Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mister Donut Pon de Lion Autumn Ocha Set

If you read my blog with any degree of regularity, you know that in addition to anime, chara/mascot and gaming goods, I also love J-snacks and the like. While this technically does fall under the heading of "mascot goods", donuts are also food. =P If you live in North America and are older than 20 or 25 you'll probably remember franchises like Lawson, Circle K and Mister Donut from the 80's or early 90's. I was surprised at first when I was in Japan and saw many Lawson stores there. 7-11 didn't surprise me because I knew about that ahead of time, but Lawson hadn't existed in my neck of the woods back home in some time, so it was odd seeing it in Japan (and that it had the best-tasting house brand of water that I'd ever tasted).

As with anything Japan imports, Mister Donut - or Misudo as it's known there - has been completely Japanified (read: tailored to the market it's in), adding distinct flavors, catchy names, new donut types - and the obligatory kawaii mascot. Those last two are actually one-in-the-same. The best-selling glazed donut is called "Pon de Ring", which resembles a lion's mane. So when your Pon de Ring looks like the silhouette of a lion's head, what else do you name your lion mascot? That's right, Pon de Lion is his name. ^^;

According to what I could dig up, Pon de Lion has been around since 2003, though I only became aware of the little guy in like late 2006 or maybe even late 2007. However, I wasn't aware of the promo limited edition goods that they made of him. So browsing around Yahoo Japan Auctions one day I stumbled upon a crazy amount of Mister Donut cups and such, and an even crazier amount of Pon de Lion goods in general. I kinda regret not buying a wall clock of his face. (It was only $15 & I'm sure it's probably still up for auction) I did, however, pick up this ocha set that is classy looking but still slathered in mascot-y goodness. ^^

While I'm on the subject, the reason I didn't pick up the clock even though it was so cheap is because after deputy fees and shipping and international shipping, that 1500 yen balloons into about 3200 yen or so. (I'm estimating here, but 1500 yen for the clock + 600 yen for the deputy fee + 300 for the bank transfer + probably around 500 yen for domestic shipping inside of Japan, maybe more because it is breakable and finally international shipping which alone is expensive, but I usually go with about 15 items at once, so let's say 600 yen for that. Add that up and it is actually around 3500 yen. Factor in the currency conversion - about 90 yen to a dollar as of this writing - and you've just paid around $39 for a $17 clock. And I really didn't want it that badly. Where they really get you is the under and around 1000 yen items. You think you're gonna come out with a "steal" but one time I ended up paying almost $25 for a 600 yen item. And by, "Where they really get you," I don't mean the deputy company or anyone in particular really. Most deputy places, especially the one I use (****shameless plug**** Goody Japan is awesome) charge you actual shipping and actual everything with the exception of the paltry 600 yen fee then get per auction. (they add up, but they are performing a service to get you something that would otherwise be near-impossible to get unless you live in Japan or know someone else who does) So no one is really making out like a bandit or anything, it just costs money to ship things, bank transfers cost money (Japan has very unique ways of paying for things, compounded by the fact that credit cards are still not a big way to pay for things there), international shipping is expensive, etc. I think I may write an article/guide about conducting business with a deputy auction service in the near future.

Conversely, "One man's trash is another's treasure," really applies to YHJ Auctions in the sense that something that someone outside of Japan considers rare and/or exotic usually sells for a whopping $10-20 US, and sometimes less. That set of Bleach keychains that can be had from a Gashapon in Japan for 200 yen a piece that you saw on ebay last week for $40 from Hong Kong plus $12 shipping? Yeah you can prolly get those for around 700-900 yen on YHJ Auctions. In fact, if you are in Japan, even with shipping you'd probably get off cheaper buying them on there than plugging two 100 yen coins into a Gashapon machine until you collect em all. (Of course you could auction off the duplicates you got =P) That and you don't have to run the risk of getting spoofed by some fake seller or of getting a bootleg item. That Nendoroid that's sold out at Hobby Search, HLJ, Toylet and Kid Nemo? Yeah you can probably get it for about 1000 yen less, which, with deputy fees and such you probably are paying close to the same price you would having it shipped from Japan from HS or HLJ. That's a win. Especially in the case of North American otaku goods stores, who love to inflate the price of everything.

But that in and of itself is really the problem, it's waaaaay too easy to get carried away, especially if you get on a roll and the series you want has a million chara goods/figures like Geass, Gundam, Gintama, Monster Hunter, Naruto, Bleach, Rockman, nado nado. When you're bidding you're thinking, "Wow! This was only 700 yen! 1500 yen! 2500 yen! What a bargain!" like you're on a roll gambling. =P I won't mention the downside because there really isn't one so long as you really appreciate what you bought. But I will say that there is a certain amount of sticker shock when your invoice comes rollin in.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

When someone wins something from you on ebay, why does it seem like the more feedback they have, the longer it takes them to pay? When someone has from like 10-100 they seem to pay instantly - in my experience at least - and when they have over 1000 they take almost my whole 7 day time limit to pay. I guess they're more relaxed or something? Perhaps people that are new or don't buy much have more capital to play with or feel "pressured" to pay right away lest they get in trouble with the big interweb ebay rulemakers? =P

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pajama Poogie

I got a *massive* amount of phatty lewts yesterday, and what better item to start with than the huge, adorable Poogie plush from Monster Hunter. Apparently he's a prize item, but his quality is amazing, from his soft pajamas to his fluffy little ears. I'm really happy with everything I got in this "batch" (as you'll see in the coming days ^^) but I was pleasantly surprised at how big and cute piggy was. He's called Poogie in the North American version of the game, and this spelling might be more palatable to American audiences than the direct transliteration of Puugi, but in katakana I like it a lot better than both Rooma-ji renderings: プ-ギ.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Ikea Trip #2

Well, technically probably more like Ikea trip #30 or so, but for the intents and purposes of this blog, it's trip(post) #2. I had every intention of buying another Detolf last night, especially since they've gone down again from $79.99 to $59.99, but I honestly just couldn't envision the floor space for it. And in that vein, I did look into replacing my bed with a sofa bed (which were very, VERY nice by the way, especially for the prices of like $199-$399) to maximize floor space and those results were very comfortable as well. ^^;

Anyway, I didn't get another Detolf (which would make for boring pictures besides), I did however get 2 clocks (yeah I have a fetish for clocks), a candle and a really awesome lampshade of a Shinjuku street scene - yeah I'm just as surprised as you are. Actually, funny story about that; my friend and I were waiting in line and a Japanese couple came up and were pointing at it and I guess trying to figure out what street it was from, etc. It was really awesome/coincidentally funny. I was going to strike up a conversation, but I was a tad too hazukashii (embarrassed/shy/reticent) to do so. ><;

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Wave 1/8 Furude Rika

The last (but certainly not the least) of my loot from yesterday is a 1/8 Wave version of Furude Rika from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Though not as ornate and flashy as Saber, nor as "action packed" as The Big O, Rika-chan is definitely a very cute (and accurate) sculpt. The only thing I didn't really like about her was her mouth. It looks sort of strange. Other than that, she looks pretty great, I would've preferred her in a kimono, but this is good as well. Rika's counterpart, Hanyuu, was also released, but at $60 Rika alone was expensive and although I like Hanyuu, I don't like her enough to spend $60 on her.

GoodSmile Saber Lily

I'm sure everyone that owns a blog that contains anything about anime/figures has reviewed her and taken 8000 pictures, so I won't bore you. I just had the camera out to take pics for my previous article on The Big O and figured I'd take a few snaps of my own Saber Lily. I was especially impressed by the box she came in, it was huge and ornate. I initially wasn't even going to buy her because of the really bad yen -> dollar exchange rate, putting her up over $100 at one point. But when pre-orders reopened 2-3 weeks before her release, on Hobby Search, I couldn't resist picking her up. My only real gripe is that my particular Saber's antenna had a little "chip" taken out of it revealing a black spot underneath (though it's barely noticeable).

Soul of Chogokin - The Big O

Times have been sorta dry as of late, and I really didn't care to update as much as I should (finding work and ebaying has taken much of my time lately), but I actually got 2 packages in one day yesterday. As most of you know HLJ was having a free shipping sale if you made a billing agreement with Paypal. I took advantage of that and bought something rather expensive that I normally wouldn't because the shipping would be like $35 for just that one item. The item in question is Soul of Chogokin - The Big O! Finally, after almost 10 years they made an excellent rendition of The Big O. There was a model before, if I recall correctly, but it was just a generic plamo mold model and it was kinda crummy. There were also toys before, but none detailed enough to be anywhere within striking distance of the awesomeness of this hunk of die-cast awesomeness.

As for the product itself, it's exactly as you'd expect the prestigious Soul of Chogokin line to be: the main body is die-cast metal, but the arms and legs and other regalia are made of plastic. Most of the action features are there, though the giant anchors that shot out of his "skirt" in the first episode of season 2 don't come out or anything. The giant pistons in his arms move, and there's a part to affix to his chest for the "Missile Party" move, and 2 attachable cannons for the "Cannon Party" move. There are 2 pairs of hands, fists and open hands, in the case of the open hands fingers may be manipulated individually. There are "garage doors" in his feet for when Roger Smith would drive in from the ground level and take an elevator up to the cockpit. Also, you can pull the collar up revealing a tiny cockpit. He also comes with an awesome display base with a name plate and I think there are magnets in the base and in the feet of the robot itself. (I felt an attraction take place when I set him down on the base the first time) My only complaint? It doesn't come with a tiny Roger Smith, or at the very least, a tiny car so you can put it into the foot of The Big O.

The design is dead on, and the package even advertises that the production was supervised by Keiichi Satou, the mecha designer for the anime series. Everything from the face to the feet is sharp and well-produced. Even the base retains that dystopic-yet-retro feel of the series.