Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Time Tunnel - Store Visit

It’s nice to bounce back with some good news on the toy store front. Today I visited a venerable old shop (23 years old and counting) that is not only defiant and standing, but thriving. 

The shop is called Time Tunnel. This San Jose, California fixture has faced the tide of the Internet onslaught – which has helped lay waste to the Northern California vintage toy scene – and come out standing tall. Time Tunnel is proof positive that people like to look at things in person. During my brief visit, there was a constant stream of shoppers.

First, the store details:

Address: 532 South Bascom Ave. San Jose, CA 95128
Phone: 408-298-1709
Hours: Tues-Sat 12:00-6:00 PM (Closed Sundays and Mondays)

Note: On the store's page, it says to call them before heading over to make sure they're open, since they do travel for events, inventory management, etc. 

Time Tunnel has the look and feel of a Japanese “showcase shop,” but what’s different is that unlike showcase shops, where people rent cases to sell their things, the stock in Time Tunnel is all Joe’s. The super friendly owner will happily chat about toys, records, magazines, or other pop culture goods.
The stock is vintage, mostly from the 70s-90s. It ranges from toys based on old American TV shows and movies to Japanese tokusatsu toys. Along with the Star Wars, Transformers, GI Joe, Power Rangers, and other goodies, there’s also a good selection of posters, paperwork, magazines, and records.
I had a great time checking out the shop, chatting with Joe, and picking up some cool tokusatsu paperwork. 

More store photos and info after the jump:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Rare Marusan Kaiju

Rare figures in beautiful condition. On display in Nakano.

 More after the jump:

Friday, July 11, 2014

So long, Jyarinco

After 12 years in business, Jyarinco has closed its doors for good  Long one of the best indie shops in Tokyo, Jyarinco was a must-visit shop for figures of all sorts, from sofubi to chogokin to everything in between.

The early players like Popy and Bullmark were well represented, as were later arrivals, in addition to indie sofubi makers. In fact, Jyarinco released a number of Real Head collaborations and stocked a cabinet of indie toys for years.

Jyarinco's story arc is becoming all too familiar, and there are fewer and fewer shops like it in Japan. A major factor is the difficulty of getting new stock. The Internet has become a major means for collectors to unload toys. It's also difficult to compete against the larger shops when it comes to bringing in new product and attracting customer foot traffic.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the trend of everything moving online. I get the convenience, and I think it's great that the Net opens up buying chances for folks who aren't near a shop. But when things tilt so far that the last remaining physical shops are closing their doors, then that's a problem. There really is no substitute for walking into a shop, seeing something for the first time, and chatting with the owner about it. I'm not a luddite, but I do hope the pendulum doesn't swing so far that it knocks out the remaining indie shops.

Whatever the reason for his deciding to move on, I wish Jyarinco's owner all the best in his upcoming endeavors, and I thank him for a dozen great years. The shop leaves a real legacy, not just as a "remember back in the day" line, but as a model of what still can be with current and future shops, where owners are passionate, knowledgeable, and great to talk to and learn from. Thanks so much for that and for the chance to see and buy some great toys!

So long, Jyarinco.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Japanese Pro-Wrestling Masks

Though my knowledge of the contemporary suplex scene is as shallow as a Mr. Socko soliloquy, I can certainly appreciate the work that goes into pro-wrestling masks. And I know there are a lot of folks out there who are into the scene, so I thought I'd put up a video of a cool bunch of masks on display in Nakano, Tokyo.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gachapon Daishi (ガチャポン台紙) Part 2

A little while ago, I wrote a short introduction to daishi, the backing display cards placed in gachapon windows to preview what's in the machine. Now I'd like to post some pics of a few premium daishi, some of which took a good while to track down. I'll mix in pics of some other fun daishi which I  thought were cool. Finally, I'll wrap with pics of a complete, unused early daishi.
Zelda keshi gomu series - Part 1

Makaimura keshi series - 良かった!

Kamen Rider Amazon. Not sure what this series is all about. I just liked the graphics.
 More after the jump:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New from Star Case - Scum Hunter

Scum Hunter is the latest figure in Star Case's line of sofubi figures. A couple of versions have been released already.
The unpainted white "prototype color" version set for release this month. It will be the third release of the figure.


Previous release with super cool box based on the vintage ESB Star Wars Popy boxes.

Also, if you haven't caught it yet, here's Jason Ho's latest Star Case video:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Furoku - 付録 Part 4: Henshin Ninja Arashi Furoku - A Close-Up Look

Most of the furoku I've talked about in past posts have been about manga or the games and prizes given away with magazines. Recently I came across a really interesting hybrid furoku featuring one of the most bizarre and compelling tokusatsu heroes of the 1970s: Henshin Ninja Arashi.

This furuoku came with the October 1972 issue of Boken O (Adventure King). At roughly 18 cm x 26 cm (7.1" x 10.2") long, it's larger than the manga usually given out with magazines. The book is 58 pages long and is part four-color (which makes it interesting in its own right for a vintage furoku), part single-color.
The front inside cover has a cool guide to Arashi villains.

There are also two cross-section "X-Ray" illustrations of Arashi villains, so you can know what their internal organs and skeletal structures look like!
 More after the jump:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Godzilla movie promotions in Taiwan

Taiwan Godzilla poster inside movie theater.
Taiwan is a major market for international films, and the country goes all out in promoting Hollywood blockbusters. Recently, theaters pulled out all the stops to put Godzilla on everyone's mind, including some nice giveaways, displays, and cross-marketing efforts.

Taking a page out of Japan's decades-old tradition of handing out movie flyers at theaters, Taiwan put together an A-4 sized Godzilla flyer, But they took it a step further,
The flyer, featuring one of the main movie poster images (with traditional Chinese script) is on high-quality, heavy paper stock.

The back contains six stickers which can be peeled off one by one. Awesome!

 More after the jump:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Furoku - 付録 Part 3: Furoku Manga - A Closer Look

In this segment of my continuing series on furoku, I'd like to take a closer look at several vintage manga furoku. Let's start with a Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy) manga. It's one of the most widely collected of all furoku series.
The mange is 48 pages long and measures 11.5 cm x 17 cm (4.5" x 6.7").

Typically these manga were just one color - in this case, purple.
 More after the jump:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hot Dog Toyz - Store with new Japanese toys in Taipei, Taiwan

Here's a video I shot of a good store in Taipei.

Store details:

Address: 106台北市忠孝東路四段147巷10號2樓
Tel: 02-2741-4899

Friday, May 16, 2014

Furoku - 付録 Part 2: Girls' Magazines

In my previous post, I talked about the history of furoku, with a focus on boys' magazines. Over the decades, Japan has also had a rich heritage of girls' magazines. They have also gifted lucky readers with furoku, yet I've discovered some interesting differences between the way boys' and girls' magazines promoted furoku as well as the types of giveaways handed out.

Let's take a look at some of the main monthly periodicals for girls.

Shojo (Young Girl)
This December 1955 issue of Shojo came with two furoku. Notice how the focus of the cover design is on the illustration, and the list of furoku (on the left) is subtle and downplayed. In boys' magazines, the furuko stood out on the page and seemed to be a main selling point.
Besides the design, another important difference between boys' and girls' furoku was the type of freebies included. Many girls' magazines came with manga, so no difference there. But whereas boys' mags also handed out games, toys, and other similar goodies, girls' mags focused on other types of gifts, like stationery sets, bromide cards, planners, and the like.

The above issue of Shojo included a Christmas letter set (as far back as the 1950s, Christmas-related gifts were heavily promoted in Japanese kids' magazines). The second gift was a 53 card set of bromide playing cards. Not bad!

Shojo Club (Young Girls' Club)
November 1961. Now that's what I call wearing your fall colors!
Click to read the rest of the story:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Furoku - 付録 Part 1: History

The world of Japanese pop culture is made up of many types of wonderful things, some of which are familiar to collectors everywhere. Categories like tin toys, chogokin, sofubi, manga, anime cells, and the like are known even to casual collectors. But there's another category of item that predates just about all of these: furoku (付録).

The name roughly translates to "supplement," as in a manga that continues a story that started elsewhere. But the term can refer to any type of freebie given out with a magazine. And that's where our story begins.
early furoku
Furoku have been traced back to 1927, or the second year of the Showa era. Back then, you could start to see the growth of modern Japanese pop culture with monthly magazines like Shonen. Interestingly, just three years later in 1930, Golden Bat - sometimes called Japan's first superhero - debuted in kamishibai shows. Anyway, with a magazine like Shonen, you'd get one or more freebies bundled with the main publication.
A rare example of an unused magazine + furoku set. Everything was bound together.
Click to read the rest of the story:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Art of Godzilla - Yuji Kaida Exhibition + Signing 開田裕治 原画展

In Ginza, Cheepa's Gallery has an ongoing exhibition of the works of fantasy and kaiju artist extraordinaire Yuji Kaida ( 開田裕治). The show is entitled Art of Godzilla: Kaida Yuji Original Exhibition. On display are dozens of works by Kaida-san, a commercial artist who has created images for books, magazines, and comics (including Dark Horse's Gamera), as well as packaging artwork for video games such as Sega's Snatcher and Daimakaimura - aka Ghouls 'n Ghosts. He has also provided the packaging artwork for numerous toy lines, including Zoids, Gundam, Macross, and of course Godzilla.

The show wraps on May 6, so to put a cap on the festivities, the gallery hosted Kaida-san for a signing session. The core of the kaiju-themed exhibition is a display of fantastic works by Kaida-san of Godzilla, Mothra, Gigan, and others. There's also a shop selling exclusive toy releases by Marusan (including a lovely blank GID 450 series Godzilla), in addition to post cards, cloth prints, and a new book featuring Kaida-san's art.

Photography was largely restricted, but I was able to take some shots.
Poster advertising Kaida-san's new book.

Two of the post card sets for sale.
 More after the jump:
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