Friday, December 11, 2009

New Section: Toy Shop Visits

Over the last few years, I've been lucky enough to have a chance to visit a lot of great shops. In addition to pics and store info, I've tried to give directions (sometimes detailed, sometimes less so (sorry!)) so other folks can check the shops out.

I've compiled and organized my store visit posts and put them in a nifty little link list off to the right. :O)

Visit to Cure toy shop (shop closed in 2010)

Here's a shop apart! It always sounded like a cool place, and who wouldn't want to visit the home of the Boogie Man?? I've wanted to check it out for years - had the address and lil' map from their website taped in my "otaku data" book for a long time...

I finally got the chance a couple of weeks ago. Getting to Tsukuba station, which is way out to the northeast of Tokyo, isn't too tough. It's a straight shot from Akihabara on the Tsukuba Express. Takes 45 minutes on the rapid train (you'll want one of those - they come often enough) and costs roughly 1100 yen each way.

Now that you've made it to Tsukuba, you've got your work cut out for you. I didn't have any luck Google mapping the English address which I got off their site, so I had to rely on some old skool Japanese address locator skills.

Back in the day (before Gmaps and detailed maps on store websites made us into mushy Staypuft Toy Hunters), we used to spend upwards of 1-2 hours in search of shops...through blizzards and hail storms, no less! /digression
OK, so if you've managed to print out a detailed map, that's awesome. Otherwise, there are a ton of public maps in the area that can help you find 3-13-1 Azuma. (There's also a police station near the subway station (exit A2, if I remember correctly) and they may be able to help you pinpoint the address.)

From the subway station, Cure is a 15 minute walk through a very quiet and pleasant area.
The shop's storefront is understated. Reminded me of a US mini-mall with the little parking lot out front. :O)
Once inside you'll find a huge variety of toys for sale. As the very friendly staff explained to me, there aren't too many sofubi collectors in the area, so they need to carry a wide range of toys - basically a little bit of something for everyone. Sounded to me like a smart strategy!

Here's one of my favorite cases, with lots of (sold out) Boogie Men on display:
Cure also has a lot of sufubi, especially from Secret Base:
And some clothing - Usugrow in the house!
But that's not all....
Uber Star Wars selection!
Nightmare Before Christmas. Nice!
So, Cure is a solid 1/2 day trip there and back from Tokyo, but I'd say it's definitely worth checking out - if not only to get away from the crowds of Tokyo and enjoy a more laid back shop run by very cool people.

**I heard a few weeks ago that the Cure shop has closed. Real shame that, but the good news is new Boogies are still coming out. :O)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cronic Line Art

This is something I've been meaning to get to for a while.

A lot of Cronic's characters are based on drawings Naoki has done over the years. We've seen prints released in lucky bags, as well as little cards given out with his earliest figures. Here are some hand drawn images:

Sketch from a few years ago:

Box art:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Astro Zombies shop

Edit: Click here for my more recent shop write up (with store location, hours, etc.) from 2.2.2012

The venerable Astro Zombies toy shop has a new location. When I first rolled up to the old location in Namba, Osaka, I was concerned that the mini sign board wasn't out in front. Anyway, we went on up and found the floor was blocked out on the elevator. So we went to the next floor up and asked the shop keeper (I think it was a record store) what was up. He was super friendly and went downstairs and outside with us to point out the direction of the new AZ shop.
It's just down the road from the old shop. Basically, as you exit the old AZ, don't turn left or right. Just keep walking forward, for maybe 100-150 meters. you'll see the shop almost directly in front of you at the end of the alley. So, it's really easy to find. It's in the heart of the Namba otaku cluster, just around the corner from Super Position, Jungle, Heroes., etc. Prime location.

There are still "congratulations flowers" out in front, so it must have been a very recent move.

The new AZ's store site was previously occupied by an old skool toy shop - called Capsule or something.
The new AZ is bright, shiny, and well-stocked with a range of toys - same as the old shop. It occupies 2 levels of the building. There's also a 3rd floor, but it's currently blocked off.

Behind the register is a nice display of older Skullwings and other cool figures.

Check it out if you're in Kansai!
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