Linggo, Hulyo 26, 2009

Voltes V GT & Gashapon: Vintage reissues

To some people, owning the “original” is the only thing that will suffice. As someone who appreciates “vintage”, I can fully understand this point of view. I can’t think of a single toy collector who wouldn’t absolutely adore playing with/displaying a diecast 1977 Voltes V DX or ST. Sure, a plastic “reissue” isn’t the “real” thing, but in many cases, it does have that cool vintage look and nostalgic vibe. With toy reissues being a passion of mine, I now give you Voltes V GT-10.

Made by Bandai-Japan in 2003 as part of its “The Chogokin” line, the GT-10 is a small reissue of the 6-inch Voltes V ST. This 4-inch plus diecast replica is highly accurate--from the leg articulation, spring-loaded fists, and laser sword down to the red/blue/yellow/chrome/white colors, tummy sticker, and firing head! Transforming the GT-10 from robot to “Voltank” mode is also the same with the ST: you flip the treads around and bend the feet at the ankles. The push-button firing action mimics the original as well, giving you the chance to experience firsthand the thrill of the ST in a lightweight and pocket-size mold.

Sometimes, replica toys are presented in boxes that emulate the original toy’s packaging--completing the illusion. Such is the case of the Voltes V Capsule Popinika which was also released in 2003 by Bandai as small plastic gashapons (capsule toys in Japanese vending machines) inside boxes no more than 2 inches in any dimension. Taking off on Popy’s Voltes V DX and modeled after its PB line, the five carbon-copy gashapons were labeled CPA-14 Volt Crewzer, CPA-15 Volt Bomber, CPA-16 Volt Panzer, CPA-23 Volt Frigate, and CPA-24 Volt Lander. In like manner, the vehicles came out in a mini Volt-In Box packaging (anyone got a pic of this?). As with my take on the DX, here’s a rundown of each Volt machine with borrowed pics and toy reviews from Ben of CollectionDX.

Forming the head of Voltes V is the red Volt Crewzer. With crisp details behind the cockpit just like in the DX, its clear yellow canopy opens upward to reveal a visible pilot. The rear landing gears have no hinge mechanism and are made of two separate pieces. So, to deploy them, the pieces have to be removed and re-pegged into small holes. With the gears being incredibly thin, they look fragile at times and bend while being mounted. To transform to combination mode, the entire jet folds in the middle on two hinges, revealing the face of Voltes V.

Forming the arms and hands, we have the Volt Bomber. Though featuring good detail and mold, the fit around the yellow elbow joints is a little off. The one-piece red tailfin assembly slips over what becomes the neck of Voltes V, and is warped because of the thin material. The blue fists are detachable and all the landing gears are molded--not functional as in the Crewzer due to their small size. Switching to combination mode involves removing the tail piece, adding the fists (which fit nice and snug), and spreading out the articulated shoulder bars.

Forming Voltes V’s torso is the bulkiest vehicle of them all--the Volt Panzer. It features fixed black tank treads and a two-barreled silver gun mounted to a bar on top of the body--all removable to allow for transformation. The distinctive red digger claws are swappable pairs of “open” and “closed” pieces--lacking good slots to really peg their arms into. As the GT is to the ST, the Panzer features the detailed Japanese cartoon logo printed on its belly like in the DX. In combination mode, the tread arms are swung around behind the body, the closed claws are stowed, and the red cockpit piece is pried upwards.

Forming the legs is the Volt Frigate, featuring the most detachable parts. It has pairs of swappable antenna bases--“raised” and “lowered”--and highly detailed yellow wings with pegs for their “open” and “folded” positions. Like the Bomber, the Frigate is solid with molded landing gears. Changing to combination mode involves placing the wings in their folded position, installing the lowered antenna bases, and removing the silver antennas.

Finally, forming the feet of Voltes V is the Volt Lander. Despite its diminutive size, its front black panels actually open to reveal pairs of hidden silver cannons! No drills though, but the detail is just as great, especially on the fixed wheels. The only problem with the Lander is that the two halves do not lock together tightly. During combination mode, the top parts of each half is replaced with the cockpits folded down, and the little silver antennas removed.

Now for the main attraction, leeet’s vooolt iiin! Forming Voltes V is relatively easy, starting at the feet, the big square pegs at the ankles of the Frigate mount to the grooves on top of the Lander cockpits. The Frigate cockpit then slides into the bottom of the Panzer firmly after folding up the Panzer cockpit. Next, the Bomber cockpit slides into the groove at the top of the Panzer, and finally the Crewzer mounts on the neck slot of the Bomber. Created in the image and likeness of the colossal DX Godaikin, this 4-inch Voltes V looks solid, well-proportioned and detailed--down to the tiny Popy copyright inscriptions and screws on the bottom of each vehicle!

Missing from its arsenal are the DX ultramagnetic top and chain knuckle, but the laser sword will do just fine. True to the DX tradition, three blade segments (that come with three of the five vehicle boxes) form the silver sword and handle, with the red “M”-shaped emblem on the Panzer’s chest forming the hilt. Thanks to the hinge mechanism of the Bomber, the arms have a little lateral motion, allowing Voltes V to look surprisingly dynamic with its sword. In fact, it is more poseable than the DX, with articulation at the shoulders, double-jointed elbows, and rotating wrists!

As for the Voltank mode, which is basically Voltes V lying face down, the combined figure can almost transform into it, had it not been for the missing ankle joints or pegs to really do it. However, by un-pegging the feet from the ankles and resting the legs on top of the feet, it looks like you have achieved Voltank--even though the feet are loose and doesn’t fit. At any rate, this once cheap plastic gashapon set and the diecast GT now command prices starting at P2,000 ($40) each and up.

Next: Voltes V GX: Soul of Chogokin

New wave diary entry #1: Liverpool

Listening to music is an emotional experience. Sometimes I select a band to set a mood, other times I pick an album for precisely the mood already working on me. When I’m angry I listen to punk. When I’m happy, new wave. Music that follows the anarchic sound of the Sex Pistols is “punk”, music that tends toward the more polished sound of Joy Division is “new wave”. For some strange reason, English new wave acts--specifically early Liverpool bands--provoke a specific mood in me. As REM would put it: a shiny-happy-people-laughing/holding-hands kind of feeling.

And that mood was started by The Teardrop Explodes (1978) which got their name from a Daredevil comic book. Its members included future Echo and the Bunnymen (1978) vocalist Ian McCulloch and keyboardist Paul Simpson who, together with guitarist Jeremy Kelly, formed The Wild Swans (1980). Kelly went on to form The Lotus Eaters (1982) while Simpson founded Care (1983) with guitarist Ian Broudie. Parting with Simpson over musical differences, Broudie began recording alone under the name The Lightning Seeds (1989), and the rest they say is British indie-slash-alternative rock history.

Trivia: Care wrote a song called “Chandeliers” which was ripped off by local band Orange and Lemons as “Pinoy Ako” for reality TV show Pinoy Big Brother back in 2006. They denied the allegation, but considering the group wasn’t even aware--or so they claimed--that their moniker was derived from an album by another UK wave outfit XTC, what more could you expect?

Soundtrack: “Liar” by the Sex Pistols

Linggo, Hulyo 19, 2009

Voltes V ST Chogokin: Heeere’s Junior!

Now that you’ve read about the big Voltes V DX, let’s check out its kid brother--the Voltes V ST. As with most deluxe diecast super robots of the time, a smaller and simpler Chogokin ST (standard) version was also made by Popy-Japan for its Godaikin and Popinika toy lines. Dubbed the GA-80 and released in the same year (1977), the ST is a 6-inch plus scaled-down replica of the towering DX and weighs more than 1/4 kg.

Compared to the DX, the ST figure has less detail and minimal transformation ability. Though it can form the “Voltank”, the ST is stuck in robot mode and cannot volt out into five separate vehicles like the DX. The main feature of the ST’s Voltank mode--which is not found in the DX--is its ability to fire the Volt Crewzer head part like a large missile by pushing a button. Incidentally, the Voltank mode is a Popy toy creation and can’t be seen in the original Voltes V TV anime by Toei.

While the ST kept the spring-loaded arms, they don’t bend at the elbow joints as in the DX--with the forearms and hands in one piece. As one might expect, transforming the ST from Voltank to robot mode is a simple process, largely involving turning the feet and treads around. In spite of the surface details being basically cosmetic, it can’t be denied that the ST looks solid as the DX in robot mode--with leg articulation more impressive than the DX, thanks to Popy’s “walking” knee joints.

Included accessories with the Voltes V ST are two red “M”-shaped sword hilts (one extra and one on the chest), two chrome blades that go into the hilt (like in the DX Volt-In Box), and four blue firing fists. While the ST pales in comparison with the larger DX, it does display nicely in its own right--Japanese craftsmanship and quality overcoming a few potential snags. And as ST vintage toys from the late ‘70s go, this Voltes V incarnation can also be a bit expensive--with selling price starting at P10,000 ($200).

Thanks to JoshB of CollectionDX for most of the photos.

Voltes V DX Godaikin/Popinika: Let’s volt in!

I’m a martial law baby. Born a year after Philippine military rule was imposed in 1972 by the Marcos dictatorship, I grew up watching Japanese super robot cartoons in the 70s. Mazinger Z, Grendizer, Daimos, you name it. I can still shout the name of some popular weapon attacks a super robot would use like: “Rocketooo puuunch!” “Breastooo fiiire!” “Double blizzaaard!”

But nothing appeals to me more than Voltes V. For one, it hit our living room in 1977--the same year that punk rock broke! And then there’s the toy that hit the stores in the same year, making it every boy’s childhood dream and every parent’s financial nightmare. Considered by many Pinoys to be the masterpiece and god of diecast super robot toys in the 70s, I now present to you Voltes V--old school edition.

Made by Popy (Bandai)-Japan in 1977, the first version of Voltes V came out in five separate green Japanese boxes and blue for the second release (less expensive), with the following product numbers and names in its Popinika line: PB-04 Volt Crewzer, PB-05 Volt Bomber, PB-06 Volt Panzer, PB-07 Volt Frigate, and PB-08 Volt Lander.

Later in the same year, the five Volt machines were combined and released in a Japanese DX (deluxe) Volt-In Box. This boxed-set version included two full swords instead of one segmented blade that came with the separately packaged PB-06 Volt Panzer. Likewise, subsequent versions of the Bomber came with red arm joints instead of yellow (and more expensive) ones.

Finally, in 1982, Voltes V was repackaged into the English volt-in box and brought to the U.S. under the Godaikin toy line. Throughout its run, aside from subtle variations in vehicle stickers and colors, there were minor packaging changes like black trays instead of blue, different locations or the absence of pen and book accessories, as well as the small rubber beast fighters.

First, let’s have a rundown of the five Volt machines. The following descriptions and instructions--as well as most of the photos here--were lifted in part from JoshB’s toy review at CollectionDX:

Volt Crewzer is the red ship that makes up the head of Voltes V. It features small chrome missile launchers under each wingtip and three fold-out wheels. Included with it are six small yellow missiles. This is the only Volt machine to feature a visible pilot in the cockpit and a yellow canopy that opens up--the other four have fixed ones. Be careful, however, of the plastic joint that connects the front and rear of the vehicle as it is very fragile and prone to breaking.

Volt Bomber forms the arms and hands of Voltes V. The vehicle comes with a pair of blue fists that fire from the spring-loaded forearms. It also includes a spinning black/gray/red ultramagnetic top, a string for the top, a firing chrome chain knuckle, and a tail section with a spinning rotor. Two sets of fixed wheels are found in the rear while a landing gear folds down in front. This is the only Volt machine that doesn’t carry any missiles.

Volt Panzer is the tank-like vehicle that forms the torso of Voltes V. It features a pair of articulated red claws, working rubber treads around two sets of wheels, a detachable red “M”-shaped sword hilt on the chest, and firing missiles. Included with it are six big yellow missiles and three chrome sword segments (if boxed separately). Watch out for the black rubber treads as they tend to deteriorate/harden over time and begin to crack/crumble.

Volt Frigate forms the legs of Voltes V. It features four missile launchers--two on both wings and two that pop out under the antennas. The wings fold out and the three landing gears fold up. Included with the vehicle are two chrome satellite antennas, six big blue missiles, and six small red missiles. When buying separate boxes, this is the hardest Volt machine to find.

Volt Lander forms the feet of Voltes V. The vehicle has six pairs of free-rolling black plastic wheels, retractable front magnets, opening black hatches, and drill missiles that fire from the sides and from the hatches. Included with it are two chrome antennas, six chrome missiles, two black plastic fuel hoses, and two white connectors for vehicle mode.

Ok now, leeet’s vooolt iiin! Holding the Panzer with the red sword hilt on the chest facing you, pull the tank legs/treads on the sides outward and rotate them from front to back. Insert the Bomber (cockpit first) into the opening on top of the Panzer until it clicks. Then, turn the Crewzer’s cockpit/front part upward so that Voltes V’s face is exposed, connecting the front landing gear below it with the tube at the rear of the Bomber (after removing its tail section first). Next, insert the cockpit of the Frigate into the base of the Panzer, clicking it into place. Moving on to the Lander, remove the white connector of the cockpits and separate it into two halves. Then, fold the cockpits downward until they lock. Finally, rotate the rear landing gears of the Frigate so that the Lander attaches to them.

In robot mode, Voltes V has a couple of weapons at its disposal. For the laser sword, remove the red hilt from the chest and slide the chrome blade into place (if segmented, assemble it first). Insert the chrome chain knuckle into a forearm in place of a fist and press the button to fire it. The same goes for the ultramagnetic top. Wound the string around it, pull, and watch the top spin and launch from a forearm. As for the robot’s “Voltank” mode, swing the treads around, bending the feet at the ankles, and see Voltes V roll like a giant tank. Not a remarkable transformation, but still fun nonetheless. And there you have it, 12 inches plus of heavy fucking metal (more than 1-1/2 kgs) and one hell of an expensive toy!

Trivia: With most removable parts often being lost, did you know that Voltes V DX accessories/replacement parts like missiles and antennas are sold at P1,000 ($20) up each? And did you know that a sealed, mint condition Voltes V DX Volt-In Box can start selling at P100,000 ($2,000) and above?

Next: Voltes V ST Chogokin: Heeere’s Junior!

Trip lang: Kinareer na opportunities

A day before payday, July 14, I entertained the thought of making a career change. So I logged on to Shelfari and tried to impress some posters of “Help Wanted” ads in the discussion boards with my credentials. This is one of those headhunter ads posted by a hottie named !pinkadink:

Desperately seeking job applicants, muchos apologies for the repetitive cross posts
We are looking for a Products/Data Entry Specialist to be based in Makati on a five-month contractual basis.

Job Description
- Write, rewrite (if necessary) and format product description according to company-approved Product Style Guide.
- Proofread product description to ensure that copy is clear, complete and accurate.
- Research, gather and collate information from supplier or online.
- Contact suppliers to request or verify product information.
- Upload product description and prices to website.
- Update product description and prices when necessary.
- Review existing descriptions for necessary updates and/or improvements.
- Record all changes, updates, and rewrites done as they occur.
- Note and document all sources of information used as the basis for the update/rewrite.
- Keep track and maintain an organized file of all product information received from suppliers.
- Any other duties assigned by management.

- College graduate of any four-year course, preferably in Journalism, Communications, Literature, Humanities, Liberal Arts and/or Multimedia Studies
- Excellent writing and oral communication skills
- Must be highly analytical with excellent reading comprehension skills
- Able to follow complex and detailed instructions
- Strong working knowledge of computer and online applications, including MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, MS Outlook, etc.
- Geographical knowledge and/or passion for travel is a plus
- Highly organized, with excellent time management skills and able to multi-task
- Strong problem-solving, analytical and quantitative skills
- Adaptable to change and able to work under pressure
- Able to set priorities and meet deadlines
- Focused, goal-oriented and with a strong work ethic
- High standards of ethical and professional conduct

We can offer
- A competitive salary package
- Performance bonus
- Food and transportation allowance
- A fun yet professional environment

We are open to fresh grads and undergrads looking for internship
opportunities in the web and/or travel industry. Interested applicants
may email their resumes to

And this is hippie’s reply to her:

pede po ba ko, mam?
--ako po’y isang hayskul gradweyt at may mataas na grado sa P.E. at music
--magaling po akong mag-inggles...lalo na pag lasing, at ayos naman po ang aking grammars at speling
--mahusay din po akong magsulat at mag-rewrite; natutunan ko po sa mabilisang pangongopya ng assignment at paggawa ng kodigo tuwing may exam
--ok din po ko sa proofreading...kase di bumababa sa 90 proof iniinom kong gin
--i’m also good in research, lahat ng email addresses at last names ng mga crush ko sa friendster na-google ko po
--madami din po kong contacts; mostly textmates at syempre, suppliers ng kung anu-anong bawal isulat dito
--uploading and updating is my game...di po lumalagpas ng 24 hours login ko sa friendster
--ayos din po ko sa “any other duties assigned by management”. kung di niyo po naitatanong, floor manager ako dati sa isang opisinang multinasyunal; di lang po mop, sanay din po ko mag-operate ng floor polisher
--excellent reading comprehension skills? paborito ko po ang Libre sa MRT at si Xerex ng Abante
--strong problem-solving skills...marami po kong problema sa buhay
--focused, goal-oriented? athletic din po ko; magaling ako sa basketball at bilyar
--high standards...highly organized...tamang-tama, lagi po kong high!
--a competitive salary package, food and transportation allowance...ayos! mahilig din po ko sa mga regalo at padalang package, not to mention pagkain: street food, junk food, you name it; and of course allowance, kahit wala pong salary basta meron nito: baon
--finally, a fun yet professional environment...masayahin po akong tao at isang environmentalis!

So do you think I’ll bag the job?

Soundtrack: “Career Opportunities” by the Clash

Goodbye Geocities! Hello Blogspot!

Last Friday, July 10, I got this email from Yahoo telling me that they’re closing down GeoCities. I got three web sites running on their free servers since the late 90s. One is Bulacancorecords--my indie record label, another is Namatay Sa Ingay--all about the Pinoy punk scene, and the other is Teenage Anger Fanzine--my online personal zine.

Back in the day, publishing on the Internet meant setting up your own web site. In the spirit of DIY (do-it-yourself), most self-published punk writers like myself jumped on the GeoCities bandwagon and issued our zines online. Though there’s a gut-level difference between zines started on paper and those started online, we took to the web like alcoholics to gin bilog (also bulag).

With the advent of social networking and blogging, isolated web pages like those hosted by GeoCities turned out to be the kangkungan instead of the mainstream. Just as yesterday’s cut-and-paste paper zines are slowly being taken in by the less romantic online tambayans, GeoCities has lost its appeal as a favored means of expressing ideas for kids raised on Friendster and YouTube.

As the end of an era in online self-expression draws near, I’m moving out and moving in. To rephrase Hob Gadling in The Sandman Season of Mists: “Here’s to online friends, lost uploads, old emails, and the season of blogs; and may each and every one of us always give the Internet its due.” GeoCities is dead! Long live GeoCities!