Sunday, December 29, 2013

Paradise Toy Land Renewal Visit (Pics + Video)

Paradise Toy Land, one of Taipei's best toy shops, recently underwent a major facelift.

Here are a couple of snaps of the store:

And here's a video I shot:

Here's the store info:

Store address: Dun Hua S. Rd Sec 1, Lane 187, No. 17, Taipei, Taiwan
Phone number: (+886) (0)2-2776-6224
Fax: (+886) (0) 2 2776-4858

By the way, this is also the first video I'm uploading that I shot with my new camera, a Canon S120. The frame rate is 60 fps, and it was shot in HD with Canon's IS, which creates a smooth image when you're standing still or walking forward. I find that when turning left and right (which I have to do a lot in this video), it's not as smooth. But in general I think the quality is much higher than with my previous videos. If you like it and want to see more videos from me, please head to YouTube to like the video, comment, and subscribe to my channel.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays with Arcade & Crane Game Snaps from Kichijoji!

Kaiju Korner wishes you and yours a great holiday season! During the holidays people are out to have a good time with friends and family. In Tokyo, that often means heading to one of the city's hot spots. There are plenty in the city, and one that stands out is Kichijoji, a district in Western Tokyo about 15 minutes from Shinjuku.

Kichijoji has plenty to see and do, from huge electronics and department stores to tiny boutique shops and alleyway eateries. As we wind down 2013 and gear up for the new year, here are some snaps I took the other day in the area.
Like the sign says, coppice Nordic Christmas!

 Arcades, crane games, and Tommy Lee Jones after the jump:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vintage Pachi (Bootleg) Kaiju Toys

Bootleg sofubi toys go back decades. It wasn't long after the release of blockbuster toys from Ultraman, Godzilla, and other properties that low cost. unlicensed figures appeared on the scene. These days, there are quite a few collectors who are after knockoff toys of yesteryear. There's a certain personality to bootleg toys that can be hard to put your finger on - you just know it when you see it!

Mandarake currently has a very nice display of some very early pachi kaiju toys. Some of them look like straight up dinosaurs. Others bear a pretty close resemblance to well known Japanese monsters. And one thing's for sure - they go for quite a bit more than they did back in the day!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Clutter Magazine #19 with my interview with Mutant Vinyl Hardcore

Just out is the new issue of Clutter magazine. Among lots of other content, it contains my interview with Rich aka LASH aka the man behind Mutant Vinyl Hardcore. A lot of planning, phone conversations, and work went into the piece, which is one of the most extensive interviews I've ever done. I hope you check it out, as Rich put a lot of thought into his answers, providing an excellent insight into his work, his toy making process, plans going forward, and tons of other material.

It's super easy to get the issue, and it's really cheap (the sale page has it at $3 + shipping). Click here to pick up a copy.

PS: Looks like they've also marked down a bunch of  back issues to $5. Some of the recent issues have really nice pieces on indie toy makers. So it might be nice to do a little bundle and save on shipping costs.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Japanese Monster Movie Poster Trading Cards

I recently came across these cool trading cards featuring scaled-down versions of movie posters from some of Japan's most famous kaiju-themed films, like Godzilla vs. Hedorah and Godzilla vs. Mecha Godzilla. The cards, which are on good, heavy paper stock, were made in 1995 in Japan by Amada, a company that's been making paper-based items for quite a long time.

Here are pics of the cards I got:

 More after the jump:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Secret Base Mazinger Z + Devilman Mini FIgures

Here's a new look at Secret Base's popular line of mini figures. These are shots I recently took at the store.
Mazinger Z

 More after the jump:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Secret Base x Pushead skullORM

Awesome purple marbled skullORM  - aka the SkullPirateSerpent - released today at Secret Base.
This is the << oh ryse frahm de blaastbeet trahjedee aht seeeeea ze ghreyt skullORM NOV 30 2013 >> marbHouse Vers.

 More after the jump:

VIntage Posters

From time to time I like to take a look at the vintage posters for sale in Nakano. Here's the latest group of eye candy, featuring some of Japan's most famous anime and tokusatsu characters.

 More after the jump:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

RESTORE Sofubi History Catalog

Recently at NYCC, RESTORE gave out some fantastic little catalogs, showcasing sofubi figures he's already released and previewing two exciting new toys! I love catalogs like this and wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to see it, so here are some pics.
Debris Japan is one of my favorite figures of the last few years and one well deserving of such a retrospect!

 More after the jump:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Clutter Magazine #18 (including my article on Tokyo Toy Shows)

The new issue of Clutter magazine contains an article I wrote about Tokyo's biggest toy shows: Super Festival, Wonder Festival, Design Festa, and the Tokyo Toy Show. The article has details about the different shows, when they're held, etc. Plus, the issue has an interview with Rotofugi and a bunch of other topics.

It's only $10, and they'll ship worldwide. Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pachinko and Pop Culture

Vintage pachinko machine
Pachinko is one of those institutions which is closely associated with modern Japanese culture. Over the decades, the once simple game, involving little metal balls going through an obstacle course of pins and wheels, has become increasingly complex. The current iterations involve not only lights and sounds, but video screens, electronic scoreboards, and enough visual and aural stimulation to make you forget you're playing a game that costs money.
Over time, lights, sounds, and video features began to be introduced to machines.
Then there's modern pop culture, which can be traced at least as far back as Godzilla, who first screamed his way out of the Pacific in 1954. Since then, countless heroes and villains in rubber suits have graced the silver screen and television sets. On top of that, there are legions of anime and manga pop culture icons like Astro Boy and Black Jack, not to mention digital idols like Hatsune Miko. It's difficult to overestimate the impact of these figures over the last half-century on the collective consciousness of people in Japan, and that impact continues unabated.
Tokusatsu legends: Kamen Rider V3, Inazuman, and Lion Maru.
And yet these two strands - pachinko and pop culture - have not developed in isolation. Like the Ghostbusters' proton packs, the two streams, once crossed, become even stronger. I regularly come across new pachinko machines based on licensed manga, anime, and tokusatsu (live action TV shows and movies). And it's common to see older games and even toys that combine pachinko and pop culture figures.
Barom 1 children's pachinko toy from the 1970s
 More after the jump.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bandai Tamashii Nations (11/2013) Mecha Mania!

The current Tamashii Nations exhibit, featuring a look at Bandai's new releases and upcoming figures, is heavy on the mecha. There are plenty of new toys based on Japan's robotic legends like Gundam and Mazinger. Plus there are new figures from Saint Seiya, Yamato, Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, Iron Man, and many other properties.

 More after the jump:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Design Festa 38

Welcome to Kaiju Korner's coverage of indie toys at Design Festa 38. At this installment of the extremely popular show which combines art, music, toys, and random displays of creativity, most of the indie toy makers were nicely concentrated in one section of the show. I found that a big improvement over previous shows.

Many of the regulars were in attendance, like Blobpus, Marmit, Refreshment Toys, and so on. And the Max Toy booth featured a number of international artists who flew over for the event, so it was a good chance for collectors to talk with the toy makers themselves.

I'd say on a whole, it felt like there were maybe not quite as many toy makers or collectors in attendance this time around. I think the latter might have had to do with the weather, which turned cold and wet at times.

Still, the show had a nice mix of new toy releases, new versions of well known figures, customs, collabs, and even a few protos on display.

Alright, let's get to the pics! The makers are ordered alphabetically. Please click on each image to see its full size.

Black Rabbit

 120+ pics after the jump:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Secret Base shop pics (10.31.2013)

Happy Halloween! Here are new pics of the Secret Base shop in Harajuku, Tokyo.
Sold out gallery.

 More after the jump:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Kobe Toy Shopping (2013)

Welcome to Kaiju Korner's 2013 guide to toy shopping in Kobe, one of Japan's largest and most dynamic cities. Kobe has a lot to see in its own right, from distinct architecture to a famous harbor, gardens, and historic districts.

It has also has a couple of well known shopping arcades which stretch on for long distances. And both of those have clusters of toy shops.

Toy + Hobby Area 1: San Plaza/Center Plaza/Plaza West

This set of three shopping complexes, which are connected by walkways, is located in a nice covered mall. It's near Sannomiya station, and the easiest thing is to enter at the above spot.

After a few meters, you'll see this entrance to San Plaza. Most of the toy, game, and other shops of interest are on the 2nd and 3rd floors. To see all the shops in all three complexes, remember to take one of the corridors connecting San Plaza to Center Plaza, and then another from Center Plaza to Plaza West. It sounds confusing (and it can be from all the signage), but once you're inside one of the buildings, it will feel like one giant complex, so don't worry too much about the naming of things. Once you hit the end of Plaza West, you'll come to a big wall, so you'll know where to stop.

There are little arcades, video game shops, as well as stores selling manga, anime, model kits, books, records, and of course toys.
 More after the jump:
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