Ahhh Akihabara, otaku central of Tokyo. Games, electronics, maid cafes and of course, anime and manga products can all be found here. If you’re a scale modeler, you have to visit Akihabara if only to be amazed by the size of the selections offered in the shops. But any self-respecting geek would get at least one thing here. 😀
So I brought my toy car geek kid to Akihabara on 2 evenings and we hit 3 shops here.
TamTam Hobby Shop (Google maps)
TamTam Hobby Shop is a bit of a walk from Akihabara Station but we made the walk because it has one of the bigger toy car sections in Akihabara. The scale model section is not large and it doesn’t offer tax refund but I find the prices to be quite competitive.
Yellow Submarine (Google maps)
If you have a bit of time to browse, I think this is the best bet. The kit prices are lower than Yodobashi Camera although I think the prices for the tools are higher. What sets this shop apart from the other 2 are racks and racks of loose parts in ziplock bags. Need some specific part or weapon for your custom gunpla/sci-fi builds? This is it.
The shop is a bit hard to find since there’s no signage outside the building, but you can’t miss it once you find it: it takes up the whole of the 7th floor of the building. Another plus is AmiAmi is on the 5th floor in the same building so you can kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
Yodobashi Camera (Google maps)
Yodobashi Camera is the store you need to go if you have a limited time to spend for hobby shopping. The toy section covers a whole floor and dwarves both Yellow Submarine and TamTam Hobby Shop’s space combined. Looking for Gunpla? I dare say Yodobashi stocks all of them. They also have a big selection of military kits and has a whole wall of tools to gawk at and hoard.
One plus is it also sells regular toys for kids. They also offer in-store tax refund if you spend more than JPY 5,000.
So what did I get? Not as much as expected. I only bought stuff that I felt I wouldn’t be able to easily get here in Jakarta (as per SOP). The price of the airbrush was too hard to resist though. Interesting that the kits are all from 1980s anime licenses. Yeah I’m old.
So I visited the UK earlier in June and I made sure to visit a Games Workshop store. Lucky for me there was one near the hotel I was staying at. Even better was the opening hours: they are open till 10pm every Monday-Saturday.
The store wasn’t big. But it was packed with people, products and display! They didn’t offer the full line of products but there were more than enough choice for both Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar. There was also a wall with the complete line of Citadel paints and tools. If you have more than 24 hours to spare, they also offered the service to order web-exclusive items and have the them shipped to the shop for collection. Nice.
There were tables set up for folks to do figure painting and play games. The store was also filled with very nicely painted figures.
I could ogle at these for hours but my son and I only had about 45 minutes to spare there.
More stash stuffers although only the Dreadnaught was mine. I resisted many of the bigger items (like the Imperial Knights which went for 100 GBP) since we had limited luggage space as usual.
Definitely an eye opening experience!
A scale modeler’s trip to Tokyo is never complete without visiting at least one of the Yodobashi Camera stores. On my trip in December, I stayed in Shinjuku and happily, Yodobashi Camera Shinjuku was only a 5 minutes walk away. Very dangerous indeed for this modeler.
It turns out that this particular Yodobashi Camera is the first ever opened and it’s huge: it takes up space in 12 separate buildings (!!) and multiple floors in each building. Quite amazing. I went to the hobby and games building and I was greeted with 5 complete floors of products to ogle at. The hobby section alone took up 2 floors.
So I definitely felt like I was a kid in a candy shop. Alas, the missus was on this trip with me and the fact is that my stash is unrealistically big (this is the subject for another post) so I just bought what I felt won’t be easily bought back in Jakarta including a new 0.2mm airbrush for when my cheap China-made 0.2mm eventually breaks down.
I also managed to visit BIC Camera in Shinjuku and Yurakucho but the selections are a lot smaller. Given a choice and a time limitation, Yodobashi Camera is the way to go although I managed to score a Fists of War kit in BIC Camera that Yodobashi didn’t carry.
In any case, any Yodobashi Camera in Japan is a must visit if only to marvel at the amount of products (be it model kits or other stuff) on display. Did I mention the building for watches in the Shinjuku branch takes up 3 floors?
So I had a short business trip to Singapore. As usual I also make a run at the model shops to see the goodies. There’s really nothing like being able to just go to a shop and leisurely look at the model kits and supplies. Even better is that these shops are all walking distance from my hotel. Here’s a short write-up of each and what I got there:
The M Workshop (MWS)
91 Bencoolen St. Sunshine Plaza #01-58 Singapore – Website
This is the one I always make sure I hit as MWS has the most eclectic mix of kits. Bernard and Julian are also very friendly and offer honest opinions of the stuff they carry. Most of the kits are also unsealed so you can ogle at the parts within. Nice. In particular they carry A&K interactive, Lifecolor and Vallejo though not all of the latter line. I usually try MWS first for anything I want before heading to other shops.
Hobby Kulture (Closed as of 31 July 2016)
3 Coleman Street #04-23 Singapore – Website
Kulture is pretty much the continuation of Achtung Hobby which was my go-to/hangout modeling shop when I was based in Singapore in the early 2000s. The guys have continued the tradition of bringing in a huge variety of new and classic kits every shipment. We are talking about kits so old the decals have yellowed though. Also following the Achtung tradition is that all the kits are unsealed and they won’t give you the stink eye if all you do is spend the whole visit just opening and looking at kits.
I am friends with some of the guys there and I usually end up spending a few hours chatting there. Alas this isn’t a full-time venture for them so the shop has very irregular and short hours. I’ve also heard they are closing for good soon. Pity.
Blk 231 Bain Street, Bras Basah Complex #03-33, Singapore 180231 – Website
This is the defacto shop for art supplies. One could get lost just looking at all the stuff they stock. Its a stop for me every time even if I’m not looking for anything in particular. Now that I’m into figure modeling, there are more things that interest me here. Incidentally Art Friend is the only supplier I know for X-acto products in Singapore.
Blk 231 Bain Street, Bras Basah Complex #04-35, Singapore – Website
This is a smaller shop across from art friend where i found some small balsa blocks that i think will work very well for small individual figures.
201 Victoria Street, Bugis+ #03-16/17 , Singapore – Website
This is my first visit here since I’ve never used to be interested much in Warhammer 40k. They carry the whole Games Workshop and Citadel Paint line. Half of the shop are also set up for board gaming which is pretty cool. I also spotted Star Wars and even Talisman, a board game I used to play as a kid. Luckily they don’t carry Corvus Belli’s Infinity line. It would have been dangerous on my wallet haha. Slightly annoying is that most of the stuff on display don’t have price tags. The guy at the counter claims that their price tagging machine was broken. Interestingly, the stuff at the Funan the IT Mall branch also don’t have price tags. Hmm…
No I didn”t really hoard kits but pretty much yes for everything else haha. Most of these are probably available in Jakarta but are more likely spread out over multiple shops across the huge city. Probably available online too but I’d rather be able to see what I want to buy beforehand.
A good and large haul indeed. Luckily all of them are pretty small eh?