Every once in a while someone will ask me “How did you come up with Fresh Vinyl?”. It is really a simple story. It is a story that we all can relate to by just the sniff of…FRESH VINYL!
I believe it was 1988 when my mother and father introduced me to the king. On one Christmas morning, I was only five at the time, I opened a box. My very first Box Day! Inside said box were two figures. I pulled them out and, actually, I don’t really remember much of that morning but I know that in that box were the large and small Imperial Godzilla figures.
From there, I happened to get my first Godzilla movie, Godzilla Vs. Megalon. Soon after that it was Son of Godzilla, which was followed by Monster Zero. More Showa films followed and I was hooked. Big surprise right? Mama Fresh Vinyl took me to a video store during the early 90’s and there we bought a VHS tape of Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster. Later on TNT would have Monster Vision on and I would record off TV any Godzilla movie that I did not see yet. I will never forget watching Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster. That is one of my favorite films. TNT loved playing it and I never complained. I would ask Mama and Dad Fresh Vinyl if we could go to the video rental stores to rent Godzilla movies that I may have not seen. Over the course of time, we rented Godzilla Vs. Hedorah, Mothra Vs. Godzilla, Godzilla, King of the Monsters and a few others. I remember watching Godzilla, King of the Monsters for the first time and when I saw it was in B/W I was like “what is this junk!” My mother actually asked if I still wanted to record it. I said yes of course and I felt like I suffered through that movie. I was a little 7-8 year old turd at the time that could not appreciate a good film. Sue me. More Godzilla movies would come on TV and I would force my family to watch and record the movies for me. Godzilla Vs. MechaGodzilla, known on TV at the time as Godzilla Vs. The Cosmic Monster came on. When Godzilla showed up the first time and roared like a robotic pissed off snake I was mad. Why did the movie people, Toho, change Godzilla’s roar. That was so stupid I thought until I realized how stupid I felt when I came to know it was really MechaGodzilla.
In 1994, Trendmaster started releasing Godzilla figures based on Heisei designs. The only store that was selling these toys, to the best of my knowledge and from what I can remember, was Kay B Toys. I remember going with my parents to buy as much as we can. For most kids, these were there first Godzilla toys. We did not know anything else about collecting and the Trendmaster toys were just amazing to us, to me, at the time. But Trendmasters did not last long with me.
In 1995 I was introduced to four Heisei films I did not even know existed; Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah, Godzilla Vs. Mothra, Godzilla Vs. MechaGodzilla and Godzilla Vs. SpaceGodzilla, on not so legal VHS tapes. My father obtained these for me from a comic book shop up the street from where we lived. Soon after, I found a magazine in that same exact comic shop called G-FAN. G-FAN was up to issue #11 at the time and issue #10 was still on the shelf. So I picked those up as well. This is how my drive for Godzilla was taken further which just kept growing in the mid 90’s. Knowing new Godzilla movies were being made in Japan, magazines being made here in America, I can’t describe how I felt other than just wide-eyed OH MY FRESHNESS!
On another trip to my comic shop, I walked in the door to see the store was going out of business. DAMN! But on this visit I was introduced to Japanese vinyl figures, known in Japan as sofubi. My first vinyl figure was the Bandai Battra Larva. I grabbed him for $10 with an attached tag. BAM! I hold this figure near and dear to my heart because it was my first Bandai.
From that point on, I was determined to learn more about Bandai figures and collect them from where ever I can. That proved very hard because at the time, there was only a few select ways to obtain Bandai figures. This proved even harder as a 12 year old kid, ha! I ventured into another comic book shop in Freehold, NJ called Zapp Comics. What did I see when I walked in? You guessed it, more Bandai Godzilla figures! This time I found figures from Godzilla Vs. Destroyer. Seeing these figures was the first I heard of Godzilla Vs. Destroyer, so I browsed around the comic shop a little more and came upon a VHS copy of Godzilla Vs. Destroyer. I asked my Mama Vinyl if it would be ok to buy the movie and the 8’’ Bandai Burning Godzilla. To my excitement, she obliged and home we went with a new Godzilla movie and my 2nd Bandai vinyl figure!
Moving right along, in 1997 I was introduced to my first Godzilla convention, G-CON ’97 that was held in New York City at the New Yorker Hotel. At this time, I now had a friend, David Quigley who was equally a Godzilla buff like myself and I was fortunate enough to attend G-CON ’97 with him and his father. Two exceptional events happened at this event. I was able to meet Haruo Nakajima and Kenpachiro Satsuma! I was able to take a picture with both of them! It was a truly honorable moment and one that I only appreciate more as time goes by.
The second memorable moment was going into the Dealers Room! If you have not been to a Godzilla convention yet, you have no idea what you are missing. Walking into the Dealers Room is a moment any Godzilla collector will never forget! So, walking around to each and ever dealers table, I could not believe my eyes at everything I saw. Mind you, I only had $60 to spend. I could not buy jack shit! I was how ever able to buy a Bandai 8” Adult Destroyer and I picked up the Mothra (’97) oh Japanese bootleg. I left G-CON ’97 very bummed. All those vinyl figures and I was only able to go home with one! I was determined to save money for the next opportunity that presented itself to me and said opportunity did present itself. That opportunity was in the form of G-CON ’98 in August of that year at the same venue in NYC. So, plain and simple, once the grass started growing that spring, I started cutting grass for neighbors and started saving my money. I wanted to come home with plenty of vinyl figures this time. I was going in prepared this time. G-CON ’98 was a complete success for me a young collector. I bought more 8’’ Bandai figures and two soundtracks, Godzilla Vs. MechaGodzilla and Godzilla Vs. Destroyer. So that was that.
Later in 1998, it was announced that Bandai was going to release new scaled down figures in a 6’’ scale. This line was called the Godzilla Island line. There are twelve figures that make that line up. I am not going to name them all but they were FRESH! How did I know about this? I don’t really remember obtaining this information from the Internet, as the web was still in its infancy at the time and the only website I ventured to was Barry’s Temple of Godzilla. For those of you that remember that website, it was an awesome place to go and just see and read stuff about Godzilla. Thanks Barry! Anyway, while going through G-FAN during 1998, I came upon an ad for Club Daikaiju. Club Daikaiju was based out of New Jersey and ran by a gentleman name Jim Cirronella. If you shopped with Club Daikaiju you know how awesome of a shop it was. Club Daikaiju had an ad for these new 6’’ Godzilla Island figures. I remember asking my parents for them for Christmas. Waiting for Christmas was like an eternity. Now, I was a bit of a sneak when I was a kid. I picked up on things pretty easily. So, one day while sitting at my dad’s computer I noticed his checkbook out on his desk. Mind you, I was surfing the web at this time, probably lost somewhere on Barry’s Temple of Godzilla. Curious as I was, I decided to look in the checkbook. Why? I don’t remember why I did but I did. As a flipped through the pages, I came to the last few. I just looked at bills that were written and what not but one line stuck out. Just one line. I saw that my father had written a check, I forget what the amount was too but it was written out to Club Daikaiju. My heart blew up with excitement! My parents bought me the Bandai figures! How did I know for sure? I didn’t. Not until JUST before Christmas ’98. So now you are asking “before?”. Like I said, I was a bit of a sneak as a kid, so once again I was at my father’s desk, at the computer. I happen to glance down and I see…A BOX. The early beginnings of Box Day and I did not even know it. Anyway, my peering eyes and grabby hands snuck underneath that desk and peaked in the box, only a little bit. It was the Bandai 6’’ figures! I only got a quick glance of the Fire Rodan figures. Once I realized what they were, I stopped peaking, turning my excitement levels down, put the box back where it was and went to bed. That is how the early beginnings of my collection began.
Now that I have bored you with the early stuff, lets get into the some more recent stuff. Fresh Vinyl really started back in the early 2000’s. Sure, I started collecting Bandai figures back in late 1995 and at G-CON ‘97/98. In 2002, I had graduated high school and enlisted in the United States NAVY. What was to become of my collection at the time? My collection mostly consisted of Bandai vinyl figures and a few other odds and ends in by September 2002. Heading off into the NAVY, I had wrapped all my Bandai figures in bubble wrap and stored them in the plastic bins of doom! There my figures remained in storage while I was away in the NAVY. Every once in a while when I was home on leave, I would pull my bins out and just pull the lids off and just look at what was packed close to the top. This literally bummed me out because I had hated seeing my collection packed up and stored away like it was. I did however get some gratification by taking a whiff of the figures that were stored inside. The scent of that vinyl in there was just breath taking. Literally. I could not display or see my collection in whole, but smelling it was good enough for me. I knew one day I would have my collection displayed.
Fast-forward to 2004 and the discovery of eBay! Oh the terrors of eBay but the rewards that it brought. While I was on deployed in the Persian Gulf, I was thinking about Bandai figures and what not. One of my shipmates was on eBay and I just watched how eBay worked ever so slightly. Once the computer was free, I decided to take a look at this eBay. The first thing I put in was “Godzilla Toys” and instantly the page blew up with all kinds of memorabilia popped up. Instant rush. All the things I saw took me back. So with this computer screen sitting in front of me, my mind boggled. I could not think of anything at the moment to exactly search for. My mind eventually cleared it self and I thought about one figure I wanted badly. I entered “Bandai King Kong” and BAM! It was there! Pure amazement! So now what?! BAM! Grabbed my credit card and bought it!
That was my first eBay purchase. I continued buying stuff, specifically from one seller named Col138. Box Day’s started showing up at my parent’s house. I remember my dad sending me email after email simply stating, “Another box showed up.” Ha! Damn it! My father was getting some awesome Box Day’s that only fan’s like myself could understand. By the time I came home from deployment, I had a plethora of boxes awaiting me. Most of the figures in these boxes contained Bandai vinyl.
This is December 2004 right after I got home from my deployment.
So what happened with those figures once they were unboxed? They were packed up and stored in a bin also! DAMN! While I was in the NAVY until 2007, I had a couple apartments during that time and I collected things here and there. I ended up having my box days shipped to my apartment more frequently and I began to display what arrived. Displaying those purchases, which was still mostly Bandai, fulfilled a little piece of the void in me that aching to see some sort of Godzilla collection.
In September 2007 I got out of the NAVY and moved to Boston with my girlfriend. At this time, all my collecting and buying had stopped, completely. It was like I went cold turkey. Once again all my collection was packed up and in bins yet again! This time there were more bins than the last time I had to pack up the soon to be FVHQ. The only good thing this time was that my whole collection was with me in Boston. BAM!
Till about 2011, the collection sat in bins. For four years, from 2007 till 2011 I bought nothing. Anything that came out between those years, passed me buy. I thought many times about just selling the collection and being done with it. Why have everything packed up in bins? It seemed pointless. During that time, my girlfriend became my fiancé; we bought a condo and then got married in 2011. During the summer of 2011, the S.H. Monster Arts line was announced with the Heisei Godzilla. This caught my eye for sure. Eventually the S.H. Monster Arts Godzilla became the first figure I bought in nearly 4 ½ years. I continued with the Monster Arts lines as each figure was released. MechaGodzilla, SpaceGodzilla and MOGUERA followed in suit. This sudden feeling of buying new figures reinvigorated something inside of me. That feeling brought back the joy of collecting and brought back the desire of enjoying the collection I had, which was packed away at this time. But that was about to change!
I had decided it was time to display some of my collection. I had a set up of shelves in the corner of the second bedroom of our condo. I displayed my favorite pieces from the Bandai line. Mostly Showa and Heisei 8’’ figures. I loved it, but I still desired to have more of my collection out. I looked around the room and realized I had so much extra wall space. What I would have done to utilize that wall space. Throughout 2012, the shelves remained mostly untouched. I stayed on top of the S.H. Monster Arts line and bought a few Marmit figures to throw in the mix. Towards the end of 2012 I was kicking around YouTube and I came across some figure reviews for this little known line called X-Plus. The reviewer, Samson West, collected these figures and conducted reviews on them as well. I became very intrigued.
Ring in 2013 and it’s like a time bomb went off. I dabbled some more on YouTube by watching these figure reviews for X-Plus by Samson West. All I thought was that these X-Plus figures are really awesome. I knew they cost some money but I did not care at this point, I wanted in. It is literally like the second week of January 2013 and I have made my mind up. I want to know how to obtain these X-Plus figures. I can only think of one person to message and that was Samson West. I messaged him on Facebook but he didn’t respond in a timely fashion, yah bozo! So, excuse my French, I literally said, “Fuck it” and I went on eBay, like a noob, and splurged. I bought eight X-Plus figures in one sitting. Over the first few months of 2013, I bought more X-Plus. On these box day’s, there was one distinct joy of opening that box; smelling those fresh figures. I even got back into buying Bandai. The only difference with buying Bandai this time was I was hunting down older Bandai figures from the 80’s. These box days were crazy. I was getting tons of boxes. My wife thought I was crazy. Now one problem presented itself: where do I put all this stuff? Simply put, I added more shelves to what was already there.
I filled them with X-Plus, Bandai, S.H. Monster Arts and some other odds and ends. The collection was growing in full force. It was such an adrenaline rush to getting all these awesome figures; it was kind of a drag that I had no one to really share it with on a personal level. I was a member of two collector groups on Facebook, the Godzilla Collectors Group, which my home on Facebook since its beginning in 2011, and in 2013 I joined up in the X-Plus group when that was in it’s infancy also. Even as a member of these two awesome groups, I wanted to make an impact. I wanted to do more for this hobby of ours. I enjoyed watching figure reviews on YouTube so I thought about it for a month or so and of course I procrastinated. In April 2013 I decided, it was time. It was time I give this whole review thing a go.
My first figure review was a comparison between the X-Plus 25cm MechaGodzilla 74 and MechaGodzilla 75. It was a crash course of a review but I was happy I did it and got through it. I did two more reviews after that and a collection video. You guys know where to find them. It was one review that really started this roller coaster and that was the X-Plus 30cm Godzilla 84 review. It had a bottle of Jack Daniels and some other silly bits in it. In the beginning of the review I sitting there in my spot, mind you this is now the first time I am showing my face, even only a few videos in, and I am just getting into my element, having fun with it. While I was sitting there filming a gust of air must have worked its way into and across the room, blowing right at me. As that cool air whistled around the Godzilla figure, it picked up the scent of that freshness and blew it right into my face. While sitting there and absorbing that smell, I uttered the words “Everyone loves the smell of fresh vinyl, especially on box day!” And there you have it. That was how the Fresh Vinyl train began.
Now well over a year of being on YouTube, 2000+ subscribers and counting, almost 100 Fresh Vinyl t-shirts sold and going globally, spanning 8 different countries, making great friends,Fresh Vinyl Live, meeting fans at G-FEST and even more excitement in between, I don’t even know how to respond to this. It is just pretty damn FRESH! So that is my story. It has been catalogued on YouTube since April 2013. Thank you to all those that follow me. Without the Fresh Vinyl Army, I would not be here.