2018/08/14

Toy Story: Dyna Brace...Dyna Brace, Dyna Brace, AND.....Dyna Brace!


Hey, hey! It's another CCLemon99 Toy Story. This is the series where I talk about the times where I made some crazy scores for low prices...or other randomness along the way. Considering I have zillions of toys in my collection, a good number of them have a story to tell. This time around I talk about impatience and how it can sometimes...pay off? 

Let's flash back to 2007. I was just getting my start on Youtube and looking to expand into more 1980s toys. Naturally I had owned my Twin Brace from Liveman long before my channel was a thing, but the rest of my 80s collection was pretty thin. Since it was only 2007 and toys were cheap and plentiful, I was able to remedy this fairly quickly. 

I've told the stories behind the Masking Brace and Prism Flash in the past, but I've always let the mystery of the Dyna Brace kinda linger. What mystery would that be? Well...for someone who was lacking in 1980s Henshin Items...how exactly did this shot end up in my Dyna Brace video?


I guess I should explain...

While shopping for my 80s Sentai Henshin Braces, I knew someone who was attempting the same feat. We were in a bidding war on a Dyna Brace that ended at a whopping $250 with the other guy winning. I had no idea what this was worth since I'd never seen one for sale. The other guy was smarmy about it, I told him to fuck off and...well, apparently he did because I have no idea what happened to him.

Regardless, I was without a Dyna Brace and still very much wanted to add one to my collection. Now...when a toy like that ends at a ridiculous price, more of them tend to suddenly pop up for sale. This time around, four of them ended up for sale and all of four auctions ended within hours of each other. Not wanting to miss out, I bid on all four. This was before smartphones and whatnot, so I placed my bids before going into work that day and prayed that at least one of them would go through.

...all of them did...whoops... 

I was now the proud owner of four Dyna Braces. The loose one was 500 yen, which I was kind enough to mention in the description of my video. I remember the most expensive being something like $65 and the two other boxed ones being $25 or $30 each. To this day I have no idea what the value is on this particular toy thanks to the uniquely warped experience I had trying to procure it. 


As I also mentioned in the video, I played doctor on the loose one for some time. It turned out to be pretty useful since I had some issues with toys of similar build that had issues. The great part is that it still works! Since the band was so stretched when I got it, I can also wear it without destroying the elastic. Who knew it would turn out to be the most valuable of the four to me?

Do I still have all four? Nope... I have three left. I sold one to someone from France on ebay several years ago. Maybe I'll part with another one someday...if I can ever make out how much the damn thing is worth!


----------------------

I hope you enjoyed this latest toy story. If you'd like to read more, I've collected them on one handy page for you to check out.

Gingaman next? Gingaman next. See ya soon!

2018/07/25

CCLemon99 Magazine Issue Six


It's been awhile, but why not? This is CCLemon99 Magazine Issue Six! I have just a handful of topics to cover this time around. As this is my usual repository for smaller topics, how about we get right into it?

Farewell Toys R Us...

I know it's very old news at this point, but I really haven't had an opportunity to weigh in on the closing of Toys R Us here in the United States. I talked about my relationship with the store in a previous post about one of my favorite toy purchases.

I couldn't really bring myself to visit a store once the closure was announced. I really just wanted to have memories of the store being vibrant and full of life. This whole mentality of "Bankruptcy=DEALS!" is moronic on several levels unless you really need some store fixtures for your own business. Liquidators strip anything and everything of value. On top of that, it really just feels like a scummy attitude to have not unlike being totally cool with going through Grandma's jewelry box while she's still on her way out.

Anyway...it's been real, Toys R Us. I may not be able to do my usual Birthday trip to the same Toys R Us I've been going to since the 90s, but I hope to at least be able to drop in on an International location in the future...

It's 2018...I guess it's time to buy Blue SWAT

I've been putting it off for too long. I'm buying the damn series on DVD. I have a mix of rental VHS and TV recorded episodes, but haven't really moved in a direction to really see the entire series. I ran into a really good deal on the first and last volumes of the series DVD. The next move to make is to, you know, get everything in the middle. That's how they get you, right? At least the prices have kinda leveled off a little bit better since the series was released in 2011.

The show turns 25 next year, so maybe I'll get into it then on the site...and probably Kakuranger again while I'm at it. I watch Kakuranger every year and still pick up little things...


S.H.Figuarts White Ranger...the last hurrah??

...or should it be the last "UHHYAHHHHH!!!"?

I'm not going to lie, I absolutely dig the bizarre and sudden return of Power Rangers Figuarts for the 25th anniversary of the franchise. The Red and Green Ranger Figuarts that were released as San Diego Comicon Event Exclusives for this year are neat, but the White Ranger one is the real deal.

I'm sure I've said it over Twitter a few times, but I don't think I mentioned it anywhere else...but Kibaranger / White Ranger is my favorite Super Sentai Figuart. If you don't own it, I HIGHLY recommend picking up this reissue of sorts. NOW...given that we haven't seen this figure in person there is the chance that they nix my favorite feature, the pearl finish, but I kinda have faith given the cost that this Figuart is going for.

Even if the pearl finish is missing, I totally recommend getting this new White Ranger Figuart. It may not have the stupid Akibaranger bonus items, but you get Tommy's head...so there!

More CD and Series Reviews on the horizon...

I know that announcing future content is kinda stupid, but I feel like I need to put this out there since I've gotten away from both in recent months. Autumn/Winter is my favorite time to review series since I won't have to fend off drug-induced nodding off as I watch series (thank you, seasonal allergies...) and I also have been pulling together some unusual CDs to review in pairs. I have some good ones coming up...so stay tuned.

Gingaman is next on the list of series reviews. I never cared too much for the series, but if I'm hoping it'll be like my revisit of Ohranger last year and I end up enjoying it way more than I remember. We'll see! Stay tuned for that...I know I've fallen behind on Shout!'s releases...but it's not like I'm getting paid, right? Hahaa.

MEGAREAL Digitizer & Battlerizer

Not much else to say other than...yes, I am very much looking forward to this one. I love the little control plate that holds the Battlerizer. I know some people are moaning about the lack of the Keitaizer, but I could honestly do without that one.

As usual, it's great that Bandai Japan is going back and reissuing old toys and giving them some new features to appease collectors of the originals. That reminds me...I never did review the Legacy Zeonizer, did I?

-------------------

So that's all I really have for this issue of the CCLemon99 Magazine. I kinda did an extended article earlier in the month on the video for Beastie Boys Intergalactic and it's importance to a young Tokusatsu fan such as myself.

I'm just getting back from a big trip and am still unpacking (well...my bag isn't unpacked, but I certainly uploaded the 700+ photos I took to my computer). If you're reading this early, expect the glorious return of CCLemon99 to Youtube very soon with some unusual toys I picked up over the weekend.

Outside of that, I just want to give a quick shoutout to everyone for the love I got for the 11th Anniversary video that I posted a month ago and the continued love I've been getting this Summer. Thank you!

I'm off to work on the next post. Take care!

-CC

CCLemon99 Magazine Issue 2
CCLemon99 Magazine Issue 3
CCLemon99 Magazine Issue 4
CCLemon99 Magazine Issue 5

Twitter
Instagram

2018/07/10

An Appreciation of Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic" and "Body Movin'"


I'm kinda fond of the Summer of 1998. I remember hanging out with certain friends, going to the beach, playing a ton of Nintendo 64, and most importantly...Hello Nasty.

I don't think I've ever talked about this on the site, but I'm a massive fan of the Beastie Boys. I haven't been to too many concerts in the past twenty years, but the best show I've been to was seeing the Beastie Boys on October 11, 2004 at the (then) Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, PA. If you want to get a feel for what I saw, check out the concert film Awesome! I Fuckin' Shot That.

Getting back on point, I love the band and that Summer was absolutely the most glorious time. Their fifth album, Hello Nasty, was released on July 14, 1998. It's safe to say at this point that it's my all-time favorite album from the band. I have a difficult time describing the album accurately as the songs bounce from rap to rock to jazz and all of it is incredibly good. Mix Master Mike became their new DJ and it really gave a album a fresh sound. Good albums on their own don't sell albums on their own...

June 1998 saw the release of the music video for the first single from the album, Intergalactic. If you're reading this site and you've never seen the video, correct this immediately...



There are many things to unpack here. The Beastie Boys have always done some great music videos (well...not so much in the TTFB days), but this one was untoppable. Sure the fast motion stuff isn't all that great, but the Robot vs Octopus fight is incredibly fun and actually pretty well done. On the DVD commentary, the band tried to piece together some kind of plot for the fight. Ultimately they settled on the robot steppin' on the Octopus' turf. That's all. Perfect.



It's absurd and I utterly love it. Imagine being a Tokusatsu fan in 1998 and your favorite band releases this video. Not only that, everyone loved that video. The song itself is kinda polarizing through it's somewhat shrill repetitiveness, but the video in undeniable.


------------------------


A few month later the second single from the album, Body Movin', was released. Naturally a music video was released to promote sales and the results...were just as silly as Intergalactic. The idea behind it was to license a film and shoot new footage to weave a new plot around it. Sound familiar? The film in this case was Danger: Diabolik from 1968. Check it out...



A high-society burglary based on...a fondue recipe? Sure! Again, I couldn't help but loving the hell out of this creative re-purposing of old movie footage. Like...how did it all come together? Why the decapitation? A crow took out an entire plane? How did the Adrock have a harder landing WITH a parachute?

It may not have anything to do with Tokusatsu or anything, but I can't help get that vibe I get if I ever happen to catch an early episode of Power Rangers or Masked Rider. It's like "OK, so how are they going to write their way around this one?".

I may not like the remix that was used for the video all the much, but I love the video for this one just as much as the video for Intergalatic...even if that Jaguar E-Type getting wrecked was painful to watch.

------------------------

From there, things kinda sputtered. The video for Three MC's and One DJ was an impressive single-take video of the song performed live. That was really it for this album... Did it really need any more, though?

This is to twenty years to a great duo of music videos from one of my all-time favorite albums. Did you latch on to Intergalactic as much as I did? Let me know!

See ya!

-CC

2018/06/24

11-Years on Youtube ~ The Odd History of Daijinryuu


Hi there!

Welcome to a special anniversary post on CCLemon99.com. It's hard to believe, but my Youtube channel is turning eleven years old on June 25th. Eleven years of somehow keeping some relevance without chasing trends or really making this anything more than a hobby. For that I have to say...Thank you!

I really haven't been too interested in analytics, but they're unavoidable to glance at when I open my dashboard to do anything on Youtube. Things have been...actually pretty good recently. Views have leveled off thanks to a few years of bizarre algorithm changes. I wish Youtube would be better about delivering videos more directly to subscribers. Some people say that this is a myth and that necrosubs are to blame...but I don't really think so. Every once in awhile I get a random "Nice to see that you're back" comment. Yeah...I don't get it either. Just get my damn videos to the people who signed up to receive them.

Speaking of subscribers...I've been getting a lot recently. Thank you for subscribing! I've jokingly said that I would face reveal at 100K. That number is still far enough away that I can still make that joke without sweating on the possibility. You never know, though. Maybe I'll have to show off my diastema sometime... Is it cheating if I wear a hat and sunglasses? I've been saving this pair of blue suede Ray Bans for a special occasion...

I guess I should wrap this up before I get into my second Dairanger theory post of the year.

Thank you for sticking with me for yet another year. As a reader of the site, you've likely noticed that I've dipped my toes into different types of content...and I hope to try some new things on my Youtube channel in the future as well. The year since ending weekly videos has been much less stressful and I think the videos have been way smoother as a result. My recent Winspector and SunVulcan months were actually really fun to work on when they likely would have been a complete drag. Two whole months of content in a day of filming with a few days of editing. It's definitely helped me balance my life considering I've taken on an elevated position at my job. 

I was emotional about leaving weekly videos behind, but it was all for the best. I probably haven't cut back as much as I should have...but the recent bump in subscribers and views has really spurred me on. I can't thank you guys enough!

Now...onto the damn content.

-------------------


It was only a few short months ago that I made the proclamation that I was finished with 1990s Sentai mecha. From Fiverobo all the way up to Victory Mars, I've made videos on them all. I even got the stupid ones like the Jusho Fighters in there. One "mecha" remained absent from the list, however.

Meet DX Daijinryuu from Gosei Sentai Dairanger. As far as designs go, Daijinryuu was very, very cool. Naturally he got his own toy, but it never seemed right. Daijinryuu was a world-destroying entity that towered over even the largest of Dairanger mecha. Daimugen? Slowly squashed like...well, like a turtle. So when the DX toy came out for Daijinryuu, it never seemed genuine considering it's reasonable toy size. For it to be more on scale, it would have to be like five meters tall instead of the advertised 450mm tall. He's still a giant friggin' guy, but not to scale.


When I was thinking about what I was going to do for this video I remembered two things. 1. 2018 is Dairanger's 25th anniversary. 2. Didn't I own a tiny Daimugen at some point?

As it turns out, I did in fact own a smaller Daimugen by Yutaka......but I sold it at auction years ago. Whoops. So I set about acquiring a super-clean Daijinryuu from my usual haunt for new-old toys (BOOK-OFF...I've talked about it in my 500th Video post when I snagged my King Brachion) and then went looking for a Yutaka Daimugen. After some patience, one actually popped up when I was just about to abandon the notion.

While the scale isn't perfect, it really remedied the biggest issue that I had with DX Daijinryuu. It looks entirely ridiculous when partnered up with the rest of the DX Dairanger mecha, but check it out here:


Since I tend to overthink a lot of things...I couldn't help but really wonder about Daijinryuu's size. Was he always supposed to be so big? Looking forward to Gingaman, Giga Bitus was enormous and it's toy was never given the DX label. Daijinryuu could have easily existed as a larger anti-Ryuseioh. 

If we take a step back to 1992, it's easy to look at all of the great Tokusatsu that Toei provided. Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger...Tokusou Exceedraft...Shin Kamen Rider Prologue...Daiyogen~Fukkatsu no Kyoshin?? Yes, this completely forgotten two-part original video story actually happened in one of the more memorable years of Tokusatsu.


I've been thinking about writing about Daiyogen~Fukkatsu no Kyoshin for over a long time now...I even went out and got the DVD a few years ago. The movie is...interesting? Having not seen it in close to a year, here are some of the memories I have.

-One of the characters could pass for Yutaka Hirose at a quick glance.
-The movie was basically a chase episode of any Tokusatsu episode with almost zero payoff.
-Trimesistan, the guy on the cover, is ENORMOUS.


While the plot was a little dense, it isn't a terribly difficult movie to follow. Maybe I'll swing back around and do a closer review someday. If rumors are anything to believe, this movie came very close to being a tenth anniversary movie for Uchuu Keiji Gavan. If that were the case, it certainly would have lived on to have some relevance today. Personally I checked it out because it had a soundtrack by Eiji Kawamura.

Why do I bring this up? I'm convinced that someone at Toei was completely smitten with the idea of a giant that fought in the clouds while their feet were still on the ground. They didn't copy anything from the plot of Daiyogen~Fukkatsu no Kyoshin, but the 400/4000 meter giant theme has to be more than a coincidence. Especially when you bring the Gavan rumor into play. The idea of an unstoppable force is an intriguing one...and maybe after the movie quietly slipped into the background, it was worth exploring again with a more mainstream franchise.

------------------------

Thank you once again for being one of the 67,000+ subscribers to my channel and likely being one of the 125,000,000+ views that I've accumulated. I hope you'll stick with me for much longer as I still have so much to explore.

Thanks for watching!

-CC


2018/06/08

A Decade of Sentai Henshin Item Toys


Welcome back to the second part of my look at Super Sentai Henshin Items of the 2010s. Last time I declared an early winner and issued a challenge to Bandai to prove me wrong in 2019. This time I want to detail the decade-long decline of my favorite toyline. In order to do so properly...I have to go back just a little bit further...back to Engine Sentai Go-onger...

I vividly remember 2008. I was excited for the initial Go-onger toy line. Cars are my first love and outside of a trick Henshin Brace and some cool weapons, I don't think shows like Turboranger and Carranger did a great job of living up to their potential with the theme. Go-onger...actually did some things I really liked. The suit designs were pretty slick and the mecha really grew on me over time. The show itself sucked, but I tried.

So it was a case of a neat toy line with a lousy show? Well...no, not really. It was way worse than that. It was the beginning of the end of the ease of collectability of Super Sentai Henshin Items. Let's review, shall we?

Engine Sentai Go-Onger

While the Changers themselves aren't too bad, it did introduce the gimmick of interchangeable electronics to unlock new sounds and features. That's right, I'm talking about the dreaded Engine Souls. Each of the Changers came with a Change Soul that was unique to the group of character Changers, but they could also house individual Engine Souls.

Go Phone > DX Engine Oh, DX Highway Buster, DX Mantan Gun
Shift Changer > DX Birca, DX Gunpherd
Wing Trigger > DX Jetras, DX Tripter

That isn't the worst considering you could ignore Engine Souls and stick with the Change Souls. Bandai had gotten a taste of the collector's blood, though. People who would have otherwise completely skipped out on the DX Highway Buster now had to have one in order to get that damn BeaRV Engine Soul.


Samurai Sentai Shinkenger

Shinkenger's Henshin Items were actually spared the nonsense that Go-onger fans were forced to endure. You had the DX Shodophone which, despite it's faults (row of keys that are painted on instead of being actual buttons), is my favorite Henshin Item of the 00s decade. The Sushi Changer was pretty rad as well and only makes me hungry to think about...

It wasn't a bad year. Sure, the Hiden Disks were a thing, but outside of the one that came with the Sushi Changer, these were irrelevant to Henshin Item collectors.

Tensou Sentai Goseiger

What a mess this year was... You had the Headders AND flippin' Gosei Cards which were seemingly willed into existence whenever someone needed help. I don't know, it didn't take me long to abandon this series. The cards, though... You'd think it wouldn't be bad, but this just may be one of the worst offenders considering how much you had to spend to get the DX cards...

As far as I recall, these cards were only bundled with the soft vinyl figures. I looked up the receipt for my figures and realized that I spent a good $60 just to get the Pink, Blue, Black, and Yellow cards. Just for the Henshin sounds... Even then, the cards were only limited to the initial pressing of these toys. If you didn't buy them when the show first aired, you missed out. The Tensouder came with the Goseired card and a bunch of random shit cards I didn't care about. Out of the box, this toy was painfully limited.

Plus the forgettable DX Leon Cellular... Almost forgot you, but I didn't...

Fuck Goseiger, and more importantly...fuck 2010 Bandai...

Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger

Ranger Keys. I might be in the absolute vocal minority, but I hate these goddamn things. When you buy the DX Mobirates, the only keys you get are Gokaired, Shinkenred, and Go-on Red. Heh, that sure is a kick in the pants to Goseiger. Are you only after the Gokaiger Ranger Keys? Well, here is what you need...

Gokai Blue > DX Gokai Gun
Gokai Yellow > DX Gokai Sabre
Gokai Green & Gokai Pink > DX Gokai Buckle

There was also Gokaisilver and his Gokai Cellular. It came with his Ranger Key, but if you wanted the Golden Anchor Key, you needed to get Ranger Key Set 5.

Given the nature of the show and the Ranger Key concept, there is a good chance you won't stop there. Getting DX Ranger Keys or just the reds is incredibly expensive. There were cheaper options, at least (Candy Toy, Gashapon), but the amount of money you need to spend to unlock the damn sounds that are already inside the damn toys is incredible. Not to mention, some series Ranger Keys look like absolute dogshit (Zyuranger comes to mind first). Clearly series were assigned out to different people with varying levels of quality sculpts.

Ranger Keys...yeah, not a fan. They've done nothing but clogged Yahoo Japan Auctions and probably will for years...


Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters

Go-Busters did us right with a legit Henshin Brace for a change. While Ranger Keys continued to burn along well into (and past) 2012, it freed up the series to skip the gimmicks and focus on spy tools. The Henshin Items were...

DX Morphin' Brace (Great)
DX Morphin' Blaster (Alright)

It was a good year...one that really looked back to the golden 90s.

Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger

Ugh. Back to this...

The Zyudenchi are lousy. If there is a rhyme or reason to anything in Kyoryuger, I don't care enough to know what it is. Batteries...that are bullets...that are used in a dinosaur gun...that requires dancing... I don't care.

While Bandai did show some restraint prior to Gokaiger, all bets were off with Ranger Keys. Zyudenchi are no different. These are millions of them for all I know. If you want the Zyudenchi to complete the core Kyoryuger Henshin, you'll need to get...

Kyoryured > DX Gaburivolver
Kyoryublack > DX Parasagun
Kyoryublue & Kyoryupink > DX Kyoryujin
Kyoryugreen > DX Zakutor

Kyoryugold also had the Gaburichanger and there was the Giga Gaburivolver for Kyoryuviolet.

Unlike Ranger Keys, there were other ways to get DX Zyudenchi, but I'm trying to kept what's left of my sanity intact trying to keep up with toy lines at this point. There were options to do this a little bit cheaper, but I'm still not convinced that these are a worthwhile gimmick.


Ressha Sentai ToQger

While I kinda dig the concept of the Henshin Items for this series, they are FAR too complex. It takes like five minutes to do the whole song and dance plus, once again, this is gimmick heavy. DX ToQ Changer comes with the Red Ressha and that's it. However, there was a set version that contained the ToQ Changer and DX ToQoh. Just get that set...it's easier that way.

The DX Applichanger was as basic as most Sixth Ranger Henshin Toys. Not much to report there...

Not the worst year for the Henshin Item collecting, but it did kinda force you to buy the stupid mecha. You could technically get it all in one box, though...


Shuriken Sentai Ninninger

I would very much like to forget this year. Not only is the DX Ninja Ichibanto utter garbage but the gimmick of the year, Nin Shuriken, were expensive. The DX Ninja Ichibanto came with Akaninger's Nin Shuriken, and the DX versions of the Nin Shuriken were also mercifully sold separately. In fact, I think that was the only way to get the Pink one if I recall correctly. Don't even bother with the DX Nin Shurikens that are packed in with other toys...just get the individual ones. Unless, of course, you want those toys as well... Just be prepared to pay.

At least the DX Ninja Starburger was kinda fun...

Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger

I talked about this series main Henshin Item, the Zyuoh Changer, at a pretty fair length in my previous post. It's a great toy that does it all! It fits the theme of the show, has tons of sounds, and doesn't require an extra crap to work. It's a great toy that I think a lot of people overlook because "LOL MINECRAFT". So what? I like it. The other Changers are just as complete and fun out of the box. Zyuoh The Light is just that, a three-way light for Zyuoh The World. Zyuoh Changer Final is a boring repaint/update of the Zyuoh Changer, and the Whale Change Gun is a oddly technical changer/weapon. Yeah, I hate weapon changers...but I actually had fun with it while making my video.

I dig the 2016 Henshin Items. It was a good year to be a collector again.

Uchuu Sentai Kyuranger

What an awful, awful year for Henshin Items. Not only are there four of them (one being a Tamashii Web Exclusive for the first time ever) but two of which are horrible weapon changers and all of them use yet another overbearing gimmick. I have all of these damn toys and still haven't reviewed them. I have no desire to. I have no reason to. They're stupid. This show was a horrible waste. Toei/Bandai looked to America for input and only a year later finds themselves locked out of the damn country. Hasbro, meanwhile, is looking back at Go-Busters for 2019 Power Rangers. That's the same amount of time between shows are Kamen Rider BLACK RX > Masked Rider and Metalder > VR Troopers. Weird how this is happening to Sentai this time...but then again Shinkenger never stopped being adapted here...

Kyutama are the cancer of the year. If you want all of the DX Change Kyutama for the three main Henshin Items, you have to buy...

01, 03, 05, 07, 09 > DX Kyurenoh
02 > DX Sasori Voyager
04 > DX Tenbin Voyager
06 > DX Hebitsukai Voyager
08 > DX Washi Voyager
10 > DX Ryun Voyager
11 > DX Koguma Voyager
12 > DX Gigant Houou

This, folks, is what extreme greed looks like. Do you see now why I have zero fucking interest in this line? It wasn't appealing in the first place. I bought all that shit and never even bothered to open the shipping boxes they came in. They're just languishing...

Kaito Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger

This is the current Sentai series for 2018. In keeping with the current trend of too many fucking characters, there are two different Sentai in this show, but they both use the same Changer, the hideous VS Changer. The VS Changer comes with the Red Dial Fighter for Lupinred, but of course you'll have to buy all of the other Dial Fighters (Lupinranger) and Trigger Machines (Patranger) for the full Henshin line for both teams. The cost? ¥1500 each. There is always the DX Lupinkaiser and DX Patkaiser sets as well, but I don't think you'd be saving any money going that way outside of not having to buy a second Red Dial Fighter.

The X Changer is also happening, but yeah...snore.

------------------


Bandai is not only losing me, but they seem to be losing a lot of others as well. Rather than focusing on making a handful of must-have toys per year, they are absolutely spamming the toy market with absurd quantities of gimmick-laden toys every year. It all started with Engine Souls, which seemed to work out well for Bandai. That then parlayed into Ranger Keys, which was a sheer jackpot. From there...the hits stopped coming.

I only want the best for Bandai, but their approach is absolutely the wrong one to take in this decade. Space is limited and parents are wise to their game since, well, they were kids too at one point. They know what to expect every year from Super Sentai and Bandai. Except...it's only gotten worse. Twenty years ago you could pick up a DX Ginga Brace, turn the dial, and get five different sounds for all five Gingaman. Now you have to buy an enormous gun and two different sets of mecha just for essentially the same experience. It's getting old...

People out there are going to disagree with me, and that's totally fine. I just want some justification for the extra spending. I understand the appeal of Ranger Keys, so that's cool. None of the other heavy-handed gimmicks have impressed me, though. It's just the toy version of downloadable content. I want the full experience out of the box...

-CC

2018/05/26

I'm Calling It Now. The Winner Is.....


Hello and welcome back to CCLemon99.com. How are you? Everything good? Awww shoot, I'm so sorry to hear that. What did the doctor say? I know it's a drag to apply ointment three times a day, but you'll be as good as new in five weeks. It'll clear up! If I may interrupt... It's time for another CCLemon99 Unpopular Opinion™.

I started my channel nearly eleven years ago with the goal of making reviews of Super Sentai Henshin Items. It was uncharted waters in 2007 and now you can find dozens of Youtubers tripping over themselves to be FIRST!!11! and try to make that e-peen just a little more impressive. Considering my one year anniversary on Youtube was also the time that I caught up to the current series, I have definitely moved on in the decade since. 2008 may have been peak Youtube, and coincidentally the internet just slingshotted forward through burgeoning innovations and the world becoming a smaller place as a result.

Every aspect of life has moved forward at an impressive pace since then, but some things have kinda fallen to the wayside. There is less room for smaller competition. Niche brands and items are falling behind to make way for tech. Toy makers have always tried their damnedest to add a sliver of new technologies to entice kids to keep on playing while also juggling things like price point and safety.

This brings me to today's topic. 2008 was the start of a new era in Super Sentai toys. The dreaded gimmick was born. I plan on talking about the entire decade of toys in the second part of this post, but for now I really want to focus on the one that got it absolutely right. This toy managed to do it all, to be it all, and to impress my icy heart. It ticked all of the boxes in a way that really had never been done before. This is the Sentai Henshin Item of the Decade. I know I'm going to get some hate for it, but I present to you..............






The DX Zyuoh Changer


I honestly have almost nothing nice to say about the series that it belongs to (the suit designs are decent I guess...) but this Changer won me over when it was released two years ago and has only made me fonder of it in the time since.

In my original review, I praised just about every aspect of it...including the packaging! Let's go through the wins.

-No additional gimmicks or add-ons. Right out of the box, it has the Henshin functionality of Eagle, Shark, Lion, Elephant, Tiger, and even Gorilla. There is even a great LED feature for each color of Zyuohger. The electronics are a wonderful balance of complete and simple, though the sound is a little bit too quiet.

-The cube-theme is well incorporated and incredibly less intrusive than the series mecha and weapons. Turning the block unlocks the different modes of the Changer. It's basic, and yet it turns into a discreet flip phone. Yeah, 2016...I know. Still, the design is a lot of fun and was carefully crafted to do the most with what is essentially a cube of plastic. Well done...


-The packaging is compact and colorful. My number one gripe with Henshin Items doubling as weapons is the annoying amount of space they take up. The worst offender by far has to be the Ninja Ichibanto from Ninninger. Ugh. It barely has a flat edge on it and is enormous despite the toy being woefully tiny compared to version used in the show. The Zyuoh Changer? I can get like four of them and they would take up just as much room on a shelf.

-The addition of the Zyuohger mini figures. While this kinda screams of insecurity on Bandai's part, they're a neat little addition. I genuinely think that they're so programmed into thinking toys need a gimmick that they went full ham and put these pointless figures in for good measure. Whatever, it does make the whole presentation a little more colorful if you display everything together.


I had some glowing words for it in 2016 and in 2018 I wish I gave it a better score. The two years since have been a complete drag. I don't know how well the Zyuoh Changer did, but the absolute double-down they've done on gimmicks in the time since doesn't inspire any confidence. There is collectability, and there is bullshit. Next time...I will be looking at the decade-long roller coaster ride of Super Sentai Henshin Items and the crippling effects of gimmicks...

For now... Do yourself a favor and pick up a Zyuoh Changer if you haven't already. I challenge Bandai to do something better in 2019...

See ya soon!

-CC


2018/05/08

AWFUL: Hikari Sentai Maskman BGM


While I am absolutely useless at deciphering song lyrics in plain English, every once in awhile a nugget sticks with me. The lyric that struck me today actually comes from a song that I don't care for, but I'll share it anyway...

"You know the good ole days weren't always good. And tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems."

That's from Billy Joel's Keeping The Faith. It's a line that's always stuck with me considering how much people moan about "good ole days" when it comes to cars, movies, television shows, and...music. They're only the "good ole days" thanks to a combination of how memory works and possibly a smidge of revisionist history. I'm not ashamed to say I dig new music every once in awhile if it's genuine--even when it comes to Tokusatsu. I've made it fairly known that I enjoyed the Kyoryuger soundtrack even before I realized the series shared a composer with Carranger/Ultraman Powered/Gingaman.

Today I'm going to talk about an example of a classic series having an absolute shit music collection: Hikari Sentai Maskman.

Musical tastes are subjective, but there is no denying that the Maskman music collection is woefully...incomplete(?). The almost complete lack of an orchestra really takes the punch out of the entire mood. Whatever the story was behind-the-scenes, composer Goro Omi turned in a collection of the most disjointed sludge ever to poison our ears.

The Good

Admittedly there are some worthwhile pieces of music. Hearing real instruments is extremely rare throughout this collection, but there are some nice dramatic tracks that feature some nice acoustic strings. That is about as traditional as this music collection got. Even the previous Sentai/Toku series that skewed heavily toward orchestral soundtracks would have some bare acoustic tracks for the heavier scenes.

The Bad

The best way I can describe the music from this series is like this... Tracks will feature a lone real instrument (horn, guitar, violin) and be absolutely ruined by a horrible synth tone and THE SINGLE WORST DRUM MACHINE IN EXISTENCE. This isn't even the first Sentai music collection employ the use of a drum machine, but whatever equipment they were using was at least four years out of date by 1987. Nearly every track is like this. If this is what was at Omi's disposal, that's rather unfortunate. The problem is actually deeper than that, however.

Omi cannot hold a rhythm. The music oscillates between teeth-shattering shrill to so herky-jerky that it could be some great break dance music with very little modification. That's great and all, but this is for a children's action show. There really is no great fight music, just this unnaturally uptempo noise. Some of the more hollow dramatic pieces featuring little more than a lone female vocalization are just cheap cop-outs. An example of a series that does this correctly is Gingaman.

If you're listening at home, the worst of the worst of this music lives on the Volume 2 disc. I don't think any of it was actually used in the show...at least I don't remember a lot of the wackier stuff being included. Mostly because I enjoyed this series and I think a lot of this music is enough to sink the show.

The Remedy

I can't really think of a series with a bigger disconnect between it's music and song collection. The saving grace here is that Omi didn't really have much to do with the vocal song collection, but he actually is behind the awesome Dashitemiyo ze! Aura Power. There are some pretty good tunes that really sound absolutely nothing like the music.

Ehhh...not bad.

---------------------

Part of the reason I spent the entire month of April posting those daily reviews of Akina Nakamori albums was to kinda force myself to *really* go back and listen to the music. I wrote about the Complete Super Sentai Music Collection series from the mid-90s some years ago and, embarassingly, it's one of the most popular posts on the site. I really want you to pay close attention to what I wrote about the Maskman music collections. I talked about how rare the CDs are and how eye-watering the prices have gotten, but did I talk about the music even a little bit? Nope.

My aim is swing back around and talk about these series if there is anything else to add and to give the CDs themselves their fair shake. This post here isn't so much a review of the CDs, it's just something that's been biting at me. I might not enjoy the blandness that some of the music from current shows has adopted, but the opposite of inoffensive is...offensive. Something like the Maskman music collection is likely a zero budget, slapdash effort gone horribly wrong. While things did get MUCH better the next year with Chojuu Sentai Liveman, I would hardly call that music collection perfect.

What do you think of the Maskman music collection? Do you think Toei did enough to kinda work with what was turned in? Am I criticizing what is surely a misunderstood classic??

Thanks for stopping by this week!

-CC

More CD Collection Posts

UPDATE: I posted this to my Twitter account for the uninitiated...