Sunday, October 30, 2011

G-Shock 43: Playset part 3: Come and play with us!

Today´s article is a delayed article. Originally the photo would be taken by Luis Manuel, a student from Puerto Rico, who has built up an amazing nice collection of G-Shocks. Unfortunately he had not managed to gt a camera in time. Well, it's his 23rd birthday today, so this article is for you Luis. A pity we can't enjoy Puerto Rican scenery. This article is about the GD-100PS-3ER model (in Japan released under the model number GD-100PS-3JR). This set of the “G-Shock Man Box” series comes with a vinyl G-Man figure, designed by Shiro Nakano.
Shiro Nakano is one of the three designers of “play set products”(note the absence of capitals), a group of designers that design both for their own brand as for other, mostly Japanese, brands. Shiro Nakano has also designed for Hobby:tech’s Quolomo brand (Hobby:tech is also the founder of Kiks TYO).
In 2008 the first G-Shock Man (G-Man) was presented. Giant G-Shock Men, inspired on the GW-5600 and DW-6900 model, showed up at the entrances of the “Shock The World” parties worldwide. These G-Shock Men always attract a lot of attention to the visitors of these parties.
Small versions of these G-Shock men, including an AW-500 and GW-5500 version showed up at Casio dealers. First in Japan, but later worldwide. Although these figures were wanted by G-Shock fans all over the world, they were not for sale.
My DW-6900 and GW-5600 G-Man figures. These are normally only used for display purposes at shops of official Casio Dealers.
Luckily in 2009 Casio released the first G-Shock Man Box, based on the purple “Crazy Colors” DW-6900CC-6JR. The DW-6900SW-6ER (SW stands for “Shock The World Limited”) was sold as a limited edition, but many were given away in the goodie bag for special guests (mainly press) on the “Shock The World” parties in 2009. It differs from the “Crazy Colors” model in its gold metallic light button and the special engraved numbered back.
In March 2010 a new G-Shock Man Box was released, this time a GA-110F model. Unfortunately I had no funds for this model, but this multicolored model looked great. The third G-Shock Man box was released in April 2011. This time Casio used the GD-100 (X-Large) model. In the LED backlight the logo of “play set products” becomes visible, while in the first two boxes the name of the designers are absent. I think that Shiro Nakano wanted to advertise his designer company too, which I can understand as the first two boxes were very popular, but there was no referral to “play set products”, while it could have been done on the DW-6900SW too.
The G-Man Boxes models come, as the name already suggests, in a clear presentation box. Although the watch and the box look very cool, I wished the show box had a skeleton of cardboard. In the past Casio releqased more special models, like the DW-8150 Techno models and the Lover Collection models in similar clear plastic boxes. Unfortunately these plastic damage easily when they are opened. Once they are a little damaged, it’s very good possible that the box or other plastic supporting parts of the box break or tear open. I had a 1997 Lovers Collection box that came n a great presentation box, but at the moment only the outer part is more or less showable. A cardboard skeleton presentation box, like is found on the 2004 I.C.E.R.C. Frogman, would probably sustain the life of the box drastically. On the other side, Casio makes watches to be worn and not to be collected, the way I do. Inside the presentation box, there is a little cardboard box to store the G-Man in.
The 2011 G-Shock Man box is again a great model. This time Shiro Nakano used different shapes of khaki, which makes the watch and the G-Man look a bit military. Also the greenish/amber display give the watch a kind of army look. When I saw the first photo of this model, I showed this to my 11 year old son. He’s very fond of army stuff. We have a very wild garden and all children in the neighborhood like to play war here, for some reason. No surprise that he was very enthusiastic when I showed this photo.
It was probably no surprise too that Casio and play set used this GD-100 model as base for their collaboration. With the GA-100 and GA-110 releases Casio showed the come-back of the big G-Shock models. With the GD-100 G-Shock heavily promotes these “X-Large models”.
The display of the GD-100 is divided in three parts. The upper part is a kind of info display. In Timekeeping Mode it shows day and date, in other modes it shows in which mode you are in. In the middle there are three Alarm indicators and 2 “graphic areas”, which animate elapsed time, like a seconds hand does on an analog watch. The bottom party is the time display.
The GD-100PS is uses the 3263 module. Besides time keeping, you’ll find 4 other modes on this model. The first mode is the World Time mode. The watch can show you time in 31 time zones of 48 cities around the world. A cool feature is that you can quickly switch between 4 preset time zones in Time Keeping mode. The base time keeping time zone and 3 “temporarily” time zones. Ideal for people who travel a lot around the world.
This watch has 5 alarms on board. The alarms works with the operating time zone the watch is in. All alarms can be set as a daily alarm or a onetime alarm. That last feature looks pretty handy to me. Also there is a hourly chime on board and also the button function can be muted (is done from Time Keeping Mode).
Like most new G-Shocks, the GD-100PS has also a 24 hour Stopwatch function and a 24 hour Countdown Timer on board. For most activities more than sufficient.
Like the other X-Large models, the display is lighted with two bright LEDs. The3 LEDs light up the complete display, which is very well readable in the dark. When you are in Setting screen of the Time Keeping Mode, you can choose the duration time of the illumination and you can toggle the Flash mode on and off. This function makes the watch illuminate when an alarm sounds (not at button tones). You can also set the watch to Auto-Illumination. In this mode an internal switch detect when you tilt the watch for about 40 degrees, which is the about the same position you hold your wrist and watch when you look what time it is. The Illumination time can be set between 1.5 seconds and 3 seconds. Personally I always find 1.5 seconds too short to read proper time. For me 2 seconds is about sufficient, so with 3 seconds you have plenty of time to read time.
I think the GD-100 in general is a great watch. The GD-100GD has been plenty available worldwide and if you look good you might even find one for a good price. It was released in Europe at the end of July, when this box was already available worldwide for several months. I bought mine in the Netherlands at a sneaker shop. I paid €150.- for it, which is about the same price as the original price in Japan, ¥16500. Actually I recently saw this watch is still available in the Netherlands. I do not know how limited this model is, but I think the emission was about the same as the first G-Shock Man box, which consisted of 5000 numbered pieces. Well, it’s limited, but not extreme limited. Like I often tell to Luis: If you like this model and an afford it, just buy it. Frankly, I like the watch, but it would for me not have been a disaster if I had not bought this model. I actually bought it, because my son Bram liked it most. If you like the special color scheme, it’s a great model with a lot of features.
EDIT by Alan from New York (a huge GD-100 fan): A few items worth mentioning about the playset and GD-100 in general. The buckle is an attractive anodized black, also shared with the "military" GD-100. Adding to the feel of the military look, the tricolor green maintains the childlike playfulness, as does the distinctive red "D" button. The "D" button also allows you to scroll between the four Local time presets, one at a time or continuously. The Local time can also be swapped by pushing the "B" and "C" buttons simultaneously.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Intermezzo#44: No G today, but my love hasn't gone away.

It has been a very busy week for me in Middelburg. Of course a lot of work in the last week for the Autumn Vacation at school, but I was also away a lot. I tried to start an article a few times this week, but I never got further than a white sheet in Word, as there was every time something going on that needed my attention. There is one article still in reserve, but I still haven't received the photo's yet. Normally when there is not much time, I write my article on Sunday, like last week's article, but today I'm occupied.
I'm preparing for the Blind Beer Tasting Contest of South Netherlands today (The winner goes to the National Finale on November 13). Fist of all, I took a good brunch. I had a great simple omelet in the Ardennes this summer. Just salt and fresh crunched pepper and some toast. 
Well, I do not make a big chance. On the list of beers there are only a few beers I know well and in those categories there are at least pairs of to to confuse you more. You get a sample of beer in each category. I think I am having a big party if I only taste one beer right. In 2007 I was 3rd, with an amazing 3 beers out of 8. You should try it yourself. It's a lot harder than it sounds. I also caught a big cold Friday. I need my nose a little too, as smell is an important part of tasting well. Check the list bellow and wish me luck.
I thought I wear this. Probably the most wrong T-Shirt in my closet (next to the "Hello Titty" shirt I got for my birthday). I do not know if I am going to post a G-Shock article this week, but I'll be present next Sunday I'll guess. Until then, enjoy the new video : Audio, Video, Disco".  of Justice, that's spinning around my head the past two weeks. I had a good laugh at one of the comments on this video: "oreooooo, oreoooooo, oreooooooooooo, video, discooooo". Now I'm hungry again...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

G-Shock #42: LONDON

Just a short one today. I planned another article, but I have not received the photo's for that article yet. This is the DW-620 London. It's a remarkable G-Shock from the DW-500 and DW-600 range. It's a G-Shock with Baby-G DNA.
I'm small, but tough too!
The DW-500 and DW-600 series models can be seen as the forefathers of the Baby-G models. It already started with the release of the DW-500C-1 in March 1988. For the Japanese market, the DW-5600C was relatively a large watch. For people with small wrists, Casio developed a smaller version of the DW-5600C, which became the DW-500C. It had similar functions as the DW-5600, but no light. Therefore it had only three buttons.Since the DW-500C was smaller than a regular G-Shock, it was nicknamed "Baby-G". The water resistance is 100 meter, instead of the standard 200m
This DW-500C model became very popular when a yellow version was released in August 1993. This classic yellow model was very sought after in the Japanese collectors world. In December 1994 Casio released 9 variants on the DW-500C model, the DW-520. These models have all  a protection bar. That same month Casio releases a load of DW-600 variants (DW-600, DW-610, DW-620, DW-630, DW-640 and DW-650). All these model have in common that the water resistance is "only" 100 meter and that they are relative small. Also all models, except this DW-620 models, had the metal display protection bars.
While the DW-500 and DW-520 variants were only available in Japan, a lot of DW-600 variants were sold world wide. The DW-640 series were even quite popular in Germany I think, as I could still find them a lot on eBay about 10 years ago and occasionally you still can find them second hand for a friendly price.
The DW-600 series were produced for only a short period. In May 1995 all these variants were re-released under the new Baby-G sub-brand. The DW-620 models were now released as BG-120L models. The text SHOCK RESIST was replaced by LONDON.
I never found why the DW-620 and BG-120L were called London. The Japanese text I found in "Green Arrow Graffiti" Vol. 4 (one of my favorite G-Shock resource mooks) did not clear this mystery up. Seiya Kobayashi-san (an excellent recourse for Japan Domestic watches) helped me translated the product description from 1994:
"Rounded case design. The display shows an animated dancer. London edition. EL back light, Alarm function & Chronograph function, this watch has all necessary functions. 100m Water Resistance." (a big thank you to Seiya-san!).
Indeed, the DW-620 has a rounded case design, but actually all DW-600 variations has a round case. The DW-500 model variations compared to the DW-600 variations are like the 5600 variations compared to 6900 variations. 
Compared with the later Baby-G models, this model looks a little different, as the case is rounded rectangular, while most Baby-G models are either round or square shaped.  The most striking part of this watch are the three colored eyes. These eyes (color marks) are only to be used with the Countdown Timer function. From left to right it shows "Finish", "5 Min" and "Start". Also the EL Backlight is used to in the Countdown Timer function. When the timer is started (when programmed longer than 5 minutes), only the green mark (Start) is visible. Also a beep sounds and the EL lights up for a second. When the 5 minute mark is reached, the yellow mark is visible, the EL lights up for a second and a beep sounds. When the target time is reached the red mark becomes visible, the alarms sounds for 10 seconds and the EL backlight lights up for 2 seconds. When the alarm sounds stops, all three color marks become visible. The capacity of the Countdown alarm is only 60 minutes, but hey, this watch is almost 18 years old!
The DW-620 also has a 24 hour Stopwatch and an alarm function on board. It uses the 1419 module, which is still viewable in Casio's Manual Archive. The manual reveals that it works similar to the 1416 module. The 1416 module was a common module on 90's Baby-G models.
Above: DW-620 on a 5.5" wrist
DW-620 on a 7.2" wrist.
Another striking part of the display is the Animation area. In normal timekeeping mode a giant G rotates around it's vertical axis. When in other modes it shows the mode it's in when not used and when used in Coutdown Timer and Stopwatch mode, it shows a "Time Elapse animation".
When the light is used or when a Countdown Timer has reached the target time it shows a dancing figure. Specially the dancing figure will be a known feature among Baby-G owners. Well, it seems it was first on a G-Shock first, but on a G-Shock with Baby-G DNA. 
I do not know if the DW-620 was a very popular model. I stumbled upon this watch by accident in Spain in June 2006. It was sold on my friend Adan's website/webshop G-Stock. I do not know exactly what I have paid for it, but it was probably a friend's price as I also bought another G-Shock (maybe €100.- for two). I also have no clue what it's worth, as I never saw a collector looking for this model. Clearly the DW-640 and DW-650 models were sold in much bigger numbers. If you might find one in like new condition now you can expect a price varying in a big range, from €30.- to maybe €75.-.