Meet Jurij, A Grendizer collector from Italy and also a world famous composer and musician. (pictured here with the creator of Grendizer, Go Nagai)
Thank you for the wonderful two part interview, the rest will be posted tomorrow!
Why do Italians seem to have a love affair with Japanese toys?
I think everyone does, it depends on your childhood memories. Those of us who were born in the seventies grew up with Japanese cartoons such as: Grendizer, Mazinger Z, and other GoNagai productions like Jeeg, or Devilman. Grendizer, who was called Goldrake in Italy was a major success on Rai, the Government network. The independent stations followed by showing other Japanese cartoons, sometimes without licenses. The explosion of Japanese cartoons in the seventies followed in the eighties with many other Japanese anime shows such as Lupin III, Candy, Oscar, Ulysse 31, Jeeg, Daitarn III, and many many others. Some of these might be recognizable in the US under Shogun Warriors and Force Five logos. Grendizer was exported to all European countries as well as Lebanon and Egypt, some episodes were even shown in Russia.
What makes Grendizer so special?
Grendizer, Goldrake in Italian, and Goldorak in French, was the first major Japanese anime to arrive in Europe in 1978. It was initially broadcast in France, but shortly thereafter in Italy, and it transformed the Italian ideas of Japanese cartoons forever.
The Goldrake phenomenon was immediate and fairly massive. Without proper copyrights or licensing, thousands of factories produced large varieties of merchandise for collectors. I spoke with Go Nagai, the creator of Grendizer some months ago and he told me the incredible success of Grendizer in Europe came as a shock. He was just as famous for the Mazinger’s Saga in Japan, but in Italy it was Goldrake.
How did you start and how long have you been collecting Grendizer?
I started about fifteen years ago. Then it was very hard to find a lot of things. After 1995, with the Internet and online stores and auctions it became a lot easier.
How large is your collection and how do you showcase and/or store it?
I believe I have the largest collection in Europe. There are over 2000 pieces including comics, books, tapes, cd’s, lp’s and so forth. I have a big room for the collection and for my guitars. While I don’t think it’s the best choice, I have them in IKEA showcases.
Is there a "dream" item for you?
The collection isn’t really a dream it’s a hobby. I’m a musician and composer, so naturally my dreams are all in that direction. I know some collectors live and breathe for their collection, but with me it’s my music. I have most of the rare Grendizer pieces in my collection now though there are still some elusive pieces like the Grendizer's Jumbo Saucer mint in box, hard to find and difficult to ship because of its size.
What is your favorite item you found thru Rinkya and why?
I use Rinkya for Japanese Grendizer merchandise like books and smaller pieces. I have found Rinkya works well for me.
Do you have any advice for new toy collectors?
Of course, toy collections are fun. Some people make them a business and it is sometimes difficult to find honest sellers. When you find them stay in touch and use them for future contacts. Japan is a long way away and they are not an expansive culture. They don’t sell outside of Japan easily and this is why I use Rinkya to buy and research items.
Are there fakes out there and how do you spot them?
As I said, some people make a business of it and some of those people are not above selling fakes, reproductions or repainted toys as new. There is always some risk and you can only use your experience and that of your friends. Collector’s catalogues are helpful, especially in showing versions and rarities with pictures of them, but the toys themselves are the only real way to identify a lot of things. Toys that are cheap because of bad condition are a good way to educate yourself in some characteristics of a collectible toy. Buy a few and study them before spending a lot of money.
Read the rest of Jurij's interview tomorrow!