Monday, January 12, 2015

The bosozoku stylings of the Aoshima Grand Champion 1:64 Series...

You may have noticed a heavy presence of "non-Mattel" brands on Lamley lately.  There has been a fair share of Greenlight and Tomica Limited Vintage to say the least.

There are two reasons for this.  First, there has been little action from Hot Wheels and Matchbox in the last couple of weeks.  That is to be expected after the holidays.  Mattel is hopefully ramping things up again.

Second, we made a little promise here at Lamley that in 2015 we would show more brands more frequently.  You already know we are obsessed with Tomica Limited Vintage, and our love for Greenlight was sparked by the new Hitch & Tow series, but you will also see a lot more Auto World and Kyosho (We have found a way to get older, hard-to-find Kyoshos.  More on that later.), some Majorette, and if we can be convinced, M2.

These brands deserve more coverage here at Lamley.  Hot Wheels will always be featured prominently here, as will Matchbox, but we have room for more.  And let's be honest, there should be.  While we do spend a decent amount of time on the diecast collecting hobby as a whole, our focus has always been on the models themselves.  Minicar collecting for the car folk.  And while we can definitely appreciate what Hot Wheels and Matchbox can do with a $1 car, there is no reason to ignore the realism and creativity we see from the higher-priced and higher quality brands.

So while we were thinking about this, and digging deep into the Lamley collection, another brand popped into our minds: the Aoshima Granchan Series.  It has been at least two years since we showcased even one Aoshima model, and we need to incorporate them in a little more.

Which makes us realize quite a few of you might not be familiar with the Aoshima Grachans.  You might actually be familiar with Aoshima, which is better known for their model kits.  The Grachan sets are 1:64 blind box releases that are sold in Japanese convenience stores.  You buy the box then you figure out what model you got.

Aoshima has done 8 Grachan series, the last few with 6 castings in two colors.  There is also a chance of pulling a Secret Car in a special deco.  But what the hell is Grachan?

"Grachan" (or "Gurachan") refers to the bosozoku style and shakotan stance of these cars.  Literally, "Grachan" means "Grand Champion", which comes from the Grand Championship racing series at Fuji Speedway in the late 70's and early 80's.

Confused yet?  Let's start with this Aoshima Cedric:

We don't claim to experts, but the lowered style (shakotan) and exaggerated rear and chin spoilers were inspired by the cars used in the Grand Championships, knows as the Super Silhouettes.  We have covered the Super Silhouettes extensively here at Lamley, mainly because of Tomica Limited Vintage's replicas, which I personally will tell you are my favorite TLV's.

The Japanese kids that grew up idolizing the cars and their drivers eventually had their own cars, and using the Super Silhouettes as inspiration, took the style to wonderful extremes.  See the resemblance?

It is generally called bosozoku, which has its origins in the 1950's and involves motorcycle gangs in Japan, but that is a post for another day.

Nonetheless, Aoshima has dedicated several large model kits to the Garuchan cars, as well as the 1:64  models we are showing today.  They are a gas to collect, but virtually impossible to find.  They rarely appear on eBay, and older series don't make the rounds too much even in Japan.  We here at Lamley were late to the game, but are lucky enough to have Series 6 and 7 in their entirety, with a smattering of Series 8.  We even were lucky enough to find a Secret Car.

We won't spend too much time on what models come from what series, and instead focus on the models.  We won't show them all in this post, but here is a small taste of some.

You can see the castings and decos are simple, the wheels wonderfully detailed with all kinds of signature Japanese rims, and the style is ALL Garuchan.

These may not be for everyone, but we think quite a few of you will like what you see...

Kenmeri Skyline 2dr

Hakosuka Skyline 2dr

Nissan 330 Cedric

Nissan C231 Laurel

Secret Car

Nissan 430 Cedric

C210 Japan Skyline 2dr

Nissan Laurel

C210 Japan Skyline 4dr

Mazda Cosmo AP

Fairlady 240ZG