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Wonder Festival tomorrow! (today)

Tomorrow (later today, as I’m posting this early Sunday morning) is Wonder Festival 2008 Summer, and I regret to say that for the first time in the past few years I won’t be in attendance. My goal of resuming regular updates has obviously not come to fruition as hoped, so to keep people from worrying that I’ve dropped off the face of the planet I’ll state that for the time being there will not be regular updates here at HD until I can be sure I have the drive to resume them in a disciplined way. I’d like to apologize to everyone who’s visited in the expectation of new content, and I assure you that the site is not abandoned, and I plan to continue updating in the future – just when and how I’m not quite sure at this point, but the updates will come.

If you’ve left a comment or sent an email to me I’ll be sorting through those as well, when I’m able – otherwise, I can be reached most reliably on IRC during the week at #naisho on irc.synirc.net, if you’d like to chat.

I’ll be keeping an eye on Wonder Festival news and try bring up some of the most relevant material here, over the next week, but otherwise it looks like I’ll be sitting this one out.

Back from AX (still alive)

Hey all, apologies for the lack of updates over the past week and a half. AX went off better than I could have hoped, it was great to meet everyone who showed up either at the booth or the panel on Saturday night. Thanks again for stopping by, it really meant a lot. I took a few days (a week…) off after the event to recover from jet lag but now we’re back in business! Look for regular posting to resume again starting today. It’ll still be somewhat lighter than in the past few months, but regularity is key on the road to recovery… I’ll be getting to unanswered emails over the next few days as well, so if you’ve sent me something and don’t have a reply yet you can expect one soon. It’s good to be back!

HD does Anime Expo

As was the case last year, HD is once again representing at next weekend’s Anime Expo! I’ll be selling games at the J-List booth all four days of the event, and we’re doing a panel on Saturday night (8-9 PM, room LP4) for those interested in developments on the bishoujo game scene.

I’d love to chat with anyone who feels like coming by (and maybe go out for a drink afterwards if we can get a decent group together), so if you’re going to be at the event please do say hi. I’ll be the tall, balding guy with glasses trying to explain that “no, these aren’t anime”, for reference. Leaving on the plane to LA tomorrow morning, so if I’m not around for the next couple of days that’s why (as opposed to not being around for the past week or so, which can be blamed on an entirely different pastime)…

I may be in big, big trouble.

12th Prize Fair shows Yoruichi, Miku, Petit Eva

The “12th Prize Fair” (sources aren’t saying whether it’s 12th annual or on some other timespan, we’ll look into this) was held today at the TOC Ariake convention facility in Tokyo. It showcased fall ’08 (October-December) prize releases from six manufacturers, among whom Banpresto and Sega each brought items of interest to the table: Banpresto showed a Yoruichi/Soifon pair from Bleach that I’m already coveting, a couple of new Pretty Cures, a Petit Eva series, a chibi SEED heroines set, and several others. Sega showed a Vocaloid lineup including Miku and Kagamine Rin, an SD Miku pair with music boxes that play Hoshi no Kakera and Ievan Polkka, some POP Alice in Wonderland vignettes, catgirl Rei and Asuka, and various others. Further details below:

Aoshima’s Funny Knights Shinobu-chan details

News from the Shizuoka Hobby Show is still trickling in, and Hobby Stock brings the goods tonight on the newest entry in hobby maker Aoshima‘s “Funny Knights” PVC series. Their Masterpiece of Kuuchuu Yousai Ninja no Shinobu-chan Mashiro no Bouken No. 01 Shinobu-chan (we’ll call her “Shinobu-chan”) is scheduled for release in July at 1/7 scale, 18 cm tall, with a retail price of 7,140 yen. The supposed source of the figure (“Ninja no Shinobu-chan Mashiro no Bouken”) doesn’t actually exist, and Shinobu-chan is an original character invented by Kuuchuu Yousai for figure incarnation here. The only information lacking from her description is the sculptor and castoff potential, but given the July release date we’ll be on the lookout for preorders to appear soon with the complete scoop. Figure image below:

47th annual Shizuoka Hobby Show (updated)

The 47th Shizuoka Hobby Show begins today! While primarily oriented toward plamo kits, radio-controlled cars, train models and the like, the show also has a minor contingent of bishoujo figure representation as well (Kotobukiya has already announced a Kizaki Emi PVC from Kurogane no Linebarrels, set to retail at 6,090 yen – can’t tell anything else from that photo, alas). From the exhibitors’ list it seems Kotobukiya, Bandai, and Yujin are the ones to look out for; slim pickings, but we’ll update this post throughout the day with any news we find from the event. Update: a collected summary of Shizuoka Hobby Show coverage can be found below:

Event Report: WHF Ariake 18

We conclude our coverage of last week’s World Hobby Festival Ariake 18 Final with an overall “meta” look at the event. If you’ve been wondering exactly what WHF is or why it was canceled after nearly a decade of successful operation, this is the post for you:

WHF Ariake 18: PVC maker galleries

Wrapping up the meat of our pictorial coverage of WHF Ariake 18, we take a look at the coming PVC and resin releases of professional makers present at the event. Includes uncensored looks at Yamato’s Animal Girl Bonnie and Daiki Kougyou’s Sugimoto Anna, a gallery of Musashiya’s castoff Ikkitousen cold casts, and Kurushima’s “swimsuit” Kanu resin, among others:

WHF Ariake 18: garage kits galore

We wrap up our coverage of the garage kit side of WHF Ariake 18 with a final sweep through the day’s photo shoot, catching dozens of great figures that didn’t quite fit in anywhere else. A lot of sculptors worked really hard to make this final event one to remember, and all their hard work paid off:

WHF Ariake 18: To Heart 2, Fate, Nanoha

With the early ’08 release of the To Heart 2: Another Days expansion new life was breathed into the venerable Leaf bishoujo game franchise, resulting in a significant garage kit presence at WHF Ariake 18 which we document here. Nanoha StrikerS continues into 2008 with the strong showing it had last year, and while reduced in number there were still a few Fate/stay night kits of note that were worth taking a look at:

WHF Ariake 18: Lucky Star, Gurren Lagann, Vocaloid

The fervor surrounding Lucky Star, Gurren Lagann, and the Vocaloid virtual idol character Hatsune Miku (and now Kagamine Rin and Len) has continued strong since the summer of last year, and WHF Ariake 18 saw a fresh crop of kits emerge based on these popular franchises. We’ve got a round up of many of them below (and a few older ones as well), for your perusing pleasure:

WHF Ariake 18: Osiris’s Persona 3 Aegis

Osiris of sculpting circle Heavy Gauge is one of the most skilled hands working in the PVC figure arena today (Holstein Hanako-san, Guernsey), and it’s unsurprising that his personal garage kit work is equally remarkable. Along with his Heavy Gauge colleague Kana he participated at WHF Ariake 18 yesterday under the circle name “3D Megane”, where the painted prototype of his Persona 3 Aegis (Aigis) kit was on display. The results of an ensuing photographic frenzy can be found below:

WHF Ariake 18: ero garage kits

We continue our coverage of WHF Ariake 18 with a look at the [ERO] garage kits present at the event. If something you were expecting to see here is not, odds are we’ve covered it in past event coverage; I’ve tried to generally avoid redundancies, though they do creep in on occasion. I should note that this particular batch contains more extreme content than usual, so those of weak stomach and those not of legal age to view explicit content should look elsewhere. I repeat: those not legally able to view sexually explicit material should not browse past this point. If you’re an adult with an open mind, by all means proceed!

WHF Ariake 18: Cobra-Kai’s Saber

Sculptor Toushirou of circle Cobra-Kai is known for his epic large-scale works, usually featuring characters with voluptuous builds and his trademark heavy-lidded eyes. When I first saw the rough draft of his resin rendition of Fate/stay night‘s Saber at last Wonder Festival I momentarily didn’t recognize it as his work; she seems so far afield from what he normally sculpts. But now that the kit is complete it’s apparent that it’s none other than his genius hand at operation, and this is a kit that made one of the biggest impressions at yesterday’s WHF Ariake 18. See below for a full castoff [ERO] gallery:

WHF Ariake 18 at a glance

I just walked in the door from World Hobby Festival Ariake 18 Final and am now in the midst of processing images for our site coverage of the event. First up is a preliminary overview of some of the exceptional items on display at the Big Sight today, which will be followed shortly by a roundup of news from PVC makers who were there (lagging slightly behind the Tokyo-based blogs due to the four-hour trek home after the event ^^;;). Stay tuned!

Yamato announces Creators’ Labo Ignis

Figure maker Yamato updated their event page today with a listing for their appearance at World Hobby Festival Ariake 18 Final on May 5th. All of the display items listed there are things we’ve seen before, except for one intriguing addition to the Creators’ Labo lineup – a figure described simply as “Jingai Makyou Ignis”. I thought Orchid Seed’s Ignis the White brought an end to the storied dynasty of Ignis figures last fall, but it seems she’ll be back for at least one final PVC encore. This raises the question of which Ignis kit the listing is referring to; my money is on Cerberus Project (G.O)’s version, given that a) Yamato has featured Cerberus in the Creators’ Labo series in the past, and b) I’m not aware of any other non-PVCified Ignis kits of any quality still at large. We’ll be keeping a close eye out for further news on this kit, and will be sure to document the display prototype fully at the event. (no more)

Griffon PVC announcements, event news

Figure maker Griffon updated last night with several bits of interesting news, including two new PVC figure listings and announcements of what they’ll have for sale and on display at World Hobby Festival Ariake 18. The newly announced PVCs are finished model renditions of two resin kits we’ve covered here in the past: the Harada Takehito interpretations of Demonbane‘s Al Ajif and Fate/stay night’s Saber. Both are scheduled for release in August at 5,775 yen retail (tax included), non-scale (15 cm tall), with Al Ajif’s sculpt from Yoshino Atsushi and Saber’s sculpt from Katou Taichi. Both figures are currently available for preorder on Griffon’s official site, and should be listed elsewhere soon. Event news and images below:

Hobby Complex 03 Tokyo

Hobby Complex 03 Tokyo happened yesterday, and like the best laid plans of mice and men my plan to be in attendance went awry (admittedly it wasn’t very well laid to begin with). My judgment beforehand was that not much of import would occur and I could afford to miss it, and from preliminary reports it seems that was largely the case; Akiba Hobby, Moeyo, and GA Graphic all weigh in with much the same material, most of which we’ve seen in various forms before. Only a few new resin kits were on display, and no new PVC news that I can make out; my only regret was that I missed the chance to pick up this stupendous [ERO] Cattleya resin kit, but I’m probably in the minority there. ^^;; We’ll bring any further news from yesterday’s Hobbycon as it becomes available. (no more)

Hatsune Miku Figma announced at TAF

While not primarily a figure event, a few makers set up shop at this weekend’s Tokyo International Anime Fair, Goodsmile included. The biggest new item announced today at their booth was a Figma Hatsune Miku action figure, from Crypton’s Vocaloid2 virtual idol line; we don’t know anything beyond the photos yet, but from the looks of it we’ve got another crazy hot item on our hands. Moeyo! Akibajin blog has a look as well, which also includes a color shot of Goodsmile’s 1/8 Hatsune Miku PVC that we scooped back at Wonder Festival. We’ll be on the lookout for further details on both figures as well as other figure fallout from TAF. (no more)

World Hobby Festival to end with Ariake 18

Word is in from the official World Hobby Festival site today via Dengeki Online that the event’s final iteration will occur on May 5th, 2008 with the holding of WHF Ariake 18 at the Tokyo Big Sight. This is bitter and unexpected news for hobby fans, as with its various events held through Japan multiple times each year WHF has for the past several years been an anchor of hobbyist activity between the Wonder Festivals in August and February, as well as for those unable to attend larger events in Tokyo and Osaka. The reason for WHF’s termination is not given, but my first instinct is to speculate that a combination of resources spread over many small events and the competition provided by the recently inaugurated Hobby Complex events has rendered their continuation financially unfeasible. The final three WHF events will be WHF Nagoya 8 on March 30th, WHF Kobe 28 on April 29th, and WHF Ariake 18 on May 5th. Circle applications for the latter two events are still being solicited, and they’re trying to take things out with a bang rather than a whimper; I know where I’ll be on May 5th, that’s for sure. I’ll post again should any further information on the reasons behind the event closure come to light.

Further information on WHF and reports on past events can be found here:

Miyazawa Mokei spring exhibition roundup

March 11th saw the semi-annual Miyazawa Mokei “Spring Business Assistance Sale” take place, where many of the major figure makers gathered to show off new items they’ll be releasing in the coming year to vendors and members of the press. Several new items were announced this time around that are of interest, and we’ve gathered them here:

Figure maker consortium on display in Akihabara

An event was held today called the “Figure Maker’s Union Exhibition”, similar to last summer’s WONDERFUL HOBBY LIFE FOR Wholesaler & Retailers (an industry-exclusive trade show where makers and members of the press were allowed to view the offerings on display at Wonder Festival minus all of the jostling crowds). There wasn’t much new to see that wasn’t at Wanfesu 10 days ago as well, but Goodsmile and Dengeki Hobby have both blogged early reports hinting at the possible availability of further details on a few of the figures that made an impression at the earlier event (as well as some new stuff from Taki Corporation, who wasn’t there – bustier Louise, Tama-nee kimono and Pretty Menma?!). We’ll be on the lookout for anything else new should it come to light. (no more)

Wonder Festival 2008 Winter: industry wrapup

We wrap up our coverage of Wonder Festival 2008 Winter (for real, this time) with a look at the industry items that fell through the cracks in our earlier reporting. This primarily consists of offerings on display at the Yamato and Happinet booths, but also contains a look at Organic’s Tama-chan from Bamboo Blade and the as-yet unsubstantiated rumor of an Erect Sawaru-designed figure from Solid Theater. Details follow:

Event Report: Wonder Festival 2008 Winter

The following is a quasi-chronological look at the events of February 24th, 2008, and one person’s trip to Japan’s biannual hobby mecca Wonder Festival. In addition to boring personal anecdotes it contains information of a potentially useful nature – if you’ve been wondering when the next Wonder Festival is, what happened to Eropon, why there was a veritable army of Yoko kits for sale, what’s up with Organic, or who translated the text on the warning label of that Mr. Simple Mask for Paint you just bought – well, you’ve come to the right place!

Wonder Festival 2008 Winter: garage kits galore, part II

We round up our look at the garage kits of Wonder Festival 2008 Winter in this second part of our coverage, starting off in miko paradise before moving through an ice dancing festival, a parade of who’s who in 2007 anime, a brace of truly delicious Aegises, a 1/1 scale robotic maid, Yotsuba in a diving suit, and end with a visit to Vispo, Atomic Bom and Bubba of Saikoro Caramel. If you’d like to leave a comment, please do so here. If you’re wondering where all the ero kits are, they’re coming soon…

Wonder Festival 2008 Winter: garage kits galore, part I

Due to the high volume of images in this post it’s been divided into two, with comments enabled on this post and disabled on the second. The first half of our magical mystery tour through the garage kits of Wonder Festival 2008 Winter begins in the land of BOME, traverses through the jungle of Paper Moon lifesize dolls, through the realm of Kill Time Communication, into the trenches of Lucky Star, Evagelion, Code Geass, Gurren Lagann, Haruhi, and more. The images are presented in the (random) order I took them, and all items here were sold as one day, limited license, unpainted, unassembled resin kits. Let the journey begin!

Wonder Festival 2008 Winter: industry news (updated)

Why put out Wonder Festival industry news in installments when you can do it all at once? This is the question we attempt to answer in this post, bringing scoops from (in alphabetical order): Alter, Amie Gran, Cafe Reo, CM’s, Daiki Kougyou, First Class, Goodsmile / Max Factory, Griffon, Hobby Stock, Konami, Kotobukiya, Lilics, Megahouse, Movic, Orchid Seed, Organic, Piccolo, Revoltech, Solid Theater, Toranoana, Toy’sworks, and Volks. This post will initially be pretty barebones, with nothing but a bunch of (exceedingly crappy) pictures, but it will be continually fleshed out with concrete information over the next day or so, so feel free to check back if you’re so inclined. Update: Post now includes basic information on all of the new kits announced from the makers we covered! Further updates to be posted as the news trickles in.

Wonder Festival 2008 Winter: garage kits at a glance

I made it back safely from Wonder Festival this evening loaded with well over 1,000 pictures and a whole bunch of delicious, nutritious figure scoopage information (it’s like roughage for the figure colon, or something). First up is a preview look at the garage kit side of things, where I spent most of my shooting this afternoon – lots of lovely kits on offer, as you’ll see. More WF news coming very soon, so stay tuned!

pre-WF figure news roundup (updated)

The last few tidbits of news before Wonder Festival are trickling in, including previews of some Shining-series game kits on display, Yoshizawa Mitsumasa’s Cammy garage kit, a new preorder up for a very nipply Toyonaka Haruna from Mizuiro Splash, and reissue announcements from Kotobukiya for their Clalaclan and Konomi (frill bikini ver.) PVCs. Update: now with news on First Class’s WF lineup, as well as a look at the setup process for Goodsmile’s WONDERFUL HOBBY LIFE FOR YOU stage.

Even more figure news

We round out tonight’s journey through the figure world with looks at Wonder Festival previews from several companies, including Wave, Piccolo, Alpha Omega, Cafe Reo, and Resinya. Also: a small PVC Spica update, speculation on the future of the Revoltech action figure lines, a look at all three completed Kodomo no Jikan Play Stationery, a new Nendoroid announcement, a comparison of the disembodied hands of Figma Haruhi and Konata, and a figure that smells of strawberries.