Friday, December 30, 2016

Monster Taipei - Japanese and US Toy Store in Taipei, Taiwan

Monster Taipei is a well known toy shop in Taipei. It's been around for more than 15 years. First up, here's the store info:

English Address: 1F, No. 46, Lane 51, Sec. 1, Da-An Rd, Taipei City 106, Taiwan
Chinese Address: 106 台北市 大安路一段51巷46號1樓
Google Map to location: Click Here
Phone: +886-2-2740-2428
Facebook: Monster Taipei
The store's original location was in the Ding Hao department store on Zhong Xiao East Road. (Well, technically the owner had a small shop before that on Xin Yi East Road, back in the mid-1990s.) Monster Taipei later expanded to a second nearby location in the mid-2000s. That was called Monster Gear, and it focused on clothing.
Side note: The shop that was previously in the Monster Gear space was called Pixie. It was run by toy designer Mark Chang, who made a cool toy called So What. Taiwan megastar Jay Chou (周杰倫) even designed a version of the toy.
The Monster Taipei Ding Hao location closed in 2014 or 2015, I think. Then Monster Gear and Monster Taipei combined in the Monster Gear location, which I visited recently.

Here's a video I shot of the store:
More still photos after the jump:

Friday, December 16, 2016

Star Wars: Rogue One Theater Goods in Japan

Along with just about everywhere else, Star Wars: Rogue One was recently released in Japan. An age-old tradition here is to sell a bunch of movie-themed goods at the theater, to the point of creating a pop-up shop for the biggest films.

For Rogue One, the product roll out was much smaller than for 2015's The Force Awakens. In fact, the theater I went to was even selling TFA goods as well as standard toy store Star Wars merch alongside the small number of Rogue-specific goods. Anyway, a few gems emerged. Here's a look at the offerings.
Sample movie program. For more than half a century, special programs have been made in Japan to be sold during theatrical releases..

Cool selection of 3D glasses.

 More after the jump:

Friday, December 9, 2016

Vintage Japanese Christmas Toys

Here's a nice selection of Christmas toys made in Japan in the 1950s-60s. The still photos are followed by a video.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Osaka Walks

The tiger is something of a municipal symbol, as the local baseball team is the Henshin Tigers.
Osaka is Japan's second-largest city, and one of the few that continues to grow in population. It remains extremely popular with tourists, particularly around the river area in the Shinsaibashi area.
A Shinsaibashi shotengai (shopping street).
There are some toy and hobby shops, clustered mostly in the Namba area. However, unlike a decade ago, when you could find wonderful things in shops like Super Position and Psychedelia, bargains are now scarce, and the selection is not what it once was. Still, the city is famous for its food, and it hosts some toy shows like the Doki Doki events.
Toy shop in the Nihombashi area, just adjacent to the Namba district.
After the jump, here are more photos of the city:

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Art in the Mountains - The Toge Small Art Museum in Naganuma Park

Naganuma Park (長沼公園), located about 45 minutes west of Tokyo, makes for a nice day trip from the metropolis. It's an easy 10-minute walk from Naganuma Station, which is on the Keio Line.
 You can do a circuit around the park's walking trails in a couple of hours.
The trail maps are all in Japanese, but carry a compass (or a smartphone, I suppose) and follow the "you are here" (現在地) pointers on the maps, and it's easy enough to get around.
The park offers nice views, bridges across little streams, and impressive open spaces that can't be found in the city.

More after the jump:

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Gundam Ichiban Kuji 7-11 Goods

I've come to enjoy walking into 7-11's and seeing the latest Ichiban Kuji - which translates to "Number One Lottery" - goods. They seem to cycle through once every month or two.
This time around, Gundam is the theme...with a twist. Instead of just the standard statuettes, towels, and placemats, these goods have a practical, home goods bent. It's like Gundam Day at Home Depot.
As a reminder, the way these work is you pick up a ticket from the display and bring it to the register. You pay the amount (usually in the 300-600 yen range) and choose a card randomly. The letter on the card corresponds to the type of good you can claim. A is the top prize. There is, I believe, just one of these per store. The next tier is B, and then C, and so on.

After the jump, let's have a look at the prizes:

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Star Wars x Japan Post Office Hologram + Lenticular New Year's Cards

The Japanese post office has a knack for putting out visually stunning Star Wars items. As part of their massive 2017 New Year's collection, they've put out two choices to send Star Wars fans in your life.

The first, shown above, is a 3D hologram. The image is based on one of the original iconic movie posters from 1977.
The back of the card. Typically for New Year's cards, people just write a few words of well wishes for the coming year.

The second card has a lenticular image with Darth Vader in the foreground and images from Episodes 1-6 in the background.

A tilt of the card shows the secondary image, with Vader's saber extending and retracting and variant images from the movies in the background.

post card back

Classic Star Wars poster image

Friday, October 28, 2016

Chicago Toy Show (aka the Kane County Show)

Twice a year, the fields of Northern Illinois come alive with the sounds of thousands of toy collectors descending on the Kane County Fairgrounds. That's the site of the venerable Chicago Toy Show.
Filling buildings with names like "Rabbit Building," the "Prairie Events Center" and the "Doll House," some 600+ dealers assemble to sell antique dolls and tin toys, Star Wars figures and Hot wheel cars, plus modern toys like Funko Pop figures and Lego mini figs.

This event was held on October 23, 2016. When you talk to old hands about the show, they speak in hushed whispers about the glory days before the Internet, when deals at Kane County flowed like wine and people traveled from all over the world to get in on the action. These days, auction websites and the democratization of information have leveled the playing field, contributing to the decline of toy shows (and not just in the USA).
But there are still a lot of people who like seeing toys in person before buying them, not to mention fraternizing with collecting buddies and learning from the greybeards who bring centuries of combined knowledge and wisdom. Plus there are several food trucks selling delicious ice cream with freshly made waffle cones. So good...

Here's a look at the show:
There are many high quality toys and excellent displays at the Kane County show.

 More after the jump:

Monday, October 17, 2016

Superhero + Monster Pez at the Pez Visitor Center (Orange, CT)

In Orange, Connecticut, just outside of New Haven, is a kind of mecca for Pez fans: the Pez Visitor Center. It has a small museum, shop, and some nice displays. It's also the site of a Pez factory, but that isn't open to visitors.

Pez seems synonymous with American candy, but it was actually invented in Austria in 1927. A few decades later, they started selling candy with the now iconic dispensers. There are a huge number out there, not to mention a faithful following of collectors.
Here's a look at one of the displays at the Pez Center, showing Superhero and Monster dispensers from over the years.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Ultraman Ace Exhibit at Super Festival 72

The tokusatsu focus of Super Festival 72 was Ultraman Ace. As with past shows, the organizers did a great job putting together an exhibit of Ultraman Ace items. That included toys, books, scripts, and what look like props from the show. Here's a look:

 More after the jump:

Monday, September 26, 2016

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