Thursday, April 13, 2017

Japan Toy Hunt at Nakano Broadway

- Toy Hunting. It can be a rewarding adventure as long as you have the patience, the eagle eyes and the money.

- This post details about my recent Toy Hunt at Japan.

- I'm not going to go much into details of where all the Toy shops are located and how to get the best deals, there are blogs who offer a lot more information of that ( try THIS and THIS.)

- Before, Akihabara is the place to be if you wanted your Japan Toy fix.

so techie 
- I can say it right now to just forget about Akihabara and high-tail it to Nakano Broadway instead.

- Don't get me wrong, Akihabara has a lot of toy shops, it's just that Akihabara has already become too "mainstream" for most die-hard toy collectors. Akihabara is just for glorified "Otakus" (Animé fans) or for people wanting to buy some reasonably-priced electronic gadgets. Or take a Selfie with a Cosplay chick. 

- Nakano Broadway is located near Nakano station. Unlike in Akihabara where most toy shops are far apart or require entering a building and taking an elevator, Nakano Broadway offers rows upon rows of Toy shops near each other. Just when you thought that you've looked at every shop, there is another one right around the corner. 

- While I'm not going to go much about directions on how to get there, (because memorizing of where to go to using the Japan train is confusing as Hell and would take a lifetime to master) what I can provide you is that it is located at the North Exit at Nakano station of the Japan Railways (JR) Yamanote line. When you are already out of the train station of the North Exit just go straight to the covered walkway and you should see the Nakano Broadway sign.

- Most of the toy shops are located at the 3rd and 4th floor and is also the Main branch of one of the famous Japanese toy shop, Mandarake.

- Mandarake is a combination of the words "Manga", meaning comics, and "Darake", meaning "a load of". Mandarake started out in 1987 as a shop for buying and selling second-hand Mangas. Then a few years later blossomed into a toy store that has several branches around Japan and a trustworthy online store.

- Mandarake has several stores in Nakano Broadway (26, based on their website) that is categorized by the items that they carry. One Mandarake shop has all the Vintage toys, the other Mandarake store has Japanese vinyl monsters, and so forth.

- Even though it appears that Mandarake is monopolizing the toy business there, Nakano Broadway is not all about Mandarake. There are a couple of independent toy shops there that are also worth a visit.

- I was able to visit Japan at the last week of March with my older sister and my toy-collecting soul cheered when I saw Nakano Broadway. I was about to faint when I actually checked out the place as there toys upon toys upon toys.

- The good thing about Nakano Broadway is that it has something for every collector. Like Mangas? Check.Gashapons? Check. Godzilla? Check. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Check. Wolverine? Check. Sanrio merchandises? Check. Gravure photobook? Check.Check. Check.

- I would like to point out that most of the toys that are being sold in Nakano Broadway are second-hand. Although you can ask the staff if it is still new or not. There are usually tags on the boxes that are in English that indicates if it has already been unopened or if an accessory is missing, etc.

- Trying my luck, I tried to take pictures of the toy shops and quickly realized that some stores do not want their toys being pictured (but, that never stopped me from taking pictures secretly) and that haggling is out of the question. You pay what the tag says. (although I only tried haggling once)

- Another thing to point out, Japan charges an 8% additional tax besides the price of the item, Nakano Broadway shops inlcuded (although there are some shops there that do not have "inconvenience": you pay what the price says) It only becomes tax-free if you have bought an item(s) that has a total of 5000 yen or more, you just have to present your passport and sign a form.

- I was very happy with what I saw and what I bought. There are a lot of toys there that are not available here in my country (Philippines). I could literally stay there the whole day and replenish at the nearby restaurants and check out more toys and not have a care in the world.

- One of the best "toy hauls" that I got there is a 1999 Marusan Wonderfest exclusive Godzilla vinyl toy that is a based on the 1966 Godzilla toy, (one of the first Godzilla toys) that I got for 5000 yen (tax-free!!!)

happy kid!!!

- So if ever you are in Japan and only have a day to toy-hunt, Nakano Broadway is the place. Just remember the train stations or you might end up somewhere else and end up asking for directions to a Japanese local that knows little English. Good luck with that.

i just had to take a picture, hehe

- " the king"

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Toy Collecting in the Philippines


-          In this post I’m trying to be a Representative of sorts, a personal tour guide of the what’s what of Toy Collecting in the Philippines.  And I’m writing this in a bullet type as it is easier to read.

-          Many collectors here  grew up on Tokusatsu shows of the 70’s-90’s.


-           Tokusatsu means “Special Effects” and refers to any Japanese Live-Action TV series or Movies that live explosions, stunt work, wire-fu and many, many costumed actors.

-          There are a couple of categories of Toakusatsu shows. But without giving too much info, the popular ones are the Super Sentai shows.

-          Sentai means “task force” or “fighting squadron” and shares the qualities of a normal Tokusatsu show, but features at least 5 different-colored costumed heroes all fighting as one. The stories are pretty formulaic: the big boss baddie creates the baddie of the week, baddie of the week fights the 5 sentai heroes with the help of baddie’s henchman. Then baddie of the week gets an upgrade in the form of him growing to gigantic proportions, the senati heroes call their big robot and kill the baddie of the week. Rinse. Repeat.

-          Pretty formulaic, but it works. Kids (myself included) love the Tokusatsu series.

-          The famous ones are Ultraman, Godzilla, Gamera,  Bioman, Maskman, Fiveman, Shaider, Machineman and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.


-          Toys of these series fetch big bucks on the Collector Market. Biorobot is currently selling for 13,000php, Fiveman robot for 7,000php and a Vavilos (from Shaider) goes around 11,000php.

-          But I would say the Super-Duper Holy Grail of every Toy Collector in the Philippines is a certain Blue-Red Robot named Voltes V.


-          Voltes V is an Anime released in the 70’s that also uses the Super Sentai formula but is an Animated series. It is one of the 3 Robot Drama series during the 70’s. The other 2 is Daimos and Combattler V. Another famous cartoon was also Mazinger Z.

-          Voltes V became part of the Philippine History of sorts as at the time it was shown here it was the Twilight of President Ferdinand Marcos’ dictator regime. He ordered the cartoon to be removed from Philippine airwaves as it showed physical violence and symbols of rebellion to an Authoritative figure. It was removed just when it was already 3-4 episodes shy from the series finale.

-          Because of this, Voltes V  gained a large fanbase here in the Philippines. In the U.S. or Japan, on the other hand, Combattler V is a lot popular.

-          A First release Popy Godaikin Voltes V robot that was released in the 70’s fetch at least 150,000php, depending on condition. The recent ones, like the Soul of Chogokin 40th Anniversary Voltes V is now selling for at least 13,000php-15,000php. Even a Gashapon-sized Voltes V that is no taller than 5 inches tall sells for 5,000-8,000php.


-          For some kids who grew up in the 90's  and their parents not having much of a budget, there are also cheap toys in the form of Bootleg toys or “Palengke Toys”.  “Palengke” means wet market here in the Philippines, where you buy fresh meat,  fish,  vegetables and other items,  toys included. These toys look like little plastic non-moving figures that is painted in one color or a rainbow of colors even. Upon checking some of these are actually rip-off of original designs from real toy manufacturers. Sometimes they are also called “Tau-tauhan.” These are usually included on corn snacks or sold on little stores that can be bought in pieces that are wrapped in clear plastic and stapled on a big cardboard. Normally kids would play “Tatsing” with these Palengke Toys, a game where you and other kids would place all their palengke toys inside a drawn circle (or a square) and a player would hit the toys from a distance using a Tau-tauhan and if all the toys has been removed from the circle then all the toys will be claimed by the player. Some kids would also wrap the toys with metal objects, like a nail or a bottle cap, to make it heavier and have a bigger chance of hitting many toys. These kind of toys are also collectible.

-          Starting a toy collection is pretty easy here. While the concept of a flea market is very rarely done here, there are online merchants that have physical stores here, like Great Toys Online or Big Boys Toy Store. Most Toy Collectors  go to Greenhills Shopping Center as there are lines and lines of Toy shops there. You can also join Facebook Toy Groups and buy or sell toys and either meet-up to get the item or have it shipped by local couriers like Xend, LBC or JRS Express and pay via the seller’s bank account or money transfer services like Palawan Express or Western Union.

-          There also “Toy Pickers” here as well, finding toys in Surplus shops and clean or fix them and sell them for a bigger price. Majority of toys that are sold in these Surplus shops came from Japan. Vinyl figures, blind-box little figure, Power Rangers robots and stuffed toys are the usual stuff “Picked” by these people in Surplus shops.

-          Since the Philippines is also close to China, bootleg toys are aplenty and come cheap. There are also instances where Toy Companies would reject some toys from the manufacturer, either by a bad paint job or excessive plastic on some body parts, request to have it be recycled instead, but get shipped to sellers here in the Philippines. These are called Overruns.

lol wot? 

-          There are also Swapmeets done by specific toy groups  that is done quarterly or every month, groups like PinoyLUG  (Pinoy Lego User Group)  or DCPH (Diecast Car Collectors of the Philippines) or RCH (Robot Collectors Haven). These groups  gather around to do trade, sell stuff, do giveaways, auction toys for charity and just hang out with like-minded collectors and compare collections  or tell stories.

M.A.T.C.H.Fest  2016

-           Toy Customizing, Toy Photography and Video Toy Reviews also abound here and gains a lot of potential clients and fans. 


-          There are also conventions organized by large and trusted  groups like Hobbiworx that is held on Shopping Malls, conventions  like TAGCOM (Toys and Hobbies Convention) , M.A.T.CH.  Fest (Manila Action-Figures Toys, Collectibles and Hobbies Festival, AsiaPOPComicon Manila and the longest and famous one named TOYCON that is held every June. TOYCON is the “Big Leagues” here. If you can set up your Collection Exhibit there or sell your custom toy, you got it made! (A friend that I am close to was able to showcase his custom President Duterte (our recent President) figure in TOYCON last year and he was featured in newspapers, websites radio programs and TV News stations a few months later. He was even able to meet President Duterte up close)

the place to be for Pinoy Toy Collectors

creator meets his creation

-          Just like any hobby, there are also negative aspects as well. There would be sellers who would hoard multiple figures of the same type and sell them for a large price, people who would set up preorder slots for a toy that is not released yet and demand a small deposit to ensure a preorder slot, and then the seller would vanish all of a sudden, taking along your money. There are also sellers that brand their toys as original whereas it is a bootleg also happens as well. But you just have to remember to be street-smart to avoid being scammed. Anyway, the Toy-Collecting Community are very vigilant with these things.

-        In closing, Toy Collecting here in the Philippines  is  a very friendly venue. If you want to get that suntanned body and also start a collection or hoping to find that piece that you consider as a "Holy Grail" of sorts, come visit us here.

yours truly
-    "the king"