Sunday, December 30, 2012

Japan 2012 - 16th December, Sunday

Finally, the day has arrived. I have been waiting for this day to visit the Wonderland Market. Although it's my first visit to Wonderland, this is the 84th edition and it is the oldest and longest running toy swap meet in Japan. We met up with Bob at the train station for our destination.

Going from Tokyo to Yokohama takes about an hour with one transit. Bob said that Nakata San suggested a different route so I ditched my original plan and followed him. The event was held in Marineria, which I had saved this in my google map like other minicar shops in my phone. I was actually fully ready for this whole trip.

Admission is 1000yen and I managed to pay only 800yen as Nakata San handed me a discount voucher the day before when I visited his shop. We were an hour early and there was a queue lining up already. We weren't too far back as we are just later than 10-15 people only. I understand from Bob and Nakata San that this used to be 10 to 20 times bigger and crowded in the past. The Wonderland Market today has smaller crowd and lesser stalls now. I hope this swap meet will continue and not die off. Anyway, welcome to the Wonderland Market.

As soon as I stepped into the event hall, I started to take photos before the crowd rushed in. There are some cars displayed in the event hall which coincidentally you can find these cars produced by Tomica as well. This is the Honda S800, predecessor of the Honda S2000.

A British Racing Green or maybe Olive Green Morris Mini Cooper. Classic!

This is the ultimate classic super car of Japan, the Toyota 2000GT. This is the first time I see this car in person and took quite a number of photos of this classic. It's a re-make of a Jaguar E-Type but it has become a class of its own way now. This car is the star of the trio.

Not that it's not crowded but I am first few who stepped into the event so I am able to take photos of the stalls clearly. 

A stall that was selling model kits. I do build model cars during my younger days as a kid but I kind of felt that I was destroying them rather than building them because my work always looked so awful.

Take your pick, there are some vintage ones in the stack as well. I am not touching any of these.

For Tomica fans, prepare to go ga-ga over these extreme selection in the trays.

I don't know where to start on these lot so I moved on instead for photo taking.

The crowd started to gush in. I went to one of the stalls where they have many loose cars which prices starting from 100 yen up to 500 yen (depending on condition and model). I saw a father with his young son acting fast with the 100 yen Tomica so I decide to join in the "fun" as well. That was just a warming up on my hunting spree. I also met Ken from Ken's Garage of Hong Kong in this event.

I came to this stall where the seller displayed a huge collection of junk cars. I would say the condition varies as I saw that a small portion of cars which are mint as well. I asked the seller the price he is selling and he asked me which ones I am referring? So I guessed that the price must have varied from models. I just picked a beaten up Tomica Mazda Luce AP since I never had that car. He told me it's 500 yen so I moved on. I was expecting much lower for a heavily played with car.

His stall is a huge one with many loose cars. You gotta open your eyes to find the cars you needed. I saw a larger scale Playart Saab 900 (almost mint) and a Cherica Toyota Century (lightly played with and some paint lost) but I don't have the courage to ask for the price after enquiring on the first Mazda.  

There was also a stall which had thousands of loose cars, mostly mint. I saw many people crowding at this stall so I thought that the price should be uniform. I was wrong again when I pick around 5 cars and seller was telling me 2400yen in total and price of different cars varied. It's a disadvantage when you don't speak Japanese so at times I have to make do with my extremely basic Japanese such as "How much is that?" and "I understood".

These vintage Japanese tin toys are super nice but the price is super to me too. I like the red Toyota 2000GT, red Celica 2000LB and the red Corona 1900SL.

Then I came across this stall which had many rare toys. These are for Fairlady fans who are crazy over S30 and S130. 

They have these garage sets as well which I have not seen this type of packaging.

This is a power Tomica off road set, not something which I had in mind. I was actually looking for my Tomica racing set which consist of the Porsche 935 and the De Tomaso racing on a 2 lanes circuit. I sold it years ago on ebay for only a mere $46.00 (USD) which the set was complete with both mint cars. I tried looking for it in Yahoo Japan and the price is double to triple of the amount I sold. I regretted selling that set.

I was amazed to find this 4 lanes racing set here as this is my ultimate dream set. I hope to find one which has been played with so that I can enjoy it without destroying the value of a never played with set. I don't mind if the set come without the 4 original cars as long as the set is still working. This set is too huge and I am not ready to pay a big value item for this trip. I didn't ask about the price but a set that is not played with and completed with 4 mint cars is estimated to be in the range of 600,000~800,000yen.

Something which I will not buy for this trip. Wal-Mart special at good price but I am not interested at all.

Bob found something special. I saw this car at one stall and was looking and holding it for a minute hoping the seller will tell me the price. I was attracted to it because I had hardly see this colour variant. I didn't ask for the price because it didn't come with a box. So I passed it on.

Bob was saying that he got it for a good price and it could pay his shopping trip to Wonderland because this is a rare variant. The seller was kind of desperate as he might not be able to hit his target so he sold it at small discount from the asking price. I understand from Tonegawa that the stall in Wonderland isn't cheap at all as he was at the 83rd Wonderland Market as a vendor. I decided to head to the same stall once more hoping to find something rare but not Tomica of course as I was too late for that. The seller thought I am a Porsche fanatic as he started to recommend big items because I picked 2 Porsche 911 (1/66 scale). I managed to slash 1000 yen off the pair from this seller. This seller should be from some Porsche club in Japan as all the cars on display are Porsche. His stall was located just behind the Toyota 2000GT as shown above. One of the Porsche is rare because it is a Norev mini-jet based on a Schuco casting.

A little introduction on Bob. Bob is a Tomica collector and trader back in the States and he has been traveling to Japan since the early 80s. He has created a few special edition Tomica under his name. It's such an coincident that I have one of his "creations", a red Camaro Z28 that was made in the mid 80s. I was informed by Bob that only 1008 pieces of this car was made and so this is a rare variation. I can't remember where I bought this car but I was thinking eBay.  

Bob told me that this red Camaro was forgotten in the first Tomica Collection Encyclopedia as it should be rightfully be labelled under F34-3-2 since it was made during the mid 80s. It was then included in 2nd edition under the book titled "Tomica Variation Note".

This car is labelled as "Bob Special Edition". I hope Bob can make more special edition models. I will get my cousin to buy and sell them in his shop. Maybe all the new American cars made by Tomica and colour them red with gold accents like the above Camaro?

Bob also understand that I hope to own a Hong Kong made Tomica. There are a few stalls at the Wonderland Market having a few of these rare pieces. Bob told me that he knows one guy at one of the stalls and make connections for me. He had a Sprinter, a Cedric and a Gallant GTO. The Sprinter and the Cedric are almost mint while the GTO suffered from some paint loss. I told the seller that I have to re-think about it as I have no intentions to spend too much on a single car. I just couldn't resist the cars and told Keong after an hour on the offer of the Hong Kong Tomica. I asked Keong if he is interested and I decided to negotiate with the seller by doing a bundle sales. I learnt that trick from "The Pickers". It didn't work so well as planned but managed to bring the price down a little. I like the Cedric better but it is the highest price car so I go for the Sprinter instead since I collect old Corolla as well. Keong eventually had to go for the Cedric. The feeling of owning a car that I had always wanted is hard to describe in words. It felt like striking a starter prize in the lottery but I had to pay for it. It sounded like I was using money to buy happiness. I am still a happy man now while writing this post at least. The Sprinter will go to a good home for sure. See if you spot it in my display shelve? We stayed at the Wonderland Market until the very end. I will make a return to Wonderland Market soon. This place is just too cool for toy hunters.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Japan 2012 - 15th December, Saturday

I decided to visit Shimokitazawa early thinking that we will be able to buy more time for the day. I was wrong, because most shops operate from 1100hrs or 1200hrs and we are pretty early at 1000hrs. What made our day worse was the weather.

I planned for Shimokitazawa because this is where you can find vintage stuff or 2nd hand clothing. Not so much into used clothing but if there are clean pieces from the 60s or 70s, why not? We were there for 2 shops basically. One of the shops is selling vintage toys as shown in above photo. Not "Zappas" but the shop on the 2nd level. We are waiting for the shop to open while sitting in MOS Burger nearby, finally the shop owner arrived at around 1230hrs. That was a long wait. We hoped to depart Shimokitazawa by 1400hrs so that we can continue our journey for the day.
Closing up on the shop name. I don't know how to translate the shop name into English but I'll try if you like to know.

Translating respective lines, "Taste of Dramatic Life", "House of Memories", "1960s Specialist Shop". I hope I got this right. I got hold of the shop owner's card and it's in Japanese. I think his name should be Ueno Risaburou if I managed to translate it correctly. Ueno San do not allow photography in his shop so I just took a photo of his main door. It's a small shop with many old stuff and I am interested on his "minicar" only. He has 2 small display case with toy cars in the store. As I was looking at the cars, Ueno San asked me if I am minicar collector and we exchanged cards. I am interested in his Tomica, Lone Star and Playart (badged as Masudaya) but based on the asking price, I think I will just focus on the Playart. The Playart he had are Japanese cars which I was looking for. I asked if he had more of these and he did a search in his "store" which was behind his counter where he sat. He dig out a box full of MIB Lone Star, Playart and Matchbox. I decide to do a bundle sales and negotiated on the price to buy out his Playart. Actually it's not many pieces, 5 in all so it's not too expensive to buy them out. All cars in the lot are Corolla and Sunny. My friend, Keong, did get a Lone Star as well as he never had one so I bundle it up as well. Considered a good buy for first shop of the day and good deal for Ueno San since we are the first customers right after he opened for business.  

I know how to translate the shop name. 2 Banchi 3 Chome, more of like an address but it is really the name of the shop. I have seen this shop as I have been buying stuff from Yahoo Japan and this shop is no stranger in the auction site. The time is 1300hrs and raining. The shop owner said that he need 30 mins to set up the shop so we waited till 1330hrs before we can enter.

As photography is not allowed, I will not show you the stuff inside the store but you can see visit the shop in YouTube as someone did a video. We were lucky as they were having 50% discount store wide. This shop has everything from toy cars to figurines and from Japanese toys to American toys. As for the pricing, I would say the price sounds more reasonable after discount of 50% otherwise I will not consider. I did not buy any cars here as most of the cars are not mint and some in junk condition. I bought a Evil Kenevil figurine and a Pokochan doll, sounds so unlikely of me to buy these stuff but strange enough, I like these toys although I am strictly a toy car person. We spend an hour there and we hurried off to Tokyo Station as today is official release day for Tomica new model.

I don't want to tell you what I bought but I know that you might be thinking I should be the happiest person on earth that day. Not really! I never really enjoy shopping here because not many stuff excites me here. I managed to spend slightly more than 17,000 yen anyhow as I was doing it on behalf for my cousin. I went to Tomica Shop so that I can make my post a little more complete since a major portion of my followers are beginners on collecting Tomica.

Next, we went to Akibahara. It was dreadful for me because I don't collect figurines. It was interesting for Keong because this is his first time for everything and he would like to see, try, touch, taste anything that comes along the way.

I can only accept Ultraman figurine as I do have Ultraman toys at home as well. It was like hell in Akiba for me rather than heaven.

At 1900hrs, I am supposed to meet my friend, Tonegawa, in Gulliver. Tonegawa owns a Kenmeri Skyline who turns a Tomica collector years ago. As my favourite Skyline model is the Kenmeri, Tonegawa is my "hero". He told me he nearly completed collecting all variations of Tomica Kenmeri Skyline. It's a pity that his car is under restoration and the whole project will take 10 months to complete. I haven't seen a Kenmeri in person and maybe my next trip to Japan, his Kenmeri should be ready for my camera. For those who are reading this thinking what is a Kenmeri but dream Skyline as their dream car and only know what is R32, R33, R34 and R35, I think it's a joke to dream Skyline as your dream car if you do not know much of Skyline history.

Here is a link to the blog of my best friend in Japan.

Bob is the man who was helping us taking the above photo of me and Tonegawa. When I reached Gulliver, I met Bob again for the second time. First time was in II Ado on day 1 of my trip. Bob was talking to Nakata San, owner of Gulliver, because they are old friends. I asked Nakata San to help us take a photo because I forgotten to do that when we met in II Ado. I was too excited that day because II Ado was my first minicar shop visited after 2.5 years. I discussed with Bob of visiting the Wonderland Market together tomorrow as it is the "highlights" of the whole trip (for me). After that, I went coffee with Tonegawa before going back to hotel. Tomorrow is the "big day" for me, my reason for visiting Japan again is for the Wonderland Market. I will try to show more of Wonderland Market on next post. Keep following.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Japan 2012 - 14th December, Friday

We went to Nakano on Friday morning as there is a mall where they sell toy cars, figurines, manga, cosplay costume, watches, 2nd hand books and antiques. It is similar to our China Square in Singapore but at least 10 times bigger and 100 times better than what we have. I have also advise my friend, Keong, not to take photo so openly as some shops do not allow photography. It's funny to see him act almost like a spy in Nakano as he took photographs in discreet and hide his camera when needed.

I was expecting to find vintage Tomica in Classic Vintage but the Tomica in this store are rather new. Quite different from the branch in Yokohama.

There are also shops which has many shelves rented by individual sellers. There are a number of units that contain Tomica in them so we spend almost an hour in this shop looking for cars we need.

The Tomica are of different series and era. I picked a few cars here while Keong picked many cars as if they are free. Maybe he is deprived of being able to get a decent Tomica in Singapore or Malaysia as there are only current release available.

Closing up on some domestic black box Tomica. I think some of these are gone by now as Keong picked quite a number of them. If he continues to go Japan 2 or more times, he can beat my collection easily. In fact, he has already booked for another trip to Japan next year.

This shop is under the Mandarake Group selling only toy cars.

Just when I am about to enter the shop, I spotted something rare. A Yonezawa 1/64 scale Toyopet Crown Deluxe toy car which is considered very rare today for this scale.

Then I spotted another blue one in the same show case.

The Tomica in this shop is lowly priced but you must do a close inspection on the condition. When the prices are low, there must be some defects either on the car or on the box.

Elf is a small minicar shop (maybe quarter the size of II Ado) but if you are looking for a rare variant, you must pay a visit to Elf.

These are the cars as shown on the display case outside their shop. If you wanted really rare stuff such as first edition of 1970 1A wheels Tomica, they have it here. If you are looking for a Made in Hong Kong Tomica, they have them available, loose or MIB. My Kombie is found in Elf too and I also saw the Ambulance edition of the Microbus which is the hardest to find variant for the Tomica Microbus. As I have been buying from Yahoo Japan, I saw Elf had ever tried selling the Wedding gift set which was released in 1983 issued to guests attending the wedding of the son of the Tomy President.

I know I refrained myself from getting big items but this set is reasonably priced and it has never been played with. I managed to bargain another 300 yen off from their asking price so I bought it. Keong was a little more ambitious as he wanted 2 Tomica Mini Cooper that cost more than 10,000yen each. I managed to help him get 5% discount for him since these are not low price toy cars.

After visiting Nakano Broadway, we took a train to Shinjuku to Ken Box. This is my first time there as Ken Box started business in 2010 May. They are the shop who organises the Shinjuku toy event. The first edition was held in 2010 May and last month in November, they had their 4th edition held in Shinjuku. Although the shop was very near to Shinjuku station, it took me nearly half an hour locating for it because I had never been there. Whenever I lost my way, Keong will get an extra treat as he will be tagging me behind taking photo of almost everything that comes along his way. Most of the time I am either walking with fast pace or even run just to meet our planned schedule.

Ken Box is located in a narrow building and you have to take the elevator to 5th floor. When the elevator door opens, you will go direct to Ken Box because the entrance is actually the elevator door.

Ken Box has huge collection of Tomica, Dandy and Diapet. They are displayed according to their era and Tomica number so if you have something in mind, it is easy to find what you want. Finding the car you need in Ken Box shouldn't poses much problem to anyone but the price is closer to collector price rather than trader's price. I did see many cars I like but they didn't match the price I want to pay. Keong grabbed all the Cherica and some Tomica. I hurried him a little as we will need to skip Minicar TMT or we will not be able to go to Shu-Stock.

Shu-Stock is a shop which I really look forward to go because they have virtually every brand you can think of. I regretted not getting the Polistil RJ as they had a few cars which are completed with box. The prices are the highest but if you met a store discount, you are in for a treat.

When we reached Shu-Stock, the lady at the counter was busy preparing for Wonderland Market as she was packing and tagging price tags for cars on sale for the coming Sunday. There are also lots of Tomica which they have discount starting from as low as 1200yen for black box domestic models or foreign series cars but most are in the range of 1500yen. The above cars are not available for discount. Cars up for discount are usually very common models or they have minor defects but it's still a treat for us.

I can't help but to take a photo with all the Tomica in the background. Beside acquiring a few Tomica, I also bought a number of larger scale loose cars such as Dinky or Marklin. I would say the price is really so attractive that I bought cars that I might not consider if the price is similar to eBay. I am surprised that Keong said that this is the most satisfying store so far. I would agree to some extend as the price that day is really too good to be true. To be continued........