|Very big crowd on hand for the opening. (The line to get in snaked around the corner.)|
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Varner Studios' booth is another of my favorite stops at SDCC. Using digital sculpting software, they're responsible for making toys for some of the world's biggest properties, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony, Star Trek, and many more.
Here's a look at their cases:
Here's a look at their cases:
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
|Supergirl costume from the new TV show|
Here's a look at the outfits on display this year:
|Also from TV: Arrow|
Thursday, July 7, 2016
The way they work is you pick up a ticket from the display. Then you take it to a register, pay 650 yen, and choose a card from a box.
|The top prizes are One Piece statues. These can be pretty expensive, so "winning" one for 650 yen is a good deal.|
Thursday, June 30, 2016
Here's a video I shot:
Thursday, June 23, 2016
|ThreeZero Mazinger Z|
|The Pixiv Zingaro gallery is inside the Nakano Broadway mall.|
|Getter 1 from Getter Robo|
|Iron King from Zoids|
|T-45 Power Armor from Fallout 4|
|Full Metal Ghost Captain Form|
Here's a video I shot of the show:
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Just a few weeks ago, a new shop – Chojin Hakaba (which translates into “Superhero Graveyard”) – opened in Nakano Broadway. The shop doubles as a Kinnikuman specialty store and an art gallery.
Here are the shop details:
Address: Nakano 5-52-15, Nakano-ku, Tokyo 164-0001, Japan
It’s on the third floor of the Nakano Broadway mall.
Chojin Graveyard (a name mixing Japanese and English which the store also goes by) has some toys, but the focus is currently on lifestyle goods like T-shirts, bags, hats, skate decks, and cell phone cases. I asked, and it sounds like they are planning to have more Kinnikuman toys down the line, possibly from Five Star Toys and hopefully others.
Here’s a video I shot of the store:
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Thursday, June 2, 2016
|Calbee potato chips with giveaway 2016 baseball cards|
When going about one's daily life in Japan, one of the things that stands out is the strength of certain brands, not to mention their longevity. You can be in an antique mall and see a box of 50-year old Glico toys. Then you cross the street, go into a 7-11, and there are new Glico snack products on the shelves. The same thing goes for many lines, and that isn't surprising since there are two truths about Japan: traditions are important, and things are slow to change.
Quite a few snack makers, including Glico, Morinaga, Meiji, Calbee, and Lotte (A Korean company that was originally founded in Japan) have been bundling premium cards, stickers, and toys with their products for decades. I thought I'd write about some, to show how traditions going back half a century (or longer) carry on today.
Let's start with Calbee. The company was formed in 1949 under the name Matsuo Food Processing Co. That was changed to Calbee Foods and Confectionery Co. in 1955. Fortunately Japanese companies are fine with using shortened forms of their names, ala Calbee.
Calbee is known for its shrimp crackers as well as potato chips, which dominate many snack sections in convenient stores.
|Selection of Calbee chips at a convenience store|
Long ago, in 1971, they released a line of Kamen Rider branded snacks, with cool packaging and a pack of bonus Kamen Rider cards attached.
|Wall of vintage Calbee Kamen Rider cards from the 1970s|
Here are some closeups of rarer cards:
Thursday, May 26, 2016
|Taro sculpture in front of United Nations University, Shibuya|
To me, one of the most compelling aspects of his work is how accessible and visible it is. I've seen public art by Taro in several spots in Tokyo (including a massive mural inside Shibuya station), and I've had the chance to see his monumental Tower of the Sun, which he created for the 1970 World Expo just outside of Osaka. The grounds make a great day trip if you're in the Kansai area.
Today was my first visit to the Okamoto Taro Memorial Museum, which is located in Aoyama, Tokyo, just down the road from Omotesando station. The building, where he lived and worked, retains many artifacts from his studio in addition to hosting exhibitions. It's small, but like Taro's work, it's personable. You can get close to the art, and in the case of the garden sculptures, you can walk right up to them as they inhabit an overgrown mini jungle - which is probably just the way Taro intended (and in stark contrast to the well laid out, planned, and often surgically precise gardens found throughout Japan).
First, here are some visiting details:
Address: 6-1-19, Minami-Aoyama, Minato Ku, Tokyo 107-0062
Map: Click for Google Map
Nearest train stations: Omotesando, Shibuya
Hours: 10:00-18:00 (final admission 17:30) (Closed Thursdays, except on national holidays. Closed Dec 28- Jan 4)
Now let's head inside.
|An eerily lifelike sculpture of Taro greets you. After seeing the Murakami sculpture the other week, I'm beginning to sense a pattern!|
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Here are a few more small canvas spaces:
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Many of the indie sofubi stalwarts were there, and in addition to those I wanted to provide a look at some makers working with other materials, since Design Festa really brings everything together, from sofubi to felt to yarn to wood, and more. So here's our toy report, with makers arranged alphabetically.
|Super creative wooden toys. Click here for Atara's website.|
Monday, May 9, 2016
Yamakichiya.com seems to have put everything together in an easy-to-use website that not only ships worldwide, but also has English instructions helping you get your order in.
The shop has a very nice range of figures from a variety of toy makers, including Dream Rockets, Five Star Toys, Henry Anderson III (whose toys are made by Shikaruna), Uamou, Rockin' Jelly Bean, and many others.
Besides sofubi, Yamakichi carries keshi gomu figures, T-shirts, and other goods.
Let's hope they're able to help folks around the world get their hands on their favorite toys!
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
The boom gradually fizzled out as interests changed and more activity moved online. By the end of the decade, only a small number of specialty shops remained open. And so it's great to see a fairly new shop like Ora Ora (オラ オラ) plant its flag and spread the vintage love.
Map: Click here
Phone number: 02 2367 1213
Facebook page: Click here
Here's a walk-through video I made:
The shop owners are really friendly, and they love toys. Ora Ora is in the Shi Da University area, which is great for browsing through boutiques, not to mention trying Taiwan's amazing street food, tea drinks, and desserts.
Thanks for reading, and if you're in the area, have a great time at Ora Ora!