Tag: Travels

A visit to the 1/1 Unicorn Gundam at Odaiba, Tokyo

Every gunpla nerd is required to make a pilgrimage to the 1/1 scale Unicorn Gundam statue in Odaiba, Tokyo. It was finally my turn this time. I went in the afternoon and the Unicorn remained in Unicorn mode the whole time. I do believe it only activates Destroy mode every 2 hours starting from 11am with a lightshow in the evening.

Standing at around 18 meters, it is seriously imposing and I love all the little details that were replicated right down to the small warning markings which are now life-sized of course.

I really should have come when it was the more iconic RX-78-2 on display but this is 1 more of my to-do list checked off. On to the next one!

Scale model shopping in Akihabara, Tokyo

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.

A visit to Warhammer – Tottenham Court Road

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!

Forever a Toys R Us kid

Ah well, the other shoe has fallen. Toys R Us will be closing all its US stores with the intention to sell all the ones overseas. They previously shuttered 180 stores in the US and all its British stores but alas, too little too late.

Even though I didn’t live in the US until my adulthood, I’m actually a Toys R Us kid! In the 1980s, there was a huge 2 floor Toys R Us store next to Parkway Parade in Marine Parade in Singapore. In those days, TRU didn’t allow kids under 13 to go in unaccompanied so my mom would bring me in, leave me in the store and walk out to do her shopping. I’d then spend about 1-2 hours just browsing the aisles till she came back to pick me up. Good times!

In the 1990s, I moved to Los Angeles to further my studies. Near my apartment was a TRU (Sepulveda) where I’d go with my like-minded friends to peruse the aisles for Lego. I still remember lining up in 1999 for the midnight launch of Star Wars The Phantom Menace toys with my friends at the La Cienega branch. We lined up for 3 hours and I hoarded a few Star Wars Lego sets then.

Now that I’m a parent, TRU is still a must stop in whatever country that has them. I’m glad my kids got the chance to go to a big box store where all you see are toys and stuff for kids. It’s too bad that it won’t be for much longer.

TRU through the years in Singapore and Hong Kong

In 2015 I brought my family back to Los Angeles and wouldn’t you know it, the Toys R Us at Sepulveda was still around! We went twice and memories of my trips there during my college days flooded back. The aisles were different but the experience remained the same. The difference being I was spending on my kids now instead of myself.

Alas… it looks like 2015 would be the last time we’d visit Toys R Us in the US

KB Toys and FAO Schwartz were the other big box toy stores that came and went during my lifetime. But Toys R Us is the one that has stayed in my memories the most, simply because it was around since my formative years.

Good bye Toys R Us. I will forever be a Toys R Us kid.

Making my rounds in Singapore’s hobby shops

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.

My hoard this time were:

  • 1/48 Tamiya F4U-1A Corsair
    I have a shelf queen of this which i botched the wings badly. So instead of trying to fix it i decided to just replace and redo
  • 1/48 Tamiya US Army Infantry GI Set
    I have a planned need for the tank commander figure. The others are in decent action poses and will give me figure painting practise
  • Hobbymate alligator clip heads
    There is always need for more alligator clips for painting. These require the addition of bamboo skewers to be complete. Those come in a huge bundle and are very cheap
  • No brand grass tuft
    A small container of artificial grass for basing. I have a bottle of darker colored ones to mix with
  • Vallejo Polyurethane Gloss Varnish
    I have a small bottle of this and since it works very well I figure I might as well get the large one

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.

I hoarded:

  • Gundam EFSF Decal (not shown)
    This is a third party decal sheet. I’m always on the lookout for ‘EFSF’ markings having almost all of the mass production Federation mobile suit kits in my stash
  • UStar Etch Processing Vise
    I haven’t really played with PE but I was told this would make my life immensely easier when that time comes
  • UStar airbrush QD adaptor
    A good buddy gave me his table top mini compressor which hopefully I can use in place of my Sparmax diaphragm compressor. I’m hoping this one will be a lot less noisy. This adaptor will me quick detach my 3 airbrushes.

Art Friend
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.

  • A4 colored paper
    Black and Blue in this case to use as backgrounds for the photos of my figures
  • Cork board
    For figure basing purposes. This A4 Sheet will last me a long time for sure
  • Foam board (not shown)
    Same as above. It came as an A2 sheet which i cut to 4x A4 for easy transport
  • Talus Buff Fine
    Same as above. This will join my fine and course sand for all sorts of bases
  • X-acto #11 blades
    Always have spares ready
  • Wooden bases
    The long rectangular one is for one of my ‘bucket list’ builds while the oval one is for my future Speederbike build. All else are pretty much for figures

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.

Battle Bunker
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…

  • Games Workshop Grey Knights Purifier Squad
    I’ve been eyeing this kit as it allows me to have 5 different units of Grey Knights: I don’t play the game so I don’t need to have a squad of the same type of Knights. And come on, ‘a power armored Knight armed with arm mounted guns and a laser halberd with a jet backpack’… how bad ass does that sound?!

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?