If you do not already read Plaid Stallions and its sister site, Mego Museum, you should just go ahead and bookmark them now. Both of them are filled with nostalgia and humor, and I seriously make a point to check them often. In fact, if you are reading this blog on its homepage, you may notice the Plaid Stallions blog over there on the blogroll.
This particular entry is regarding something I noticed not very long ago, but am only just now pointing out to you guys. What can I say? I'm lame. But I think you'll overlook my inherent lameness when you get a load of this page from the 1975 Imperial Toys Catalog. Specifically, notice the "Mystery Wrist Launcher Set" in the lower righthand corner.
If you know anything about the world of Japanese superheroes, you are echoing the caption written by Brian Heiler: "What the hell is Kamen Rider doing here?" Your eyes do not deceive you - that is Kamen Rider V3 in all his glory adorning the package. Closer examination seems to further reveal that the "Mystery Wrist Launcher" is illustrated with a picture of V3 astride his motorcycle Hurricane. This in 1975, when the only way you MIGHT be aware of these characters in North America would be if you happened to be in the vicinity of one of the Japanese language stations that aired such programs. Those were, as you might imagine, few and far between.
So what gives? Beats me! I do know that Imperial had offices in Hong Kong, so perhaps this carried over from them without anyone in the main U.S. office being aware of the copyrighted character on it. I feel like the helmeted fellow hanging out with V3 is probably a clue of some kind, but despite his looking maddeningly familiar, I cannot place him. Does anyone know this dude? And don't count on the color scheme being helpful, either.
A much larger question is whether any of these survived intact, or even (dream a little dream!) mint in package. It's definitely historic, since this almost MUST be the first piece of American Rider merchandise extant. It just so happened that Imperial didn't know it! (Another shot of the toy is right here.)
If you can solve the mystery of the Mystery Wrist Launcher, please leave a comment!