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...

Shinsaibashi Mandarake:
One of Osaka's biggest toy stores, this shop is down to 2 cabinets of original sofubi.

For years, this place had sofubi bargains. Now, the pickings are slim. But the overall variety of toys is nice.


The Skullwings are display only.

Cool old skool stuffed to the brim display. Some nice pieces in there, and the prices are good.

Astrozombies has tons of Monster Movie figures.

Jungle had some insane deals up until recently. Now, though its sofubi rack is slim, there are still some interesting pieces from Sin and Wombat, Skullhead Butt, and other companies you don't see every day.

 Hero Gangu:

One of Osaka's oldest and most famous vintage Takara (among tons of other companies) shops.

Some fantastic vintage pieces. Hiro (the owner) also has bags of newer figures (mostly from Rainbow - also some RxH and other bits and bobs) in the back. Plus, he has an amazing two-headed Bemon collection on display - not for sale.
 Super Position:

The store is stocked with random figures from across the toy spectrum, but the original sofubi side (which was once impressive) has all but evaporated.

Aside from sofubi, Osaka has a ton of other hobby shops. Many are concentrated in the Namba area. Here's a sampling:
Gundam and other robot model kits, diecast figures, etc.

Giant crane shop - I love crane shops! I also love those revolving candy scooper games...if you ever see me, ask me about the Great Osaka Candy Game Money Dump!

New toys
More new toys

Card shop (place was seriously packed!)

Showcase shop

Otaku lifestyle outlet

My Osaka haul:

There are a couple of other shops worth checking out. The Umeda Mandarake currently has a nice assortment of Marusan, Rainbow, and Marmit figures. If you have time to head out to US Toys, that's always a fun place to visit - and packed to the rafters!

Not far from Osaka, you've got interesting places in day-trip striking distance like Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe (which has a few toy shops). Tomorrow, we're planning to head to the site of the 1970 World Expo. Should be fun.

So, a trip to Kansai is still great - just not quite as good on the new sofubi side as in years past. Hopefully things in that department will turn around in the coming months and years. Ganbarimasu!


Unknown said...

A quick advice on crane shops/UFO catchers: Head to Taito Station at Asakusa for the easiest games ever. I got an average of 1 prize/2 tries.

But other than that, I DIDN'T know Osaka had so many toy shops. I was only at Mandarake and even then, I stumbled upon it :P

Great piece once again!

andy b said...

Thanks for the scoop! I have the best luck using the "mashing" technique, where the weight of the crane or arms jostles the figure(s) free. Scored a mini plush Softo-san that way the other day - 1 coin!

Osaka is definitely a fun place to walk around, pick up great eats at food stalls, and check out toy shops. Namba is a bit like Akihabara, but with more of a pedestrian Shimokitazawa vibe (but without the artsy/boutique atmosphere).

Strob said...

Talking about Shimo, in Osaka there's also a Village Vangard shop in Namba Park where you can find some overpriced hard to find items (I think no sofubi, but I just discovered this term here).

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