Monday, July 10, 2017

Ultraman World M78 Toy and Goods Shop (Osaka, Japan)

Ultraman World M78 is the name of the official Tsubaraya Production shops that sell all sorts of goods from the Ultraman series. Well-stocked shelves hold clothes, toys, and everything in between.
There are a number of M78 shops throughout Japan. I believe the Osaka branch is quite new, having just opened in March. It's located on the B1 level of a shopping mall near Umeda station.  Here are the details:

Tel: 06-6375-2778
Address: 大阪府大阪市北区芝田1-1-3阪急三番街北館B1F
Shopping Mall Location: Click here
Website (for all the M78 stores): Click here
Hours: 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM

Here's a video I shot of the store:

Monday, July 3, 2017

Stepping Back in Time: Thatched Roof Homes in Gero Onsen Gassho-Mura

Some years ago, I wrote about a trip to Gero Onsen, a place well known in Japan for its hot springs and charming scenery.
I recently revisited the town, and this time I stopped by Gassho-Mura, which is a 15 minute walk from the town center.
Gassho-Mura takes its name from "gassho-zukuri," meaning "thatched" and "mura," meaning "village." The roofs of the 10 historical structures were made by hand using traditional methods. In fact, the structures in the village are original, having been built more than 100 years ago. They were transported to the area to recreate the ambiance of a traditional village.
The site, for which you need to buy a ticket to go inside (I believe it was around 1000 yen), is open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. The last entrance is at 4:30.
 Along with the homes, there are many antiques on display. Here are pics I took:
I love these old glass containers.
 More after the jump:

Monday, June 26, 2017

1966 Batman TV Show Themed Pinball Machine

We've all been saddened by the recent passing of Adam West. What a fantastic legacy Mr. West, the other actors, and the whole production team left fans of the caped crusader. More than half a century after it first aired, everything from the costumes to the catch phrases has become iconic.
During a recent trip to Osaka, I grabbed a few minutes to duck into the glorious Silver Ball arcade. I spotted a pinball game based on the 1966 Batman TV show. It looked so awesome that I wanted to snap a few shots to share with you.
Check out that design!!

 More after the jump:

Monday, June 19, 2017

Konatsu Sofubi & Character Story Book - Hot Dog Toyz Chinese Edition

Hot Dog Toyz has produced a Chinese-language edition of Konatsu's book. It has a nice selection of her toys as well as stories about the characters.

 More after the jump:

Monday, June 12, 2017

Paradise Toy Store (new location) - Taipei, Taiwan

Paradise, a staple of the Taiwan toy scene, has moved locations since I last visited. Here's a look at the new location and the kinds of things they sell, including photos and a walk-through video. First, the shop details:

Tel: 02-2776-6224
Address: 台北市敦化南路一段161巷75號1F (No. 75, Lane 161, Section 1, Dunhua South Road, Da’an District, Taipei 106, Taiwan)
Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Map to store: Google Map
Hours: Daily 1:30-10:00 PM

Shop photos:

 More after the jump:

Monday, June 5, 2017

Daoist Religious Parade in Taipei, Taiwan

Taiwan's religious tapestry is rich, varied, and colorful. There are elements of Buddhism, Daoism, as well as various branches of Christianity and other faiths.

Recently during a trip to Taipei, I literally found myself in the middle of a massive parade that started at a large Daoist temple and wound its way all through the area. Here are videos followed by photos:

 More after the jump:

Monday, May 29, 2017

Impressive Konatsu and other sofubi display at Hot Dog Toyz in Taipei, Taiwan

The manager of Hot Dog Toyz is a huge Konatsu fan. She's put together a very impressive collection of Konatsu, T9G, and other sofubi, and it's currently on display at the shop.
As sofubi has grown in popularity in Taiwan, the store has increased its stock. These cabinets are display only, but there are other sofubi toys available.
 More after the jump:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bootleg Toys in Taipei, Taiwan

In Taiwan, a lot of people buy their produce at traditional markets. They are crowded and raucous affairs, with granny carts and elbows flying, booth owners shouting out discounts on fresh watermelon, and the odd stray dog jostling for scraps.
Sometimes, there are also shops lining the markets. You'll have everything from clothing repair shops to stores selling daily goods. A common type of shop is a 貨店 (zha huo dian). They sell your standard low-cost kitchen wares, household products, etc. They also sometimes have toys.

Quick backstory about why I was there. I was on my way to an old neighborhood, and I had a feeling a neighbor might invite me in for coffee. Well, when you go into someone's house, you remove your shoes first. That morning, I had discovered that one of my socks, bought years ago in Korea, had developed a hole in a toe. Not a good look. As a bit of preventive defense, I went searching for a new pair of socks. Lucky thing I found some, since I did wind up visiting with the neighbors. Embarrassment prevented!

Back to the shop. Here's a look at some of the colorful KO toys they had:
We'll start with an oddly named "Deformation" toy. This Transformers KO has even reappropriated the packaging. Thorough job!

And where would we be without LEPIN, one of the many LEGO knockoff brands? Instead of Ninjago, this is the renamed Ninjag line. Maybe they ran out of letters.

The girls have toys to choose from, too. 

This "Star War" gun may be a sort of Nerf/Transformers KO? Nerformers?
 More after the jump:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Incredible Display of Vintage Jumbo Machinders

I recently spotted a display of some of the rarest and coolest Jumbo Machinders, so I thought I'd shoot some snaps to share.

 More after the jump:

Monday, May 8, 2017

Cornucopia of Rare and Wonderful Tetsujin 28 Toys!

Starting price: About $40,000
I recently had a chance to check out an amazing selection of vintage Tetsujin 28 toys. Tetsujin 28 is one of Japan's most famous characters. He was introduced in manga form in 1956 by Mitsuteru Yokoyama.
I believe these toys were made in Japan in the 1950s-1960s.
Among them are a smorgasbord of rare and amazing tin toys, including fantastic remote controlled figures. In the age of drones and Go Pro, we take toys like that for granted, but 50 years ago, remote controlled toys were a technological wonder!
 Lots more wondrous images after the jump.

Monday, May 1, 2017

On Set Photos of Ultraman and Kamen Rider

Ultra Seven
In the lore of Japanese tokusatsu shows, Ultraman and Kamen Rider, along with Godzilla, are at the top of the pack. We've seen many images from the shows, including promotional materials, posters, photos, trading cards, and so on. But what isn't so much in the public eye are in-house and unscripted photos. They might have been used to see how suits look on camera, to have reference shots of helmets and weapons, and so on.

Here's a look at some stills from various Ultraman and Kamen Rider shows from the Showa and Heisei eras.
Kamen Rider X

Kamen Rider 1

Kamen Rider J

Kamen Rider Kuuga

Ultraman Great (aka Ultraman: Towards the Future). Fantastic set of stills from the Australian show!

More Ultraman Great

Finally, here's a fun photo of TV actors holding Ultraman toys!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Super Festival 74 / スーパーフェスティバル 74

Super Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The most recent installment of the show was very well attended, which bodes well for the future. The biggest shift in the toy scene is the growing number of toy makers from Hong Kong who are having toys made in China using Japanese production methods. I'll say a bit more about that below.

Here is my 200+ pic report on the toy offerings from around 50 toy makers from Japan, England, China, the USA, and beyond. They brought goods made from sofubi, resin, keshi gomu, and other materials. For the pics, the booths are arranged alphabetically.

Akaisatsu Club

 Much more after the jump:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Amazing Display of Vintage Talking Tokusatsu Toys

Talking toys saw something of a heyday in the 1960s-1970s. The technology was still relatively novel, and it added an exciting play element to action figures.
Ultraman Taro
The early-mid 70s in Japan also saw explosive growth in the variety and popularity of tokusatsu (live action) and anime TV shows like Kamen Rider, Barom 1, Mirrorman, Mazinger, and many more. 
Sofubi figures were the toys of choice, probably because they were inexpensive to produce, but there was also an enormous variety of vehicles, daily goods (including hero-themed shoes!), and a lot more.
Talking toys were certainly at the higher end of the cost scale. Not only were fewer made, but far fewer have survived. So, seeing a collection like this in their original boxes is something special.
  More after the jump:
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