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.


  1. It was great attending Wonderland with you and your friend. I found a couple things for myself. At least you can speak some Japanese, I am hobbled by being uni-lingual. I did find out on the return trip that even the express an the other line took twice as long to arrive in Tokyo with 2x stops. By the way, the actual quantity of the red Camaro was 1008 pieces which was closest number to 36 per case (28 cases) to the then minimum order for a special issue. Each little detail would add cost to the base price..like tampo on the front, rear side or top . A unique box would have been a lot of designing fees, so we opted to use the current Camaro box which at that time was the police version. We also planned and presented our design for the L-10 articulated American LaFrance ladder truck in green to the head Tomica office in Tokyo suburb, however they produced it and lost the paperwork, so sold the complete order to a Tokyo Tomica dealer/shop. I was able to acquire more than 1/2 of the production, and still have a few of that one and the Camaro left.

  2. Hi Bob, I will amend the figure. What other Tomica did you produce? What is the number for the Green articulate fire truck?

  3. what time of the year does the Wonderland Market open?

  4. Oh man, do I want to attend that show. Thanks for reporting, I enjoyed it.

  5. nice...i will take note of this place in the next trip home to sgp...

  6. When is the next toy this summer

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