Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kamen RIder store racks

Sometimes, really old photos surface of toy store racks from the 70s and 80s, which I find a lot of fun. There's nothing quite like seeing full pegs of Star Wars figures or shelves stacked with Mask toys or other awesome lines. On that note, here is another installment in my occasional, ongoing, and just-named series: Future Time Capsules NOW.

Two years ago, I put up some shots of the toy section of a large one-stop shop called Seiyu, which has many outlets in Japan. At the time, Kamen Rider OOO was still on the air. Today I was at the store again, and the Kamen Rider section caught my eye. So I unholstered trusty old black (my Canon S95) from its manly side-strapped belt case and snapped some shots.
On the racks were loads of toys and other goods from Kamen Rider Fourze (the 22nd KR series) and Kamen Rider Wizard, that being the newest series - number 23 - which, in a completely non-evidentiary way, is possibly named after the Wizards, that being MJ's last professional team, when he again wore... number 23. You have to ask yourself - are these coincidences? I'm just not sure.
Action Please!
Anyway, there were all kinds of toys, from boxed figures with accessories to loose figures, masks, belts, wrist worn switch sets, and even a Kamen Rider Fourze costume.
 More after the jump:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Makaimura/魔界村 (Ghosts'n Goblins) over the years

Makaimura (aka Ghosts'n Goblins, but we're focusing on Japanese releases, so we'll stick with the original name) is one of those games you just don't forget. The iconic arcade game, first released by Capcom in 1985, featured its hero - Arthur - on an epic quest to free a princess from side scrolling hordes and, eventually, Satan after you've fed enough quarters into the machine to give it a copper addiction. (Our sources in the Googlesphere tell us that quarters are mostly copper. We're learning things together!)

It was definitely one of my favorite quarter munchers, though I was never very good. Anyway, over the years the game has shown quite a resilience, and I wanted to do a writeup of some of the ways Makaimura, and its iconic artwork and characters, have stayed current over the decades.

Let's start with a look at the Nintendo Famicom game, which features box art that appears over and over in Makaimura products:

Funny story here. I bought this Famicom game loose in Kobe last year. Then, about a week ago, I found a store in Tokyo selling just the box, plastic container, and instruction manual - for 50 yen. Capcommish serendipity!

Here's the manual that came with the game,
 More after the jump:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring is here! Sakura blossoms in Meguro, Tokyo

In Japan, the transition from winter to spring is clearly marked by a week-long event: the blossoming of sakura (cherry blossom) trees. The whole nation is swept up in the white and pink tide, with media reports forecasting the blooming periods in different parts of the country. In particular, the exact day when the trees will be in full bloom in each prefecture gets a lot of attention.
The main sakura watching period, called hanami, lasts about a week. This year, hanami arrived a bit earlier than usual in Tokyo, with the peak day landing on March 23.

There are many sakura trees in Tokyo, but some spots have large numbers of trees, either in clusters or, for more dramatic effect, in long rows. One famous area is in Meguro, which is on the Yamanote line. About 10 minutes from Meguro station is a long canal, and there are hundreds of sakura trees on either side, continuing for quite a distance. A man, a sakura, a canal: Meguro. If you translate that into Japanese and drink enough, it's a palindrome.
Some reports downplay Meguro sakura watching because the trees are along a man made structure (so the thinking goes that it makes the experience less natural), but I found it perfectly enjoyable.
And I brought some sofubi fellows (Elegab minis) along for the stroll.

More after the jump:

Friday, March 22, 2013

More Zenith

New Zenith display at One Up Akiba.

I want to focus on this one since it's new. The figure is marked as a Dream Rockets custom.
 First, a few shots from different angles:
New limbs for this Zenith.
More after the jump:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Japanese posters and paperwork

We talk a lot about toys, but there are scores of other things related to characters, and those are also fun to check out. Maybe first and foremost are the TV shows, comics, and movies that the figures are based on. I think watching them adds some context for the toys and makes them more fun to collect.

In recent months, I've had a chance to watch a bunch of DVDs of 1970s TV shows, which are really, really expensive to buy, but fortunately also available to rent at some local shops. There are also quite a few movies out there, mostly related to the big properties like Godzilla, Ultraman, Kamen Rider, etc.

Along with the shows, there's a very rich selection of print based material, going back many decades. You've got manga, photo books, pop up books, bromide cards, stickers, and much more. A lot of it is amazing stuff. Then there are posters, which seem to have a loyal fan base as well. Here's a look at some, along with some paperwork from anime, kaiju, and tokusatsu lines:


 More after the jump:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

More vintage gems spotted at Mandarake

Spotted in the entrance way of Nakano Broadway. Mandarake sure does have a way of making a splash!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mechavirus Show at Rampage Studios

 A new show, featuring customs by Todd Robertson, opened today at Rampage Studios in Tokyo. It was a really fun show to cover - thanks Todd for making toys that are so fun to photograph!

Customs by Todd:

 More after the jump:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Zenith - Up close

Zenith, the maker of gargantuan sofubi toys, is something of a mystery - and so are their figures. I've only ever seen them at One Up Akiba. Not sure if that's because Zenith is a low key outfit that irregularly releases figures, or if because One Up is the only place with large enough cases to house these behemoths.

Here are some detailed pics of a couple of Zenith sofubi towers.
I haven't measured them, but I'd estimate they're between 18-24" tall. This particular incarnation has multiple horn limbs.
Is there something behind all the shapes and symbols carved onto the totem-like creatures? Is there rhyme or reason or homage to some ancient South American tribe? Or is it just a massive figure with so much space that they filled it up with random sculpting? Is this just an 8 bit representation of something "mystical" or "meaningful"?
I like the color choices, which evoke a kind of earthen origin. This Zenith has more appendage-like limbs, with arms and hands forming from the branches.
And if you look at the figure either from a few feet away or up close, the character starts to come into clearer relief. Here you can see wheels and channels sculpted into the figure. Some of the parts even look like bolts, which almost make it look like they grafted found parts onto the sculpt and integrated them into the form.
Looks like we've found the zenith's zenith - maybe not quite at its apex, but certainly prominent. Or maybe it's a nose complemented by the two eyes in the circular part just above it. Who knows? I think that's part of the point of the figure - it's five building blocks of highly detailed sofubi that maybe everything you think it is, or maybe nothing at all. Whether you think it's triumphant or trivial, at least it's different.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bandai Tamashii Nations Exhibit (Feb, 2013)

Bandai's latest Tamashii Nations exhibit (located in the passageway connecting the East and West sides of Akihabara station) of new and upcoming figures from Dragonball Z, Kamen Rider, Star Wars, Disney, Mazinger Z, and a ton of other properties.
Bandai does a top notch job posing and displaying their figures, so you get a really good sense of what you're getting before buying something.

 More after the jump:
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