Volks Shop Finder

volks

The following link leads to a Google Map detailing all of the Volks Showroom and Tenshi no Sumika locations in Japan. In addition to offering a variety of figures, kits, and dolls, including the Dollfie line, Volks shops provide the craftsman and other artists with a plethora of resources for creating and modifying figures, as well as the materials and inspiration to embark on other original projects. Volks shops are also stocked with information about local events, exhibits, and classroom workshops, many of which are organized by Volks itself, and staff are usually friendly craft enthusiasts, more than willing to assist and offer advice.

No two Volks shops are the same, and those living in or visiting Tokyo might find it helpful to visit a few shop locations when collecting materials, or looking for that special SD dress. The main problem with this is actually finding the locations, as they can be hidden in buildings, basements, or dark alleyways in the sprawling urban jungle. With the aid of Google Maps, most of this guesswork has been taken away, as every nook and cranny is carefully documented from an aerial view, and you can often look at surrounding landmarks using the Street View function.

To those visiting for the first time, Volks Showroom locations feature toys, figures, resin kits, and other hobby related materials such as paint, glue, clay, molding tools, and various printed materials. Volks Tenshi no Sumika locations are specialized Dollfie outlets, carrying dolls, clothes, accessories, parts, and special care items among many other things for Dollfie of various sizes. Many Volks locations feature a Tenshi no Sumika area inside a larger Showroom store, though there are some specialized locations, all of which have been detailed on the map.

I hope you find this useful for all of your wants and needs, and look forward to hearing your feedback. And, please, don’t be afraid to mention any mistakes.

Without further adieu:

The Volks Shop Finder

The creation of the Volks Shop Finder has also inspired a number of other maps detailing some of the finer doll, art, hobby, anime, and otaku points of Japan. As such, a permanent page containing links to these maps has been created, and can be accessed under “Pages.”

The maps, however, are still a work in progress.

Tokyo Toy Show 2008

Pictures are worth a thousand words – particularly when it comes to toys. This year’s International Tokyo Toy Show seemed even more packed than last year’s, which boasted over 100,000 attendants. With free admission, it would seem difficult to keep track of actual individuals entering, even more so since most visitors were barely visible and clinging to their mothers. However, the long winding lines which snaked through the convention hall at most every entrance, exit, and elevator are the measure I’ll go by. Even the pouring rain, which persisted all day, did nothing to detour crowds.

Kaiyodo had a very powerful display, unveiling a new Fist of the North Star figure series, Hellsing series, and Yotsuba& figures among others, as well as displaying an array of current Revoltech figures.

The Fist of the North Star series had one particularly interesting figure, which at a glance looks as any other, but “unfolds” down the middle to create a “post-Ken” scene. For those who don’t know, the protagonist of the series unleashes a fury of rapid assaults upon his enemy, after which they have a good laugh at his lack of skill before exploding. The “Exploding Jeed” figure utilizes Revoltech’s patented joint system to suspend the anonymous villain’s segmented torso, exposed vertebra, and intestines in an awesomely gory pose. Unfortunately, due to the large number of small children in attendance, this figure wasn’t on display. However, various Alucard figures set for release this September nonetheless added a subtle element of the macabre.

On the sunnier side of things, Yotsuba was posed in full summer action alongside a new Fuka figure. The catalog details that though the school uniform clad Fuka is permanently sold out, both bikini and T-shirt fashion editions are underway. The isle of IDOLM@STER Frauliens was a bit disturbing, but August’s “Bandaged Rei” shone in the distance as a ray of hope – as the Fraulien series’ last eight (out of 11 total) figures have been from the idol-manager simulation game.

Tamiya had a cool new series of build-it-yourself robot kits, with acrylic plates to look like various insects and animals. Two different locations in the Tamiya area where kids could battle the robots sumo style were packed; even a a few parents jumped in when their kid was losing. Tamiya was also promoting a new series of slot-style RC cars, including a “Special Pink” color variant, perhaps in an attempt to draw more girls into the sport. An elaborate race track graced the front of their display, where swarms of kids raced and watched with parents. However, both fell short of Lego and Daiya’s huge interactive building-block areas areas.

In promotion of the new American motion picture adaption of the classic Japanese animation Speed Racer, Hot Wheels (now celebrating its 40th Anniversary) is remaking most of its original Speed Racer modeled series. Their display included a child-size mock-up of the Mach 5, and allowed kids to have commemorative photos wearing smaller versions of Speed’s signature helmet. After learning that adults could not similarly enjoy such fantasies save for accompanying some small child, this author was on the brink of throwing a tantrum.

However, Hot Wheels wasn’t alone in hocking movie wares. In a strange series of events, the BB gun manufacturer Marushin made a six-shooter Mateba inspired piece based on Ghost in the Shell character Togusa’s favorite gun. As an accessory option, it offers six individual shells which can be loaded into the gun, each holding a single BB. It also comes with a cell phone strap replicating the tracking bullet Togusa fires while in pursuit of the the Puppet Master. The gun commemorates Mamoro Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell 2.0, a remastered edition of the original 1995 movie with additional computer animated graphics and newly recorded Dolby 6.1 soundtrack. The movie will be released in five select theaters next month in order to promote Oshii’s newest work Sky Crawlers, which opens in theaters August 2.

Bandai had a huge area, housing many cool things, including a giant Ultraman statue made of smaller Ultraman figures, new Tamashi Nation figures, girls dressed as opposing Gundam factions battling it out with Beam Sabers, new capsule toys… just a lot of cool things. The line itself just to walk through the Bandai area was incredible – spanning the length of the convention hall twice before slowly coiling inward, though overall fast moving.

One of the more interesting items on display was “Kaiju Mansion” – something of a designer vinyl series recreating classic movie monsters in art deco inspired casts. Nearby, sat a collection of the huge product line accompanying Evangelion series spin-off game Puchi Eva.

In the capsule toy section, it was surprising to learn that older animated series such as Ruroni Kenshin, Ranma1/2, and Urusei Yatsura would be represented in September’s line-up. Indeed, artist Rumiko Takahashi’s characters seem to have their own series. Weekly manga publication Shonen Jump, in commemoration of its 40th anniversary, will release a series of metal pins with mini magazine covers. And, on the weirder side of things, Bandai also has something called “Toilet Monsters” which will enjoy a capsule toy incarnation this fall.

As always, there are many things to look forward to, including next year’s show.  It was definitely worth riding my bike in the freezing rain.  If anything, I’d try to bring along someone’s child next year so as to fit in and participate in more of the activities.

This Month in Toys

This is just a small collection of some the bigger events going down in Tokyo this month. Bastu and Maru will of course be getting coverage, but if anyone happens to be in the Tokyo area I strongly encourage you to go. These events are usually a lot of fun, even if you’re not buying.

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What: 18th Tokyo Toy Festival

When: Sunday, June 8, 2008; 10am-5pm

Where: Tokyo Big Sight

Cost: 1000 yen

Link (Japanese): but with awesome video… http://www.toyfes.jp/

I think the video says it all. This is a huge flea market style event with a mix of official brand dealers and resale-ers. A variety of stage events are held throughout the day. Toys include everything from figures, vintage, Volks, cars, etc.

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What: Doll World Festival

When: Saturday, June 14, 11am-5pm; Sunday, June 15, 12pm-4pm

Where: Tokyo Industrial Trade Center

Cost: free

Link (Japanese): http://www32.ocn.ne.jp/~japandollworld/

An event for dolls of all varieties, in addition to doll related crafts and goods. On different floors of the same convention hall will be the related Tokyo International Miniature Show, and Japanese Teddy Bear Convention.

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What: Toyko Toy Show 2008

When: June 21 9am – 5pm; June 22 9am-4pm

Where: Tokyo Big Sight

Cost: free

Link (English): http://www.toys.or.jp/toyshow/english/index.html

Only new toys – most yet to be released – will be on display as companies from Japan and around the world try to find buyers. Press and hotshots have their own days – the 21st and 22nd are open to the public. They also have a variety of stage shows, mostly youth-oriented, but cool in a silly way.