The first rule of Japanese toy conventions is: try to get in with a dealer pass.
The second rule of Japanese toy conventions is: TRY TO GET IN WITH A DEALER PASS.
I was lucky enough to do just that at Winter Super Festival 2005, thanks to a well-connected friend who procured early-entry passes for his pals. This allowed us to bypass the hundreds-people-long line waiting impaitently to get in, hobknob with dealers, and cherry-pick our favorite goodies before the crowd came crushing through.
Super Festival — or “Su-Fes,” as it’s affectionately known over here — is one of the great survivors of the constantly changing Japanese convention scene. It’s always there, like an old friend, several times a year, and always in the same place: the dowdy but redoubtable Science and Technology Hall, right in the heart of downtown Tokyo. This means a far easier commute than shows like Wonder Festival, which are held outside of Tokyo proper in huge venues such as Big Sight. But even still, I had to get there by six thirty in the morning to obtain my early-bird pass. Hence the stupor.
Su-Fes is always a mixed bag, but when it’s on, it’s ON. This particular show featured a maxed-out table from vinyl-masters M1, a wholesaler who decided to blow out expensive toys like the Soul of Chogokin and Yamato Koening Monster to his fellow dealers at a fraction of retail price just before the doors opened to the public, and a handful of show originals, like Fewture Models’ funky vinyl renditions of Mr. Otter and his buddy Kappa from the obscure Japanese comic “Utsurun-Desu.”
It also being just after New Years, most dealers had “fuku-bukuro” (“lucky bags”) for sale. Lucky bags generally come in 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 yen varieties; you can’t see what’s inside, but the catch is that there’s supposed to be double the value of items in the bag as you’re paying. Of course, it’s generally dead stock that they couldn’t move during the previous year. Hot diggity!
And so I left, pile of goodies in tow, at 10:00 AM, just as the peons — I mean, regular visitors — came shuffling in. After a celebratory cup of coffee at the local Starbucks analogue, I staggered home to crash for several hours and recover my toy-buying stamina for another day.
For more info on the Super Festival conventions, check out the official website at http://artstorm.co.jp.