Monday, October 31, 2005

Bubblegum Crisis Hard Suit Action Figure Review

There is something very sexy about women in cybernetic armor. I think it has something to do with their form-fitting, skin-tight "hard suits". How do you get into one of those things? When I first got a glance at the new Bubblegum Crisis (BGC to the fans) Hard Suit Action Figures, I knew immediately that I had to have them.

They are made by Yamato in a limited run of only 250 sets of the four ladies: Priss, Sylvia, Linna and Nene. They each come with multiple hands, and a human-looking head. They can't really stand on their own since they have these really dainty, high-heel boots, but each figure does come with a stand with arms that can attach to various points of the body to help you pose them in those "in-flight" positions.

While I was very excited about these figures as they sport 22-points of articulation, I was a bit disappointed when I pulled them out of the box. They are indeed beautiful with very nice, metallic paint jobs and intricate, detailed sculpting with a clever knee and elbow racheted joint system that allows you to pose them in cool positions securely. My biggest complaints deal with the fragility of the figures themselves. It's ironic that Yamato spent so much time on the engineering of the knees and elbows that they couldn't spend a bit more time on securing other extremities like the hands. The hands slip off like they are greased lightning. Priss has these shoulder pads that come off if you sneeze in that general direction. And the stand, don't get me started on the stand! I can see how having a stand is useful for posing the BGC figures like they are in mid-flight, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how to use all of the stand attachments. There seems to be only one main pole from which the weight of the entire figure seems to hang. This makes the plastic pole droop unless you have some of the weight of the figure supported by one of its high heeled feet. A sturdy display, this does not make. More than once, my dear heroines have come crashing down on my desk with hands and accessories a-flutter!

At $59 each, these are pretty damn expensive action figures and one would expect some pretty high-quality merchandise at that price, but unfortunately, this is not to be the case. Don't get me wrong, I still love them, but I feel slightly cheated- like the feeling you get after an evening in a Las Vegas strip club: broke, smelling like coconut oil, and just not satisfied.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Uh Oh, More Kaiyodo!!

Just a short post to show a few more examples of kool Kaiyodo action figures! If you haven't had a chance, definitely pick up the Evangelion Series. A ground breaking anime series to be sure. A little long on existentialism and a bit short on mecha action, it was nonetheless very interesting if you could follow the storyline. It was pretty good the first time around when I was stoned, but not nearly as good sober. Sega first came out with a really lame set of Evangelion action figures without hardly any articulation or accessories. When Kaiyodo came out with their version, I was blown away! I had never seen any action figure with as much articulation. You have the ability to pose these figures in almost any way you want. But the accessories are what will really get you going. Guns, knives, rifles, grenades and individual bullets and shotgun shells! You read that correctly: tiny, individual bullets and shells. Unbelievable.

The other shots are of Five Star Stories. Not as articulate, but very cool and detailed figures as you can see. I've always been a fan of the mecha design. You can buy all kinds of Five Star Stories mecha as very expensive resin kits, but i'm not nearly talented or patient enough to 1. build them, or 2. paint them. These are the only three color Five Star Storie action figures made in the series. LED Mirage, Knight of Gold and Ruby Princess.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ode to Kaiyodo Action Figures!!

One of these days when I'm a gazillionaire, i'd like to contract with Kaiyodo to manufacture action figures of obscure licenses that haven't been done justice yet. Several Mortarheads from Five Star Stories comes to mind. Thank you Kaiyodo for being the only company that made Five Star Stories Action Figures in the first place. We want more! Or, perhaps it's only me that wants more! Kaiyodo and its toylin Xebec has to be one of my favorite manufacturers. Without knowing who made them, I have purchased several toys and action figures made by this fine company over the years including the incredible figures from Evangelion, Trigun, Gungrave, Gao Gai Gar and Fist of the Northstar. I would have to say they make some of the highest quality, detailed and beautiful figures on the market today.

So what brings me to this post on my love affair for Kaiyodo? Well, i've been thinking about picking up the latest Kaiyodo masterpiece from the Trigun Series: Gazelle the Peacemaker. This figure is incredible as you can see from the pictures. The amazing details, articulation, and paint are really outstanding. They have a very cool black-repaint that is out now and you can find it for under $40 at TIS (Treasure Island Sports) has a very wide selection of toys and action figures and I am very pleased with their prices. Reasonable indeed. Definitely check them out. Too lazy to order online or don't have a credit card? You can still find Gazelle the Peacemaker at Tower Records for $40 not including tax.

Other standout Kaiyodo figures include Gungrave: Beyond the Grave. This 8" figure comes complete with his coffin / missile launcher / machine gun. Gungrave will be a little more difficult to find these days, but I just saw one on eBay.

By far, my favorite Kaiyodo Action figure will have to be Monev the Gale also from the Trigun series. This figure was a candidate for Toy of the Year a few years ago and for good reason. The red metallic paint, incredible articulation and the attention to detail are unbelievable. Monev has these gattling guns on his wrists that are belt-fed from these huge circular magazines on his back!! Each bullet is individually held together by this long, skinny spring. To this day, one of my favorite toys of all time. You can still find it online or on eBay for under $50.

So, there you have it, a trifecta of Kaiyodo figures for your viewing pleasure!

Brothersfree Brothers Workers Mini Figures

Brothersfree, Ltd. from Hong Kong are three uber hot artists, illustrators and toy designers: William Tsang, Kenny Wong and Winson Ma. They are riding the "Urban Vinyl" craze that is going on right now. Stores like Kid Robot are cashing in from the cross-over appeal of these super-cool toys and vinyl figures. Kid Robot is the only toy store in the nauseatingly hip SOHO district in New York. They also have stores in LA and San Francisco.

What's so cool about Brothersfree? They were one of the first to create toys and vinyl figures with an urban edge to them. Their themes have nothing to do with the traditional science fiction or military genres so pervasive in the toy industry since....well, forever. Instead, they brought a cool, edgy, comic-book 3D visualization to everyday characters like their Brothersworkers series which focuses on blue-collar characters we see everyday in construction sites. Their 12-inch figures feature faces that look like they came out of a manga and that's their appeal. They often feature extremely intricate tattoos, clothing and equipment in order to justfiy their high cost: between $100 and $200 each.

A few years back, a mini-figure collection was released. 2.5 inches of sweet Brothersfree goodness in an affordable package! I was hooked and purchased a set after it went on sale from Kid Robot. They retain the 3D comic visual style Brothersfree is famous for, come with little tools and even tattoos. Pretty hard to find now as I just checked on eBay, but i'm sure they will pop-up from time to time. Luckily for you, they did come out with a newer series which seems to sport more detailed paint jobs and focus on emergency workers such as fireman. ABC-express on eBay has un-opened cases of 15 pieces in a blind assortment for $85 not including shipping. They also have the 12-inch figure "Tank" construction figure with the six-pack abs shown above for a reasonable $125 not including shipping.

What Does $500 Buy You These Days?

I know there are lot's of hardcore toy collectors out there that routinely spend hundreds if not thousands on toys. Especially vintage, rare, hard-to-find toys. These guys are "Super Collectors" as they are known in the toy circles and are serious about their toys. For example, my very first post was on Mark Nagata who has the world's largest Ultraman Collection. He spent $5,000 on the "RedUltraman" vintage bullmark vinyl doll. That's a lot of cheddar, yo. He has a couple of toys reported to be worth $10,000.

I myself, am not a super collector. By all comparisons, I have a pretty meager collection in fact. I think the most I ever spent on a toy was like $150 and it wasn't even a toy. It was a cold cast statue of Cloud Strife on his Hardy Daytona motorcycle.

So, $500 to me is a lot to spend on a single toy. When I first came across The Transformable Getter Robot Renewal Version from Studio Half Eye, it's listed for $719 on Action-HQ. Hobby Link Japan has it for just under $500 not including overseas shipping. While this toy is not new, it is a remarkable feat of engineering to behold. If my eyes serve me correctly, the three spaceships not only form to make Getter Robot, but also transform alternatively into Getter2 and Getter3!!! If you're like me justifying this purchase, you would say that you are really only paying $83 for each of 6 different toys. That's not too bad! It even comes with a little screwdriver to tighten things up after the constant transforming.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Gundam Master Grade Kits 70% Off at Amazon!!!

So I was surfing around the other night comtemplating my next toy purchase and I came across Danny Choo's very cool site. Danny is a Chinese guy who grew up in London and now lives high- roller style in Tokyo. I was first drawn to his site because of his awesome toy photography. It's definitely worth checking out. You might also learn a couple of things on his site too.

Danny is a dot com baby. He's probably made a gazillion dollars during the internet boom and now he's just living large, kicking back in Tokyo. I read with great enthusiasm his Profile and actually learned some cool stuff that is now eventually making it's way back around to you - the four (4) readers of this blog.

Danny was a software developer at He has a section in his profile where he talks about how he likes to make money. Who doesn't? Since i'm a neophyte to this whole blogging, banner ad, linking-stuff, I don't know anything about making money off a website. Danny being a seasoned pro with like 85 Ka-Jillion people visiting his site(s) per month, (yes, that's Ka-Jillion with a "K"), knows all about getting paid on the 'net. So I learned about Banner Ads, Text-Linking and Amazon's Affiliate Program and Webservices tools which Danny helped to code.

I signed up for Amazon's Affiliate Program immediately. It was very easy to do and straight forward. They have this section where it allows you to build all kinds of banners and links to put on your site. I was really impressed with how easy it was. I created the banner on the right in a few minutes so when you click on any of the Gundam toys or models, I will get paid a small commission or something. I also learned how to link to specific products, any page or search results on Amazon. All the while getting credit if any of you guys decide to click through and buy from this blog.

So, looooonnnnnnnng way around, I discovered that Amazon is dumping several Gundam Master Grade model kits for like 70% OFF!!! This is quite a deal as they are now like $20 each!! I paid like $50 for the MS-Kaempfer kit you see above and it remains one of my favorites. So, check out the Gundam Master Grade kits on sale at Amazon and save, save, save!!!!

You see, Grasshopper, you can learn much on the web!

Thanks Danny!! When I make my millions off this site, i'll come hang out with you bling, bling style in Tokyo!!

Friday, October 21, 2005

CI Boys Heroes Series 2 & Star Wash Mini Figures

I don't know what it is about CI Boys, but I like them. The normal size figures are around two (2) inches tall. They are so cute, but cool at the same time. I recently scoured the web and eBay looking for the Heroes Series 2 and Star Wash CI Boys. The Heroes you see here are inspired by Batman & Robin, Masked Rider and Gotchaman. I gave my Ultraman version to Mark Nagata to add to his world's greatest Ultraman collection. See my first post below. The Star Wash figures of course are inspired by the very cool Darth Maul, Darth Vader and Stormtrooper. If I was an uber-geek and had more time and patience, I would glue two of the little lightsaber thingys together to form Darth Maul's two-sided lightsaber. All the helmets and masks pop off to show you which CI Boy is underneath.

Very cute, very cool. They would normally come in a blind assortment from guys like Kid Robot, but if you're like me, you hate blind assortments and you want to know what you're getting. Luckily, the blind assortment thing, while popular in Japan, has spawned an entire cottage industry on eBay. These friendly patrons of the toy aftermarket will purchase your blind assortment toys by the case, open them up, identify them and either sell you an entire set (at a premium of course) or sell you just the figures you want (at a premium). I would rather spend a couple of extra dollars and get the ones I really want. They are around $8-$9 on eBay. Try Tall Tall Cat Shop on eBay. They seem to have the most variety of these kinds of mini-figures. They make the perfect desktop companion. Be warned, however, that's how it begins: you get one stupid toy for your desk and then before you know it, you're posting pictures and blogs 10 years later about them!

Virtual-On Set of 5 Trading Figures

Funny thing happened last weekend, my wife's cousin and family were visiting from Los Angeles. They have two teenage boys, so to keep them occupied, I broke out my vintage Sega Dreamcast. You remember Dreamcast don't you? It was Sega's next generation system before Playstation 2 came out and took over the world? I was too lazy to bust out my PS2 and all the games from my bedroom, so we just played the Dreamcast all weekend long. I have to say, after... I don't even know how many years, the Dreamcast has aged quite well. Kinda like a fine wine. The original Soul Caliber on the Dreamcast STILL looks and plays better than Soul Caliber 2 on the PS2. I'm not kidding. The original Sega Virtual Tennis is STILL the standard by which other video game tennis is measured. In fact, i'm busy playing Virtual Tennis on my PSP right now.

So what brings me to this post is that I almost forgot about a gem of a title called Virual On. I first played this video game in Tokyo - gawd over 10 years ago. It was one of those elaborate sit-down coin-op versions with fifty speakers and vibration and the whole nine yards. You played against some else sitting right next to you. In this case, it was my buddy John and to this day I still give him shit for kicking his ass in Virtual On. Anyways, they released a version on the Dreamcast which to this day kicks ass. The graphics show their age a little bit, but the gameplay is still spot on. The kids were loving all the robot shooting, missle firing, bomb-throwing mecha- melee for hours.

Which finally brings me full circle to this post. I recently came across the Virtual On One Coin Trading Mini Figures from Kotobukiya. You get a set of Five (5) 4-inch mini-figures pre-painted as you see with some articulation. Four of which are pictured plus a secret hidden character for $34.95 from Action-HQ. Click on the banners on the right and spend, spend, spend!

Masked Rider Faiz (555) Transforming Motorcyle!!!!

I bought my first S.I.C. (Super Imaginative Chogokin) Kikaider and his sidecar motorcycle from Bandai several years ago (right). It was definitely a nod to my childhood as I remember watching the live-action TV show with great enthusiasm. I remember that I really, really wanted the die-cast version of this toy when I was a kid, but it was too expensive. I often find myself purchasing toys today that my parents couldn't or wouldn't buy me when I was a kid. I don't blame them of course. These toys cost a lot back then and they sure cost a lot now. In fact, I will go as far to say that I wouldn't buy my kids these toys. At almost $100 for this transforming motorcyle, this is not a toy for kids. Strictly for collectors unless you're a trustfund baby or something with money to burn. Even so, with all the accessories, small parts, complicated articulation, this toy would probably end up in a thousand pieces on the floor after a couple of hours never to be played with again. Nope, not for kids. Uhhhh...Sorry....slipped into a rant there.

Just released from Bandai's superb S.I.C. (Super Imaginative Chogokin) line, comes the red Masked Rider (aka Kamen Rider) Faiz (555) Vol. 29 Blaster Form & Auto Vajin. The entire S.I.C. line is amazing. The detail on the sculpting, paint, accessories, articulation, everything is just amazing. What I really like about this particular set is that the motorcycle transforms just like the TV show. It transform into another robot which can help in those sticky combat situations where you need more man-power and less motorcycle I guess. It goes for $99 from our friends at Action-HQ. Click on the banner on the right to feed the machine, please.

One last note, while trying to find good shots of this toy on the web (because I'm a cheap bastard and can't afford to buy it for myself), I stumbled across some amazing toy photography from Kelvin Tan out of Malaysia. If you're into toys and toy photography like us, do yourself a favor and check out his galleries. He has an amazing sense of style and composition. His toy portraits look as if the toys are lifesize and real! My apologies in advance, Kevin for stealing your photography for my own sordid uses, but hopefully admission of it (after the fact, of course) and recognition in my humble blog will serve as some sort of meager payment.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A-Mazin Kaiser Figure in Yummy Die-Cast!!!

A-Mazin Kaiser, Batman!!! Take a look at these shots from Hobby Link Japan and the Toyko Hobby Show earlier this year. Mazin Kaiser die-cast action figure from Aoshima. I WANT ONE. It looks like it's body is entirely made up of luscious, yummy, shiny metal. I also like the big, black wings. For you guys that like the traditional colors, it also comes with red wings but the legs are more a satin finish instead of chromed out like the bling bling of the black one. Sadly at over $110,not including overseas shipping, this is an expensive toy. For you maniac hardcore collectors, this is one to add to your shelves.

Get it from Hobby Link Japan

Armored Core 1/72 Mirage Model Kit!!!!

I love Armored Core mecha. The video game is aiiight, but compared to Zone of Enders, it's just too slow and clunky for me. I have to admit that I haven't played Armored Core Nine Breaker on the PS2, but according the reviews from Gamespot, you might want to save you hard earned duckets. They gave it a 6.2. Ouch! That's like a D minus which was pretty much my average in college.

Annnnnyyyyhoooo, were here to talk about the new model kit from Kotobukiya. This is the first Armored Core model kit and from the looks of it, very nice indeed. When I first saw pictures of it in Hobby Japan, I was praying that it was an action figure, cause, you know, I'm a lazy bastard and don't have the patience, nor the time to put together these kits even though they are snap- together. Well, to my disappointment, it's not an action figure. It's a 1/72 scale model kit. Oh, well. It still looks awesome. I would have to say that the Mirage is one of the best examples of cool mecha around. It will be released in December, but you can pre-order it now for around $25 not including overseas shipping from the legendary Hobby Link Japan. Get it now!!

Panzer World Galient Action Figure!!!

So I was down in San Jose, CA a few weeks ago and decided to visit one of the only Japanese toy stores in the south bay: Farout Toys. The new owner is this cool guy named Izzy Hernandez and like me, he loves Japanese toys and mecha. His newly re-modeled store is really cool as he focuses on toys (as opposed to kits and models) including Japanese toys as well as american and european military toys.

Anyways, he asked me what I like to collect and I told him: "Mecha - anything but Gundam". Like I said in my earlier post, it's not like I hate Gundam. Ok, I said I hated Gundam, but if you read the post, I don't really hate Gundam. I'm just tired of it. Izzy nodded knowingly and picked up this little gem of an action figure from the OVA series Panzer World Galient. I snapped it out of his hands because I had never seen this action figure before. It's totally cool because it's mecha, but not Gundam, and it comes with a sword and shield. There is something about mecha with swords and shields that is very cool. It's made by Yujin so the sculpting and metallic flake paint is incredible but the articulation is second to none. When you pick up this bad boy, you know you can pose it in almost any way you want and it will stay. It comes with extra hands, a sword and shield. Until Izzy gets his online store,, you can visit him at 161 Jackson Street, Suite #1, San Jose, CA. Or just call him at (408) 279-3073.

Otherwise, pick up the Panzer online for around $30 not including overseas shipping from our friends at Hobby Link Japan

Max Factory Bio Fighter Action Figures!

I've never really been into Guyver. Not sure why not. I think it's because the series is a bit too organic for me. Guyver is all about his bio-mechanical suit and he fights these weird-looking monster guys. Dunno. I guess there's not enough mecha involved.

However, I've been noticing that Max Factory has been putting out some very nice action figures of the series. They are highly detailed, articulated and with unbelievable paint jobs. They are expensive as well-in the range of $60-$75 each. Not for your eight-year old to play with in the bathtub. I prefer to think of these very expensive action figures as "mini works of art". That helps me in my own little mind justify paying almost a C-note on a damn toy.

Max Factory has really out done itself on the the Bio Fighter series. They are larger than your other action figures standing 10" tall and are more expensive than your other action figures as a result. The highly detailed sculpting, articulation, accessories and paint job is what you're really paying for.

I have my eye on the spikey black Guyver Gigantic figure above left which is going to be released in December. Buy it from Action-HQ and get $15 off! Just click on one of the banners in the right panel so I can get some cheddar, yo.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Neo Kaiju Mini Figures Almost Gone! Get Them!

You have probably seen the Neo Kaiju light blue eggs at a retail store or online but didn't know what they were all about. Sometimes knowing the story behind the toy makes them all that more desirable. The Neo Kaiju (New Monster) Project is a collaboration between Super7, Strangeco and five artists: Gary Baseman, Tim Biskup, Seonna Hong, Kathy Staico-Schorr and Todd Schorr.

The concept is pretty unique: get American artists and designers to put their spin on a traditional Japanese monster (kaiju) as well as design a completely new figure. The result is a tongue and cheek nod to the old as well as completely new and unique figures by some of the hottest talent today!

By far my favorite is "Steampunk" by Todd Schorr. His take on the classic three-headed dragon Ghidrah from Godzilla is priceless! Todd's take has his version of Ghidrah made out of cast-iron with a pot-belly stove as his body. I love it. Get it if you can on eBay.

My other favorite Neo Kaiju is "Trilomonk" by Kathy Staico-Schorr (Todd's wife) I swear when I picked up my favorites, I had no idea they were done by husband and wife! Kathy's figure is tongue and cheek hilarity with her version of evolution. You see, Trilomonk is a monkey holding a man's skull with a picture of Darwin on his chest riding an extinct Trilobite. So funny!

Each Neo Kaiju comes in a light blue transparent egg and thanks to our friends at Super7, they ARE NOT in a blind assortment. Yay! You can actually pick out the ones you want!

While these figures are not new, they are almost gone. They won't be making anymore of these figures, so if you were thinking about getting them, better do it now. $8.00 each and very few left at the Super7 Online Store Thanks Brian from Super7 for hooking me up!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Old Skool Japanese Toy Store: Kimono My House

If you're into Japanese toys and live in the Bay Area or are just visiting, it would be well worth your while to drop by Kimono My House. Located on the roof of a warehouse in Emeryville, California, finding Kimono My House is half the fun. Open since 1980, Kimono My House is the oldest Japanese Toy Store still in business in the United States. They are also the first retailer in the United States to exclusively import Japanese anime and toys.

I have known about Kimono My House for many, many years, but since I purchase most of my Japanese toys online, I didn't visit the actual retail store that often. I recently decided to re-visit the store and it's proprietor Yuki. When you decide to visit the store, use Yahoo! Maps for directions because Kimono My House is in an unlikely location. It was the very first retail store in Emeryville- back when Emeryville was just warehouses and train tracks. Yuki has incredible foresight as 25 years later, Emeryville is a mecca of retail shopping. However, Kimono My House is still located in a somewhat industrial part of town and you would never believe that there was a toy store anywhere nearby. The only indication is a wooden sign directing you to take the stairs to the top of the warehouse.

After taking the stairs to the top of the warehouse, you are treated to a somewhat surreal rooftop garden that contains Kimono My House. As you pass the five foot tall Voltron look-alike robot, you enter the store. What struck me when I first visited the store probably 10 years ago was how old-skool the store felt. It felt, looked and smelled exactly like the way the Japanese toys stores from my childhood in LA did. Funny thing is when I came back recently, it looked exactly the same as it did 10 years ago-including Yuki behind the counter!

Although Kimono My House has new toys, I would say their specialization is vintage vinyl and die-cast toys. If you want the old stuff, KMH is the place to go. I have been told by many collectors and Yuki himself that KMH had a lot more vintage toys than they do now. "Guys would come in from out of town and just grab up everything! They would leave here with 8 bags full of toys and spend thousands of dollars in one trip!" I believe it.

KMH has that musty, attic feel with Japanese toys crammed together on every shelf. I scolded myself for not visiting more often just to see all the toys up-close. I had a slightly awkward moment with Yuki when he asked me how long I have been collecting toys. I told him around 10 years and he looked at my sort of puzzled and said: "but i've never seen you here." Yuki's reaction was testament to his longevity in the Bay Area and even the west coast. If you collect Japanese toys, you know about Kimono My House. I felt a sudden pang of embarrassment and told him that I usually purchase my toys online. Yuki immediately rolled his eyes in disgust and turned his head away. He snapped back: "It's guys like you that make it hard for independent toy stores to make a living" He was right and this sentiment is something I have heard from other toy store owners like Robin Kwok over at Heroes Club.

It is, however, reality. Kimono My House has an online store, but I find it's navigation clumsy and it doesn't have pictures for all the toys, so I don't use it. Yuki doesn't really blame me or anyone else from buying off the web, but he is saddened that the glory days of collectors flying to San Francisco just to shop for toys are pretty much over. Why make the trip when you can find anything you want online for less, tax-free and delivered to your doorstep?

Still, there is something to be said for browsing around in an old-skool Japanese toy store like Kimono My House. I first did a quick pass through each of the crowded aisles to get a feel for what was where: action figures, die-cast, mini-figures, vinyl, anime, etc. I nodded my head to Yuki as I passed by him behind the counter watching tv. I then strolled by my areas of interests more deliberately and slowly, examining the vintage die-cast toys, action figures and selection of blind assortment mini-figures. By the time I was finished with this, an hour had gone by and my wife had made the climb up the stairs to retrieve me.

In one of the glass shelves, I noticed a die-cast vehicle that I owned as a child. It was the "Heavy Combat Blugar" Spaceship from the anime Raideen. I remember that it was a compromise toy that I recieved for Christmas because the larger die-cast transformable Raideen Robot was too expensive. Even back then, die-cast toys were still much more expensive than regular Mattel plastic toys. If my memory serves me correctly, the larger die-cast Raideen I wanted was like $33 (back in 1975). There was no way my parents were going to spend $33 on a toy for me! So the compromise was the Raideen support vehicle for like $13. It was still very cool. It had spring-loaded missiles of course and the front opened like a big-mouth bass to reveal another smaller vehicle inside. I asked Yuki how much it was and he looked at me and whispered $120. I replied: "how much??" Nostalgia aside, I couldn't justify spending $120 on a toy that I probably threw away as a kid.

Another small toy caught my eye. It was a mini-figure that was out of the box from the tv show Kikaider. It was Kikaider's doppelganger Hakaider on his awesome motorcyle. It's a mini-figure so its only a three inches tall, but very, very cool. I wanted it immediately. I asked Yuki if he would sell it to me. He said it was a sample and pointed me to a carton of blind mini-figure boxes. I protested that I hate purchasing blind assortment toys. Blind assortment is extremely popular in Japan. There are a series of different toys but you don't know which one you're going to get until you open it. I hate them because I always get the lame figure. This is by design of course. The really cool figures (like Hakaider and his motorcycle) are rare. In fact, in one full case of 12 figures, there will only be two (2) Hakaider and motorcycle-one white and one black.

Yuki surprised me by offering to weigh the boxes. In this particular series, the different figures each have a different weight. Since Hakaider has a motorcyle as well, this one is the heaviest. Yuki at one time even had a chart. So we went about weighing the small boxes and tried to determine which one was the heaviest with his little postage scale. He even went as far as getting a new case because he knew for certain there was two of the highly desired Hakaider's contained within. He then taught me a little trick passed down from a Japanese toy distributor: the rarest figures in a blind assortment are placed in specific locations within the case. In a box with an odd number of rows, it will be in the very front left. In a box with an even number of rows, it will be left of the center row in front. Sure enough, when Yuki opened the new case, he picked the one in front on the far left and weighed it. "This is it" he whispered in his deep, raspy Japanese accent.

Sure enough, I opened the box and there he was. Hakaider and his cool motorcycle- only it was the white motorcycle. ugh! I hate white. I wanted the matching black motorcycle. Yuki looked at me and said "I told you I would find it, but there is no way to determine the color". I wanted to buy the other heaviest box, but Yuki didn't permit me. He said it would be unfair to his other customers if I bought both. Disappointed as I was, I understood and thought it very considerate of him to think of his other customers. (although one with good money willing to spend more was standing right in front of him). I ended up buying a few more figures and then took a black marker to the white motorcycle so it would match. You can hardly tell.

So if you are in the Bay Area and want a nostalgic experience, I would highly recommend visiting Yuki at Kimono My House. Even if you are not a toy collector, anyone interested in Japanese pop culture will appreciate this old-skool store and it's quirky proprietor.

Kimono My House
Store hours: Wednesday-Saturday 11-6, Sunday 12-5.
1424 62nd St. Emeryville, CA 94608
(510) 654-4627 (510) 654-4621 fax

From Highway 80 take the Powell Street exit heading east. Make a left on Hollis and another left at 62nd. There's lots of street parking. We are located on the roof of the warehouse!
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