Monday, March 23, 2015

Vintage Tin Toy Airship / Blimp Display

Toy collecting is full of all kinds of interesting niches. If you're at an antique store or show, you might spot something (like an old fountain pen) and think "That's cool." But when you see 10 or 20 together in a collection, it adds meaning. You can compare different versions and styles, and there's something about putting a lot of a certain type of thing together that creates a story or identity.

So, the other day at a Mandarake, I spotted a bunch of vintage dirigibles. Let me start by saying I have zero knowledge of this corner of the toy world. But the assembled group looked really neat, and I thought I'd share a look with you guys.
Pretty serious money for these collectibles. But beyond that, how cool is this Shenandoah blimp circling the Eiffel Tower!

I wonder how many kids filled the moats with water back in the day. I'm guessing most of them -or maybe mud...

A familiar sight to sports fans.

This one has a Steampunk vibe.

This zeppelin looks like it has a turn key on the bottom. I wonder what it does. Any time I'm at this shop and I heard mechanical whirring and clanging, I run to the register to see what tin toy they're testing. :)

The sign says this one is from Germany.

Looks like one of those Time Life books. Remember those commercials?
I look at toys like this and am just amazed that they survived the decades with such delicate parts!

I guess the blimp from this Marx set is part of the coastal defense? The attackers are coming! Fire up the blimp!

Beautiful jumbo lenticular card.

Top shelf piece right there.
A more modern battery operated toy by Bandai.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Chabuton Restaurants (Has Vegetarian Noodles + Dumplings)

Akihabara location (now closed)
Two vegetarian dishes that are very difficult to find in Japan are ramen and dumplings (gyoza). A chain of restaurants called Chabuton sells both, and they're pretty good. The shop had a location in Akihabara, but it appears to have either closed or moved. The last time I checked, there was still a location in Shimokitazawa.
First you pay for the tickets of the dishes you want.

Veggie gyoza

Veggie ramen

Plenty of toppings, including sesame seeds and hot sauce. Delicious!
 Bon appetit!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Star Wars Japanese keshi gomu (rubber eraser) figures

A bunch of Star Wars keshi gomu figures were made in Japan in the late 70's, after the first Star Wars movie came out. Most were released in gachapon machines or at little candy shops which also sold toys.

The above batch of figures were made by Takara. Here are some up-close pics:
A lot of the early Takara keshi are fairly godawful to look at, but I just darn plum lub em, I do!

 More after the jump:

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Mandarake story: The founder's tale

Mandarake Shibuya
Mandarake is Japan's preeminent source of many pop culture goods. The company, which was founded in 1987, runs shops all over Japan. In Tokyo's Nakano district alone, the Broadway mall contains 26 Mandarake shops (yes, that's 26 with a capital who's your daddy "T"!) A main fixture of these otaku meccas is the "buy back" area where countless streams of people sell things for quick cash. This allows each store to restock shelves regularly - a critical component of the firm's success.
Mandarake Grandchaos, Osaka
In 2000, Mandarake went public, with shares debuting on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. (Stock symbol: 2652.T) Its recent earnings reports reveal just how big the pop culture market has become. In 2014, the firm pulled in 9.5 billion yen in revenues. That's a lot of copies of Gegege no Kitaro!

More after the jump:
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