The Nerdstrom Collection, Pt. 1

There he is, standing tall as the trumpets of spring sound behind him- the Bandai Garamon.

This is the one that started it all for me, ten years ago. I was down south in my homeland, New Jersey, for a family visit. One afternoon, sister Sara and I decided to take a drive to The Outer Limits, a boss comics/toy shop that, at the time, was on Piaget Ave in Clifton.

There was so much to see in that place that it was a good forty minutes before I noticed the huge number of Bandai Ultra-kaiju hanging from some pegs, low down on a wall in the back of the shop. I was no stranger to Ultraman; like many a Jersey monster kid, I had watched the dubbed version of the show on WWOR in the 70's, and had even owned some of the Bandai vinyls in their early 80’s editions (Micras stands out as a fave in my memory). By no means, though, did I have thorough knowledge of the Ultra-universe; many of these sculpts were quite novel to me. I decided that one or two of these weird creatures would be my score du jour from Outer Limits- they were cheap and funny and wonderful, how could I go wrong?

I took the time to look at every single one on the pegs, eventually settling on just one- a wall-eyed, black, lizard-like creature with large ears and a brightly colored design (somewhere between a Pacific NW totem pole and the painted decorations of Pennsylvania Dutch furniture) painted on his torso. As I stood up and was about to walk away, another figure caught my eye- somehow, I had missed it in my first pass. I took it off the peg and held it for a close look. Of all the bizarre kaiju biodiversity I had taken in during the half hour prior, for whatever reason, this one really hit home. I just loved it, from the first. Autumnal colors sprayed onto dark grey vinyl, accentuating weird, leaf-like scales all over its body? Wow. Gaunt, heavy-browed face with a wide, fish-mouthed frown…it seemed to radiate quiet monster-belligerence. Then there were its…appendages…stubby, elbowless arms that grew straight out of the chest, ending in elongated, thumbless “hands”. All of these elements really drew me in, but there was also something much more, something I still can't fully articulate. I knew I had found a new fave monster. My intrigue level was through the roof, too- who was this guy, and what was his story?

My sister drove us back home, and I barely spoke on the ride, mostly just stared at the Garamon, entranced. Occasionally, I muttered some incomplete thought about his awesomeness, much to the amusement of my sis.

That night, I got on the web at my aunt’s house, and through some heavy-duty kaiju-sleuthing, found my way to Mark Nagata’s old website. There I found the name “Pygmon”...and that helpful tidbit unlocked the gate to a ten-year collecting odyssey...

I really dig the Bandai; it's an underrated Gara-piece, for sure...

1 comment:

gabbagabba said...

Awesome! This was one of my first vinyls also.