Yamato with their GN-U Hagane line! The first robot in this line was Groizer X...and *that* robot showed the potential of this line. It has the perfect balance of "toy" and "adult collectible": few accessories to worry about and a solid/rugged design in both modes, but super-articulated and looking like it just stepped off the small screen.
“I expect Danguard Ace--a far more beloved design, at least here, in the States--to be just as technically amazing and even more popular.”
JoshB is our Chief Creative Muckity Muck (translation: creator of all things CDX and Chogokin expert) and has a fairly unhealthy obsession with all things Raideen and Dairugger. He knows toys and his picks will never steer you wrong!
“For the low (er) end of the toy spectrum you have Hasbro’s Transformers Animated toy line. The designers at Hasbro have managed to successfully bring Transformers into the modern era with sleek, hip designs that are easy to transform and look good in both modes. Toys range from the sub-$10 price point of activators to the $40 deluxe versions.”
Runner up: Yamato’s GN-U Dou line of super robot figures
Middle of the Road
“For the middle of the road (which in toy collector terms is stupid expensive anyway), I’m gonna go with the SOC Godmars. Big, chunky, fun transformation. Loads of metal, but under the $200 mark. The character may be obscure to most in the US buy you cannot deny that this is one modern gokin toy that feels “worth it”
Runner –up: Hasbro’s Millennium Falcon
“For the “I have more money than I know what to do with” crowd, why not treat yourself to a Nikko R2-D2 Home theater projector. At about $3,000 USD you can pretend you have your very own astromech droid that projects your favorite movie anywhere in the house. Bonus points for the included millennium falcon remote control. Just watch the video.”
Runner-Up: Sideshow’s life-size R2 and C-3PO
REX-203 aka Robby Musso. Robby doesn’t normally write for the site and though you may not immediately recognize his name you DO know his work and look at it every time you come to the site. Robby does all those nifty banners you see at the top of the page, but wait that’s not all. Robby is a professional artist having worked on IDW’s newer Transformer comic books and most recently their Speed Racer miniseries. He is a self-proclaimed Transformers fan and all-around robot nut, Robby’s a good guy who does know a good looking robot when he sees it. So in his own words, it’s Robby’s picks.
“I had a little trouble trying to decide on my Big Holy Mother load pick, because I haven't really gone all out on anything big and new this year, but if I had to pick one big one I absolutely do not regret spending on, it's gotta be the Great Impact Gurren Lagann. It may not be the heaviest chunk of gokin out this year, but it certainly ranks among the most beautiful.”
“For a middle ground pick, I have to go with the Fans Project City Commander Trailer/Armor set for Classics Ultra Magnus. For around 80 bucks, it is a piece that no Transformers fan or TF Classics collector should be without. This is one piece lives up to, and goes beyond, all the hype it has received.”
“Now for the entry level selection, I had a really tough time deciding. There are so many great toys available at retail today, it's *almost* as good as 1984. From the new TF Universe toys, the GI Joe Anniversary line of newly sculpted figures and reissued classic vehicles, and Star Wars toys still going strong, to the latest amazing offerings from Lego (I especially love the Tiny Turbos, which only cost $5). So this category was the toughest for me.”
“Getting to the point... Ultimately, the lifelong TransFan in me cannot resist voting for Transformers Universe Deluxe Class. For only $7.76 from Walmart, it's the best toy deal out there, especially to get all these awesome updates to old favorite characters.”
“So that sums up my selections. I hope everyone has a wonderful winter season!
Peace to all,
Destroy All Podcasts DX is the world famous Podcast about anime. While I may not always agree with their take on what makes or breaks a great anime both Andrew and Jeremy have excellent taste when it comes to mecha and robots and they ponied up to the table with some great picks. You would be foolish to ignore their advice.
Cheap Purchase Kotobukiya Mechanical Chain Base
“Sometimes it isn't about the toys themselves, but the presentation. For about ten dollars you can spruce up those dingy shelves the same generic mecha-hangar backdrops as seen in your favorite anime. These things are really fun to mess around with and come with lots of little extras like gantry ways, high tech crates, and little articulated cranes. The perfect gift for the mecha fan who wants to give his troops a home.”
Moderate purchase Hokuto no Ken Revolution Rei.
“After some disappointment with the previous Revoltech Rei that was neither a man nor a user of the deadly art of Nanto Suicho Ken, we finally have a great representation of everyone's favorite post-apocolyptic martial artist. Rei comes with loaded with Kaiyodo's patented Revoltech Joints which allows him to achieve all of his graceful poses from the Fist of the North Star anime. He even comes with a pre-sliced midgit henchmen.”
Expensive purchase Yamato 1/60 Scale VF-1S Strike Valkyrie
“This is the definitive Valkyrie toy. It comes with the iconic Strike armor and all the little missile goodies from the 1984 movie! It's a gorgeous looking piece and is loaded with articulation. Get yours now and remember the love.”
High Priced Bandai Chogokin DX VF-25F Messiah Alto Type
“I know this is not out yet, but it should be by Christmas and this is something I am dying for. It evokes the classic feel of the Takatoku Valkyrie with modern design sensibilities and a generous helping of diecast metal. With Bandai's reputation for quality workmanship, this should be a lot tougher than recent high end Macross items by Yamato.”
Medium Priced Gunbuster vs Diebuster: Aim for the Top! The Gattai!! Movie
“This is both the original 80's Aim for the Top! Gunbuster OAV and its recent sequel, Aim for the Top 2! Diebuster, edited into two movies. Gunbuster is an 80's real robot classic, half loving parody, half ball breaking robot explosion of fun. Diebuster is its FLCL-inpired, wacky ass, but still exciting follow up. And I love compilation films and am low on time, so this is perfect for me. This just came out on Blue Ray, for you videophiles or people desperate for something to put in your PlayStation 3.”
Low Priced Organic Hobby Megazone 23 Maneuver Slave Collection
“For about twenty bucks, you are getting a little robot that may not be super impressive compared to Bandai's HCM Pro line and don't even transform, but it is the only place you are going to get a toy of some of the more obscure robots from the Megazone 23 series like the Hargun, Space Hargun, and the sweet hovering GR-002A Military Garland. So until Yamato makes me a large scale fully transforming Hargun with truck to carry around its extra bits, by necessity make mine Maneuver Slave Collection.”
EVA_Unit_4A is our resident Sentai Encyclopedia, Transformers fan and Lego aficionado. When the man says Zord number #57 is a good buy, he means it.
DX Soukou Sharin Go-Roader GT (JPY ¥5,800 / USD $64.01)
“The Engine Sentai Go-Onger are now looking for ways to expand their arsenal now that the Gaiarc Pollution Ministers have become more aggressive in defeating them and making the world into an alien paradise for themselves of filth and waste. To that end, the wise Jumbwhale and skilled warrior Go-On Gold devised a plan to build a robot that could fight side-by-side with both the Go-Onger and their larger Engine partners. After several trial-and-errors, the Go-Roader was perfected, and now leaves Banki monsters with large chunks missing and equally large tire treads on their faces.”
“The Go-Roader serves as an assistant in battle, and thought it comes with a unique Token Soul, it can also accept any Engine Soul cartridge placed inside of the chest compartment. This gives it a good variety of sound-&-light effects as well whether in Wheel Mode or the humanoid Action Mode. While being able to change from Action Mode into Wheel Mode makes it resemble the earlier DX Tackle Boy mecha from "Chouriki Sentai OhRanger", the highlight for me was the truly-unparalleled level of articulation that this DX toy features which all before it in Super Sentai seemed to often lack. (Ahh- if only the hips could have twisted forward as well, alas... it would have been perfect). Don't let the price fool you- it's a good 12" mecha to own, and will become a highlight in Super Sentai history.”
Leader-class Autobot Ultra Magnus (USD $44.99)
“Ultra Magnus has always been in the shadow of Optimus Prime in the 25 years since the franchise began; almost always being a repaint with white and blue coloring, and some slightly differing accessories from the traditional red, blue, and silver of Prime. And in each series, he was a sub-commander who either had conflicting or complimenting personalities to Prime. But now, Ultra Magnus is being shown in a new light in "Transformers Animated"- as the powerful leader of the Autobots, and commander of the Elite Guard military which successfully drove the Decepticons off of Cybertron millions of years ago.”
“The Leader-class figure incorporates several sound-effects which contain the same voice of Commander Ultra Magnus from the series, and gives him a tall, well-built body of blue and white armor while brandishing a Viking-esque hammer which can summon thunder! And though he may be misplaced on the streets of Detroit, Michigan (let alone just on Earth), his vehicle form is equally powerful with eight large black tires and paired gun & missile turrets. While "Transformers Animated" is dedicated to all generations of Transformers, Ultra Magnus now becomes what many wanted him to be from the start- a strong leader.”
Transforming Fury Megazord Set (USD $44.99)
“The offering of the Deluxe Drive-Max Megazord from Bandai America was an absolute disaster among the fans, and the subject of much ridicule & condescending attitude regarding the future of Power Rangers.”
“But 2008 brought about a complete revolution in the quality of full-sized transformable Zords with the creation of the "Transforming..." line of sets. Though released individually in three separate sets- Transforming Jungle Pride Megazord, Transforming Roar-Max Megazord, & Transforming Battle Megazord- the Transforming Fury Megazord Set allows for an even cheaper offering ($44.99), but retains the full quality and interactiveness of the larger Deluxe-sized toys from Japan (almost-all of which, BTW, never appeared on English-speaking toy shelves...)”
“Compared to the Drive-Max Megazord, this Set is by far head and shoulders-above the disheveled mess from 2007- good materials, features, joints, and connectivity all make for a fantastic despite it's slightly smaller size and the loss of the electronic features from the Deluxe Jungle Pride Megazord.”
“And though I am far from wanting to promote it (I hate it, as a matter of fact), there is a Transforming Rhino Steel Megazord, though it cannot interact with the other  "Transforming..." sets.”
Atom is the resident…. Oh wait, that’s me…. I am a more of a generalist but have indeed taken on the mantle of “Saint Seiya Fan Boy.” I like my “collectibles” playable and there is no rhyme or reason as to what I’ll like. From Macross to Voltron, Go Rangers to Kikaider, my taste runs the gambit.
Hasbro’s Mighty Muggs. Seriously stuff a stocking with one these holiday season. When they first showed up at Toyfair I thought what a ridiculous concept, but honestly the absurd cuteness of these things just grows on you. This is Hasbro doing the "designer vinyl " without the attitude. Grab one for that significant other. I would suggest the cuddly Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader or Indiana Jones’s adorable Thuggy cult leader Mola Ram (with beating heart accessory!)
Middle of the Road
Ok, it’s not a robot but it is very sharp looking and loaded with die cast. It’s the God of Death, Thanatos from the Saint Cloth Myth line by Bandai. Even if the collector in your life has never seen or read Saint Seiya with his 12 inch wing span and at about $100 shipped, Thanatos is sure to be a welcome addition to any Chogokin collectors collection.
Wow, you want how much for that?
One of my favorite mecha of all time is the Cyclone (aka Mospeada Ride Armor), a motorcycle that transforms into mechanized robot suit. While there have been several versions (two this year alone) of the toy by different manufacturers none have been the be-all-end-all piece collectors have been hoping for. Well Beagle/Toynami are about to correct that. With it’s cloth suit and what appears to be a 100% anime accurate transformation this could be the toy Robotech and Mospeada fans have been waiting for but at $200 for the Toynami US distributed version or the $275 Beagle Japanese distributed version, this Mospeada/Cyclone will definitely knock a dent in your wallet but could prove to be worth every penny.
So there you have it, a bunch of great picks in all sorts of price ranges to help you decide what to get that special someone or what to ask Santa for, for Christmas. If you do go see Santa to tell him what you want for Christmas just make sure he isn’t a pretender sitting on a “Throne of Lies.”
From all of us to all of yours we wish you the very best this holiday season.