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June 8, 2010

Umm, Where’s my Passport? Part 5: Shimokitazawa, or, always call ahead

Filed under: Toy News — Jerilock @ 9:27 am

Well we’re nearing the end of our story here. Last time we found our hero hanging out in Nakano. This time we begin in Shimokitazawa. Unfortunately due to schedule issues and the like this is going to be the shortest and probably more boring chapter of the story. So the day after the hang out with the Alt I once again ventured out on my own. I went out with Tokyo underground in hand and entered the strange twisted streets of Shimokitazawa, of course starting out going the opposite direction from all the shops, but it gave me a chance to see the new updated sign.
at first this kinda threw me for a bit of a loop as the sign here didn’t match the pics in my guide, but the handy dandy pics in Tokyo Underground came to the rescue, I was able to match up to the wall behind the sign and using that reference point I was on my way towards the few, yet funky shops that are found here. First stop; Natuka Shia. I had heard that this shop was known for having some older items and I was on the prowl for some Bullmark tin goodness (I curse Fraser for turning me onto these things >_<). I rounded a corner and saw the Zappas awning. Sweet!
I climbed the stairs, only to be met with a locked and shuttered door…..
Crap, it’s Tues and they’re closed……. *sigh*, Oh well, I had heard this place didn’t always have a great stock selection and stuff… yeah… that makes it hurt a bit less… I headed down the road once again, hoping a wide eyed, mouth hanging open wandering in (H)ome Rice would help. I wandered around the general vicinity where it was supposed to be a couple times, passing by Toys Paradise and Zemba Shoten. After a couple circles around the same block I wandered into a sake shop and in my best broken japanese asked if they could direct me to Ome Rice. They pointed direct across the street from their shop at a closed and locked non descript store front and said closed……. AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Twice in one day……. Grrrrr….. I checked my guide and I knew I was there at the right time, and there were no closed days listed…. Talking to Alt after wards it turns out that it’s quite common in Japan for shops to close on random days and/or random times. I gathered my sanity and headed over to Toys Paradise. Out front there were dozens of boxes and bins full of random stuff, some of it cool (Erasers, LP’s, carded sofubi etc) Some of it kinda boring and bleh. I did some digging outside and then peered inside, knowing I had some rough times ahead.
While looking well organized at first glance this place was a crazy rats nest, cabinets stuffed to bursting.
Shelves stuffed with vinyls, and dozens of tiny drawers, filled with all sorts of key chains, nick nacks, Gashapon, erasers… the list goes on O_o.
Of course mixed in amongst the JP toys was a TON of American stuff, old marvel characters figures, Megos, Star wars, Ghostbusters, Toy Story…. a very eclectic mix. Once again, greetings with the owner, showing of collection pics and questions about what was there or not there. I was looking at a Geeg tin in a small case to the right of the counter. The price was high and it was not something I was seriously interested in. That’s when the owner told me they were having a store wide 50% off sale… WHOA….. Ok then…I started looking a bit more earnestly then, knowing stuff was half off does that to ya….
It was then that I overheard a bit of english, but with a bit of an Australian twist to it. I met a fellow collector, awesome! we chatted for a bit. Turns out this was her first visit to Japan for toys in a very long while, and she’s still doing it old school, doesn’t use the internet (had never heard of tbdx or cdx), didn’t have any guides with her, I expected her to whip out a binder full of gangu jinsei clippings, magic box ads and the like. She asked about what shops I had been to up to that point and when I whipped out my copy of Tokyo Underground she was sorta amazed that such a publication was available. While I started digging in the stuffed to the gills gokin cabinet in the back she flipped through the book, asking questions, writing down addresses and phone numbers and the like. I am pretty certain that she’s most likely ordered her own copy by now. She was looking at a Battinger that was up high and I told her it was an awesome piece, especially with the 50% off sale. The owner got a ladder and snagged it down, I checked it for her, after seeing it was complete and in good shape I congratulated the score, after the discount it was 15k, not a bad price at all. I asked how she expected to get it back, and was regaled with tales of past visits when she’s ship back dozens of boxes filled with stuff… good times indeed.
p1020431 We chatted a bit more, all the while I dug. This shop had a very nice selection of Grips, I snagged a couple and then I saw what looked like a clover gundam tin walker. I was stoked, but then I opened the box and saw it was the all plastic version and was a bit broken. ugh. oh well back it went. Unlike the other shops I’d been to, the counters here were already piled with stuff, so it was a bit hard to make a buy pile, but the owner was nice enough to bag stuff up for me as I handed them over. One cool thing I saw here were some Bullmark brochures and sales catalogs. Turns out the owner there collects them, not just Bullmark but bandai, takatoku and takemi. Awesome stuff.. The bullmark catalog I looked at showed pictures of what looked like a prototype of the DX Mekanda chogokin, as well as the Mekanda JM!!!! That was a sweet find, I would have gone for it, but, like I said, this guy collects these, and while they’re “for sale” he doesn’t seem to eager to move them that quick, he was asking about $900 for the catalog that had the Mekanda pics in it. Most of the other ones he had were priced right around the $600 range…. Drat.
I finished up the digging, checking my watch I’d been in that one shops for over 2 hours. Dang.
Out of nowhere, the owner handed me the Geeg tin I had been checking out before and scribbled down a price on a scrap of paper, 16k, down to 8k yen after the 50% off…. hmmm… Hella better than 25k.. I went for it, a nice piece at a good price. One cool detail about this place is that for every 1000 yen you spend you’re allowed to grab one freebie item out of a bin of random mini figures or trading cards out of a couple binders (kamen rider kiakider, sailor moon, that sorta stuff) and the like. I was allowed to pull 34 items, mostly cards. Finally it was time to head out, final picture was taken and I made my farewells.
I figured I had some time so I’d do some exploring. The whole town had this vintage, acid wash, dingy funk to it. Dress the folk wandering around in period clothes and this could easily pass for the 60’s-70’s.
Kick ass arcade.
I saw this killer bar that had all sorts of vintage movie poster art for decorations setup.
By now the sun was starting to set and the streets were lighted by the crusty, flickering, dated neon, giving everything this crazy wierd glow… errie, but calming and mysterious at the same time. I wandered past a ton of used clothing shops, a bunch of used sneaker shops (why anybody would buy used shoes I’ll never understand, blah :-p)… Well, all good things must come to an end. I boarded the train and headed back to Utsunomiya. I am regretful that I wasn’t able to see all the shops that were there, but once again that’s just another reason to head back again soon. So ok then guys, the old score card, as it were: Geeg tin, Grip Blazer, Grip Condor man, Grip Daibaron dx upper half, Grip Gatchaman Galactor tank thing, Z-gokin Rockbat, Robocon theme LP, Mid sized Dougram sofubi, mini Yamato analyzer wind up, Kamen Rider mini figure, 34 random assorted bonus items. So ends part 5 guys, hope you enjoyed it, wish there was more content for it, but oh well. Stay tuned for the last and final chapter, Umm, Where’s my Passport. Part 6: Burgers with a side of Combattler.

June 7, 2010

“Are my methods”…”unsound”?

Filed under: Josh Fraser,Toy News — Josh Fraser @ 5:05 pm


Strong missile!!

Filed under: Co. BANDAI,Co. POPY,Toy News — Sanjeev @ 1:21 pm

At the behest of the Chairman, I’m dropping some Getta-‘bows on ya. Of the missile-firing variety.

It’s criminal that I can’t seem to nab me a boxed Getter 1, arguably the most common of the sofubi brovas. If you got a lead, get at me!

Getter 2!

Getter 3!

Divine sculpts. Pristine paint. Heavenly boxt art. And eye-exploding firepower.

Bandai missile fires are the illest. Got more soul than your tennis shoe, and three times the funk.

Dig it.

“Soft”fubi party

Filed under: Daily Money Shots,Declarations,Josh Fraser,Toy News — Josh Fraser @ 12:43 pm


Saturday August 14, the 2010 East Coast Chogokin Summit will commence in Watertown Mass … book your tickets, gas up your cars, and grease your bicycles. It is going to be a good time.

June 5, 2010

Bandai Musha MSZ-006 SD Gundam 1990 diecast

Filed under: Co. BANDAI,Daily Money Shots,Erik Sjoen — erik sjoen @ 3:37 pm

Blurry as possible… ;) On purpose.





June 4, 2010

What dreams may come

Filed under: Declarations,Josh Fraser,Stoopid,Toy Love — Josh Fraser @ 5:46 pm


I had a dream the other night.

The phone rang. Picking up, I hear the excited voice of Mason, telling me that a seller out of South Boston, who found a dead stock shipment from Mattel, which never made it past the boatyard warehouse.

It appears Mattel/Bandai had made a GA50 Shogun Warrior set, which no one had known about, since the entire production run got lost in a paperwork trail and had for the past 33 years sat unopened and unknown… until now.

Like a date with Christina Hendricks, these are the moments you never wish to wake up from.

June 3, 2010

The lost Morphey files

This is what happens when you have about 8,000 photos on your desktop and you forget there was a whole Morphey “roll” left hidden in a folder.

Looking through these makes me want it to happen all over again. One of the finest couple days with my toy brothers ever.

Photos shown in the order they were taken.

( All photos are property of TBDX)

June 2, 2010

KAZUNORI SAITO: Super Collector!!

Filed under: Co. POPY,Declarations,Erik Sjoen,Toy Love — erik sjoen @ 11:46 am

Saito’s collection is just amazing.. He sent me these pictures last night giving me a little taste. Speechless…






Saito’s Colleciton @ Yokohama Doll Museum 5/16 – 7/11

Filed under: Declarations,Erik Sjoen,Toy News — erik sjoen @ 1:40 am

My dear friend and SUPER collector Kazunori Saito’s collection of Japanese toys will be on display at the Yokohama Doll Museum from 5.16.10 – 7.11.08. Be there or be square.


June 1, 2010

Umm, Where’s my Passport? Part 4: Stomping Godzilla Ya and/or Rocking out Nakano With Teh Alt!

Filed under: Toy News — Jerilock @ 6:51 pm

Day 5 of the trip had come at long last. This was a big day for me in more ways than one. For starters it was the first time I was to ride the trains more or less by myself with nobody telling me “ok go to this track at this time get on this train etc etc”. Now before you guys give me crap for being freaked out by this prospect keep this in mind, I am mostly Polish :-p. Secondly, this was to be the long planned and fated meeting with teh Alt! A great time was to be had by all I was sure of it. Of course this day it decided to rain, but luckily for me by the time I got to Godzilla Ya it had slowed down to a very light sprinkling as it were.
I’d have to say that besides senshutei, Godzilla Ya was the easiest to find of all the shops, basically leave the station and go right for 5 mins or so and you’re there. I climbed the stairs and was met by a freaky looking rabbit thing that looked like it hopped right out of some twisted Stephen King novel.
I’d seen the pictures and video from the time Sjoen and Alt had hung out here but, once again, they really couldn’t prepare me for how tiny the shop is.
3 Now, don’t get me wrong, when I say tiny I only mean the overall square footage of the place, the selection there was amazing, I’d say I made some of my favorite scores here. Upon entering I was met with a very friendly gal manning the shop. I made my introductions and asked about taking pics. and was given the go ahead. I did a quick sweep of the shop, my eye catching a few choice pieces, but I had some time to kill here and didn’t have the toy widow along so I was able to take my time.
There were a bunch of inflatables hanging from the ceiling and piled up, something I hadn’t really seen in the other places I’d seen up till then.
Once again I whipped out my trusty, but battle worn, copy of Super #1 Robot to try and ascertain what, if any, of my grails were here to be snatched up. Unfortunately once again, it seems my tastes were the kind that just aren’t lying around. So I started free-styling.
I asked about opening the cases and was told to go ahead and freely open and dig. Tucked waaaayy in the back of the big sofubi case there was one of those Giant robot GR2 polyethylene “mini-jumbos” for a sweet price to boot. Onto the counter it went. I kept digging, finding a sweet T-28 inflatable bop bag. Unfortunately it had a few slow leaks, oh well, nothing that can’t be fixed. I guess the owner was out for the day or something as there were several pieces that had no price tags, she ended up having to go across the hall to the office to inquire about more than a few items I’d picked out. I checked a stack of framed posters and found a few super robot handkerchiefs framed up. One of them was this sweeeeett Mekanda one, complete with the kids name and what I’d assume is 20 year old snot :-p. yes, that too was snagged. in the back of the stack was another cool art peice, a very cool Columbia records advertising poster with Gatchaman, Mazinger Z and the Yamato among other things.
I’m kinda digging the smaller shops, it makes for a fun time, digging through layer after layer of toys, making you have to work to find those treasures, again, much more satisfying than clicking around yahoojp.
With the Stronger Henshin belt I’d nabbed in Senshutei I almost had a complete set of showa KR DX belts, all that alluded me was Amazon. Unfortunately that’s the hardest one to find and alluded me this shop as well.
I continued looking about, finding a few other awesome pieces, inquiring to the Gal there as things would pop into my head, some items they had, some they didn’t. One thing they did have was a very good selection of 45’s (you know, those round black disk things they used for music before the 8 track came out?). I was hoping to score the Rockbat theme but, alas, that’s a tough one to find.
Oh well.. I checked the time and realized it was getting close to the fated meeting time with Matt. I made a few last min. selections and went to the front to pay up and head out. I guess she was sick of having to ask about prices as a few small items (clear rubber figures of gaiking and grendizer) I had without price tags she gave as a gift, in addition to the very generous discount taken at the end. Everything was carefully wrapped in plastic and these cool paper bags with the Godzilla Ya logo stamped on them. before I left I had a quick shot taken standing in front of the sofubi case.
Once again, a great time in a great shop with a very kind and interesting person. She was clearly as into this as much as you or I, not just some part timer who didn’t give a crap :-p.
Onward and upward as they say. On the way out I took a shot of Godzilla Ya 2, the bar attached to the toy shop. Luckily it was closed. I say luckily cause I was in a bit of a rush and didn’t have time to stay and check it out, which I would have certainly done if it was open :-p.
Nakano here we come! Only 2 stops from Nakano, I was there within 10 mins of leaving. After a brief wait the man himself, Tv’s own Matt Alt came into view (not like he was too hard to spot in the crown here). Greetings were made once again and we started to walk over to Nakano Broadway.
We entered the huuge cathedral like entrance and made a beeline straight for the back where the Mandarake shops were located. Now from here on out I’m afraid there are very few pictures that were taken. Between the death threats and warnings about taking pictures of the toys (I guess there was fear that we would take their souls er something) as well as chatting stuff up with Matt I didn’t take too many. Sadness, Sadness.
I checked out the jumbo case outside the entrance to the first Mandarake toy shop and almost shit myself. They had a Getter 3 JM listed at 26,200 yen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh……wait…… no, that’s 262,000, some retard just put the comma in the wrong spot…. D’oh. Here was one of the only spots I saw what I’d consider to be the rumored “crazy insane Mandarake bending you over a table prices” with a Loose Poseidon JM listed for 64k… a 35k piece at best. Oh well, they gotta make their money someway. We both went in, being carefull to securely pocket my camera. They had an impressive selection of vinyls here, all well displayed and very reasonably priced. I saw one of those baby doll Circular machine vinyls, a bit beyond my price range, but still cool to see one in person. Matt was drooling over some very cool MFV’s as well as some Mach Baron villain minis, but we were both in the same boat, light on walking around money and knowing food and drink lay ahead. Around the corner a good seletion of bullmark and takemi gokin. Followed by more Popy and Takatoku, including a funky Japanese packaged 1/3000 Matchbox SDF-1. At this point I wasn’t going to blow my wad on anything just yet, I made a note of a few choice pieces (including a nice, but overpriced loose Lenticular Wood Red Baron vinyl) with the intent to come back and check them again later. We left that shop and made our way further down. Matt took me into the place that was selling a bunch of original Macross and Dougram art pieces. Of course flipping through the book we could see that anything that was reasonably priced had long ago been sold, but still what was in there was super killer and awesome to look at. In retrospect I should have tried to get something there, the toys I was getting were made by the hundreds and even thousands, this art was not only kick ass but one of a kind. Oh well. We moved past a couple of hentai/loli/Moe bullshit figure stores and came to a shop that until then Matt hadn’t been in before. I guess the Mandarake monster just had to take up more space (why they can’t run a clearance sale and keep themselves down to less space is beyond me but oh well, just gives more to ogle). The door here was guarded by a couple of sad looking V3 JM’s. This shop seemed to be very model heavy, but there were some cool things to be had, such as the giant wooden Zaku kit. It was here I scored a mini sofubi gundam and green zaku. After that we exited and moved on. Before we came to the next shop Matt stopped me and very specifically told me NOT to take ANY pictures of the shop we were gonna check out next as the owner there was kinda crazy… and yeah, I’ll tell you now, the guy was really nutty, but he had some choice pieces to check out. This was the fellow that remembered Matt cause I guess he helped someone else buy a very expensive Devil Man sofubi last time he was there. The owner kept calling Matt “Gaijin-san” and was going nuts about this carded Lion Maru mini vinyl set and how he’d “Love it”. To be fair it was a tit set of vinyls, but not really what I or Matt were looking for, but I guess this dude figured all of Matt’s associates were into high end sofubi er something? Oh well. Up til now I’d found just about all the grail peices I was hoping to find this trip, save for a Bullmark Bouken Rockbat Blazer Tin. We started towards a couple of shops that Matt knew carried a good selection of Tins, stopping along the way to check a shop that carried those little plastic gashapon like figures and erasers. It was here that I got a complete box of those mini half translucent Andro Melos figures for a pretty good price (I still have a bunch of duplicates if anybody might be interested in them). Matt showed me how his phone is setup to instantly show a picture of one of those half tranny gundam figures so he can ask about them at the drop of a hat…. whoa…..*ahem* anyway, we moved on after a bit of lookey-loo there. The next shop was pretty awesome. Not only was the entrance setup to look like a freaky scary cave like thing, complete with Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro statues, but the owner had a huuuuge freaking Afro. seriously, if not for the fact that it would have made the guy freak out I would have taken a picture of him, but I can understand that being taken as kinda weird. More looking, the guy had some cool tins, no blazer unfortunetaly. Matt made the sighting of the day when he noticed a Wood Lenticular Red Baron, the same one we’d seen before but for less than 1/3 of the price. This one does have a crack in the chest, but if you guys know me, you know I’m not all that nutty about condition so I snatched it. The shop also had one of those flying spark shooting Yonezawa Kamen Rider tin/vinyls. we asked to see it and try it out. The key was missing and it wasn’t in the best shape overall. the guy working there did have a spare key at the counter, but of course wouldn’t sell it. “Oh you can get keys anywhere, they’re a dime a dozen”….Umm yeah, sorry dude, I actually PLAY with my toys, not just hide them on a shelf behind glass. we left there and headed back to the shop where the guy who kept calling us Gaijin-san was at cause he also had a Yonezawa KR that not only had the key, it was in better condition and for about the same price. I snagged that and after a bit more looking around we both decided it was time to eat.
It took a bit of walking, the place Matt was thinking of going to was closed that day (cursed Mondays).
We eventually settled on an Okinawa style restaurant. The food there was awesome. Just about all fried, and all yum to the Max!
Not only that, but the waitress we had was pretty cute as well.
(Hurray Taco Rice)
We had space to spread out a bit so of course we both started the ages old ritual of geeking out. Before we got to anything though I made a point to present Matt with this awesome My Little Pony Sofubi (Very old inside joke) that came from my older sister’s collection that I’d managed to smuggle into the country… he was confused at first then threw his arms into the air muttering “how the hell did all you guys get the idea in your head that I was into this crap”. we had a good laugh over it for sure. So we sat down and ordered the food then and began the ritual. I think the entire event can be summed up with this picture.
Till then I hadn’t tried out the Yonezawa KR since I got it. With the dim lighting in the place we decided now was as perfect a time as any to try it out.
Being a meeting of Toyboxers we figured we had to get some form of Bacon. Of course Matt had to be an ass and get one of the last pieces for himself.
p10204021 While we were there Matt explained to me about Okinawa cuisine how because of the military bases it’s an odd mesh of American and other worldly foods, among them canned stuff that was easy to ship and store at the bases and what not. I jokingly asked if they had any Spam Tempura…. and of course they did! an interesting delight for sure. At this point I whipped out the camera and showed Matt the pics from the Bandai museum. It was here that we laughed about how they spend two grand to ship Matt’s SG-01 from the USA for that event they held last year while they had a couple sitting at the bandai museum…. funny stuff. Then of course, Matt came to this picture here.
Turns out Matt never did get around to snagging a Combattler V JM. I had been lamenting leaving that one to rot at that second hand shop unloved and buried in the back store room for who knows how long. save for the busted antenna it was in remarkable condition, great stickers, the whole 9 yards. And the price was beyond belief. I figured to repay Matt for taking the time to meet up and play tour guide for me I’d make the effort to try and grab that for him. I checked my wallet and as fate would have it I had exactly 21k yen in my pocket after we paid for the food. we agreed to meet on a later day in the event that I was able to snag the Combattler for that price (neither one of us could imagine how it could be soo cheap). So after the bill was paid and all the toys put back into their respective boxes and bags we headed out into the night. Luckily it was still very lightly raining so there was no need for an umbrella. On our way to the station Matt decided to show me some eels.
It was cool to see, the seafood stores in JP certainly had an interesting selection compared to the USA. Well the evening was more or less done, I was tired as all hell and Matt had to get going for some sort of messed up adult responsibilities, something having to do with paying the rent er something :-p. We gave our farewells with the intent to hopefully meet up the day after to exchange some cash and polyethylene. The last shot I took before leaving for the night was this one here, beautifully captured Nakano Broadway I’d say.
Well the trip was nearly at an end I was starting to feel it, but I had already done soo much in such a short amount of time. The next time I go it will be a different time of year I’m sure, hopefully Matt’s and my schedule will mesh together better so we can hang out longer. Soo now we come to the all important score sheet for the day’s finds and scores.
Godzilla Ya : Tomy GR2 poly figure, Mekanda handkerchief, Columbia records poster, incomplete 1/72 dougram, Inflatable Tetsujin 28 bop bag, Pegas mini sofubi necklace, Clear rubber figures of Grendizer and Gaiking, popy clear Kikaider sofubi. Mandarake : Lenticular Red Baron, Yonezawa Kamen Rider, Mini sofubi Gundam and Zaku, clear rubber Great Mazinger/Getter 2 mix-up figure, Kamen Rider inflatable beach ball, Gavan yo-yo, Andro Melos half clear/chrome mini figures. I’d value the memories and times hanging with Matt well above the toys, I’d say it’s a MUST go to thing if you can swing it, it really was killer being able to geek out with the man in the flesh as it were, swapping stories and the like. A couple hours later I made the call to him that I’d managed to score the Combattler V. We decided to meet up the day I was going to go to the Ghibli Museum as it was right in his neighborhood. but that’s a story for another time. I guess that sums up Part 4 in a nutshell, hope y’all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed living it. Stay tuned for Part 5: Why can’t shops in Shimokitazawa be open when they say they’re gonna be open?!?!

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