Thursday, July 31, 2008

Taipei Toy Shops

Taiwan is becoming more and more important in the Asia toy scene. In addition to the yearly Taipei Toy Festival, there are frequent collaborations and exclusives between Taiwanese companies and companies from Japan, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. Plus, Taiwan is the home of some great designers like Mark Chang and BB Birdy.

Many of the best shops are located in the Eastern part of the city. They're all within walking distance of the Ding Hao department store (pictured above). To get there, take the MRT to the Zhongxiao/Dunhua station and get out at exit 11.
Monster Taipei is one of the city's main toy stores. It's located on the 3rd floor of the Ding Hao department store. MT carries all kinds of stuff, from Star Wars to designer toys to a bit of kaiju. The owner of the store, Jen Huang, is also the force behind the Taipei Toy Festival.
Pics from the shop:

A couple of minutes' walk from Ding Hao is Hot Dog Toyz. They carry a pretty wide range of toys and have a ton of small blind boxed series (including a mountain of CI Boys!) Also lots of Bearbricks, US toys (like Spawn, Simpsons, etc) and some Japanese toys, like Bandai kaiju. Pics:

Kikaida in da hizouse!
Finally there's Paradise, which is about a minute's walk from Hot Dog. They're the newest of the lot, but in just a few years they're really made a name for themselves. Paradise has a close relationship with Spanky (out of Nagoya, Japan) and have put out a bunch of exclusive Wonderfulman shirts and toys. Plus, at this year's TTF, they had some of the show's best exclusives, including a Joe Ledbetter Gamerita and T9G Rangeas. Pics:

Taiwan is well-worth visiting, for its food, museums, tea, night markets...and toys! ^_^

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

GID Blobpus X Ilanena Diablo: Figure Focus

I love collaborations. They lead to some really exciting versions of new and old figures.

This collab is one of my favorites. It was released at last month's Taipei Toy Festival.

The figure, Diablo, is a Blobpus creation. The paint design and app was done by Ilanena. The result is a mind blowing figure. When I spoke to Ilanena-san at the recent WCC, I pantomimed my head exploding to try to explain how much my GF and I were mind bombed by seeing the figure in standard light and GID.

OK, to shoot this figure properly, I headed outdoors to my favorite local park. Fortunately, the recent typhoon is behind us and the weather was fairly mild (32 C) so the conditions were nice.

I like the graff and geometrical patterns on this stone table. They go nicely with the figure!

Here are some close ups. Kaji-san's figure design is insanely detailed!
Back at the house...
One of the amazing things about this paint app is how awesome it looks in GID mode. A lot of GID figures are kind of ho hum, and not too much thought goes into how the figure will look when the lights are off. Not so this one! The paint is applied so that the horns, eyes, and skulls are GID. Ilanena-san also worked in amazing detail on the other parts of the body, and it shows up very well when the figure is charged and the light switch is flicked off.
Finally, knowing Ilanena is a huge Star Wars fan, I set up a little meet and greet between Diablo and the vintage 12" crew. (I think they're negotiating for Han's medallion...) I hope we'll see a lot more collabs between Blobpus and Ilanena in the future!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mini Destdon: Figure Focus

Mini Destdon is one of the most unique and interesting original kaiju figures to come out in a while.

The figure is a collaboration between Toumart and Monstock. The idea to produce the figure came from Isao-san, Monstock's owner. Touma-san designed the character, and it was sculpted by Okuda-san, the G1 Atelier sculptor responsible for the company's gorgeous Hedoran.

Along with the mini, a very impressive regular sized version of the figure was also created.

Onto some close-ups: The Destdons are made of soft vinyl, and many versions use an "MT" technique - meaning metal flakes are mixed with the soft vinyl during production. That gives the figure a kind of glisten, which highlights the contours.

The technique works very well with this figure, since it brings out its scaly texture, which perfectly suits Destdon.
One of the other things I like about Destdon is the interesting paint apps that Isao-san comes up with. They don't always follow the traditonal "reference" color schemes of a lot of other kaiju. Instead, the paint works to bring out the figure's character. So, for example, in the above figure, you've got dark blue spray on a dark purple body. Brooding and very fitting.
This is also one of those figures where the unpainted versions are some of the best. Looking at Destdon, you can imagine a statue perched outside a medieval castle. So, seeing the figure in unpainted black, grey, or silver works very well. It also helps bring out the character's stony look.Finally, of course, Destdon has some of the tradmarks of a Touma character - especially the eyes, mouth, and enormous grin. I think this figure is one of Touma-san's best.


Monstock has been putting out a lot of very cool toys. A couple of days ago at the shop (in Itabashi), new mini and regular sized versions of the Destodon were released.

I like the unique paint jobs on these figures. They go well with the figures' stony/scaly texture.

Here are some more pics from the shop:

And one of Buster Call's Beetlar, another excellent figure with superb paint work:

New Ilanena coming @ 2008 Summer Wonder Festival

Ilanena previewed this gorgeous Dai Kaiju Card Monsters set at last week's WCC. The set will be sold at the upcoming Summer Wonder Festival on August 3. Looks fantastic! I really like the colors and design on each piece and across the set. Great individual/collective design work.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

2008 WCC Report

This year's WCC, held at Tokyo's Big Site last weekend (July 20-21), featured lots of cool new exclusives and dealer booths. Here are some pics:

Hariken (Mad Panda):


Ryukyu Entertainment:


Amos toys X Bounty Hunter:
There were also lots of cool events on the main stage:Some other pics:

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