Sunday, April 13, 2014

Rockabilly Dancers in Yoyogi Park (Tokyo)

All things considered, daily life in Japan is pretty reserved. But there's something about doing cosplay, or taking on a certain style of dress that brings down the inhibitions and lets people go wild - or just dance in public.

For years, the Rockabilly dancers have been a fixture at the front entrance of Yoyogi Park, which is just a 2-3 minute walk from Harajuku station. I don't know much about the group or how often they show up, but go there on a weekend and there's a good chance they might be there, getting down with their hair as greased back as can be. Check out the club insignia a few of them have on their jackets.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gachapon Machine Display Backers aka Daishi (ガチャポン台紙)

 
Gachapon machines continue to be a mainstay of Japanese toy culture. For some 40 years, the little plastic balls have distributed everything from tiny plastic toys to pins to keshi gomu figures, and a lot more in between.
Modern gachapon machine
Of course you need to know what you're putting your money down for, and that's where backing board displays come in. Known as "gachapon daishi" (ガチャポン紙) or just daishi for short, they give you a preview of what you might get with a turn of the wheel.

Collecting daishi is an established part of the gachapon collecting scene, though they aren't nearly as easy to find as the toys. Personally, I think they make a great complement to a set of figures, especially if you have the space to display them all together.

More after the jump:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sakura season (aka Hanami) 2014

 
Winters in Japan are long. For months, the weather is cold, dreary, and sometimes snowy. The arrival of sakura season - known as hanami - in Japan marks the end of winter and beginning of spring. As the weather warms region by region, the sakura trees bloom. The blooming progress is very closely predicted, mapped, and watched. And the locals have one hell of a time celebrating the end of the dreary season and start of something much nicer.

There are a number of key sakura viewing spots in Tokyo, Here's a medley of shots from a few places in Tokyo, starting with Ueno Park:
Oh yes, you will have lots and lots of company...


Groups reserve spots in advance.
 More after the jump:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Indie Toys at Yamashiroya toy shop (Ueno, Tokyo)

Over the last few years, Yamashiroya, one of Tokyo's most well known toy shops, has built up an impressive selection of indie toys. On the 5th floor of the Ueno-based building, you can find figures from the likes of Shikaruna, Medicom, Sunguts, and Five Star Toys, as well as offerings from newer outfits like Dune. They even have a number of releases which are exclusive to the store.

Here's a look at the current indie toy selection:


US Toys exclusives
 More after the jump:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

1980s Bandai x Nintendo Donkey Kong keshi gomu set

In the 1970s - perhaps the Golden Age of Japanese toys - sofubi, chogokin, jumbos, and many other toys reigned the toy world. The 1980s saw the growth of another toy type: rubber eraser (aka keshi gomu) toys. The technique wasn't invented in the 80s, and there were certainly keshi toys before then, but the 80s were the heyday, when Kinnikuman figures (which became M.U.S.C.L.E. toys in the USA) and many series based on licensed properties were produced.

Bandai led the way, both with Kinkeshi (Kinnikuman + keshi gomu = Kinkeshi) and other lines based on Mario Bros, Kamen Rider, Makaimura, Zelda, and many more, including Nintendo's Donkey Kong.

There were 2 Donkey Kong keshi sets (that I'm familiar with). The one shown here was released in 1994. The 16 figures were sold in gachapon machines, with two figures per gacha. So it was a relatively small set. Here's a look at the figures in the set:
I lurv my Canon S120 the way DK lurvs the rhino.

So, these standard figures, which are about 1-1.5" tall, stand on their own no problem.

Or sit and contemplate you.
 More after the jump:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Clutter Magazine #20 (with my Splurrt article) available now!


Right on schedule, Clutter #20 has hit the stands. The issue contains my piece on Splurrt, the bulk of which is a lengthy interview I conducted with Joe Merrill. Joe and I put a lot of work into the interview, both before, during, and after, so please check it out.

The issue is free (with a nominal shipping fee), and you can get your copy here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

KK Reviews: Splurrt Toys



In this video, I review several Splurrt customs, while taking a look at a number of Splurrt resin and sofubi toys from over the years.  Make sure to check out my interview with Joe Merrill of Splurrt in the upcoming issue of Clutter Magazine.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

KK Book Reviews - GI Joe: The Story Behind The Legend


GI Joe is probably the most iconic toy of the last 50 years. And it has stood the test of time, morphing from a heroic grunt in the 60s to a brass adventurer in the 70s to a cartoon driven 4” action figure in the 80s.

To most of us, the original 12” figure is, well, just a legend – something we’ve seen in photos or maybe at a toy show, but don’t know too much about. And yet every great toy has a great story behind it – the why’s and how’s of its development, the people behind it, and the design and production process.

That’s where books like GI Joe: The Story Behind the Legend come in. This is not a new book – it was published by Chronicle Books back in 1996. But that doesn’t matter. The original events all took place in the early 1960s, so this account doesn’t feel dated, even nearly 20 years after publication. I have to say, the book is flat out fascinating. If you’re a GI Joe fan or are interested in toy history, action figures, toy development, or just plain amazing stories about a year-long team effort to make something great, then you might want to check it out.

More after the jump:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Pushead Marbled GID Skull Hevi releases at Secret Base

Today at Secret Base, new Pushead GID marbled Skull Hevis were released blind bag style. Bags were taped with what looks like black duct tape. As it turns out, there was not one, but two different Hevis released, and each bag contained one figure.

First let's look at pics of the display figure - GID base with green marbling:



Reminds me of the beautiful marbled green Skullwing released a few Super Festivals ago.
Fortunately I had a chance later on to snap pics of each of the figures bagged. Much obliged to the fellow who let me photograph his figure:
Standard release

Secret release. GID base with orange marbling. Notice the headers are different too.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Announcement: Coming soon to Clutter - my interview with Joe Merrill of Splurrt!

I'm happy to announce that the next issue of Clutter magazine will contain an interview I did with Joe Merrill, the man behind Splurrt toys. Joe and I had a very enjoyable, wide ranging talk on many issues, including of course Splurrt toys, Joe's toy making process, the indie sofubi scene, and a lot more. Plus there will be never before seen photos. So make sure to check it out!

This will be issue #20 of the magazine, and it is scheduled to be in stores (DKE is handling store distribution) and in Clutter's hands by March 14. So keep an eye out on Clutter's site for more release details and ordering info.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wonder Festival 2014 (Winter) / ワンダーフェスティバル 2014[冬] Part 3: 3D Printing & the 3D-GAN Area

One of the neat things about recent Wonder Festivals has been a spotlight on the technology that's changing the toy industry. In the 3D-GAN (Geometry Application Network) area, a number of tech companies showed off their machines, products, and services.

In addition to straight-up 3D printers and toys made from them, there were companies with lithography technology, mass produced keshi gomu toys (made from molds that were created using 3D technology), and more.

Here's a video followed by stills of some of the booths.



Astec
These high quality keshi gomu toys are made using a unique injection molding process. The molds were made using 3D technology. Because of the precision of the process, they can make numerous molds for the same design, speeding up production, improving efficiency and consistency, and, I would think, lowering overall costs.

Interesting note: I had a nice chat with the person running the booth, and  he told me that these figures, along with a lot of other keshi gomu toys, are made from PVC resin. So although we often call them "rubber erasers," the material used to make them may be something else entirely.

More after the jump:
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