24 January 2010

MIB journal - Masterforce C308 Doubleclouder MIB

Doubleclouder is one of a number of "Japanese exclusive Transformers" that I am interested in. Unlike say Hydra and Buster, the recoloured scheme for Doubleclouder actually looks good and not like a half-hearted effort.

On top of that, the stickers for this piece is ever so slightly different from the US release Doubledealer. Bought this from the same shop and on the same day I got C302 Carb and C304 Lightfoot from. This was by far one of the best pieces I got that day.

Immaculately nice box, figure and complete set of paperworks.

There are however, 2 aspects where I'm uncertain:
  1. Whether the "Clouder" component (the equivalent of the "Skarr" powermaster component in the US release), originally came with a yellow chest, the exact same colour as Skarr did. The box shows that Clouder should have a bluish chest. However, Transformers Generations and TFU.info shows that the Clouder component has a yellow chest, just like Skarr. I believe this to be the case (since Transformers box photos are not known for their great accuracy), but don't have confirmation at the moment.
  2. Whether Doubleclouder came with a bio-card (like all other Japanese Transformers of that era bar the Victory series, which had their bio-cards as part of their box flap). The shop person (not the owner, cos this is a 8 storey mega store), told me that Doubleclouder did not originally come with a bio-card and that the paperworks were complete. Again, I don't have confirmation on this.
So here it is Doubleclouder.

Figure = C9.5, tight joints, unbroken powermaster mechanism
Stickers = C8.5, sight wear on some stickers, but generally C9
Box = C9
Paperworks = complete (but see 2. above)

MIB journal - C302 Carb (Hosehead) MIB

As with Getaway, I was growing a little tired of scouring eBay for a US boxed MIB Hosehead. For such a simple and marginally canonical toy, the prices were always a little unrealistic.

I jumped at the opportunity to grab this C302 Carb MIB in the same shop I got C304 Lightfoot from. Carb is essentially Hosehead. There is no difference except for the box. As with C304 Lightfoot, the downside to this piece is that it has no paperworks.

Figure = C9.5
Stickers = C9.5, no wear
Box = C9, little wear, no flap crease

MIB journal - C304 Lightfoot MIB

Was getting a little sick of hunting down a satisfactory US boxed Getaway by the time I saw this in Tokyo. So I decided to grab C304 Lightfoot which is in, I reckon, a very much better condition than the majority of Getaways on eBay for the price that the store was asking.

The only downside, if I can call it that, is that Lightfoot does not come with any paperworks or instructions. Still, its a fairly straight forward piece and my only demand where this TF is concerned is that it is still white and not yellowed. Other considerations are secondary.

Figure = C9, tight joints, unbroken Powermaster mechanism
Stickers = C7, slightly worn
Box = C7.5, slightly worn, flap crease, no rips

17 January 2010

Heroic Decepticon facelift

As can be seen, HeroicDecepticon.com has just had a facelift!

The background colour, font type, fonts and post title colours has been changed to match my EvilAutobot blog site (which has been and still is locked from the public).

The biggest change perhaps, is the change of my "mascot" from Skyfire to Ravage. The predominantly white Skyfire would not work with my new white background.

I had to go in search of another mascot.

I thought about it for awhile and was inspired by the Ravage USB that E recently gave me. Ravage became a clear winner once I factored in how much Ravage meant to me when I was younger and how happy I was when I acquired a MOC Ravage and Rumble set in 2005. Of course, Ravage's colour also made him stand out from the white background.

Ravage is the perfect choice.

So, here it is - the new look HeroicDecepticon.com!

10 January 2010

The Tokyo Trip - Japan January 2010 "Best Of" Tally

Previous Chapter: The Acquisitions

In the spirit of my February 2008 Singapore Toy Hunt "Best Of" Tally, I'm doing a Japan January 2010 "Best Of" Tally among the below acquisitions:

Most satisfying moment: Finding the time to visit Mandarake Akihabara a second time and Mandarake Nakano, both on my last day in Japan.

Hardest decision to make: Whether or not to purchase the MISB D-100 Snapdragon, one of my favourite toys, from Mandarake in Akihabara. I was thinking over this for days. The price was quite negligible in the greater scheme of things, however, the issue was space. In end, I made the hard decision to pass and not buy this great specimen.

Unexpected find: The entire range of vintage Transformer artbooks.

Favourite buy: This is a hard one between the C-131 Raiden Giftset and the #14 of the TV artbook. If I were to really choose one, I would go for #14 of the TV artbook, which I think is by far rarer than Raiden in any event.

Worst buy: Nope.

Best Bargain: C-131 Raiden Giftset with C9 box, unapplied sticker sheets and generally C9 toys for approximately AU$780. I've seen much worse sets on eBay going for 1.5 to 2 times that amount.

If I could only buy one thing, it would be: Again, this is a hard one between C-131 Raiden Giftset, #14 of the TV artbook and C-434 Hothouse MIB. In this case, #14 of the TV artbook wins out again. I think the reason, for collectors like me, will become apparent once I showcase some of what is contained in this artbook.

Highlight of the trip: was being there in Tokyo! If I had to pick a figure, it'd say the Ravage USB (Ravage being one of my all time favourite G1 characters) which E gave me as a gift. If I were to pick something I bought myself, it'd say C-131 Raiden Giftset; I'm absolutely delighted by this.

This wraps up my Tokyo Trip report. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together!

~ Heroic Decepticon signing-off for now...

Read other chapters of The Tokyo Trip:

The Toyko Trip - The Acquisitions Tally

Below is a photo of all my Transformers acquisitions during my January Tokyo trip. I must say that the sheer amount definitely beats what I could scarp from Hong Kong or Singapore over the last couple of years.

Seriously, I'm impressed with the Tokyo collectible market and in particular, the Mandarake chain of stores.

  1. Ravage USB MISB (¥6,300);
  2. Kodansha Publishing "Transformers Headmasters" compilation (¥3,150);
  3. Kodansha Publishing "Transformers Victory" compilation (¥3,150);
  4. Transformers TV artbook #14 (¥4,200);
  5. Transformers TV artbook #22 (¥4,200);
  6. Transformers TV artbook #27 (¥4,200);
  7. Transformers TV artbook #33 (¥3,675);
  8. Transformers TV artbook #85 (¥4,200);
  9. C-131 Raiden Giftset MIB (¥59,850);
  10. C-302 Carb MIB (¥8,400);
  11. C-302 Lightfoot MIB (¥9,450);
  12. C-308 Doubleclouder MIB (¥21,000);
  13. C-343 Hothouse MIB (¥2,625); and
  14. Battletrap MISB (US box) (¥5,250).


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The Tokyo Trip - In which we visit Mandarake Nakano

After departing Akihabara, we quickly headed for Nakano Broadway, where the vaunted head store of Mandarake is.

This is where Mandarake began. This is where we are headed.

Mandarake Nakano is located in the Nakano Broadway Building which is literally 5 minutes from the Nakano JR Station. Out the JR Station, walk through Sun Mall and we are right at the entrance of Nakano Broadway.

Nakano Broadway has 4 levels. Level 1 is dedicated to mostly food stalls and cafes and shops selling other knick-knacks, not of pressing interest to the average fanatic collector. Levels 2 to 4 is where all the action is.

Do not be fooled, this is by no means a small place. It is laid out in a rectangular fashion and is actually very large. The escalator takes us straight up to level 3. We had to walk the stairs up to level 4, and then comb the place from top down, which I think is the best way to comb such places.

A little oddly, Mandarake does not take up the entire floor space of each floor the way Ikea or Freedom does in most 'standard malls'. Instead, Mandarake occupies substantially all units on each floor, but, that is what they are - still disparate units. This means that we had to go from 'one store' to the next, although in most cases the 'next store' is also Mandarake. Each unit or collection of units houses a different speciality - for example anime cells, manga, artbooks, figures, US comics and so on.

Peppered between these Mandarake units are other toy/collectible shops that have opened in Nakano Broadway no doubt on the faith that the Mandarake presence there will draw collectors into the building and bring them business as well.

When combing this place, do not miss the second level, which if you are an escalator kind of person, is a mezzanine level. For Transformers and figure collectors and comic collectors, the second level is where all the action is.

These are some G1 Transformers Nakano Broadway has to offer.

Storefront window display

Storefront window display. I was very interested in this set of Constructicons and the price was very good, but they were just missing too many accessories and all 6 of them were missing all of their paperworks. I decided to pass.

Storefront window. Note the 2 MIB pre-Transformers Brownings.

Storefront window.

Glass cabinet display in store.

Glass cabinet display in store.

Glass cabinet display in store. Lots of G1 series 1 and 2 cars.

This is where the good stuff is. Ultra rare Battle Gaia and Guard City giftsets and in very decent condition. I did, for a second, pause to think about snagging both, but decided to pass because I just can't fathom why I would want to pay such prices for essentially repaints of subgroups that are as common as the Combaticons and the Protectorbots.

I did, however, pick so something that has been nagging me for sometime - Hothouse. I mistakenly sold off my Hothouse base back in 2002 and for some reason or other have not been able to re-obtain one. Now, here, at Mandarake, I found one - MIB in Japanese box with no flap crease!

Finally, I have Hothouse (again)!

A trip to Mandarake Nakano would not be complete if I did not check out their artbook section (in the secret hope of finding more of the Transformer TV artbooks that I found in their Akihabara store). I found these at level 4.

They only had 2 available. Despite them being relatively pricey, I bought them anyway.

Issue #14 and #37 of the Transformers TV artbooks. Issue #14 is the most impressive artbook among those I obtained - it has the box art and even some lost exclusive box art, of almost every Transformer from 1984 to 1986. I was completely blown away.

I take this opportunity to elaborate on what I said in the previous chapter and above and include some pictures of the content of these TV artbooks. The below, are seriously, just the tip of the iceberg.

Note what would have/might have been the box art for Arcee if she were to be released as a figure in 1986.

More "box art" quality images in the TV artbooks

Mandarake Nakano was the last Transformer related activity I had time for in Japan. It was off to the airport and back to Sydney after that.

Do not fret, for next, I sum up the totality of my Tokyo acquisitions together with their prices.


Read other chapters of The Tokyo Trip:

The Tokyo Trip - Mandarake Complex Akihabara Redux

On 8 January 2010, the day we were due to fly out, we revisited Mandarake Complex in Akihabara again.

I really wanted to see and feel this place again before we left Japan. Wanted to stand in the presence of their awesome collection of G1 Transformers and feel again what I felt at stores like Isetan, Daimaru and Sogo when I was young.

It felt great.

When there, I noticed that they have already replenished their stock! There were more Transformers compared to 5 days ago!

E bought the Ravage USB for me and I bought an MISB Battletrap in C9 box, no flap crease. This is such a beautiful Battletrap and its a little pity that the tape at both ends have come apart a little from age.

MISB Ravage USB and MISB Battletrap from Level 8 of Mandarake Complex.

We then went down to the artbook section on Level 3 of the complex to look for Transformer artbooks. What I found tops even the Raiden Giftset as the surprise find of the trip.

I found several Transformers "pocket manga" sized books by Kodansha Publishing and, very significantly, I found some large format picture books published by some TV station, probably as part of their marketing campaign back in the 80s (bottom 3 books in picture below).

Top Row: Headmasters and Victory super compilation by Kodansha Publishing.
Bottom Row: Issues #22, #33 and #85 of the TV Artbooks.

These picture books are a treasure house of vintage Transformers art that puts even the recent Transformers Visual Works to shame. In fact, since VisualWorks was marketed as a definitive compilation of vintage Japanese Transformers art, I'm certain that Million Publishing did not have access to these TV picture books because there is simply too much in these that are absent in VisualWorks.

I will show pictures of some content of these TV picture books in the next Chapter.


Read other chapters of The Tokyo Trip:

The Tokyo Trip - In which we visit Mandarake (Shibuya)

In the later half of 3rd January 2010, we made a stop at the Shibuya branch of Mandarake.

I at first didn't know that such a branch existed, but E found it in her guide book and told me about it.

"Since it is a Transformer hunting day, we gotta go to this one as well" E said.


I was delighted to find that there was a respectable amount of G1 Japanese boxed Transformers here as well, although, they are generally repeats of what was also available at the Mandarake Complex in Akihabara. Also, most of the G1 Transformers here were in poorer condition than those in the Mandarake Complex.

These were from Mandarake Shibuya.

The MIB Blitzwing in a C9 box with no flap crease was tempting at ¥10,500 (AU$122 approximately).

Overlord MIB complete at ¥36,000 (AU$421 approximately) is also reasonably attractive.

Notice that they are selling a loose and incomplete Dirge and an MIB Hasbro Reissue Dirge, a relatively common figure in the Western markets, but a "rare" one to the Japanese market because Dirge was a Mail-Away exclusive in Japan back in the 80s.

MIB Beachcomber was of some interest I have to admit but I decided to pass.

There was nothing I wanted from here, so after some browsing, we headed back to the hotel for the day.

Over the next few days, we visited various theme parks for adrenaline pumping thrills. It wasn't until 8th January 2010 that we went to Mandarake again. There were some pieces that I still wanted to get from the Akihabara branch and those had been swirling in my head during the intervening time, heh.


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The Tokyo Trip - In which we visit the Mandarake Complex

On 3 January 2010, we visited Akihabara and Shibuya.

We went to Akihabara in the morning and boy, was I excited like a little child. With eyes gleaming and mouth gleeful, I wandered into the complex called "Gamers" on kurdt_the_goat's miracle map. It was the nearest from the Akihabara station.

This was 6 to 7 levels of non-stop, heart-pumping figures, manga, anime and games action. I came pretty close to information overload right there and then (okay, its been awhile since I went back to Singapore and even longer since I visited Hong Kong, so the excitement was natural I guess).

The plan was to go to Mandarake next, then Liberty Store #7 and lastly to Yodobashi Camera, as these were places where there had been confirmed sightings of G1 Transformers.

I soon found the Mandarake complex, but because we were hungry, we decided to have lunch first. I held my excitement. I could hold off for a good thing, yes. After lunch, it was straight to the top level of Mandarake Complex!

On the lift door opening, I was greeted by the rare and limited edition lucky draw metallic green Armarda Unicron figure, right there and then. This was going to be a good day. I could feel it.

Level 8 of the Mandarake Complex was just rows and rows of rare and most times vintage figures in glass display cabinets. E soon found the row that was dedicated to Transformers, right opposite the cabinet that was dedicated to "Robotech" (which means Macross, Southern Cross, Mospeada and other Gakken products), while I was still gawking like a school boy trying to comb the cabinets row by row.

"Transformers are in that row, follow me!" E said.

I followed her.

And there they were.

This was what I saw...


The largest conglomeration of G1 figures since Robo-Robo in Singapore. In recent years, nothing beats this, except Robo-Robo. No other shop in Hong Kong or Singapore has this amount of G1 Japanese Transformers, on display, and on sale.

I was momentarily stunned by the awesomeness.

I browsed over the shelves not knowing where I should focus my attention on first. E then drew my attention to the Black and Clear eHobby Starscreams and then to the JAFCON limited edition Black Convoy Reissue.

The Raiden Giftset also caught my attention. I looked at it for awhile. I considered how pristine the box was and then I dared a peek at the price. I spotted many figures that I would consider. I wrote them down on a piece of paper and then decided to "go away" for a few moments to think about them.

I thought about all these...

G1 Japanese Transformers stretching into infinity or so it seems...

Note the JAFCON Black Convoy Reissue and the Raiden Giftset

More G1 Japanese Transformers; they seem to have lots of Punch/Counterpunches MIB.

Note the MISB Broadside and Springer!

Japanese exclusive Headmaster Heads at prices far more affordable than on eBay.

Note Hydra MIB and Snapdragon MISB.

Note Black Zarak MIB, Overlord MIB, Mega Zarak MISB and Big Powered MIB. Black Zarak was seriously tempting if the box was not so ripped up.

Note Hosehead (US box) MISB.

We went to Exclesior Cafe (sounds very Marvel-ish yes?) to have some coffee and so I could have a think about what I should acquire.

The following were on my list (all in Japanese box unless stated):
  • Raiden giftset MIB;
  • Mega Zarak MISB;
  • Black Zarak MIB (very damaged box);
  • Overlord MIB (C9.5 box, complete and unused);
  • Big Powered giftset MIB (moderately damaged box);
  • Hydra MIB;
  • Snapdragon MISB;
  • Apeface MIB;
  • Backstreet MOSC (US carded);
  • Cancer MIB;
  • Wilder MIB;
  • Lightfoot MIB;
  • Ranger MIB;
  • Carb MIB;
  • Doubleclouder MIB;
  • Hosehead MISB (US box); and
  • Springer MIB.
With a list like that, something's got to give. I was on Jetstar this trip and we had zero luggage allowance and our tickets only allowed carry-on baggage.

Space was the primary consideration and that rules out most of the large MIB Transformers on the list. Cost, was the secondary consideration. No repeats (and therefore no 'upgrades') was the third consideration.

With this in mind, I began sipping my coffee and deliberating acquisitions.

I soon narrowed the list to: Raiden giftset, Doubleclouder MIB, Lightfoot MIB, Carb MIB, Cancer MIB and Wilder MIB. Overlord, for the very affordable asking price, presented an almost irresistable attraction - however, space and 'no repeats' prevailed eventually.

We returned to Mandarake Complex, pulled all the above figures out and checked them together with the store assistant.

Doubleclouder MIB was 100% complete with all paperworks and in immaculate condition. This one was a "yes".

Lightfoot was in C8 to C8.5 condition but was missing all paperworks and the box is probably a C6.5 to C7.5; however, in consideration of the modest asking price and the cost of actually obtaining an MIB US box Getaway from the US, this one was also a "yes".

Carb was in C9 condition but was also missing all paperworks. The box was is very good condition, probably a C9, with no flap crease. This one was a "yes".

Cancer was not in good condition and showed signs of yellowing in all the grey areas and some purple areas of the toy. This was a "no".

Wilder MIB was in okay condition but was slightly too expensive for this figure, this was also a "no".

The Raiden giftset was the last figure I checked. I was blown away by how immaculate the box, the toy and the paperworks were. The box is easily a C8 and much nicer than most Raiden giftsets I see on eBay (and these sellers were asking for roughly 1.5 to 2 times the amount that Mandarake is). The toys are generally C9 and above with very tight joints and no visible paint wear that I can see. The paperworks were complete and the stickers are confirmed "giftset type" stickers with 3 of the 6 interconnected sticker sheets still unapplied. This was a definite "yes".

This is a picture of my Mandarake Complex acquisitions on 3rd Jan 2010 taken on the hotel bed on the night I acquired them (no, I didn't sleep with them).

I then went to Liberty Store #7 but found only roughly one glass cabinet of G1 Transformers, most of which were unrealistically overpriced (for each particular figure). Like a Japanese box Scourge for AU$450 and a Jap box Reflector for AU$800. Nah, I'll pass.


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