Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ultraman Goods Exhibit at Super Festival 69

Exhibit of various Ultraman goods at Super Festival 69, including toys, books, drawings, helmets, and more!
Banso pop up book

Plastic models

I wonder what the story behind these helmets is.
 More after the jump:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Super Festival 69 スーパーフェスティバル 69

Welcome to Kaiju Korner's Super Festival 69 report. There were a large number of toy makers on hand with their latest sofubi, keshi gomu, and resin figures. Here are the images I shot, in alphabetical order.


 200+ images after the jump:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Kamen Rider Arcade Video Game Cards

In recent years, one of the hottest trends in arcade gaming has been card-based games. They've got machines for historic battle strategy games, anime/idol fashion games, and all sorts of other things. The other day at a bookshop I came across some beautiful Kamen Rider cards. At first I thought they were just trading cards, but today I stumbled on the game they go with.
Here's the Bandai arcade game I spotted in Kawasaki. There are three slots in the center where you place your cards.

Sample cards

It's a large set. Here are some of the heroes. I love the way KR and other Japanese series continue to include characters from previous series even decades after their shows end. It creates a cool sense of continuity, and you can see how the designs have changed over the years.
 More after the jump:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Japanese Ephemera from the 1950s-60s

In post-war Japan, along with the rebuilding of the country's economy and infrastructure, there was a steady growth in domestic consumption (which now makes up nearly 60% of GDP). Kids' culture rode this wave, with toys, magazines, and all sorts of other things being produced.

During the beginning of this growth phase, in the 1950-60s, discretionary spending was still modest in most households. Staples of kids' culture were weekly magazines (and their marvelous furoku), cheap toys from candy shops, menkos (small round or rectangular cards), and so on. This was before the boom in vinyl toys, and one of the main materials used for kids' goods was good old-fashioned paper.

These days, one sometimes comes across beautiful old ephemera with striking colors and subject matter. Some of it has survived half a century in marvelous condition. Here are some pieces I've come across.

Baseball Autograph Books/Scoring Cards

These little books have ballplayers on the cover. On the top, the Japanese says "sign books," so I guess they're for collecting autographs. On the inside, there are some blank pages (maybe for players' signatures), pages with baseball action images, and charts for keeping score. I like them for the cool illustrations and colors.
The backs have score cards and a place where you can write your name.
 More after the jump:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Japan is super expensive, right? Actually...

Shibuya station

For a long time, the consensus has been that Japan is an expensive place. That was easy to go along with back in 1990, when Japanese investors had the money to buy overseas properties like the Pebble Beach golf course. Tales spread about 10,000 yen watermelons (which do exist) and many people assumed that even a brief stay in Japan would break the bank. There may have been some truth to that 30 years ago. But how costly is the country these days?

Well, it's a mixed bag. You still have goods and services that are as expensive as they were during the bubble years. But there's a growing basket of things that are becoming cheaper, either because of decades of deflation or due to low-cost competition. Let's break it down.

(More after the jump:)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Vintage Discoveries #4: Kamen RIder keshi gomu gachapon daishi

Sometimes when I come across a cool vintage piece, I like to highlight it in a Vintage Discovery post. Been a while since I've done one. This week's VD (no, we're not talking about Veteran's Day - sheesh) is a gachapon daishi. 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.

Some closeups:
 More after the jump:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Experiencing Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle is one of Japan's most famous landmarks. It's located in Kansai, one of my favorite parts of Japan. With cities like Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara, there's a lot to see and do there, in a fairly compact area. Himeji station is an easy 40 minute train ride from Kobe.

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.
 More after the jump:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Star Wars x Lotte in Japan: The Boom Awakens!

Every so often in Japan, when a show, movie, character, or something else becomes super popular, they call it a "boom." Some examples are Batman in the late 60s (thanks to the TV show), "super cars" in the 70s-80s. and Superman in the late 70s (thanks to the movie). Companies are extremely good at stoking fervor for the boom with marketing blitzes and product tie ins.

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.
More after the jump:

Friday, July 31, 2015

Varner Studios at SDCC 2015

Last year, I 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.

 More after the jump:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cosplay at SDCC 2015

At this year's SDCC, there was some creative cosplay, especially with vehicles and oversized outfits. Steampunk was barely represented, and my sense in general was there weren't as many cosplayers as in years past. But those who made the trek were enthusiastic and friendly, and they wandered the Gaslamp district of the city along with the hall floor. Here's a look:

 More after the jump:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Indie Toys at SDCC 2015

Welcome to our main report for SDCC 2015 - a look at the indie toys at the show. Retailers and designers continue to set up shop at SDCC, though the numbers are not as strong as in years past. Talking to a number of folks, I got a mixed bag of impressions. Some thought things were going fine, while others talked about fanbases (and retail activity) moving online or to other shows.

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!

3D Retro

New figure. This thing is massive!
 More after the jump:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Interview with Super7's Brian Flynn at SDCC 2015 (He Man, ReAction Toys, & More)

We kick off our SDCC 2015 coverage with an interview with Super7's owner Brian Flynn. Once again, Brian's team put together an excellent booth, which dovetailed with their Skeleton's Lair pop up shop at Super7 San Diego.

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

Bagged Double 6 games from the 70s

In the past I've written about 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.
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
More after the jump:

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Whenever I spend time in a place, I think about nearby areas that can be visited in a day. I prefer places accessible by train or bus and which don't require too many transfers. If you're visiting Tokyo, one such day trip in easy striking distance is Enoshima.

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.
As you can see, it gets pretty crowded. However, the further you walk in, and the more you explore the higher-up areas and back alleys, the smaller the crowds become.

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

Yokohama Collectors Mall

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.
It's got a bunch of little booths rented by different folks. So there's an eclectic mix of toys and other retro goods - mostly with a Western bent.


Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:00-6:00, Fri-Sat 11:00-7:00, Sunday + Holidays: 11:00-6:00
Closed: Wednesdays
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

More after the jump:
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