News from the Pacific Rim
By Osamu Ueda
Photos by Daisaku Urata
THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER
Okay, I'm sure that some of you noticed this column
was missing from the last issue of Lee's. Just so you know,
it wasn't becuase Lenny and Jim forgot to put it in.
The fact of the matter was, I had asked for a month off
while I suffered through the major trials of an office move.
They took pity on me I guess, and so you didn't see the
column. But now, it's back-and totally reenergized.
The focus here (in Japan) seems to be on "limited editions" lately.
It's like there's some imperceptible, sub-acute level of
limited edition radiation issuing forth from who
knows where, and it's warming the hearts and minds of the
collector marketplace to the idea that limited editions are
good things. All I know is...there's a vibe out there. For instance...
This figure was introduced to Japanese fans and collectors late
this past february as a semi-exclusive limited edition, available
through both a collector magazine and a collector shop.
The original Cocobat Joe figure, known as the "Take-Shit"version, was
limited to only 600 pieces, and sold exclusively at Tokyo's
most popular toy store---ZAAP! Preordering of this original
version began around Christmas of 1997, and the entire stock was
sold out in just two weeks. Narue Oka, store manager at ZAAP! stated,
"That rarely happens in Japan. I mean, at that time (December '97),
no one had seen the Cocobat Joe figure but us. Fans just kept
on calling to order this thing sight unseen. We were somewhat
I know you AFNers are scratching your heads and wondering just
what a "Cocobat Joe" or a "Take-Shit" is, right? Well, Cocobat
Joe is a character created by the bass player of Japan's most
well-known hardcore band called Cocobat. Take-Shit, is
the name of the bass player. Aside from his being in this band,
Take-Shit is famous for his humongous toy collection. He probably
has the largest collection of classic Japanese toys from the '70s
especially when it comes to Takara's Henshin Cyborg line.
Along with the original version of the Cocobat Joe figure,
there's and exclusive magazine version known as "Skull-Head".
This figure was introduced in Japan's most influential toy magazine, Massive Action Figure, of which I am the managing editor.
Skull-Head was originally slated as a limited edition figure
with an end number of 500 but, soon after it was solicited in the
magazine, outrageous numbers of phone orders started coming into
the office, virtually shutting down the publishing company. After
a long debate, the Massive Action Figure staff decided to make the
figure more available. Instead of keeping Skull-Head a limited edition
"sweepstakes prize", the way he was originally offered, he would
be made available to readers of the magazine via the submission
of coupons run in the magazine.
Other magazines have since decided to get in on the Cocobat Joe craze.
Several Japanese fashion magazines have joined the Cocobat Joe birthday
party via the creation of several exclusive Cocobat Joe "outfits". These
limited edition outfits were packaged and offered only through these
The Cocobat Joe was produced under license of Takara's Combat Joe, and
was manufactured by Medicom Corporation. The "grasshopper" outfit was
inspired by a drawing that appeared on a Cocobat album cover,rendered
by the American graphic artist Pushead. This fully-poseable
Cocobat Joe in his authentically-styled Grasshopper costume, is now
the toughest figure to get in Japan. Made exclusively for toy fans
by toy fans.