Friday, June 17, 2022

Astro Boy - URAN!

Tezuka Productions: Astro Boy and Friends - Uran - Heathside Trading 2022

In the past 10 years or so I've become a big fan of Osamu Tezuka. He is known by many nicknames, but I was always fond of "The Godfather of Manga." At over 150,000 pages and 700 volumes of manga in his brief 60 years, he earns that title easily. Interestingly, I think what finally turned me from a casual appreciative fan into a mega-fan was the launching of KickStarter and the almost immediate campaigns to translate various works of his into English. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I picked up the very first KickStarter-funded manga of his at my local comic shop and was instantly smitten. But way before I began obsessing over his manga, I was a big of the 1963 black & white Astro Boy anime (an adaptation of Tezuka's Mighty Atom manga from 1952). I had an  VHS with a handful of episodes and I was blown away by the quality. It's was lightyears ahead of American animation. I even played the exact same tape on a loop in my college years for background ambiance at parties, and it always got attention. 

Additionally, one of my first adult-purchased action figures was an awesome Medicom Astro Boy from Suncoast Video in the late 90s. I still have it prominently displayed. But I've always wanted toys of more characters, specifically Astro Boy's sister, Uran. Her origins are a bit problematic seeing as how she was made as a gift for Astro Boy's birthday, but I always thought her design was quintessential Tezuka and I wanted her in my collection.

This series of Vinyl figures showed up in US specialty shops in Spring of 2022. The series consists of two unarticulated vinyl product lines: one being small animation-accurate figures like this Uran, and the other being super-deformed squat figures meant to compete with Funko Pops (even in white square boxes like Funko product). If you search online, you will find that this Uran figure has almost certainly been released previously - but possibly only in Japan.

I got distracted and had to find this random photo of me back in 2012 commemorating the very moment I became a huge Tezuka fan. That book I'm holding, Barbara, was his first Kickstarter book translated and this pic is me in midst of ranting about how great it is. I knew and liked his cutesy stuff like Astro Boy, Unico, and Kimba the White Lion. But Barbara made me realize that he could be gritty and adult with the same integrity. I haven't looked back and I now have two shelves of his work.

Time for a Comparison Pic!


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