Monday, January 15, 2018

Diecast Corner: Jungle and Mandarake - Haven for toy collectors in Osaka, Japan

Forty years back in Philippines, it was a golden era for Japanese Robots cartoon. I used to watch Voltes V, Daimos, and Mazinger Z to name a few. Presently, Bandai is producing these yesteryear cartoon robots as high end line of collectible diecast robots under the “Soul of Chogokin” (SOC) or “Soul of Super Alloy” series. Each authentic SOC robot has a corresponding model number in SOC series.

I admit I am a late bloomer when it comes in collecting SOC robots thus I am familiar only with a few of them. With my three kids about to graduate from college and has achieved financial stability I have decided to unleash the kid in me.

A couple of weeks back the family was in Osaka for my advance golden birth anniversary. Yup, in a few days I’ll be a “Golden Boy.”

Having purchased two non SOC series but diecast Mazinger Z robots in Philippines my memory of my younger years started to come back especially when I joined “SOC Philippines” FB group.

Long story short, with my 2 sons who are both Gundams robots collectors too, we searched for hobby/toy shops in Osaka. Based on our research on net these shops abound in Nippombashi. We found two Joshin shops but they offer limited SOC robots thus I was a bit disappointed tough they were treasure troves for any Gundams and diecast cars collectors.

Jungle Shop

Fortunately, while strolling, the wife saw a massive Grendizer robot outside a corner shop. It is JUNGLE Hobby Shop. The shop’s name sounds familiar thus I told my family to just go on their way and come back for me after an hour. I didn’t realize that was the recommended shop by some members of "SOC Philippines" FB group.

Upon entering, at the left side near the entrance I immediately saw numerous SOC robots. I almost cried in happiness upon seeing those yesteryear robots in front of me. I explored the hobby shop – it has 2 floors – it took me almost an hour before I decided to purchase my first authentic SOC diecast robot. I bought Com-Battler V (Black Edition) and Danguard Ace. By the way, this shop sells BIB (Back in Box) and MISB (Mint in Sealed Box) toys. There were several Danguard Ace robots with different price tags. I bought the MISB or what the shop says as “Factory Sealed” box for 17,000 Yen. The Combatller V robot is a BIB or second hand with a price tag of 12,000 Yen; they allowed me to inspect it physically first before paying. Yes, if the item is a BIB (second hand) they would allow you to inspect it but for MISB (Factory Sealed) they won’t.

Added bonus is the tax-free privilege for foreigners. Upon presenting my passport they reduced the total price from 29,000 Yen to 27,000 Yen. Wohooo.

Unfortunately, they don’t have Voltes V, Daimos and Voltron at that time. It is understandable since these three robots are considered as the most in demand of SOC series. Any SOC collectors would search first for these three before thinking of buying the other SOC robots. Nevertheless, I have acquired Com-Battler V, a member of "Nagahama Robot Romance Trilogy."

Back in our hotel, I opened immediately the “Factory Sealed” Danguard Ace to remove my doubt.  I found the robot in mint condition and with complete accessories. I felt sad because the clear tape seal has been broken; my Danguard Ace cannot be considered “Factory Sealed” anymore. I should have not opened it and rather left it in its original condition. Anyway, on the positive side, it now emboldens me to play with my Danguard Ace.

The following day, not to be outdone, the two ladies in our family opted to do their shopping in Shinsaibashi where there are rows and rows of shops for clothes, shoes, bags and so on and so forth. Cleverly, my two sons had searched the net again for any toy shops in the area. They found Mandarake near Amemura (American Mura) area. Leaving the ladies we trekked to Mandarake guided by Google Maps.

Me, Glicoman and our Mandarake hauls

The kid in me rejoiced again upon setting foot in Mandarake; my two sons were elated as well due to cheap (BIB and MISB) Gundams.

my Getter Robot

I bought two more SOC robots. UFO Grendizer and Getter. I have now four authentic and mint SOC robots in my possession. It is only a matter of time before completing the “Nagahama Trilogy.”

The following day again, after visiting Nara, we returned back to Osaka at around 4 PM. With plenty of time before dinner the three boys have outvoted the two ladies again. So we ended up making another round in Nippombashi.

I paid another visit to Jungle Hobby Shop. To my surprise, they have a newly displayed SOC (BIB) Mazinger Z’s 20th year anniversary edition. I hurriedly asked the staff to take it from the glass cabinet for visual inspection. Mazinger Z was mint and with complete accessories and manual. Its price was 17,000 Yen but I paid 1,000 Yen less for tax.

Mazinger Z 20th year anniversary SOC edition

I was extremely delighted to have Mazinger Z since I am an avid fan of the cartoon series. I used to draw Mazinger Z on my notebook when I was about ten years old.

My Osaka haul
I have now five authentic SOC robots in my toy collections. If I have been exposed to "SOC Philippines" group four years earlier I could have completed the “SOC Nagahama Robot Romance Trilogy” since we have visited Tokyo several years back and Akihibara in Tokyo won’t disappoint any toy collectors. Thus, Com-Battler V would be waiting for Voltes V and Daimos.

However, not every day is Christmas Day as they say. On January 8 at 2 AM we arrived in our house in San Mateo back from Japan. At 4 PM on the same day I have to leave our house to fly back to my work in Africa.

Any kids could relate with my longing for my brand new toys. I always look on their pictures every day; I had the same feeling when I bought my car. Of course, family comes first before anything else but the joy of seeing your toys that remind you of your childhood is simply priceless.

Update as of January 17, 2018

Today I made a pre-order of Icarus Unite Gokin Voltron Lion Force (Colored) for 12,900 pesos from Great Toys Online. Though it is not a SOC series it is licensed and authentic reissue of Voltron (GoLion). Woho! I can see Voltes V and Daimos on the horizon! What a great way to celebrate my golden birth anniversary!




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