I've written about daishi in the past - they're the display cards placed in a gachpon machine letting you know what's inside.
Most of the daishi you see are flat cards with photos or illustrations. But some have actual samples affixed to them. You can find them from time to time, but the subject matter isn't always the most interesting (rubber frogs, little gadgets - that sort of thing). So to find a daishi with samples from an interesting property is the bellissima trifecta.
This gachapon machine - from the late 70s or early 80s, had two sizes of Kamen Rider keshi gomu figures. There was a mix of heroes, including Amazon, V3, and X, as well as some villains.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Mind you, in recent years I haven't been much of a postcard seeking sightseer. I'd rather walk through streets and supermarkets than museums or monuments. But I was in Himeji, and, with the castle in eyeshot of the train station, I figured it would be worth a visit.
I titled this post "Experiencing Himeji Castle" since seeing the storied place feels more like something you're pushed through than a place you visit to soak in. From start to finish, you line up, go up a hill, and go through the empty castle in a line of people that twists, winds, and goes up and down stairs. This is inevitable with a property that is on so many visitors' itineraries, but the experience is a far cry from the open, self-directed experience you'll have visiting other historical places, such as Windsor Castle in England.
Here's a bit of a photolog that will give you a sense of the experience:
|The outer gate is about 10 minutes from the castle. You start by going over a moat.|
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
A few months ago in Japan, you could feel that the machine was revving up to start delivering anything and everything Star Wars to the nations' eyeballs. Giant posters appeared in Shibuya station, and there was even a Star Wars newspaper that appeared in convenience stores.
And now, with Episode 7 just a few months away, the product flow has begun, starting with branded snacks by Lotte.
|Star Wars Episodes 4, 5, and 6 Bikkuriman snack + sticker.|
Friday, July 31, 2015
wrote in depth about Varner Studio's display at SDCC. Over the last couple of decades, the company has been responsible for sculpting many toys and is now at the forefront of digital sculpting. At this year's show, they once again had an excellent display. Here's a look at what they brought.
|In their display cabinets, Varner had a mix of figures sculpted by hand and digitally, as well as figures at the final stage of development and production.|
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
A couple of notable absences were Gargamel and Bwana Spoons - two mainstays at past shows. But Kidrobot and Super7 were back, and a few designers held the line with their own tables. We also saw a number of new and upcoming figures.
Booths are arranged alphabetically. Enjoy!
|New figure. This thing is massive!|
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
In the interview, Brian talks about the new Super7 He Man toys, new figures in the ReAction line (which Funko distributes), Super7 sofubi, playsets, as well as upcoming releases.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
paper board games, known as "double 6" games in Japanese. Now I'd like to show you some unopened sets. These are especially cool since you can see the inserts that came with the games, as well as the cool header cards.
More after the jump:
|These are pretty big. For scale, the Barom 1 figure on the left (lah lah lah lah lah for those Barom fans in the house) is about 5" tall.|
|Gatchaman is the main image on this game.|
|Fun header card|
Saturday, June 20, 2015
It's a popular tourist spot off the southern coast of Japan, and you can get to Enoshima station from Tokyo in less than 2 hours. From the station, it's a 10-15 minute walk through a small town and over a bridge to get to the island.
Enoshima has a lot to do in a day. You can visit shrines and parks, sample food at street stalls, walk along the coast, go to an aquarium (on the mainland, not the island), and look out for the many cats that inhabit the island. It's very hilly, so if you're hankering to get your walk on, this place is for you. If you're not so much into stairs and steep inclines, you can pay for an escalator ride to take you up to the main shrine.
More pics after the jump:
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
If you're in downtown Yohohama, which is a nice place to walk around with a European feel, you might think about checking out the Yokohama Collectors Mall. It's in the basement of a building called the Silk Center.
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:00-6:00, Fri-Sat 11:00-7:00, Sunday + Holidays: 11:00-6:00
Address: 〒231-0023 横浜市中区山下町1番地
Phone number: ０４５－６５１－０９５１
Map: Click here for a Google Map
Sunday, May 31, 2015
Sunday, May 17, 2015
We've seen this before, but the trend has accelerated. So, for instance, the Jungle booth led a long row of booths including many makers, especially from Osaka. Not far away, there was another row of booths containing OneUp, Max Toy, Blobpus (who shared a space with Paul Kaiju), etc. The Japanese makers in this group are all based in the Tokyo area. I suppose it makes sense that you're going to present alongside the people you see the most.
|Lots of character in this booth!|
Once again, besides vinyl toys, I made an effort to scope out toy and craft makers working in other materials. Often, Design Festa is their main chance to shine on the show circuit, and I wanted to both expand our horizons while giving them their due attention. This time, I came across some beautiful work done in wood, felt, found/mixed materials, and even balloons!
Monday, May 11, 2015
The question is innocent enough, but it might not get you the response you expected. Recently there have been some developments on this front, and I thought I'd share my experiences.
At large stores...
At big box stores (like Toys R Us) and other places selling new toys (like Yamashiroya), it's pretty clear that they won't give you a discount unless there's a sign posted or the figure is marked down on the package. Employees typically have zero ability to lower prices, and generally it's just not part of the retail store culture. Most people know that already, but in case you're wondering about Japan, the same holds true.
At toy shows...
At shows, there's generally some room to get a better deal, and it's even anticipated that you'll bargain. I've seen both Japanese collectors and international visitors ask for lower prices. Sellers will often come down 10% (or maybe 20% if you're lucky), but I wouldn't push your luck beyond that.
Of course you can try the old "bundling" technique by adding things to the pile and throwing out a lump sum. But more often than not, the seller will add things up one by one, and then you're back at 10-20%. Still, the negotiating can be done with a smile, and it is part of the show culture. So that's a plus.
At small stores...
Then we get to the question of small shops selling used toys. It used to be that you could go to checkout, ask for a discount, and get a fairly standard 10% off. I don't know about other people, but I've noticed a pronounced change over the last year. More than one store has said something to the effect of, "Does Mandarake give discounts? No, they don't, and I don't either."
Now, I'm not sure if there was a toy store pow wow, or an influential article written, or what not, but hearing very similar things said in more than one shop makes me wonder whether the smaller shops have decided to band together and stick to a "no discount" policy.
I suspect part of it has to do with the record number of overseas visitors flooding Japanese toy shops. When you get dozens of discount requests every day, that must sting and make you a bit jaded - especially when it's increasingly difficult to restock shelves due to the shrinking number of people selling things to shops. (You can thank the Internet - and especially Yahoo Japan Auctions - for that.) Shops have a limited supply of the good stuff, so they're understandably reluctant to blow it out.
When in Rome...
In case you're wondering about local etiquette, when Japanese shoppers go into small stores, they typically will not ask for a discount. I think that's important to point out. So when you're looking to save some yen, you are going against the grain and potentially risking offending the shop keeper.
Some shops continue to give deals, so if you want, you can still ask. But here is my best advice. If you really want to try for a better deal, just casually drop the question, "Can I get a discount?" Ask just once, smile, and pay close attention to the shop keeper's expression. If he/she smiles and says, "Maybe" or "Sometimes" or "A little," then that's a good sign. If the expression becomes serious, no matter what the person says, drop all talk of getting a bargain. Because even if you get 5% off, you may have offended the person. And that's not cool just to save a small amount, especially if you plan to go back to the shop.
I know it's tough to try to pick up subtle signs, but this is a culture where people do not always speak their minds. The unspoken word is sometimes the loudest. Then again, the person might just tell you straight up, "Do you get a discount at Mandarake? No, and you won't here either."
The big picture...
So have fun with your toy shopping, but try and be sensitive to the shifting landscape when it comes to discounts. Collectors want a good deal, but shop owners need to stay in business in a tough retail environment.
Has anyone had the experience of getting discounts at shops in Japan or other countries? (I'd love to hear about how things are elsewhere!) If so, drop a comment below, or head over to our Facebook page and join the discussion there.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Saturday, May 2, 2015
Super Festival 68, there was a lot of buzz about Ilu Ilu's new toy: Commander Victor in the Techno Loaders line. Ilu Ilu is a one-man show, with the design, execution, and packaging created and overseen by one person. That friendly fellow, Sakaguchi-san, graciously took time to show me the ins and outs of his new figure.
Here's a look at Commander Victor, its accessories, accompanying minis, and packaging.
More after the jump:
Here's a look at Commander Victor, its accessories, accompanying minis, and packaging.
|Commander Victor stands at 19 cm (7.5") tall. Two versions were released: red + light green. The main robot has 8 parts.|
|Sakaguchi's many inspirations for the figure include robots from the 1970s-1980s such as Clover toys (Ex Dougram + Gundam), Takara toys like the Diaclone Double Changers, and Ideon.|