|Above, Christmas Day 2010 in Ginza with (from left) Kenji Sahara, Hiroshi Koizumi |
Diane Dougherty, Tom Dougherty and Akira Takarada. Photo courtesy of Clawmark Toys.
In any fandom, there are the good guys and there are the not-so-good guys (for various reasons). In the case of Tom Dougherty of Clawmark Toys, he was definitely one of the good guys.
I learned this evening from Loren Portillo's posting at Facebook that Tom passed away.
About two or three years ago, I contacted Tom about sponsoring a Godzilla celebrity for an appearance at an upcoming Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles. Tom replied that he was unable to do anything at the time. He said he was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS).
This came as a big shock as Tom was one of the most enthusiastic and active Godzilla and kaiju toy dealers around. Not long before, Tom sent me several photos of an event held in Ginza by the Godzilla Fan Club that he and Diane attended to post on this blog that featured Godzilla actors Kenji Sahara, Hiroshi Koizumi and Akira Takarada. Tom looked like his usual enthusiastic self in one of the photos (it is posted above).
With the news that Tom gave me, I knew then that it was a matter of time when the neuro-degenerative disease would eventually claim his life. So when Loren Portillo posted the news on Tom's passing, I was not too surprised. But it was tough news nonetheless.
He and his wife Diane lived in Japan (off and on) and he would regale us at G-FEST with stories of their roadtrips around Japan in their search for toys to sell though their Clawmark Toys business.
I probably first met Tom at a G-FEST convention around 1999 or 2000. We had a great time in Japan in 2001 when Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Following the movie, several of us (we must have had a group of 30), including Tom and Diane, then headed to Nakano for a dinner party at a Chinese restaurant at the Broadway Mall. The dinner party included Kenpachiro Satsuma (the Heisei Godzilla), among others. It was a night that I, for one, have never forgotten.
Tom's Clawmark Toys was one of the best dealers in Godzilla/kaiju toys and other collectibles. He was fair in his pricing and one can always rely on fast delivery from Clawmark.
His presence at fan events will be greatly missed. A big void has been left behind by his passing.
My condolences go out to his wife Diane and the Dougherty family.