Tokyo is a big city and there is every chance that any hobby, no matter how small or peculiar it would be in any other city on Earth, has at least enough followers to be able to form a club. While walking through Tokyo’s northern Shakujikoen a couple of months ago I saw these remote controlled model boat enthusiast out in force. I didn’t have time to stop and chat with them but it looked fun and there were plenty of people gathering around to just watch the little boats careen up and down the pond not far from the actual boats with people in them!
I especially liked the little scale model of the wooden ship and the bigger model of the famous battle cruiser Musashi. Although I prefer to be in the boats myself, it looked like a lot of fun to play with. There are also plenty of RC Airplanes and drones around here in Tokyo but naturally they prefer to fly their models in more secluded places where crashes are less likely to cause property damage.
Passing through Akihabara the other day I saw the TAMASHII NATIONS summer collection 2014 (魂の夏コレ2014) show of their new plastic model kits and toys. It is interesting how they have picked the game of plastic models up and moved it in the direction of fashion with different season collections and such. I have seen some of these models posted on different speciality blogs (like John Struan’s “Super Punch“) so I recognized most of these new designs. The winner must be the town wrecking Tower of the Sun, the famous statue by Taro Okamoto, very cool. The collection was also quite well presented, more so than usual (and I have seen dozens of this kind of exhibitions), I think this might be the beginning of a new trend.
As a kid I grew up building model aircraft, I wonder what my life would have been like if I had models like these to play with?
Bandai, one of Japan’s biggest toy companies and certainly the most famous Japanese toy company in the world (ever heard of Tamagochi?), has their corporate headquarters and showrooms in Tokyo’s Kuramae district, not far from Asakusa. Well, they were independent until 2006 when they merged with entertainment giant Namco and is now part of the Bandai-Namco group. When I was a kid we didn’t have any Japanese toys but we did have a battered old Bandai toy catalog that was handed around like a treasured tract promising toys that we kid could only dream of.
I passed their HQ a little while ago and took these photos of the spanking new statues showing some of the main characters of their most famous brands and games. How many can you recognize? Even after having been a Bandai fan all of my life i had trouble naming all of these. To find them simply walk along the main street from Asakusa towards Asakusabashi Station or Kuramae station, along the Edo Street or Edo-doori.
Saturday night in Tokyo’s Shimokitazwa district and I take a turn down a street I haven’t been down before and come across this amazingly rag tag deadstock toy store! The cheaper stuff was in boxes and boxes outside but the best toys and collectibles were inside the store, so crowded it was barely possible to move around inside. Shimokitazawa is famous for its many curiosity shops but serious toy collectors should also visit Nakano’s Broadway or Akihabara for vintage goodies or Kuramae for the shops full of vintage stock!
The name of this store, Nichome Sanbanchi (２丁目３番地), is taken from an a classic TV drama that ran in 1971.