Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tokyo Overground: Third Uncle to Shinto Gangu

I find myself taking the trains less and less these days. There's just too much cool stuff to see walking from spot to spot. The trains are great, but when you take them you're like a mole popping up at different points, and you don't see how neighborhoods connect. Some of my favorite areas are the "netherlands" - around 15-20 minutes from a station.

Anyway, plenty of cool areas are easily bridged on foot: Koenji to Nakano, Shibuya to Harajuku, etc. Today, I was a bit more ambitious. I wanted to walk from Third Uncle (near Koiwa station) to Shinto Gangu (near Aoto). These are kind of a pain to connect via train, since they aren't on the same line or even the same railway. But thanks to Google Maps, plotting a walking route wasn't too hard. I printed three maps but wound up chucking the first two, since the topography was easy enough.

Basically, you go west from Third Uncle until you hit a river. Then turn north. Just after you see a large fork in the river, cross the bridge and go straight. You'll see Shinto Gangu 5 minutes later. Easy enough, but just in case, you might want to print a couple of Google Maps (both places are plotted on my Tokyo toy shop map). Also, a compass always comes in handy.

Total walking time: 45 minutes.


More after the jump:

Itokin Park Exhibition @ Kaiju Blue

Kaiju Blue has done it again, with another top notch exhibition showcasing a leading indy sofubi designer. The ongoing Itokin Park show has it all: customs, show exclusives, a table full of goodies for sale, and a display featuring an extensive retrospective of the designer's artography (not sure if that's a word, but if it isn't, it should be!)

The custom pieces were all sold out, but again KB scores by leaving them out for display so others can enjoy seeing them before they enter private collections.
Lucha Bear customs

Garuru customs

 Artography Retrospective of IP's cast of characters:
Lucha Bear





Bed Monster



 Lots of IP stuff for sale:

Show exclusive Lucha Bear
Here's what I picked up:

There you have it. Another day, another cool show at Kaiju Blue. One of the great things about the shop is its location - on the first floor of the Marui One department store in the heart of Shinjku. Hopefully the thousands of people who flow through the store and catch a glimpse of the exhibition will take a closer look and become interested in indy sofubi. I saw a couple of young dudes stroll up to the IP item booth. One of them spotted the Lucha, honed right in, and said "Kakui!" (cool)

So, congratulations to Itokin Park and Kaiju Blue! Can't wait to see what's up next on the sofubi horizon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Back to US Toys

Ah, there is hope for sofubi in Osaka! After a really nice day at the 1970 Expo Park (special blog post on that day-trip coming soon!), we headed to US Toys. It was only my second trip to the shop, but it's so close to the station that it was easy enough to find.

The shop is still stocked with sofubi - tons and tons of US Toys figures (of course), and all kinds of other kaiju from major companies and indy outfits. There is also some modern and vintage diecast tucked away here and there in a store so full of display cabinets and boxes that two people literally cannot stand side by side in an aisle - me likey!

Rest of the write up after the jump...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Osaka Toy Crawl

Ah, Osaka...So much to see and do. You've got your great restaurants and foodstalls...

Osaka okonomiyaki rules - even the cheap stuff!
 ...your plastic food window displays...
 ...interesting architecture...
 ...and famous covered shopping arcades.
 Plus you've get your discount ticket shops...
 ...your creative store displays...
I don't think we can call this one a POP...
 ....and your socially conscious clothing shops.
Then of course there are toys. (What, you're not here for my ward-famous okononmiyaki reviews?)

There are still a lot of good toy shops in Osaka, and most of them are conveniently located in two adjacent areas: Shinsaibashi and Namba. There's a fine selection of vintage sofubi, anime, manga, western toys, storming, transforming, and terraforming robots (new and vintage), and more. That's the good news.

The bad news is Osaka is in pretty bad shape when it comes to original sofubi from outfits like Secret Base, Real Head, Yamomark, etc. There was a time (as recently as last year), when shops were stocked with great finds at bargain prices. Maybe that was the writing on the wall, but still, over the last five years, prices were consistently better than Tokyo, and the selection was decent.

A couple of shops still have interesting, out of the blue assortments from one or two companies like Rainbow or Marusan. And if you hit every store you might find a few figures you need. But the sad truth is, in terms of new sofubi, you can probably find more in a single visit to Nakano Broadway than in a day roaming through Osaka.

It all boils down to what's hot. From my discussions with shop owners, new sofubi just isn't cutting it for collectors. Sure, you've got blue moon events like the recent Pushead show at Astrozombies, which drew a ton of people and was a huge success. But in terms of a sustained interest, it's just not there any longer to justify shops keeping multiple display cabinets stocked with new figures.

Anyway, like I said, there are some great shops, and if you're on the lookout for other toys, you might wind up with a nice haul. Here's a roundup.

Popsoda is always a fun shop for cool stuff like vintage TMNT, Wacky Wobblers, Toy Story, and other US toys.

The shop also sells original figures, like this one from Mirock.

Plus, Popsoda has original sofubi from Real Head, Spooky Parade and more. These figures were sculpted by Aya, of Refreshment Toys

Aya (visiting from Nagoya) and Hossy (Popsoda owner)
Much more after the jump...

Pushead @ Astrozombies (after) event pics

I rolled up to the shop the day after the event. The figures were sold out, but I was able to snap some pics.

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