Thursday, December 24, 2015

Syntrend Toy, Video Game, and Hobby Mall in Taipei, Taiwan

Very recently, a new mall, called Syntrend, opened in Taipei. It's right next to Taiwan's most famous computer mall - Guang Hua Market.
Syntrend Mall
The 6th floor of Syntrend Mall is dedicated to toys, video games, model building, and other hobbies. There's a nice variety, including US, Japanese, and other goods.

First up, some location details:

Chinese Address:  台北市中正區市民大道三段2號
English Address: No. 2, Civic Blvd, Section 3, Zhong Zheng District, Taipei
Map: Click here for a Google Map

Here are a bunch of pics of what you might see when shopping there:

 More after the jump:

Thursday, December 17, 2015

AMAZING Collection of Asahi Sonorama Ace Puppy Book + Record sets from the 1970s

Recently, a fantastic collection of vintage book + record sets went on sale in Tokyo. These are from the 1970s, and they belong to a series put out by Asahi called the Sonorama Ace Puppy series. I think it's the best series from the decade, given its incredible variety and overall quality.

Sonorama Ace Puppy covers the big guns (Ultraman, Mazinger Z, Godzilla) as well as fairly obscure shows like Diamond Eye (tokusatsu), Jim Button (anime), and Gaijin 20 Looks (some type of TV drama with a masked Westerner dressed like a magician).

I filmed the collection here:

Friday, December 11, 2015

Star Wars x Lotte Bikkuriman Special Edition set with prizes!

Lotte has just released its third wave of Star Wars Bikkuriman stickers. This is labeled the "Special Edition" series. Original trilogy purists can rest easy. There's no Jabba in the hanger deck, CG alien singers, or Greedo shooting first. The set is basically a medley of the six movies that have come out, with a number of interesting monochrome and gold designs added in.

Like the previous Star Wars Bikkuriman sets, there are two packaging variants:

 More after the jump:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Star Wars in Japan - The Freebies Awaken!

We are in full force Star Wars beast mode right now, and the boom is in full stride. In Japan, one of the traditions of these booms is freebies. This goes back to the first film:
On the left-hand side of the Japanese issue of Star Wars #1, you can see an ad for Morinaga caramel. It's an old company that is still going strong. Back in the day (in 1978), they released a big series of candy premium toys. You'd get one in each box of Star Wars branded caramels.

Back to the present, let's look at some modern giveaways and store promotions for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Furuta is another company that has been stashing toys in sweets for a long time.
For these, the toy is literally inside a chocolate egg.

Well, it's inside this inner egg.
 More after the jump:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Star Wars in Japan - 7-11 Lottery Prize Stand

There's no doubt about it. The Star Wars boom is in full force in Japan. At just about every store you go to, there's a branded item or promotion going on. I even saw a Shlick razor POP at a hardware store. Each razor came with a little plastic attachment shaped like a character.

A more interesting display I came across today was at a 7-11. They regularly run lottery promotions, tied to anime, video games, and so on. The way it works is you get a little voucher, bring it to the counter, and pay whatever it costs. (In this case, it's 620 yen per voucher, which is fairly expensive for these promotions.) Then you pull a ticket out of the box, look at your letter, and choose a prize in that category.
Here is the range of prizes.
 Some prize closeups:
The biggest prizes - "A" and "B".
 More after the jump:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Star Wars Kirin drinks in Japan

The Star Wars boom continues in Japan. To be honest, the marketing wave hasn't been too bombastic (yet). Instead of seeing overwhelming waves of products at a single store, they seem to be spread around a bit - a few baked goods here, a few sweets here, some toys there.

Star Wars licensing and food & drink products have gone hand in glove since the beginning. Recently in Japan, Kirin has launched a series of drinks. Here are pics of some I recently spotted in Tokyo.

This is a type of carbonated soda, I think. The Star Wars villains have red-themed packaging labeled Red Force, while the heroes make up the Blue Force.
 More after the jump:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Vintage Japanese Bootleg Packaging Variants

In general, toy packaging from the 1970s is an interesting area to learn about. A cool subset is bootleg figures. I guess they figured that in order to attract kids, they'd need to put together nice header cards, and sometimes even backing cards.

This is a collection of bootleg Inazuman figures from the 1970s. The sculpts are nearly identical, but in addition to paint variants (which is an interesting area in its own right), a variety of header cards were used.

Here are close-up looks at each figure and its header:

The header says "Transparent Kaiju Series" which is a riff on the Bullmark Ultraman kaiju series.
 More after the jump:

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Star Wars x Ginza Cozy Corner Japanese Cookies, Cakes, and more!

In anticipation of the new film, the Star Wars marketing machine in Japan is now in full effect. Recently, a chain of dessert shops called Ginza Cozy Corner has released a slew of licensed Star Wars tie in desserts.
They have two types of desserts: freshly made and packaged. First, here's a look at the cakes, puddings, and other goodies in the refrigerated display cases.
This is a lot of 9 Star Wars themed cakes.

 More after the jump:

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Kawasaki European Festival 2015

Every year in Kawasaki, a European Festival is held. There are antique dealers, food stalls, and even performance artists moving about.
The festival is held in a shopping plaza called La Cittadella, and though I wouldn't call the event mind blowing, it's a fun away to spend an afternoon. Here are some pics I took:
 There were a few dozen dealers on hand, mostly selling European antiques.

The toyage at the event was mostly along these lines.
 More after the jump:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ultraman X Family Mart UltraHalloween Party Promotion

Two things that are well-loved in Japan are Ultraman and Halloween. And convenience stores. Three - there are THREE things well-loved in know the bit.
Anyway for a 10-day stretch, when you buy a couple of goodies at a Family Mart, you get a free Ultraman or kaiju sheet that you can punch out to make your own swingin' Ultra display!
It's pretty simple, Buy two of these snacks...
...and get yourself a spooky Baltan + Pigmon set..

...or less spooky but still pretty cool Ultraman X + Ultraman set. The cut outs are perforated so they're easy to punch out and display.

The UltraHalloween Party ends on October 31. The big guy himself is at Family Mart to greet you! (And they have free Wifi, which is Ultracool too.)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Treasure Chest Antique Shop - Seoul, Korea

One of the best things that can happen to you in a new place is you can get lost. Or at least you can make your way through side streets and alleyways, following your wits and sense of direction instead of a dot on a screen. After all, when you get off the beaten path, you never know what you will find!
Recently in Seoul, I had such an experience while searching for the Hwanghok-dong flea market. I was walking down a riverside street that was lined with shops selling pipes and sink fittings, when I saw an unusual mural on the side of a building. Then I spotted a dark stairwell that could have been the portal to a furry love den for all I knew (which would have led to an entirely different blog post).
I took a closer look and noticed it was the entrance to an antique store. It was dimly lit, and I'm no fan of steep stairs, but I took a shot and headed down. And then - WOW!  I found myself inside the cavernous Treasure Chest. It was like going into the Tardis and losing your sense of space and time. Hands down, this unlikely space at the bottom of a dark stairwell is the best western antique shop I've seen in Asia.
Admittedly, outside of vintage toys and collectibles, I'm not much of an antiquer. It's a hobby that calls for a different skill set and knowledge base. But though I may not collect old phones, helmets, and cameras, I can definitely appreciate them. The Treasure Chest was an exciting shop, so I took some shots to share.
 More after the jump:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hwanghak-dong Flea Market (Seoul, Korea) - Full-Contact Shopping

The Hwanghak-dong flea market, held most days in downtown Seoul, is a visceral, all-in experience. Frequented almost entirely by locals, it's one of those experiences that puts you right in the slipstream of a healthy, fully pumping cultural artery. It can get messy, but it's a whole lot of fun.
You can find all sorts of things at the market, which occupies a multi-block area just behind Dongmyo station. There are clothes, appliances, books, DVDs, toys, old military uniforms, dishes, and on and on. Whether or not you find something you need, it's a great way to spend a couple of hours.
But be prepared to be elbowed or nudged aside, especially if you're competing for a fresh load of clothes that's been dumped. The place can look like a feeding frenzy!

Here are a bunch of photos I shot on a fine fall afternoon:

 More after the jump:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ultraman Goods Exhibit at Super Festival 69

Exhibit of various Ultraman goods at Super Festival 69, including toys, books, drawings, helmets, and more!
Banso pop up book

Plastic models

I wonder what the story behind these helmets is.
 More after the jump:
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