The following is an Interview with Mr. John Wakefield, a forefather in putting Zoid's websites online, and inspiration of Zoid.US. Many of us will remember his website titled "Channel Zi" as one of the very first Zoids sites to hit the US. (Also envy of WIKD as he actually owns a Battle Rex!)

Zoid.US: Greetings and welcome to this yearís Zoids Chronicles. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

JW: Hey Seth!  Thanks for inviting me to chat. 

Well, most folks in the Zoids community would recognize me as that ol' Southern boy  with the bad attitude who whipped up that mess of a site called Channel Zi.  *LOL* 

I am a toy collector down to my marrow.  As long as I have been cognizant of what a toy was (i.e., about 3 years old), not a year of my life has gone by that I havenít been collecting them.  Iím spread out across lots of toy lines from the 1970s through today, from Milton Bradley Electronics toys to Micronauts to Super Robots to GI Joe to MSIA Gundam to Star Wars to Silverhawks to Transformers to Hot Wheels...too many toys, not enough time.  *LOL* 

Other than toy collecting, I drive a lot, go to Corvette shows, hunt (dove) and fish occasionally, maintain some other toy websites Cobra Command Online being one of them, and try to hike when I can.  In recent years, Iíve taken to playing Airsoft...which is pretty much exactly like running around the woods playing GI Joe when I was a kid, only the weapons are more realistic and fire plastic pellets.  Itís also similar to paintball, only a lot less painful and far less messy. 

By day, Iím an automotive engineer, working mostly on parts quality issues. 

Zoid.US: Can you tell us a little about your current collection? (What lines does it encompass? Is it mainly current or vintage?)

JW:  Current Zoids collection samples a little bit of everything:  OAR, OJR, OER, Robo Strux, Techno Zoids, NJR, NAR, NER.  Itís primarily OJR and NJR, though.  Quite a few more special-edition units in the stable now that make it lean more towards the NJR end of things, plus a couple of fun conversation pieces:  a bright-red/black pre-production  Hasbro Seismosaurus and...ahhhhhhh, what the hell is that thing called...Skuttlebutt?  Ummm...Dinky Hex?  No, wait...oh!  Battle Rex, yeah, thatís it.  *wink* 

Zoid.US Interjects: OMG! Drive the knife in deeper John ;)

Zoid.US: Are Zoids available where you currently live?

JW: Unfortunately, no...not from new-product retailers.  Takara-Tomy needs to break into the market here in a big way.  Iím willing to give Hasbro the benefit of a doubt if they get themselves some better box art...  Occasionally one or two Zoids will show up at the local secondary shops, though. 

Zoid.US: How has your collection grown or changed over the last year? Does it have the same focus?

JW: Itís slowly growing more streamlined by shrinking.  Iíve picked up a handful of items Iíve been after (a couple of the Generations units, some books, and that blasted Naomi figure), and Iíve finally been able to get many of the duplicate items sold off (still have a long way to go, though).  Itís been a lot of fun moving the spare items out, in that itís helped a lot of fellow Zoiders add some nice units to their collections that they might have otherwise had trouble finding.  The selloff has been a touch sad also, in that there were a few of those items I was hoping to use for some longer-term projects.  Times being what they are, though, I had to let them go. 

  Zoid.US: Do you participate in any Zoids online RPGís, if so could you tell us a little bit about them and the role you play?

JW: Nah, I stay away from them.  Not my thing...but even if it was, I donít think Iíd have time to participate.  Iím surprised a lot of them are still around, but then, the strength of the ďnew-eraĒ Zoids fan community has been a (nice) surprise as well. 

Zoid.US: Let talk re-releases, as we all know TOMY has released some of the classics including but not limited to King G, Gil Vader, Lidier, etc. How do you feel about this choice?

JW: Iím all for it, and wish they would do it more often.  I was thrilled when they re-released the Gojulas Mk II and Iron Kong Mk II a couple of years ago, and Iím not upset in the least that they have re-released most of the 24-Scale kits along with Gilvader, Orudios, Gunguyarado, and others at far more affordable prices than originals.  Sure, it takes away a bit of the mystique of those aforementioned units that have been hard to find for many years now.  But, there are some ravenous fans out there clamoring for these kits, and everyone who really wants to deserves an opportunity to enjoy building those units and bringing them to life.  Quoting Jerry Dreiss: ďTo build a Zoid is to know a ZoidĒ.  Re-releases help make those opportunities better possible for more Zoiders, and I think the enjoyment of Zoids only grows as a result.  Now if theyíd only re-release Scitex stuff... 

Zoid.US: Do you plan on purchasing any re-releases to add to your collection? If you did get any re-releases how do they compare the OJR version (of the same piece) you own?

JW: Iím sure Iíll be picking up some of them, though Iím not sure which ones just yet (besides, perhaps, Orudios).  Overall, I have noticed the plastic quality doesnít seem to be quite as up-to-par with the original releases...the fine details tend not to be as sharp.  Thatís more of a material and processing issue than a tooling issue, though, in my opinion.  When they were made in the 80s, the quality was just a lot higher then.  I don't think, though, that the plastic quality differences are significant enough to warrant passing on re-releases.  Please note that when I make these statements, I also consider the NJR line to be ďre-releasesĒ (since, technically, it primarily was until all those Blox were released).  Jeez...can you believe itís been nearly ten years since the NJRs started to hit shelves? 

Zoid.US: Have you acquired any of your ďHoly GrailsĒ this past year, and what are your new one(s)?

JW: After finally latching onto Gilvader in '07, I have no ďgrailsĒ per se...nothing out there that I canít live without.  I do have a number of items that I would eventually like to pick up under the right conditions, though.  Tops of the list right now, I think, are Brutox and Gordox...mostly for sentimental purposes.  There are some OJRs on the list too...but again, nothing Iíd die for.  Kill for, maybe...but not die for.  *grin*     

Zoid.US: Do you collect Prototypes?

JW: Not really, no.  If I happen upon one at a reasonable price and it seems cool, though, Iíll consider picking it up.  I have the two aforementioned ones that came with a collection buy in í07, and theyíre kinda neat additions to the stable, but that's it. 

Zoid.US:  If so, how do you feel about the bad relationship between Chinese factories and both Japanese and American toy companies? I.E. Prototypes and Test Shots being sold on auction?

JW: Hm.  I wasn't aware it was so serious of an issue.  Unless the companies keep a firm grip on the use of their tooling, people are going to be people and try to make a buck.  Frankly, given the often lucrative state of the collecting market these days, I think this kind of thing would be going on no matter where the factories and parent companies were located. 

Zoid.US:  Any new Zoids custom projects this year? If so, tell us about Ďem!

JW: Nope.  Nothing on the workbench lately...too busy with other projects.  Whenever I do get some Zoid time, itís going to be spent first putting everything back together after the move.  Any time left after that will be spent trying to get the ol' website reorganized and spruced up a little. 

Zoid.US:  After a year of building and acquiring, has your favorite Zoid changed?

JW: Nah.  I still love Ďem all in one way or another.  *grin* 

Zoid.US:  Where and how are your Zoids currently displayed?

JW: Theyíre not, actually.  99% are still packed up from the big move in í07, waiting for reassembly (or in some cases, initial assembly).  Before the move, I had some of them on display in the old apartment. 

There are a few random spare built units hanging around waiting to be disassembled and packed up until shelf space becomes available. 

Zoid.US: How much would you estimate you spent on Zoids this year?

JW: Ah, hmmm.  Couple hundred bucks, maybe two-fifty.  I spent a WHOLE lot more in í07, though.  Hear that screaming?  That's my wallet...it still hasn't recovered.  *LOL*

Zoid.US:  With the major strain on the economy, has your buying pattern been affected?

JW: A little.  There are a couple of things Iím holding back on at the moment that otherwise Iíd have added already.  I try to always stay prepared in case of Zoid buying emergencies...but then, those two aforementioned items arenít true emergencies.  *wink*

Zoid.US:  We all spend lots of time on our hobby, how do your friends and family

feel about your collection?

JW: Friends always love to visit and look through everything, though most of my friends arenít that familiar with the full extent of Zoids and their history.  Family thinks itís neat but doesnít get into the details.  My wife can't wait until they're back out on display again.  I spend a lot less time on Zoids than I used to, say, five years ago...lots of new life-adventures to focus on and lots of other toys to tend to in the overall collection.  But that will come back around at some point, and Iíll be spending a great deal of time on them again. 

Zoid.US:  Where do you see your collection 10 years from now?

JW: All on display.  Finally.  *ROTFLMAO*  Hopefully intact and not being broken to bits by any of my future rugrats.  Probably a bit more streamlined, too. 

Zoid.US:  What challenges or obstacles have you faced in collecting Zoids?

JW: Primarily that there arenít many outlets for the older units, built or unbuilt, here in the US...especially in the Southeast. 

Zoid.US:  What advice do you have for aspiring Zoid collectors?

JW: Get out and be a part of the Zoiding community.  There are a wealth of wonderful folks across the globe who love Zoids, and they like to meet other folks who share that same enthusiasm for the ďMonster machines with the power to moveĒ.  Get to know your fellow Zoiders.  Youíll make some neat new friends and youíll also likely have a better chance of finding that elusive Zoid critter whose absence from your shelves plagues your dreams.  For the younger Zoids fan-set (i.e., still in school), it also helps to study hard so you can find gainful employment someday, because Zoids are highly addictive and can eat up a lot of cash in a hurry.  *LOL*  That said, be mindful as well...because there are some mean-spirited souls out there too who take advantage of unwise Zoiders.  Just ask anyone who ever dealt with Alec Neo back in the day. 

Zoid.US:  Thanks for your time John, and thanks for the inspiration for this site. It is an honor to have you, although I'm still (Battle Rex) Green with envy!

This has been a Zoid.US production. No image may be used without permission. © 2008 -WIKD