An American in Akiba – April 2011 Edition

While I’ve actually been to Akiba a lot more than I was expecting after to moving to Osaka, I’ve not really found much that I’ve wanted to blog about.  Usually it ends up with me and GaiGun drinking more and less of the checking out of stuff.  That and I don’t usually have my camera with me on business trips, so I don’t have much to take pictures with.  But it just so happens that I had my camera this last weekend when I was staying in Tokyo, and while drinking with GaiGun was the purpose, I still took some shots.  Now, first off, as we all know, Akiba looks like the below generally.

However, in light of the energy crisis following the earthquake and whatnot, Tokyo is well… dark!  As to conserve energy, a majority of stores and buildings have turned off their lights.  Leading to the below.

In  actuality, as time passes, Tokyo-ites are starting to use more power as life gets back to somewhat normal, so there are probably more businesses turning their lights on now then right after the quake, but it is still a strange thing to see.  But aside from the lack of neon, and the slight tension in the air as people worry about when that next aftershock might hit, life was surprisingly normal in Akiba.   But at the same time, this time got me thinking about the changes happening.   One of the most surprising changes was Asobit City.  As some may know, Asobit City is no where near what it was back when it opened in 2004, and has gradually dwindled to the small offshoot of Laox that it is now, but the one saving factor was the Dengeki Factory.

Home to Dengeki Hobby Magazines workshop, you could see new kits built before release date, along with a variety of kits and dioramas featured in the magazine.  Imagine our suprise this last weekend when visiting Asobit City to find out that the Dengeki Factory had cleared out and was gone.  When asking what happened, I was told that they simply left in March, and that was it.  Checking the website as well I note that there is no notice of leaving or moving at all, simply the website is gone.  As we walked the streets of Akiba, we talked about how things had changed, but it really feels like Akiba is going through a “Shibuya” transformation, as more and more of the hobby shops are replaced by things such as clothing shops like Aoki or Jeans Mate, and new business office towers grow out of the back streets…

But it’s not to say that all points of mecca are gone.  There is still Radio Hall, home to Kotobukiya, Kaiyodo, Yellow Submarine, and other shops.  Which brings me to cool stuff like this:

Limited edition revoltech Vash

Vash

Pimped out Deathscythe Hell

Upcoming Saber kit from Kotobukiya

Racks of after market parts

Of course, while Yodobashi is most likely taking quit a bit of business away from the small shops, the Akiba branch is definintely trying to bring in the latest kits, and having models on display that are featured in Hobby Japan.  In particular, I was blown away by the below 1/35 Core Fighter.

But overall, Akiba is really kind of just turning into the place I visit to drink with friends, more than it is the place to check out the latest kits and other otaku stuff.  Yeah, there are more opportunities to pick up parts, or import games, and stuff like that, but it feels different, and the loss of the Dengeki Factory really made me pause.  Of course that won’t stop me from visiting, since I stay at one of the hotels in Akiba.  Still, it seems to be a sign of the times, and perhaps the winds of change are blowing…

An American in Akiba – July 2010 Edition

While July is not over yet, I probably won’t be heading back to Akiba for a while so here is the photos for this month. First off, lets start with our Gundam updates.  As you recall last month, we got a chance to see the O in it’s test form, but this month we get to see the new Deathscythe in it’s completed form.

Deathscythe on display

Deathscythe

Looking at it, I have to say I’m actually a little underwhelmed by it.  Maybe it’s the head, or the colors, but something just doesn’t hit me like it should be.

Next up, Asobit City, which births a lot of awesome kits you see in Dengeki hobby magazine.  While GaiGun and myself were there, they just happened to be doing the RG Gundam.  By the looks of it, the colors seem to be a mix of Okawara colors and FA Gundam Colors.  They also had some really nice looking metallic/extra finish style kits on display that looked amazing.

Building the RG

Musha Gundam Extra Finish Version

Extra Finish Zeta, Quebeley, and Rick Dias

Closeup on the Quebeley

Next up, scouring the back streets to look for cheap gunpla, and in my case, to gawk at my favorite things, the gentei kits.  And this time we found pretty much the everything.

Gunpla going for cheap

Stacks of old kits

Limited kits

Even rarer limited kits

Yet more

That Full Color Plated Version PG Gundam is going for 43,800 yen!

More stuff, including PG Astray’s bonus runners.

PG Gundam Animation Color + Weapons – 19,800 yen

PG Gundam Okawara Colors – 18,800 yen

PG Gundam Casval’s (Char) Use – 25,800 yen

PG G-3 Gundam(!) – 25,800 yen

PG Zeta Gundam Multi-Coating Version – 48,800 yen

MG Zaku II – Tri-star Gaea Use – 34,800 yen(!)

Yeah… that’s a lot of expensive model kits there.  Nearly 500 dollars for some kits.  And I was surprised to find a G-3 PG Gundam.  Needless to say, that one was gone when I went back a couple days after I saw it the first time.   While I did look mainly at Gundam kits this last month, I did swing by Kotobukiya as I wanted to see the Rockman kit.  Unfortunately they had already taken it down and put up the new mini Hoi-hoi-san in it’s place.

Mini Hoi-hoi

Regular Hoi-hoi pimping Kotobukiya

Other than that, I treated myself to a new lens, and am having fun taking pictures of the same places all over again.

Akiba in the day

Akiba at night

A gathering of Ita-sha

Gundam Cafe

And a really tiny car

That’s all for this months addition.  Next up on the plate is a new kit review for HLJ, followed by the revival of the monthly State of the Gunpla Union, which will catch you up on my situation.

An American in Akiba – June 2010 Edition

Welcome to the first post in what I hope to be a monthly posting all about Akiba!  I realize now that I have good reason to go to Akiba once a month, and everytime I go there is always something new to see.  And what’s the point of taking pictures if I’m not going to share?  This new series will of course have some Gundam shots in it, but mainly be about things I find interesting in Akiba.  Still, lets start this post off with some Gundam shots, specifically, The O!

This last weekend GG from Gaijin Gunpla and I got together for our monthly meeting at the Hub, with intents to watch some good soccer and drink lots of alcohol.  Unfortunately, we didn’t quite get to see good soccer, but at least we drank a lot.  Heading over to Yodobashi Akiba afterwords, we found ourselves face to face with this big boy.

Master Grade The O

Yeah… he’s a lot bigger than I thought he’d be.  Weighing in at nearly 700 grams, it looks to be a bulky and hefty kit.  Will be very interested to see how the engineering worked out for it.  In other Gundam news, we also saw the Full Armor Gundam and the HGUC ZZ Gundam on display as well.

MG FA Gundam

HGUC ZZ Gundam

Other than looking at Gundam stuff, one store I always tend to visit is Kotobukiya in the Radio Hall Building.   Kotobukiya tends to have a wide range of otaku goods, including their own line of kits, but one of my favorite things is looking at their movie related items.  In general you’ll see a lot of Star Wars, comic book heroes, and sci-fi goods on display.  These are usually some awesome figures, but I find them better to look at than to think about collecting!

Iron Man Mark 1? Figure

Aliens

Yoda kicking some ass

I also like checking out the back streets of Akiba’s Electric Town.  While not really related to Gundam goods, it’s great for picking up PC parts, memory, and other things.  Plus, maids, kebabs, and general otaku-ness.  So, a few pictures from here and there.

Gamers, next to the station, which is under renovations

Asobit City, which has gradually shrunk into a fraction of what it used to be.  But they sell American games!

Waving from above, a maid tries to attract customers

Heading down the backstreets…

While a short first edition, next month I’m going to try and pick up on some more of my favorite stores, including those that sell used Gunpla kits, including those rare limited ones, as well as pick up on places to get your import (American) game fix.  If there are any requests or theme pick ups for the future, by all means drop a comment and let me know.

Gundam Cafe

Apologies for the delay in updates.  A friend of the wife and I stayed with us for the last week and so Gunpla and stuff was on the back burner for a while.  There are a couple of good things that came out of this though.  The first thing that I’m going to pick up on is the Gundam Cafe.

Yep, I finally got the chance to go this last week.  While I had been hoping to go with fellow Gunplars Buster and GaiGun, going on a Saturday tends to see lines like this.

However, due to my current freedom, I was able to hit the cafe this last week as our friend wanted to stop by Yodobashi to pick up some stuff before heading back to the states.  If you’re able to go in during a weekday, it looks like there isn’t much of a wait.  Lets take a look at the interior.  You’ll note that overall the walls seem to follow the armor styling and marking of the RX-78.

From the entrance on the right side there is the gift section, as well as the gunpla-yaki area.  You can go to both without entering the cafe.

The non-smoking part of the cafe.  You can see the history of the RX-78 Gunpla in the back there.

The screen by the counter shows various menu items, this right here being Char’s pilot lunch.

The screen in the cafe area goes through various advertisements.  This one is an add for Jaburo coffee and the Gundam Cafe.

By the main counter we have a fairly big Gundam overlooking all.

A closeup of the Gundam Gunpla at the back of the cafe.

Next up, the food and drinks.  Since we had already eaten lunch, I just tried the Haro latte.  For the drinks, everything was just your regular cafe latte, etc, with only the Haro latte being different.  I would imagine that the bar time might have more specialized drinks.  The food however followed Gundam naming conventions, with Char’s ice cream, Acguy ice cream and so on.

Haro latte

Caramel latte, which comes in a regular Gundam cafe cup.

Char ice cream

Overall, the food and drinks, for what I’ve had, is nothing special.  However the prices were quite reasonable, for example, 350 yen for a latte.  This puts it on par with other cafes easily.  That was a bit of a suprise to me, but I am still not sure how the bar time prices go.  Hopefully I’ll get the chance to check it out soon.  If you collect a certain amount of points you’ll get an ID card that supposedly lets you get secret menu items, as well as saluted by the staff when you order.    So, a good experience to have, not quite sure it’s worth the long wait on the weekends, but definitely worth checking out once.

The Gundam Cafe at night.

Bonus!

Tidbits: part 2

Before moving on to the Wing Gundam pictures I’d like to follow up on some earlier tidbits.

First up, on the Aso-bit City Gunpla contest, I didn’t place, but overall I was still quite pleased to be able to participate in the contest.  For pics of the winners, check out Moeyo’s post or Ngee’s post.  I did receive a participation prize though, a BB Senshi.  While not a fan of BB Senshi, and am not interested in the Three Kingdoms theme and all that, free is still nice.

Chouhi BB Senshi

Next up, continuing on the Spring cleaning, I’ve started tackling our spare room at home, in which I have my desk, rack of models, backlog, and pretty much everything hobby related.  Now that I’ve got the time, I’ve been slowly reorganizing the room.  First off, starting with my mess of a desk.

Before

After

Still have a ways to go around my server area and rack area though.   Here’s my current rack state.

Running out of room…

While cleaning and reorganizing, I’ve moved my backlog to the bedroom for the time being.  The picture here has my entire backlog of stuff except for the MG Ex[S] Gundam and PG Char’s Zaku II.  I showed this picture to GaiGun and Buster the other day at our Gunplar meet up in Akiba, and the initial comment from Buster was “Look at all those Zaku II’s!”  I realize I have quite a lot of Zaku building to do…

The infamous backlog

Having finished the Wing Gundam, the plan is to finish up the Unicorn Gundam (finally!) and figure out where to go from there.  Although the Musha Mk II is out in just a week…

Tidbits

Slowly starting to settle down with things, and move into the job hunting phase.  Still, I have plenty of time on my hands, so I need to finish up some things.  Rather than do separate posts, I’m just going to do some status updates on things here.

First up, my progress on the Unicorn Gundam for the Group Build.  All the pink parts have been painted, the white parts are all snipped out, all that’s really left to do is the flat coat followed by decaling, among some other things.

Still got those skinny legs.

As most people figured out, I did pick up the MG Wing Gundam, and decided to use up the rest of those pearl paints I had picked up.  Nothing fancy, but I’m pretty pleased with how it’s looking.

About halfway done.

From the back.

I’ve also finished the PG Gundam.  I will do a write up in the near future, but I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised with the build, despite being a very old kit, the internal build is very solid, and a quick build.  The extra finish version is quite nice to look at… from a distance.  The fear nub damage is there on some parts… but that’s for a post in itself.

PG Gundam

I’ve been here, there, and everywhere over the last few weeks.  I have picked up a few things, like finally finding a 1/144 Kapool from Turn A Gundam, and at the super low price of 200 yen at that.

Various purchases

I also entered the Victory Gundam in a Gunpla contest being held by Asobit City.  It was on display for the last two weeks, along with others, for the public to vote on.  While there are quite a few people that are way better than me, it’s still a nice feeling to be able to enter contests.  You all have already seen my Victory, so here are some pictures of the other kits on display.

Rick Dias

BB Senshi

Acguy

Unicorn Gundam

Strike Gundam

They should be announcing the winners over the next week, so we’ll see how it goes.  Also, as things settle down at home, things should pick up here.