Saturday, December 29, 2012

January '13 Pandemonium show at One Up Akiba

One Up Akiba's monthly Pandemonium show is becoming a staple on the Tokyo sofubi circuit. With so few big shows left, small shows like these help makers ply their trade while providing a platform to try out new things. Pandemonium is the only custom show I know of that's held every month.

At these shows, you're more likely to see new or experimental styles, maybe because the numbers are so small. The figures are mostly one-offs or super-small runs. Also, the selection isn't limited to sofubi. You can also spot resin, plush, and mixed media pieces.

There are often figures that clearly involved a huge amount of work, and some of these lean towards the fine/conceptual art side of the spectrum and are less toy-ey than other works. But you've got straight out toy toys too, if the idea of art toys sounds too hoity toity.

Today, the January Pandemonium show opened, with works by Del Roffo, Blobpus, Todd Robertson, and a few others. At the opening, the Monster Factory toys were especially popular, but with a bunch of folks lined up, there was plenty of love to go around.

As always, if you see something you like, send One Up an e-mail to see if it's still available. They will ship overseas. Tell them andy from Kaiju Korner sent you. Here's their e-mail:

Show pics:

 More after the jump:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Medicom Tiger Mask figures

Spotted at the Medicom Project 1/6 shop in Shibuya. Closeups:

 More after the jump:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

KK Reviews: Calliope Jackalope by Circus Posterus x Tomenosuke-syoten

Circus Posterus and Tomenosuke-syoten are on a roll! Calliope Jackalope, designed by Kathie Olivas, is the second figure in the team’s collaborative line of sofubi figures. The first, Brandt PetersStingy Jack, was a very long time in the making, requiring the talents of designers, sculptors, and painters in the US, Europe, and Japan.

Once the process was worked out and the kinks were smoothed over, this United Nations of Sofubi Masters kicked it into high gear. With the wind at their backs, they released Calliope Jackalope within months of Stingy Jack. The new figure slots in perfectly not only with this line, but also with Kathie’s previous customs, resin figures, and production releases.

As it’s the holiday season, I took Calliope out on the town for a series of photo shoots in six locations. So let’s get to it – it’s Christmas in Tokyo, with Calliope Jackalope.

Let’s start by looking at the packaging.

Like other figures in the line, Calliope, which is 7.5” (190 mm) tall, comes packaged traditional sofubi style, in a clear plastic bag with a stapled header card.

The header uses a beautiful minimalist color palette, with the figure’s name in English and Japanese. Interesting to note that in the illustration, Calliope’s antlers are intact, while the sofubi figure has antler stubs.

Once again, the back of the header is signed by the artist. I can’t recall seeing this done outside of the Circus Posterus x Tomenosuke line. It reminds me of the way Blobpus (Kaji-san) signs the foot of every figure he hand paints. These are really nice personal touches.
Our first shoot was with a little Christmas tree in front of a convenience store near my house. The tree reminds me of something from Peanuts. It has a straggly string of lights and plays midi style X-mas tunes on a continuous loop.
On the naming of things, a "calliope" is a steam organ. (Fits in nicely with the Circus Posterus motife!) A "jackalope" is a folklore creature that's part jackrabbit, part antelope (which, combined, gives you "jackalope")  - hence the figure's outfit and broken antlers. All in all a very cool name!
Let’s look at the figure from all sides.

Immediately we can see one of Calliope’s unique features: the articulated legs which spin 360 degrees and allow the figure to sit perfectly balanced on a ledge. I’ve never seen this done with a sofubi figure, and it’s a testament to the master skills of both the sculptor - Yohei Kaneko of Mirock Toys - and Teodoru Badiu, who performed the initial 3D rendering of the figure. The importance of technical skills can’t be overstated when producing sofubi toys (or toys with any material), from the design to the wax, joint, mold, and paint stages.

 The review continues after the jump:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ultraman Ace vs. Henshin Ninja Arashi: A tokusatsu tale

Tokusatsu refers to live action movies or TV shows with costumed heroes and villains. It's a venerable form of entertainment in Japan, going back more than half a century to cinematic trailblazers like Toho's Godzilla (1954) and small screen giants like Tsuburaya's Ultra Q (1966) and then, immediately, Ultraman that same year.
Godzilla, 1954

Ultra Q, 1966
In the 1970s, there was an explosion in new tokusatsu shows. The decade got off to an impressive start with Toei's Kamen Rider (1971), which was created by legendary artist Shotaro Ishinomori. In fact, many of the decade's most famous shows were created by Ishinomori, whose family name at the time was Ishimori - but that's another story.
Kamen Rider, 1971
Following Kamen Rider were other Ishinomori creations like Kikaider, Inazuman, and Gorenger. Then there was Henshin Ninja Arashi, which brings us to this story.
Henshin Ninja Arashi, 1972

Arashi, a Toei release, follows a similar pattern of other "henshin" tokusatsu of the period. You've got your hero (Hayate), a pair of children, an arch nemesis (in this case, Majinsai), legions of incompetent henchmen (who tend to do somersaults as they go down), and a weekly main villain (sent forth by Majinsai) with a bloodlust for taking down our hero.

When trouble calls, Hayate strikes a pose and becomes Henshin Ninja Arashi, a karate expert with a mean sword and a blazing purple scarf. By the end of the show, Arashi saves the day, sometimes with the help of his trusty steed.

Henshin Ninja Arashi debuted on April 7, 1972. Its timeslot was 7:00-7:30 on Friday evening, a great way for kids to wrap up the school week and get ready for the weekend. So far, so good. Well, maybe not.

Unfortunately for Arashi, Tsuburaya released its newest Ultraman series - Ultraman Ace - that year. You may be thinking that's OK - a little competition can be a good thing, right? It gets worse. Ultraman Ace debuted....yep, you guessed it, on April 7, 1972 - the exact same date as Arashi.
Ultraman Ace
Well, that's OK, right? Kids could watch two shows on one day - awesome! Nope, not so awesome. The Ultra juggernaut slotted in at the EXACT same time as Henshin Ninja Arashi - Friday night from 7:00-7:30, on another channel.

So if you were a kid in the early 1970s, before VHS, DVD, or other recordable media, you had to choose between one show or the other. The person I heard this story from told me that he wanted to watch Arashi, but he ultimately chose Ultraman Ace. And so did the majority of a generation of kids, no doubt. Score a victory for Tsuburaya.

And so things go in the competitive world of children's entertainment. Arashi lasted 47 episodes, which wasn't too bad, but the show became something of a footnote in the legacy of tokusatsu shows. Ultraman Ace went on to broadcast 52 episodes, and the Ultraman franchise continues on in various forms and media to this day.

Toei wasn't down and out by any measure. Its flagship series Kamen Rider carried on strong in various incarnations, through new series and movies, and it never left the popular imagination even when there were no programs airing. It remains an iconic series and there are no doubt epic discussions on forums in many languages about which is better: Ultraman or Kamen Rider. Now that would make a fine Epic Rap Battle of History!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December '12 Pandemonium Show at One Up

One Up Akiba's latest Pandemonium show, with customs by Blobpus, Pico Pico, Todd Robertson, Rampage Toys, and more.

Looks like a lot of the figure have already sold, but some are still available, and as always, if you see something you like, you can send One Up an e-mail to order it. They take Paypal and will ship overseas. Tell them Kaiju Korner sent you. Their e-mail:

Dinosaur head shrine!
 More after the jump:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Second Annual Doki Doki Osaka Sofubi Show / ドキドキ大阪ソフビ万博

Today in Osaka, a couple of dozen indie toy makers sold their wares at a rental hall in the Namba district. A solid number of people showed up for the free show, and the makers had quite a nice selection of releases.

However, once the doors opened, it was pure chaos, and an every man for himself melee ensued in the tiny space. Everything was first come first served, and there was a lot of pushing and jostling for position in front of a few booths. As I was told, some people showed up the night before to sleep out in front, but they were turned away, only to show up this morning at 5:00 AM.
A shot of the hall after things calmed down.
I didn't get there nearly that early. Anyway, a few minutes after the doors opened, the dust settled and people gathered their bags (a few people had Santa sized hauls). But the chaos wasn't over, as at least one maker was staggering his releases, leading to more frantic lineups.

Anyway, by about an hour into the show, the majority of toy purchasers were gone, and the makers were hanging out chatting. Then I took off and went to Kobe for a wander.

Here are show pics, arranged alphabetically by maker:


 100+ pics after the jump:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Indie toys at Paradise Toy Land (Taipei) - International shipping OK

New shots of sofubi and other indie toys available at Paradise Toy Land. You can order online, they take Paypal, and international shipping is OK. The glorious triumvirate!

 More after the jump:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Medicom Star Wars figures

Medicom Star Wars toys at their Project 1/6 shop in Tokyo:

 More after the jump:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

New Star Case figure: Harlock

This month, Star Case is releasing the first version of the newest figure in its Space Convoy line. This Mock Hamill figure is called Harlock, and it pushes the envelope with what Star Case is doing with the line.

The first thing to note about Harlock is it is SUPER poseable and is made up of 11 parts (well, 13 including the visor and scarf). There is articulation at the neck, waist, arms, elbows, legs, and feet.

More shots of the Jedi master doing tantric Tatooine yoga:
This is a paint sample, which was done using Tamiya paints.
 More after the jump:

Coming up for Clutter 18

The next issue of Clutter magazine (issue 18), is scheduled for release early in the new year. The issue will have my newest insider look at the world of indie toys. Actually, the purpose of the piece is to bring you, the collectors, into that world, and help you navigate your way through it.

The article will be a guide to Tokyo's biggest toy shows, with a rundown of their details, locations, general time frames, etc. as well as a textual and photographic buffet of what to expect at each show. It's a window into the Japanese toy world, which will provide a sense of what it's like to attend the shows while serving as a useful tool in planning a trip to Tokyo.

So that's an exciting bit of news. Back to the present, Clutter 17 just hit the stands a few weeks back, with my article on Velocitron (Ricky Wilson) - the go-to guy for getting sofubi toys made in Japan, as well as pieces on Paul Kaiju, Skinner, Circus Posterus, Frank Kozik, and more. Click here to get a copy. It's really affordable (just $9.99) and definitely worth it.

Now back to the's some breaking news for Clutter 19, which is a bit down the road. I just had a phone call with one of the coolest cats and hottest indie toy makers out there, and we're cooking up something very unique to bring you for that issue. I'm really stoked about the piece, and I'll have more details for you a bit down the line.

A few of us are working really hard to make great content that will, we hope, stand the test of time. I know people are used to getting a lot of content for free online, and that's cool. But there's still a place for in-depth, content rich, beautiful mags like Clutter. Trust me, each article and issue is a TON of work. Personally I do it for the love of the hobby and don't see anything from it if they sell 1 or 1,000 copies.

But I will tell you that indie toy mags need your support, and at the fraction of the price of a single sofubi figure, in beautiful glossy paper, each issue is a serious bargain. Anyway, that's the end of my pitch. I rarely come on here saying "this thing is really worth buying," but this time, well, I'm saying it, since it is. And we want them to keep putting out the mag and getting the word out about indie toys. And that means we need the support of sofubi heads everywhere. :O)

Friday, November 30, 2012

New sofubi + resin at One Up Akiba

New toys spotted in the exhibition case at One Up Akiba by Cerrito, Dream Rockets, Frenzy, Monster Factory, and Sunguts. Overseas ordering is OK. Just send an e-mail to:

Detailed shots:

Cerrito by Cesar Zanardi:

 More after the jump:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

New Pushead Marbled Skull Pirate

Ye Beeg Bhoss Deemhands Eh Beet Ooh Pohoint Too! marbled Skull Pirate. Released today at Secret Base.

 More shots of the figure + header after the jump:

Store Visit: Psycho Monsterz

For fans of Alien, Predator, and other horror/action films, Psycho Monsterz may be your dream - or if you like, your nightmare - store. Located in central Tokyo on Waseda Dori ("dori" is "avenue" in Japanese), just down the road from Nakano Broadway, the shop is just enough off the beaten path to fly under the radar.
But it's actually pretty easy to get to, and it's worth visiting, even just to check out the fantastic work that went into the mini and life-sized sculptures that populate nearly every square inch of the shop.
Some great news for overseas fans is they will ship worldwide. Just head to their website or send them an e-mail (see contact info below).

Let's start with the details:

Tel: (03) 3389-6648
Address: 〒164-0002 東京都中野区上高田2-3-22
Closest subway station: Nakano (on the Chuo/Sobu line)
Store hours:1:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Contact e-mail:
Click here for a Google map to the exact location.

Now let's check out what the store has to offer, starting with its impressive selection of mini busts and statues:

 More after the jump:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Clutter 17 - the new issue is out!

The new issue of Clutter magazine is now on the stands! This issue has insightful articles on Skinner, Paul Kaiju, Circus Posterus, and other toy makers. It also has my 6-page article on Ricky Wilson (Velocitron), which includes an interview I did with Ricky.

In the piece, Ricky talks about his background, how he got into making toys, and the work he does helping people get their own sofubi toys made in Japan. Tons of insights + knowledge from the guy who helps make toys by MVH, Splurrt, and others possible,

Here are more thumbs of the piece:

The mag is just $9.99, which is well worth it. Clutter's doing great work supporting the indie toy scene, and it's one of the last indie toy mags standing, with really good content to boot. Click here to get a copy.
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