Saturday, November 05, 2011

Tokyoflash Japan Kisai Seven

I got the brand new Kisai Seven watch from Tokyoflash Japan just the other day. The Seven has a really awesome, futuristic looking design with a blue LED that glows softly and brightens as it comes on, dims gradually as it shuts off. It was also available in white, but I thought that, that would be too showy/gaudy, and besides I just liked the blue more than the white, it has more character.

You tell the time by looking at the dark spots on the LED rings. The inner ring represents the hour, the outer, 5 minute intervals. The two "sevens" (hence the name) on the outside light up one LED for each individual minute. So, let's say that the minute ring is at 35, and the seven-shape has 2 LEDs lit, it's 37 after the hour. It takes a little getting used to, but if you've bought a watch from Tokyoflash or other crazy-designer watch companies before, you know their methodology can be creative to work around not being able to cram 60 individual LEDs into the face of the watch.
It of course has a rechargeable battery much like a lot of LED Tokyoflash watches do, like my Satellite did. This rechargeablity enables it to have a constant animation mode, animation every 30 seconds, or animation every 5 minutes. The constant mode was kind of disappointing, as if you turn it on, it fades and comes back instead of staying on constantly, as I thought it would. This turning on constantly or even every 30 seconds would be impossible with most other watches, unless you felt like buying a new battery every week or so. Because it is rechargeable, you can use the function as much as you want, without worry, and even if you do manage to run it down, the replacement batteries are cheap, too. Plus, it can be recharged in the neighborhood of like 300~400 times before needing replaced, so unless you wear it everyday, you're not gonna need a new one for quite some time.

The strap was kind of a double-edged sword for me. See, in the vein of being future-y, the Seven has a butterfly clasp under the band, thus concealing itself and making you appear more like Tron or Timecop or whatever. The downside to not just tucking in the band and being on your merry way is that you then need to trim it to your wrist's size. They advise doing this with scissors, which I will admit is an easy process, however as careful as I was about it, I wound up trimming down the one side too far, and then the pin would stick through the side, and the rubber covering it was very thin on the end. So I trimmed it one more "link" down and then it was too short and the clasp kept coming open on its own because the band was then too tight against my wrist. So I superglued the one with the almost open end back on and it has actually held pretty well through the first 4 days of normal wear to my job, outside, etc. But Tokyoflash actually said they'd send me a replacement strap after I contacted them (they're sending it with another watch I purchased, so how could they say no? lol), so that's a real bright spot.

Again, the watch itself is amazingly well-designed, it's positively Tron-ish and I'm super glad I bought the Seven. It also seems to be popular, because my Youtube video of it has gotten a couple hundred views in the few weeks since I've gotten it. I started posting videos of my watches not only because I think that they're neat/cool and should be shared with the world at large, but because a lot of people don't seem to put videos or even pictures up about their watches, and it's really difficult to find info on a lot of these obscure watches made in limited numbers by smaller - but by all means better - companies like Seahope or Tokyoflash. I always went looking for something that wasn't the stock photos/videos that the company took, of these watches to make sure of what it'd really look like in the color I chose, and now I'm trying to provide that for others so they know what it'll really look like once they get it. Anyway, it's a great watch, perfect conversation starter, and one I wholeheartedly recommend buying if you're a fan of this type of design/style. Another win from Tokyoflash Japan!

As of this writing, the Seven was still available. You can get it here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

WWR World War Robot Large Martin Big Red Colorway & WWR Book

Another Large Martin colorway, this time a broad contrast to the drab brown and rust and green of the last one I got. Also snagged the book all of these toys are based on, off of Amazon. I gotta say, it was really cheap - $23.95 - especially considering it's an art book and it's the collected works (the original spanned 2 volumes, and this condensed version contains an extra few pages of art + story) of both volumes, hardbound. Some of Ashley Wood's stuff is just great, but there are a few in here that I could barely make out what was supposed to be in the painting, like an amorphous blob sometimes. Stories were entertaining, too.

Seahope Scope Watch シーホープのSCOPE腕時計

I am overjoyed by this watch. I'll just throw it out there from the start. The craftsmanship is ridiculous, the design is ridiculous. What the Kisai Satellite I previously posted about is to looking sci-fi-y, this watch is to looking like an action hero or secret agent. Much like most of the watches I buy, this one has a unique look to it, but Eleeno/Seahope takes uniqueness to a new level.

The way you view the time is on a grid, where horizontal is 5 minute intervals, vertical is the hour and then the "scope" at the top lights up with 4 individual LEDs showing one for every 1 minute. Another awesome thing simply built-in to the watch face is, the 'O' in 'SCOPE' sets the time/date. Again, yes, it's "complicated" and you have to do some addition, and yes, it isn't "always on", because then the battery would be depleted very quickly and you'd miss out on the cool animation when you beseech your wrist oracle for the time, but I think it's well worth it. Actually, my only real beef with it was that the button on the front was odd/hard to press and when you're setting the time you only have about 4 seconds before it resets back to non-setting regular watch mode. I had to wrestle with it for a good 20 mins when I got it out of the box. It was actually easier to remove the links I needed to remove to make it fit my wrist, which is no mean feat. All in all though, this has become my favorite watch thus far, and I can wear it casually, and it looks good when you're dressed up, too, so bonus points for that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

TokyoFlash Japan Kisai Satellite Black and Green Watch 東京フラッシュKisai Satellite腕時計

The Satellite is my first purchase from TokyoFlash Japan, and judging by its quality and overall presentation, the first of many. First, the watch itself is very well-designed and crafted from high quality materials. TokyoFlash's watches are all limited edition, so I can only assume the production batches are small and better controlled quality-wise.

When you press the button on the right side of the watch, it springs to life and flashes the time in 3 separate circles (hour, 10 min intervals, 1 min, yes you have to be able to add, here), seemingly orbiting each other ('satellites', get it?). I wrestled for around 2 weeks with the decision of what color to get, seeing as I want a lot more watches, this watch is $100 and there are 4 variations of this, which all look cool in their own right. There are blue and green LCDs as well as black and white straps, so 4 combinations, and I whittled it down gradually. While blue looks cool, I'm partial to green for "futuristic" things because I feel that green actually looks more futuristic. (However, the blue does look cool, and picking green a lot gets kinda old) And as far as the strap, while white looks cool, I obsess over blemishes, and dirt/scuffs/etc would show up on white very easily. Also black looks more future-y, white looks like you're an art school kid or something, to me anyway, lol. I did like the white, especially since there was a lot of contrast, but ultimately I went with the black + green combo.

Between the hours of 6PM and 12AM, the watch has an animation function that can be turned on and off, and the satellites "orbit" every 15 minutes. The LCD stays off until you press a button (as I mentioned above), as it would drain the battery if it was constantly on. The 'Kisai' logo even lights up ever so slightly when the watch is activated. As I said, overall a very classy presentation. It comes in its own specially-designed box, as well.

The feel of the watch is comfortable, light and the material is of high quality. The screen is recessed into the strap, which is kind of unique, and the actual face seems to be set deep into the smoky acrylic facade. The best part of the whole package, however, is the fact that this watch (and the majority of their newer models, it seems) contains a rechargeable battery that can be charged via an included USB cord.

I stumbled upon TokyoFlash a few years back, actually, presumably when they first came on the scene, but I actually forgot about them soon after (I don't know how) and it was only recently that I restumbled upon their site while I was looking for an alternate retailer to buy a Seahope watch at (as Seahope's site has been "down for revamping" for some time now and they tell you to buy from their Rakuten store, but Rakuten's shipping is kinda confusing and seems expensive). They are an amazing retailer, they ship fast (I got my watch in under 5 days from Singapore - yes, they're TokyoFlash Japan, and are apparently based in both Japan and Singapore) and their contact is fast, too.

Overall, this is a good watch for everyday wear, in my opinion, because I tend to worry about metal faces and straps while I'm working or whatnot. With an acrylic face and a polyurethane strap, it is very easy to forget about potentially damaging this watch.

Zenryoku Usagi Trading Figures 全力ウサギトレーディングフィギュア

Coming from - a wonderful Californian web retailer for designer/vinyl toys - these are trading figures from the 2008 anime series based on a bunch of 'full-power' (zenryoku) rabbits working construction, but none of the stories really revolve around construction. 'Zenryoku' can also mean "with all of your strength" or "doing your best," too which is what the running gag/theme of the show is. All of the rabbits do their best at everything. The style kinda reminds me of Keroro Gunsou, particularly the main usagi himself. These are all really neat, each of which coming with different signs/slogans. For some reason I really love the logo's design.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Huck Gee Gold Life Dunnys

A new set of Dunnys has dropped, this time all made by Huck Gee. They're dubbed "Gold Life" and they're totally Asian-inspired, mostly Japanese, but by way of that odd Western way of looking at "Asian" as a universal thing. A few of the figures in this set are boring, imo, like the geisha models, and the er, "human" figures are kinda ubiquitous. For instance, I didn't buy the ninjas in this set because I have the Fox Ninja from the Dunny 2011 set that HG designed and he looks better (again, imo). I bought the highlights, sans the Wandering Monk and Tazmo the Rifleman due to insanity of prices of chase figures on ebay. I did, however, get the Shinsengumi Panda (not what he's called in the set, again, something Western), a samurai-armor-clad rhino and Gold Claw, a white tiger with awesome claws, a cloth cape and a straw hat.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

ThreeA World War Robot: Large Martin Auspublic Region Defense Colorway

From Ashley Wood, an Australian artist, comes a brand new - non-Japanese(!) - way of draining my wallet! I can't remember where I stumbled upon these, but I instantly thought these were amazing. Apparently it all started with an Ashley Wood set of artbooks called "World War Robot", about wars being fought between the earth, moon and Mars with humans and megacorporations making robot armies to supply the mayhem and fill their coffers. Well, that's the long and short of it anyway. So naturally, nothing like these paintings/drawings could stay two-dimensional forever, and ThreeA began making designer toys based on the series.

The way I understand it, the "official shop", Bambaland, gets first crack at selling these as preorders, and then they get released to distributors/comic shops/etc. And just to show you that the Japanese don't have the market cornered on gimmicks, each WWR toy released is one basic model, with different "colorways" available. Colorway is another word for "variant" or "repaint", if you're familiar with toy collecting vernacular. Unlike your typical (non polystone, non coldcast) Japanese figure, however, some seem to show up in random, small numbers, and others have a glut released. For instance, the colorway above only cost $45, but on ebay, I bought a rarer model called "MK2 Bertie" that was $140. And there are some, like for instance a special Japanese release, that can go for like $500 or more. I think some are like shop-specific or show-specific models, but there are others like the African Bramble units - that seem no different and are sold by a great many shops, mind you - that are inexplicably like $250-$300 at retail.

I have to say, these are really well-painted, detailed toys. For something being mass-produced, they're weathered well, packaged well, and despite having a simplistic shape, the Large Martins evoke an oddly steampunk sort of imagery. The Bertie I got has a minigun and individually bendable fingers, so I look forward to seeing more of a level of detail with that model (as soon as I decide to take it out of the box, haven't found space for it yet and I don't want it to get damaged), but I think I've found a new thing to collect. And apparently there's a decent amount of interest in WWR all over, as they're currently making a movie due out in 2013, based on the stories in the art books.