You are no doubt come afresh looking for a downpour of SDCC '11 haulage, but sadly my day job has prevented me thus from providing to you your very desire. So, in its stead, please accept a substitute of hopefully equal interest - my haul from a work trip to Japan! A while ago we looked at some of the spoils collected from the Tokyo Disneyland Resort so this week lets look at the other half of the haul - the general purchases from Tokyo. I will say this, Tokyo is not the toy mecca I had imagined. I believe this is chiefly because of the internet and the growth of the Collector Market which have decreased the ignorance to internationally exclusive product and the increase of imports. Gone were the crazy and astounding discoveries one could find perusing the import booths at Conventions 10, or even 5, years ago. Fortunately though, they do have the benefit of things like Revoltech just on the shelves, and course some surprises, like the prevalence of miniature food.
I'll also note that I cannot read Japanese, so I've had to do my best to with guessing and research to determine manufacturer names.
Boss Coffee - Batman: Batmobiles
Boss Coffee is this line of refrigerated, canned coffees so famously using Tommy Lee Jones as their spokesman and so bad my coworker couldn't drink more than two sips. And not being a coffee-drinker she surely ended up with a lot of cans of it! (Ultimately I left 5 cans with the hotel Concierge upon check-out cause we certainly weren't going to drink them) They were doing some weird promotion where the cans came in a two pack, conjoined by a clear plastic topper that held a Hot Wheels sized Batmobile! Wtf, right? Still, a great promo as I bought both the Batman Forever and Batman and Robin Batmobiles - now, let me explain before you through freely your judgment. This was at a point when it was unclear if Mattel was going to release these in their Hot Wheels Batman line, so I didn't want to end up not having all the Batmobiles represented in my collection. Of course, since buying these Mattel has released and I have bought these Batmobiles so now I am really kicking myself for not getting the Batman/Batman Returns one. They also offered the Tumbler in both black and camo paint from Batman Begins and the Batpod from The Dark Knight. Cast in black plastic on a diecast chassis these are far better than you would expect for a convenience store premium that seemingly added no cost to price of the coffee, so I think they came out to about $5 each, considering I took a wash on the beverage.
Boss Coffee - Batman: Miniature Batmobiles
Ahahaha, cartoony Batmobiles in caps on top of cans of coffee? Brilliant! These were the only things in Japan I found that lived up to that "oh my god, I can't believe this even exists" mythos I think alot of Americans have for the Japanese market. These guys came in a clear cap, one per can, and are exaggerated in proportion to fit within the can's dimensions. I ended getting the Tim Burton Batmobile, Shielded Batmobile and Batmissile, as well as the Schumacher Batwing. Also available were the Tumbler, in both Black and Camo, the Batman Forever Batboat, Batmobile and the B&R Batmobile. As if the sheer weird coolness of these wasn't enough they also have a wind-up feature, but o-ho there's more! A small magnet on the undercarriage affixes them to the very can of coffee with which they were purchased! Thus you can wind them up and watch them race down, spiraling around, the can - too freakin' cool! Oddly, though, I can't figure out what the can is made of because the magnets do not work on other cans nor even on the fridge. Regardless, these are awesome bits of Japan-ery!
Disney - 50s Cafe: Pancakes
The thing that surprised me the most (aside from cool product from cool licenses) was the huge amount of highly detailed, miniature food. At several of the stores I went to there were whole sections devoted to these blind-boxed collections. Disney seems to have cornered the market on this as far as licensed/themed food with everything from Buzz Lightyear Popcorn to Stitch Ice Cream. The 50s Cafe theme had the most appeal to me in terms of the kinds of food and the odds I'd get a set I wanted. You see, the rumors are true and the Japanese seem to love Blind Box packaging. Night. Mare. Nightmare - that's all Blind Boxing is. At any rate I scored big with the pancake set. You get a tea pot with tea in it, a cup (with removable beverage) and saucer, knife and fork, syrup jug, plate (with syrup already on it), three pancakes (Mickey ears, Mickey shorts and Mickey hand) a syrup pool and a fruit medley for on top of the pancakes. I mean, damn! A ton of stuff and most of it is translucent - my Achilles heel! I have no idea what I'll do with this stuff but I'm thrilled to have it. Pretty much everything but the tea in the tea pot is an individual piece so you can arrange it all however you would care too. It looks to be in roughly 12" scale too, so I think my Gorn doll will be getting some breakfast soon! They even included an insert with cut-out menus.
Disney - Birthday Cakes: Dumbo
The coolest of all the food sets were these Disney Birthday cakes. They look the neatest and double as great, especially birthday, presents! I bought a bunch of these as souvenirs for friends and I think across us all we manages to get most every cake, so little to no doubling up from yet another Blind Boxed collection. The themes are Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo, Mickey, Stitch and Winnie the Pooh. The cake is a solid piece and far more sculpturaly detailed than I expected. Even the bottom is textured and painted to look like cake. The top, a translucent red frosting, had seven oval peg holes for the nine cake topping accessories. Yep, they give you more toppers than holes so you can get all kinds of creative and rearrange as your mood dictates. The sculpt and paint are pretty good all around and each topper has a small cylindrical plug, this gives you a little more flexibility in decorating the cakes as the oval pegholes give you some leeway on positioning. Also, all toppers are interchangeable across all cakes! Oh, but there is more! Each set includes a cardboard insert that can easily be folded up into a simply delivery decorated box for the cake. There is also an insert showing the rest of the collection and the cover of it doubles as a placemat for the cake - ingenious!
Kaiyodo - Revoltech: Protect Gear, "The Red Spectacles Version"
I've never seen this anime and know nothing about it except that this design/costume is awesome. I was first introduced to is as a figure named "Jin Roh" Kaiyodo made back in their pre-Revoltech days. I was never able to track it down but that's okay cause this one is stellar. Lots of great pose options and a handful of awesome accessories! He comes with the standard variety of interchangeable hands along with a machine gun, a bigger machine gun with removable ammo belt, a Mauser pistol and a separate piece of the handle and trigger of said pistol which can be placed to protrude from the forearm guard on the left arm - apparently that's the holster - how awesome is that? Answer: incredibly so. The only problem is that it can be a real pain to get into place. This is the kind of design I wish was mass produced and "cheap" because a Stormtrooper army of him would be amazing, not to mention that as is there are so many combinations of poses and accessories I feel I need three or four to get the best options out there on permanent display! He also comes with a two-piece stand that can keep him standing upright as well hold him in jump poses.
Kaiyodo - Sci-Fi Revoltech: Alien
The first in the film licensed sub-line "Sci Fi Revoltech," I was initially not interested when announced. I already have a lot of figures of this character, and didn't need or want another one, especially at 5" tall, but every store that sold Revoltech had a display of the figures open, and man oh man, in person the hyper detail and translucent plastic was gorgeous. The real kicker for me was that the torso was hollow with cut-outs between the ribs and such providing a great tiered look. Opening him up though, definitely not worth the $30. While I love the Revoltech joints its also a mixed bag on which pieces will have loose attachments, and there's always some wobbly limbs and the like. It's really hard for me to get this guy into dynamic poses and also to keep him upright. The biggest disappointment, though, come from the sculpt around the back of the head, neck and back which is too cumbersome to allow for any backwards tilt. The double-jointed neck can look straight down, but nothing more than straight forward. The largest aggravation is that the translucent "skull cap" doesn't have any way to stay in place and thus constantly slides off so easily it's practically never on him.
Unknown - Monster Hunter: Monster Coelacanth
Coelacanths are awesome, and I have been obsessed with them ever since watching the commentary on Atlantis: The Lost Empire where Gary Trousdale, I believe it is, points out that Whitemore has several swimming about a tank in his trophy hall several decades before they were discovered alive in modern times. And now you know. This yet another nightmare of blind boxing, but examining the options I realized that I would be happy with any outcome, though obviously I'd be happier with others. This guy is easily in the top half so big smiles for all. He's a more monstrous, exaggerated Coelacanth, and I quite like his lax hovering pose. There is, of course, no articulation or anything beyond what you see. Still, a great sculpt and even better paint considering the scale and detail.
Unknown - Japanese Food: Hotel Tea Set
This is where the blind boxing really screwed me. Who would possibly ever want a toy tea set? There is absolutely nothing remarkable at all about this one save but for the peculiar and conspicuous inclusion of a hotel room key. It suggests some kind of illicit activity to me beyond the simplicity and homogeneity of the tea. In a way it's conceptually brilliant because it suggests a story to the otherwise innocuous collectible.
Unknown - Japanese Food: Shrimp Cocktail
From a different range of fake food, this is yet another incredibly detailed sculpt for such a comically trivial product. The food and chopsticks is all one solid piece which rests on a "woven basket" which in turn sits on a clear plastic stand. There is a vac-metalized dish, complete with lid, that has removable transparent water with several divots to hold the shrimp in place. This is pure novelty and a fun reminder of time abroad. I should also mentioned that all the Fake Food sets include an individually wrapped piece of gum. It looks to be identical across them all but I have yet to sample any of it.
Unknown - Japanese Weapons: Katanas
One of the many blind boxed series were these Japanese weapons. At the last minute I decided to run to the store and grab a couple as gifts before the bus to airport arrived at our hotel. This meant they had to go carry-on and while the vac-metalized axes were okay, these diecast, 6" long blades raised all the red flags. I had to go back to the check-in counter to bag-check these and then go back through security. But it was worth it, I know have some cool 12" scale metal katana swords, complete with sheaths and display rack, along with a felt placemat and cardboard backdrop.
Unknown - Monster Hunter 3: Sword & Shield
Like the other Monster Hunter series, this was a blind box series I felt comfortably chancing it on. Unlike the Coelacanth this weaponry is my bottom half of preference for the series, but its still pretty cool. It appears to be about 6"-scale but I have yet to try it out with any figures. The base is particularly cool, being a multi-piece bit of pier that connects into my number 1 toy weakness - translucent blue water. I flappin' love that stuff! There's even a name plate and barrel! At any rate, this is a really good, hyper-detailed set that likewise has really good paint. It's comical that in Japan a series of accessories gets better quality paint apps than full sized figures in America. Such is the cost/benefit ratio of international collecting.
Unknown - National Museum of Nature and Science: Bird, Microscope and Sea Creature
Situated in the beautiful Ueno Park is the National Museum of Nature and Science - quite possibly my very favorite museum in the whole world. They have an exclusive series of Gashapon, or "vending machine toys," in this case about six different sculpts based on pieces in the collection. They work out to something like five dollars apiece or some horribly exorbitant fee, and somewhat worse than blind boxing, you know the options and can see them through the half-transparent balls they're packaged in but you have no way of controlling which one you get. The bulk of the options were "okay" as you see here, but the hardest to find and impossible to get one was a terrifically awesome miniature of the main building of the museum, complete with its full size Blue Whale statue out front. Oh my heavens do I have to have that and I sunk about $30 in to trying to get, only to end up with this well sculpted and nicely painted malarkey. One thing to note is that the actual Microscope the sculpt is based on is about ten feet tall in real life.
Unknown - S.I.C.: Momotaros Imagin
Oh. My. God. Along with omnipresent Ultraman junk where these little bike-rider looking guys. They seemed neat enough so I took a gamble on this devil-y looking dude and dear lord did it pay off. This is possibly the best figure I've ever played with. Standing about 4" tall he something like 30 points of articulation - AND they're all tight! You can literally pose the hell out of this guys and he holds it every damn time! On top of that, he comes with two interchangeable masks, three interchangeable pairs of hands and one big honking sword. I think he ran about $15, which was a hard pill to swallow for a 4" figure, but I tell you know he is worth every penny. I would gladly pay $15 a figure if Hasbro could match the quality on this guy. My only complaint is that I didn't buy more.
Unknown - Ultraman: Gigi
I don't what the heck this guy is, but they had the rotocast vinyl Ultraman figure all over the damn place and this guys kept grabbing my attention. I really like the Aztec-ian pattern and the simple black & white coloring. He has two points of articulation, the waist and head, with the head having three alternate "faces." What cool is that the style retain the same simplistically ornate look of the body but each face has differently shaped and colored eyes - blue X, red V and gold O's. I got nothing else to say but that this is just one of those figures you see that makes you think, "I don't know what it is but I want it."