Thursday, 1 November 2012

Toy Shopping in Tokyo

I have previously written a few articles for the www.japantravelguide.co.uk and I thought it was about time I posted them here as well. Tokyo is a great place to visit and even better if you are a toy collector. Enjoy.
Part One

There are many great toy shops in and around Tokyo, and after years of traveling and searching I have compiled a guide to some of the best around.



Hakuhinkan Toy Park

Location: Ginza, Tokyo
Nearest Stations: Shimbashi or Ginza (about 4 mins walk)

Hakuhinkan was one of the first toy shops I visited in Tokyo as it’s mentioned in pretty much all the guide books. It is by no means the best toy shop, but it’s worth a visit. The first floor contains a nice selection of novelty goods and strange gadgets and that’s where I tend to spend most of my time. The rest of the floors contain a good selection of Japanese and western toys so if you are just looking to get a few toys to bring back for friends and relatives this is a good place to visit.

Yamashiroya

Location: Ueno, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Ueno

Now this really is a great shop, Yamashiroya is spread across many floors it’s absolutely crammed with toys, games, gadgets; you name it, it’s in here somewhere. It contains great selections of both Japanese and western toys, with a nice Transformers and Star Wars selection. It is very hard to go into this shop without spending some money, even if it us just in the Gashapon machines outside.
A strange rule in this shop is that you have to pay for your items on the floor they are found on, so as you move up spending your money, you end up with more and more bags of items you have bought on the floors below.

Monster Japan

Location: Ebisu, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Ebisu

Monster Japan
Monster Japan is a small shop hidden away on the upper floors of building in Ebisu, Tokyo and specialises in American toys and imports. Even though all the toys are imports you can still find a bargain, especially if the exchange rate is good. They have good ranges of Star Wars, Transformers, G.I.Joe, and toys from all the latest movies.

Kiddy Land

Location: Harajuku, Tokyo
Nearest Stations: Meijijingumae, Harajuku 

Kiddyland Harajuku

Don’t let the name fool you, Kiddy Land is not just for kids, although you will find it a really busy place. Spread over seven floors this is a fantastic toy store for everyone.
On each floor you will find a different range of toys from all over the world. They have the largest collection of Snoopy and Peanuts toys I think I have ever seen and a great selection of some of the many cute and cuddly characters from Japans greatest anime cartoons.
Kiddy Land is a chain of stores with shops in other locations in Japan.


Astro Mike

Location: Harajuku, Tokyo
Nearest Stations: Meijijingumae, Harajuku

Astro Mike

Astro Mike is a small toy shop hidden away in the back streets of Harajuku, Tokyo. Although it is only a few square metres in size it is packed floor to ceiling with toys of all kinds. From Smurfs to Star Wars it’s pretty much all in there. The staff have always been really friendly and eager to help which makes it well worth a visit, and it is only a short walk from Kiddyland.

Akihabara

Location: Akihabara, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Akihabara

Although Akihabara is best known for being the electric town selling all known electronics and gadgets, it’s also a great place for the toy collector.
As soon as you exit Akihabara station you are surrounded by shops big and small selling gadgets galore. But in between these you will find plenty of toy shops. Animate have a big store here, but most are small independent stores that come and go. Each time we have visited there have been different stores to find. This is also the best place to go to find Gashapon machines, which are on most corners and outside most stores.

Nakano Broadway

Location: Nakano, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Nakano

Nakano Broadway mall is the location of probably the biggest and best collection of toy and collectable shops in  Tokyo. Located on the second, third and fourth floors it is absolutely crammed with small shops specialising in every kind of collectable toy old and new.
Some of my favourite shops in Nakano are Mandarake and Robot Robot. Mandarake has loads of different shops here each focusing on a different area. The Cosplay shop is worth a look. You can even take your old collectables there to trade in for cash.
It’s easy to spend an entire day here just browsing through the many small shops, each crammed to the brim with stuff.

Sunshine City

Location: Ikebukuro
Nearest Station: Ikebukuro

Sunshine city is one of the best all round shopping malls in Tokyo, we often spend an entire day looking around. On the toy shopping front there is a rather large Toys R Us in the basement that never fails to deliver. It always has a good selection of both Western and Japanese style toys. And some of the pre-school kids toys are so damn cute it’s hard no to get another Doreamon for your collection.
Outside Sunshine City you will find a small row of shops specialising in Manga including Animate and K-Books.

Part Two
An update of my previous guide on the best places to shop in and around Tokyo. If you are looking for Toys or collectables read on.

Toycats Showcase

Location: Horiuchi Building B1, Kichijoji Honcho 1-26-4, Musashino City
Nearest station: Kichijoji

On a recent trip I came across a small shop in a back street in Kichijoji called 'Toy Cats Showcase'.  Located in the basement of a small ordinary looking building the shop is crammed full of toys. The shop specializes in many Japanese toy lines including Microman, and Diaclone but has many other ranges. When I visited he had a good selection of Transformers and is one of the only shops I have seen the has vintage star wars figures. Normally you see lots of modern  Star wars and only vary rarely vintage lines.

Blister

Blister appears to have moved from Harajuku. The shop in Harajuku is currently empty.
The new shop location is listed on their website. I didn’t get  a chance to go there this time, so if anyone does, let me know what it is like.

Yamada Denki - Labi 1

Location:  Ikebukuro
Nearest Station: Ikebukuro on the Yamanoti JR line

Labi1

If you exit the station on the Seibu side you can't miss this huge 7 story building.
Labi 1 is an Electronics and appliance store that opened in October 2009. This store is one of there flagships stores and is packed full of electronics. For the toy collector, head to the 7th floor to see one of the biggest selections of Gun-dam toys and collectables that I have ever seen. The entire floor is full of kits, models, toys, accessories and even clothing.

Bic Camera

Location: all over Tokyo

You can find Bic Camera stores all over Tokyo including Akihabara and Ikebukuro. This is another store that specialises in electronics and gadgets but it also normally has a floor of toys and games. The toys are mainly from the Japanese market, so lots of Gun-dam, Macross, Mask Rider, Pokemon, Power Rangers, etc. They tend to also have the latest range of Transformers. Depending on the exchange rate, the prices are pretty average for Tokyo. Not the cheapest, but by no means the most expensive (Kiddy Land and Hakuhinkan Toy Park are always more expensive than the rest).
If you are after some gifts for your kids this is a great place to check out.

Nakano Broadway

Location: Nakano, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Nakano on the Chuo line from Shinjuku

Nakano as always been one, if not the best place to shop for toys in Tokyo. The amount of shops and variation in what they stock is so great you can pretty much get anything there.
But on our last trip (April 2010) I have to say I was a little disappointed with what was on offer. There are still a large amount of stores, but some of the better ones seem to have gone. This is probably a sign of the economic state of Japan, but it still surprised me how much had disappeared in just over a year.
Even with less shops this is still a great place to shop, so don't forger to visit. Please check my previous article for more info.

Toys R Us

Location: All over Tokyo, Sunshine City, Odiba, Lala port Chiba.

Although you can go to Toys R Us in pretty much every country they are still a good place to check out. The stock such a wide range of toys and tend to have the best prices around.
On the last few trips to Japan I have managed to pick up large quantities of Star Wars toys that they have been selling off cheap.

Motu - Hard Head Skeletor


I'm hoping that someone reading this can help me out. I picked this figure up of the dreaded ebay last week as it was at such a low price. Or at least I hope it was a low price as I know nothing about Masters of the Universe figures.  Is this figure a rare one? What does Hard head mean?

If you read this and know anything about it, then drop me a line.

The figure looks a tad played with, and is also pretty dirty (could have done with a clean before grading in my eyes). But it still scored 80%. Is that because it is rare?

I would love to find out more.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

New troops back from the cleaners


It's been a couple of weeks and the cleaning and bleaching process has now all been done on the latest lot of imperial figures. The stormtroopers all came out really nice and white. A couple still have slightly yellow limbs, but this is due to the type of plastic they are made from.

One of the At-At commander figures was a really really light version to start with. The yellow tint came out nicely from his body and now matches the rest of him.

I have touched up the pain on the bulk of them as they where heavily play warn. The final result is great, and another load of figures to add to Yellow squadron.

Note: I did find one new glitch while de-yellowing this lot. On one of the figures boots, I ended up with a blister in the original paint. I'd not seen this happen before. Not a problem for me as it required re-painting anyway, but worth keeping and eye on.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Zombie Royal Guard


Rat damage. Not sure what can be done with this figure.  Not much can be done when a rat has chew up most of his skirt. One for the bin. Shame.

Bumper load of Yellow figures

I am still building up my army of Star Wars figures, otherwise know as Yellow Squadron. And these are some new additions purchased off ebay last week. They are some really well played with figures, and some pretty awful yellow ones.

It looks like these have been stored for a long time as they are filthy, and also a couple have been chewed by rats! I'll post a pick of the worst offender later. First thing to do is to give this lot a bath before I prepare them for a soaking in some H2O2 to bleach the yellow back to a much nicer white. As the weather here is pretty bad, and we seem to be having next to no sunshine, the de-yellowing process is going to take a week or so. And as my jars can only fit 5 figures each, I'll have to do it in a few batches.

Fingers crossed they will all come out looking good and can be added to my growing army.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

UKG cases

Just got some slide back cases from UK Graders. I was looking to get these figures graded, but decided against it as they had enough flaws that they would have got fairly low grades.

So instead I decided to go for some slide bottom cases. These are more that a step above the protech cases, and are really nicely made. They make the figures look really cool, and also add a layer of protection to stop them getting damaged.

I would recommend getting some if you have some figures you want taking care of.

Flea market finds





I don't often find Flea markets in the UK a good source of toys. It's mainly people selling antiques, china, furniture, etc. Last weekend we went to one in Shepton Mallet, and this is the first time in ages that I actually found some toy bits. Nothing amazing, but still worth getting.

The best find was a pack of 'dirty' playing cards from the seventies. I remember these doing the rounds at school, so felt I had to buy them. By todays standards they are very tame, just topless. They are really tiny cards and were given away as a freebie with Titbits magazine.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Great Big War Game - Out Now

The game I have spent the last many months working on is out today on iOS and Android. This is a sequel to the award winning Great Little War Game I work on last year.

You can grab the iOS Great Big War Game here, And the android version here.

Check out the video below to see what it's all about.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Great Big War Game - Promo Stuff

Got the first lot of Great Big War Game promo items in the other day. A selection of T-shirts, Mouse Matt, coasters, Mug, and credit card sized USB stick. They all turned out pretty good. And I am loving the orange glow that comes of this lot. Makes it really stand out from the first game.

This is going to be given away to promote the new game that comes out in the next few weeks for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Mac, PC. It's a long list this time.


TKMaxx Bargains

I pop into the TKMaxx in Taunton every once in a while to see what sort of stuff they have. Mostly it's rubbish, but sometimes (very rarely) you can find a bargain. And this is what I picked up at the weekend. The super hard to find Gamorrean Guard, and a Rebel Commando. Both £3.99.

This is actually the first time I have seen a Gamorrean Guard in the UK, they just didn't turn up anywhere.
I had seen them on ebay with people asking more than twenty quid for them, which is just crazy. Even for such a nice figure.

What I like about the Gammy guard is the weight of it. When you pick up the card you can feel it is so much heavier than most Star Wars figures. The sculpt is great, so much detail. And I even like the furry pants. The fur is a little bit OTT, but it works.

I already had a commando, but with these sorts of army building figures it is always nice to have a couple. It is just a shame they put such a distinctive head on this guy. A more generic face with have made army building so much better.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Yellow Squadron - Update

I had been meaning to take a new photo of Yellow squadron for a while now as I have had more figures arrive and go through the de-yellowing process.

This time I thought I would try and make my photos look even better. I purchesed some cheap clip photoframes so that I had a couple of sheets of glass to stand the figures on. Under this I placed black card so you got a really nice dark reflection of the figures.

I had also got myslef a 100 figure stands as on previous attempts to stand up the figures I had wasted much time playing star wars dominos with them. And that get's quite frustrating after you have knocked them over more that a couple of times.

About 60% of the figures have weapons now as well. Mainly repros and I don't have the budget to get original weapons for all of them. And about 80% of the figures are white, there have been some that were so yellowed that I doubt they will ever go back to being pure white.


And this is the end result. 

I'm not sure what to do next, except buy more yellow figures and keep on building.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Bathtime


Just washing some figures that have been sitting on the window ledge de-yellowing in the sun. Even Luke joined in.



Thursday, 10 May 2012

Gundam Front Tokyo


I've just been lucky enough to spend two weeks in Tokyo for my holidays. I always love going to Japan as there are plenty of cool things to do, and also plenty of unique toys and gadgets to be found.

This time we managed to be there at the opening of a new shopping mall called 'Diver City' in Odaiba. Not only is it a huge mall, but it also is now the home of the life size Gundam robot that was in Tokyo a few years ago. This really is a site worth seeing, even if you don't know much about Gundam. The model is amazing! It towers above the ground and is so ridiculously detailed. On the hour the head moves and smoke comes out of it. At night it lights up.

If I had a big enough garden, I can just imagine having this standing in it.


On the top floor of the mall they have a Gundam museum called Gundam Front. It had only been open a day when we went to visit, and you had to have pre-bought a ticket to get in as it was proving very popular. The museum featured artwork from the show and a really cool 360 cinema. As you leave the museum there is a room filled with Gundam toys. There must be thousands of figures.


For a toy nerd, this is hours of fun.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Second piece of GLWG fan art.

The Daily napkin has created another piece of art based on my art for Great little war game. I really love that this is being done. Makes me proud.

You can check out the Daily Napkins blog here. There are some really nice pictures.

And if you want to play the game (which you should as it's great)  you can get it here. It's out for iOS, PC, Android, Chrome, and Blackberry.

We are currently working on a sequel. So keep your eyes peeled for that.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Great Little War Game - Fan Art


I had to post this as it has never happened before. The Daily Napkin (from facebook) has created this great bit of art based on some of the artwork I created for Great Little War Game (iPad, iOS, Android Game). I am really chuffed. Thanks

Friday, 16 March 2012

Figure touch-up


I just though I would post a shot of my figures mid paint touch-up as they look funny. As the figures I buy for de-yellowing are normally very warn and played with, they always need a bit of re-painting.

If these figures were for my main collection I wouldn't touch the paint as I want minty figures for that. But as these are army builders I am happy to do it.

You need a mix of paints as they all seem to dry differently, with varying amounts of Matt to shiney results.
Humbrol acrylics are good for skin tones, and the black is good for Stromtroopers, Biker scouts and Snow troopers. I use Tamiya Black paint for At-At commander boots as it has a more gloss finish. Tamiya white is also good for At-At driver touch ups.

It's all a bit hit an miss, but these are what work for me.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

My childhood dream!


It has taken a while but I now have what I would class as an armies worth of imperial figures. As a kid I would have died to have this many figures in my collection. But my pocket money wouldn't stretch that far. Now I'm an adult with money to spare I can really go to town.

Most of these figures are ones that have gone through the de-yellowing process I have discussed on this blog and all together they look great. I have started adding weapons to a large part of the collection, mostly repros as I still want to keep my costs down.

I recently bought a few spare probots which are a great addition. These can just be seen in the Hanger bay in Return of the Jedi.

All I require now is a few more tie fighter pilots and Royal guards and I think I will call it a day.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

You can never have enough Stormtroopers!


Or can you?

Mint Imperials


What happens when you have time on your hands. I make stupid bits of art. The latest addition to my collection, a nice Mint Imperial on card. Bad joke I know, but it made me laugh!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Tiamat Box Art

 I have always had a soft spot for the LJN Advanced Dungeons and Dragons toy line. It was loosley based on the cartoon show, but featured none of it's main characters. Most being taken from the roll playing game. I had most of the figures as a kid and they were well played with, good simple well made figures, some had battle actions, and they all looked pretty cool. The best bar far being Warduke in my eyes.


These days the figures turned up on ebay off and on, and most can be picked up dirt cheap. There are obviously a few collectors out there that want them as they allways seem to sell. By far the rarest toy in the line is the 5 headed dragon Tiamat (this did feature in the cartoon), it does turn up on ebay, but not often, and when it does expect to pay a hefty price for it. This line of toys has one massive stand out feature, and that is the box and card art. It always blew me away how good the illustrations were. Above you can see the box art for Tiamat, it just looks superb.

On the card back of the first wave of figures you see this amazing battle between Strongheart and Warduke (and North Lord vs Hook Horror). This is still my favourite piece of action figure card art.

Here is a great review of the toy.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Slave 1 - Repro Stickers



As with all types of collecting you often get figures and ships that are a bit rough around the edges. And as you know if you have read any of my other posts, I tend to go for these figures and ships, then give them a bit of a touch up. If I ever come to sell any of this stuff I will make it clear that this has been done.

I recently picked up a boxed Palitoy ESB slave one. The box was a bit beaten up but not bad, the ship was pretty good but missing 90% of it's stickers. So I thought I would give it a spruse up with a new set of stickers.

Scans of the stickers can be found on-line. I got mine from Erik Stormtroopers Imperial Gallery. and a copy of the instruction sheet to find out where the stickers go from 12back.com 

I then printed these onto some vinyl A4 sticker paper that I picked up on ebay. There are plenty of sellers listing this sort of thing, so I won't link to anyone directly. I have a kodak ESP 5250 and this seemed to print them out very well. Colours looked good and bright.

Note: As the sticker sheet didn't quite fill and A4 page, I add a few R2 sticker sheets on the bottom for a future fix up job.


Before I started adding the stickers I did give the ship a good wash in soapy water, and then also a bit of a rub down with lighter fluid to remove some marks and old sticker glue. I decided to leave the few orignal stickers that were on the ship in place.

The next bit is a bit fiddly, and a bit boring as it does take a while. Using a knife and cutting mat, cut out each sticker and add it to the ship using the instructions as a guide.


The end result looks pretty good. The stickers look a little fresh, but that can't be helped and witha  bit of handling (playing) may look better. Personally I think this looks much better than a ship missing the stickers.