Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Trip: Toys man Jia

I found this place while searching for a place to have dinner along Fuzhou Street.

It turned out to be a shop selling anime goods. There was a sign indicating that photography was not allowed, but ignoring the rules is a big part of how things are done in Shanghai.

Haruhi says buy 200元 and get a 30元 discount

A wall of gashapon dispensers along the wall. Capsules cost 18 each.

A huge display case of plush dolls. I would have taken more pictures, but was scolded twice about it. Makes me wonder if they had something to hide...

初音ミク パンチラ

Prices for most items were the same as, or higher than in Japan. Some of the OOP collectible items were open to negotiations, but I'm bad at bargaining. I did pick up some stuff for cheaper than I would have got from eBay, but that's not saying much.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Trip: Books by the pound

China is often seen as a source of cheap, low-cost goods, but the reality is that prices have been creeping higher and higher for almost everything. However, deals are still to be found with a little bit of searching.

While shopping for books along Fuzhou Street, I came across a couple of stores selling books by the pound. Prices ranged from 15元 to 20元/pound (roughly US$2.50 to US$3.00/pound).

One of the other items I found being sold in these stores were CCGs. I think the sets are normally priced at around 138.00元, and the boxes couldn't have weighed more than 2 or 3 pounds each, so there is a significant discount. I'm not into CCGs so I didn't buy any of these, but maybe I should have.

There is a video on the San Guo Sha (三国杀) website that describes how the game is played, but I can't figure it out. My spoken Chinese is rudimentary and suitable for common day-to-day conversation, but not for comprehension of terminology for game rules.

While shopping for books, I saw someone carrying three 1/700 ship models, and considered asking him where he got them, but thought better of it because I probably would have ended up with a bunch of models in addition to my 19kg of books.

The following are some of the books that I brought back home, but most are not from sell-by-the-pound bookstores. The books were chosen for having lots of pictures since I'm practically illiterate in Chinese. The English translation of the titles in parentheses are my own, so they may not match what the official titles may be. I found out after I got back that most of these can be bought for a lot cheaper on (not sure about how it works out with shipping though).

刀兵相見 (An Introduction to the Saber)
ISBN: 9787533034030

Despite the title, the book contains photographs and discussion of all types of weapons from swords to rifles during the Ming Dynasty and up to the Republican Era.

中国兵器甲胄図典 (Encyclopedia of Chinese Weapons and Armor)
ISBN: 9787101081718

Contains pictures and discussion of weapons and armor from prehistoric times to the Qing Dynasty.

Weapons of Ancient China (古代兵器)
ISBN: 9787546126524

A bilingual book containing pictures and discussion of weapons, armor, siege machines, chariots, and warships of China from ancient to late imperial eras.

China 100-Years Regimental (中国百年军服)
ISBN: 9787800846793

This book covers Chinese uniforms and insignia from the Qing Dynasty to the People's Republic of China. The second half the book is devoted to modern Chinese uniforms which are not of any interest to me, but the first half of the book more than makes up for this. It was very expensive.

刀剑鉴定 (Saber and Sword Recognition Guide) 
ISBN: 9787533253585 (?)

The ISBN corresponds to the book Iron and Steel Swords of China (中国刀剑), but the author is the same. The book contains photographs of daggers, sabers, and swords from prehistoric times to the Republican Era.

Summer Trip: Akihabara

Akiba is the mecca of anime and game otaku, but I only spent a couple of hours there since most of the old school stuff I was interested in was more readily available in Nakano. There are floors and floors of stuff that can be found in the buildings along Chuo-Dori.

Displays of anime goods are found lining the streets.

In truth, I could have spent weeks exploring Akiba, but I just had to bite the bullet and keep on moving.

Anyway, I stopped by Miniature Park and Leonardo to take a look at what they had to offer.

Miniature Park is a small cramped shop filled with military figures of all sort. Unfortunately, they did not have much in the way of 1/72 (or 20mm) figures. Most of the items are imports that are readily available elsewhere for comparable prices. I was hoping to pick up a Han command pack from 3D Model Studio, but apparently they seemed to have no knowledge of the manufacturer despite being listed as a distributor of the figures. I ended up buying a couple of Hinchliffe 20mm figures from a plastic jar of loose 1/72 figures for ¥100 each because I needed change for the subway.

Not to far away from Miniature Park is Leonardo (レオナルド). There are four storeys of models, and a basement level of backissue magazines.

I started browsing from the top down.

4th Floor

3rd Floor

2nd Floor


There are a lot of old OOP kits in Leonardo, but expect to pay collector's prices for them. Old 1/72 ESCI kits were in abundance, but cost about US$20 each. There was even an old AMT Civil War Balloon kit for about US$75.

I wanted to buy a backissue of Model Graphix that I had been hunting for, but they said that they did not accept my VISA card.

More information on these hobby shops and others in Tokyo can be found at AFV Modeller's Extremely Prejudiced Guide to Tokyo Hobby Shops.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Trip: Giant Hobby

One of the interesting shops that I found during my visit to Nakano Broadway was the Giant Hobby shop. The shop is rather unobtrusive, being nestled in a corner surrounded by clothing and jewelry stores. I only came across it because my daughter needed to go to the WC, which was right next to the shop.

I had never heard of them before, but they've been around since about 2010. They make metal figures for their game Cyclops (サイクロプス).

Unfortunately my spoken Japanese is rather rudimentary so I couldn't really ask them any details about the game system.

The figures themselves are on the large side, and the human-sized figures  are probably at least 32mm in height. Each figure is supplied with a separate square metal base. More detailed pictures of individual figures can be seen at their web shop.

I really wanted to get the tree man, but the miniatures are pricey and I didn't want to overspend...

I ended up getting one of their Omit (オーミット) which I can use as a mud man. Some of their Merfolk could also probably be used alongside 1/72 figures, since they are roughly 25mm in height (they are listed as 35mm on the website, but I think they are measuring to the highest point of the miniature).

Summer Trip: Nakano Broadway

I'm just back from a trip to Tokyo and Shanghai, and I wanted to share some vacation pictures and information on some hobby related stuff that I found there.

Before the trip, I had the tough choice between staying in Nakano or Akihabara. I decided on Nakano because it was a family vacation, so I wanted to have all of my hobby related stuff concentrated in one place where I could go to do my own thing in the evening after a day of sightseeing etc. That one place was Nakano Broadway, and it was less than a 10 minute walk from the apartment where we were staying.

The Nakano Sun Plaza is a covered shopping arcade that faces directly across from the north exit of the Nakano JR Station, and leads directly to the entrance of Nakano Broadway.

A nice background history of Nakano Broadway can be found at Hamadayama Life. One interesting note, is that the dungeons from the original Dragon Quest (or Dungeon Warrior as it was known here in North America) were supposed to have been inspired by the layout of the Nakano Broadway floormap.

At first sight it can be a bit overwhelming, and many people have said that they had a hard time navigating the place, but I didn't have much of a problem finding my way around. I headed up directly to the second floor.

I took a few hurried pictures of shops I wanted to get back to after an initial survey, but better pictures of the various things that you will find can be seen at Danny Choo's website herehere, and here.

Ranka-chan working diligently at sorting trading cards in the Mandarake Card Shop.

I was able to find the Matchbox PLAAF MiG-15 that I've been looking for since 2004 on clearance for ¥1,000.

I limited my spending in my three forays to Nakano Broadway, but in hindsight I should have bought more stuff while I had the chance. Then again, if I did it would have been rather troublesome to get it all home.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


The Achaierai is one of those odd monsters from the Fiend Folio that I have always found rather fascinating and whimsical (primarily because of the art by Russ Nicholson). They are fierce predatory birds from the infernal regions that are 15' tall, and that can breathe out a cloud of toxic black smoke as a defense mechanism.

There have been many people who have dismissed the Achaierai as a silly monster, but I like them because they look like something that you might see in a painting by Hieronymus Bosch.

Still, despite their relative lack of popularity, it was one of the earlier monsters featured as a miniature for the DDM CMG (Aberrations #26). The miniature scales out to about 12' in 1/72, which is shorter than the size given in the Fiend Folio, but even so it does not look undersized.

One of the things that I wanted to do was to create a flock of Achaierai, and my solution was to use artificial craft store birds and add legs made from paper clips. Unfortunately it is not easy to find artificial birds that match the size of the DDM Achaierai. Also, many of the artificial birds are made with their heads turned to one side, which is not good for me, since I want my Achaierai to be facing forwards.

Recently though, I came into possession of a couple of smaller birds that could be used as Achaierai chicks, so I cut up some paper clips, bent them a bit, stuck them into the artificial birds, and glued them in place.

I'll use Kneadatite to create some feet for them later, but even as they are, I think they look pretty good.