Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nippon, the Glorious Land of Toys

Or Look at Me Justifying Dropping a Bunch of Money on Figures

I've never really been the sort of anime fan to own an overabundance of anime figures. Sure, I can appreciate their attractiveness (nice paint jobs, dynamic positions, solidly weighted), but my workspace has been fairly sparse. When Honey and Clover figures were announced, I bought a couple of those, and yes, I have gone hog-wild over the Yotsuba figures (just missing Donbo), but in the good ol' US of A, figures are an expensive luxury that require overseas shipping and occasionally finding a buyer in Japan to hunt down your rare Mashiro Nendoroid figure. Often I would hem and haw at the J-List website, dearly wishing I could order, but having been jerked around one too many times by good ol J-List, I was gunshy. I hadn't expected my overpriced trip to Japan to turn into a toy shopping grand adventure, but let's face it, I never get what I expect.

First off, let's start with gashapon. These capsule toys are EVERYWHERE. Every street corner, shopping mall, mom and pop, convienance store. And they're cheap, way cheaper than they are in the US, a mere 200 yen in many cases for a tiny plastic figure in a little plastic ball, and the fact that Japan uses coins (not bills) up to 500 yen makes it REALLY easy to justify popping 2 100 yen pieces in every machine you pass. If this is the extent of your toy addiction, you've got it made, for a mere twenty bucks your zippers, shoelaces, and cellphone straps can be laden with little plastic cuteness of every description.

Moving on from gashapon, we head to figure land. Figures can range from ridiculously cheap and used (procured in Nakano Broadway), to slightly more expensive and new (Akihibara). I found the Takagi Nendoroid figure I was looking for (you know, the one that's supposedly sold out) for about 3,000 yen (thirty bucks), when it's sold here for about sixty five USD. Heidi found her Mashiro with a little extra digging for 3,400. I saw a wide spectrum of Yotsubato! figurines, including several variations of Fuuka (before, I'd only seen her school uniform, the one I own, but there are several outfits), as well as the Amazon JP Donbo. There's a pretty wide range in figure respectability, you've got the tooth rottingly cute and modest to the downright pornographic. I merely collect cute things, so my figure purchasing stopped at the adorable Takagi.

I have a confession to make. I like dolls. Not 1,000$ Dollfies, but I have had a My Best Friend version Blythe for the past few years, and I picked up a Petit Dejeuner while in Japan. I can justify this because while Amazon and other US sites that carry Blythes want 300 USD now that the dolls have picked up in popularity, I got my Petit Dejeuner for a mere 8,800 yen, which is way more reasonable for a toy I'm technically too old to have.

I finished toyshopping fairly early on, but Heidi was a woman on a mission, and we really scoured Akihibara and Nakano Broadway, first to find her Mashiro Nendoroid (Mission: Accoplished!), and then to see what deals could be had. Along the way, I picked up some Rement miniatures, which, if you don't know me, really don't know me. I love miniatures. The shops in Nakano Broadway don't even make you play gashapon roulette, for about 100 yen more, you can buy a pre-opened Rement in a plastic baggie, allowing you to selectively finish your collection, instead of gambling for the pieces you want.