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    Otacute Mega Sale on now through Nov. 7 screenshot

    The folks at Otacute have got themselves a little sale going on. Or, perhaps as they phrase it, a Mega Sale. So what's going on? Well, from now through Nov. 7, they're going to offer 20 percent off the recommended retail price (RRP) for everything that's up for pre-order or in stock on the site. Remember: these come off the price you usually see before sites like Otacute apply any discounts.

    To check it out, all you really have to do is visit Otacute before Nov. 7 and place any order. That's it! Let us know in the comments if you pick anything up!

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  • 11/04/12--14:00: DesignerCon 2012: TOUMA
  • DesignerCon 2012: TOUMA screenshot

    Coming all the way from Japan was TOUMA, who landed at DesignerCon with Mao Cats and Hitch Bears a plenty. But it wasn't just the past on display: there were some new projects on display, too, starting with the TOUMA x Dokutoku460 kaiju figure. The figure features a single common body with two separate heads — one by TOUMA and one by Dokutoku460 — and the good news is the heads both fit the body pretty well! It could be the start of an interesting line, too, if TOUMA and Dokutoku460 were to make different heads to match the body. Anyone else agree?

    For you Power Rangers fans, though, there's something else coming on down the line: the upcoming Power Rangers vinyl figures TOUMA designed! You can see the Red Ranger from the original series among three designs shown off at DCon and I have to say, it's a pretty nice design. There's enough of TOUMA's style in there, but that style doesn't dominate the piece. It feels like a pretty good mash-up and one we'll hopefully have even more news on in the future.

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    On a whirlwind trip to New York City for one of the last toy events prior to the holiday craziness, my family and I were also invited to attend another event, hosted by fashion designer, Rebecca Minkoff and Tollytots. Tollytots is a toy company, that is a division of Jakks Pacific. They market some of [...]

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    MICHIGAN CITY — Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer and former Mayor Chuck Oberlie met with officials from the Michiana Marine Detachment 1348 at City Hall Tuesday to discuss the 2012 La Porte County Toys for Tots campaign, which provides Christmas presents for underprivileged children in La Porte County.

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    Wreck-It Ralph 12” Vanellope Plush Review product guide for buyer Product manufacturer –

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    Beachballs – 16” Solid Bright Pink Beach Ball Review product guide for buyer Product man

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    Beachballs – 4” Solid Bright Pink Beach Ball Review product guide for buyer Product manu

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    New Professional Magic YoYo N5 Desprado Aluminum YoYo Purple Review product guide for buyer Product

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    Collegiate Football-Florida State University Review product guide for buyer Product manufacturer

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    It’s almost Thanksgiving which means we will be doing plenty of cooking and baking. One of the simple dishes that goes a long way with a holiday meal is Potatoes au Gratin. Those cheesy potatoes are oh so good, but the mess they leave behind is not. The perfect Potatoes au Gratin have crusty melted... [Continue Reading]

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    Remembering those less fortunate remains a constant theme for those affiliated with the Toys for Tots program.

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    Susan England made a New Year’s resolution to collect toys to donate to the Toys for Tots Foundation. She hoped to collect 100 name-brand toys for $100 that would be given to needy kids through Toys For Tots. Two months later, she attained her goal and decided, "Why not go bigger?" Now she has collected more than 800 toys, and she isn’t done.

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    Manufacturers today are creating sleeping bags that girls and boys are going to find irresistible! A lot of the characteristics include trendy fabrics in bright vivid colors and patterns plus soft and comfy interior linings. The styles and wild patterns and colors offer something that will interest any child. From popular themes such as horses [...]

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  • 11/04/12--17:32: Buying a car in Japan

  • At the time of moving to Japan 13 years ago, we didn't have the need for a car at all - Tokyo Metropolis is extremely well connected with trains that run regularly and on time.

    In 2005, we did decide to get a car after buying a house for a few reasons:-

    • To own a car in Japan, you need to provide documents that prove you have a space to park the car. Most apartments and mansions dont usually come with parking so you would usually pay on average 30,000 yen per month for a parking space. Our house came with space to park a car so obviously we dont need to pay this extra cost.
    • Getting around Tokyo is fine on the trains but there are times where my work involves me working late out filming or in a meeting etc. All public transport stops past midnight and to get home you neet to take a taxi which can charge up to 30% more in the early hours of the morning.
    • While trains are convenient, sometimes to get from A > Z, you need to change at W > X and Y - even though Z is just around the corner by car.
    • To shop at Ikea and Costco you really need a car.
    • Its fun to drive around Japan by car - especially when its an Itasha ^^;

    This is our first car - a Nissan March. We got it secondhand for about 800,000 yen. The roads are so narrow in Japan that we were not confident of driving around so got something at a reasonable price that we could practice in for a few years ^^;
    in 2010, our Nissan March got the Itarization treatment and you can see the process here.

    All cars in Japan must go through a safety inspection every 2 to 3 years. The inspection is called Shaken [車検[しゃけん]] and in our case cost about 90,000 yen. Many folks in Japan see Shaken time as a chance to change cars - they might as well use the money that they were going to pay for the inspection and put it towards a new car.
    I loved our Nissan March but wifey really wanted to change it - she drives around more than I do and she's also our Finance Director so I cant argue with that ><

    Our March was one grade above whats known as a "K Car" or Keijidousha [軽自動車] - these are cars which have to meet certain ecological standards meaning that they run on more environmental friendly gas, smaller in size but the engines are not that powerful. You can recognize a K Car from the yellow number plate.

    We do drive around Japan a bit and our March did tend to rattle while on the highways at speed and wifey felt it was time to change it. Thus we go car hunting.

    Our first stop is a Toyota showroom. There have been many ads on TV for the Aqua and I liked the look of it.

    Cars are big business in Japan - its rare that you should not see any car ads when watching TV. Many folks like to change cars often - buying and then selling just a year or so after they got it so that they can get a new one.

    Because of this trend, there are services like Imanori-kun which let you rent cars long term for very reasonable prices - for example 10,000 yen per month! Their selections even include a Nissan GTR.

    This Aqua costs 1,850,000 yen brand new. Seems to be a popular car as the secondhand prices are not much different. What are prices of cars like in your neck of the woods?

    This time round however, wifey wanted to get a new one which is going to be a company expense. It makes sense to put it down as an expense because its obviously used for marketing ^^

    Yes they had orange too^^;

    Toyota Alphard - huuuuge!

    Big enough for a football team.

    Its the battle between the car manufactures - lately they have been trying to make the showroom visiting experience a more comfortable one. They give you drinks, presents (character goods towels and snacks) and have an area to keep the children quiet - the showroom sales staff dont want children taking attention away from parents who are about to make a decision to spend loads of money ^^;

    Wifey wants an SUV. We check out the Lexus - nice car!

    But a new Lexus SUV costs about 6,000,000 yen which is way out of budget ^^;

    Time to leave the Toyota showroom and head elsewhere - maybe the sales staff wasn't feeling too well that day but it looked like he didn't feel like helping anybody ><

    Back into our March to head to...

    ...the Nissan showroom in Meguro.

    Our first Itasha - ended up with Mirai in her Suku Mizu because I was in a rush to put the data together for the printers - from a branding perspective I should have chosen the Summer Uniform. As the image is reversed - the "d" turned into "b" and the hairpin is on the wrong side.
    These days however, we make sure the pin is on the correct side even though the illustration has been flipped.

    Nissan leave a note on our car to let the other members of staff know that we are customers and not just somebody who are using their grounds as a parking lot ^^;

    The Nissan Leaf - runs completely on electricity.

    Nice interior.

    Electric cars are slowly getting popular in Japan - you can use sites like Cocoju to see where you can find electrical charging stations.

    I really liked the design of the Nissan Juke - ideal for Itarization!

    Wee bit pricey for the size though.

    Can stick in a few warm bodies in the back.

    Interior a bit on the plain side though.

    Lookie around the showroom.

    Took the Juke for a test drive too but it didn't feel much different than our March - even though the Juke is supposed to be a mini SUV.

    Juke interior. Most cars in Japan are equipped with a large screen car navi - I have a feeling that our mobile smart phones will replace them one day though.

    Then we took the Dualis for a whirl.

    You know whats so special about the Dualis dont you? Its transforms into a mecha designed by Macross guy Kawamori Shoji-san!

    Spacious boot.

    Interior is way to bland though.

    The Dualis is an SUV - seats are much higher than our Nissan March and feels responsive and comfortable to drive - looks like a decision is about to be made!

    We drive it home to see if it would fit in our parking space - just about does ^^;

    Then its back to the Meguro showroom to sign the papers!
    There are many ways to pay for the car depending on your financial situation. We payed over half upfront and the rest is being payed in monthly instalments over the next 3 years at an interest rate of 5.4%.

    They take about 2 weeks to prep the car depending on the optionals like car navigation, bumper style and wot not.

    This is my dream car ^^; If I work hard enough for another 20 years then maybe I could afford a second hand one ^^;

    As for our Nissan March - Nissan were offering 10,000 yen trade in ^^;
    Instead we went to Bigmotor who sent a young chap who was a fan of Mirai Suenaga - he offered us 10 times more at 120,000 yen instead - and insisted that we kept the stickers on the car for him ^^;

    Bigmotor resold our car for a certain amount to a certain who - we have no idea ^^; The great thing about Bigmotor is that they even provided a temporary car for us to drive around in (at no extra charge) before our new car was delivered - do second hand car dealers do that in your neck of the woods too?

    Mirai-chan ;-;

    The orange on green looked so good ><

    Mirai-chaaaaaaaaaaan! Yes I did shed a tear ;-;

    Our new trusty steed - the Nissan Dualis. While we did love our green March - the Dualis is a completely new experience for us. The bigger more powerful engine allows us to outrun burning bridges, the suspension provides a smoother ride over dead zombies and we can actually hear the music while driving on the highway as the car shell keeps out sound pretty well.

    I wanted metallic orange but they didn't do it in that color so it was a choice between white, black and red. I hear that black and white cars are a pain to keep clean - red looked the best. However - we noticed much more bird poo on the car since we changed cars - Is red an easy target for birds? ><

    In some regions, the Dualis is also known as the QASHQAI which I dont know how to pronounce ^^

    Do you drive? Whats it like to buy a car where you live? I hear in Singapore you need to buy the rights to own a car which can cost the price of a house?
    There is a poll embedded in this article.
    There is a poll embedded in this article.
    There is a poll embedded in this article.
    There is a poll embedded in this article.
    There is a poll embedded in this article.

    Ah - nearly forgot to take a look at the engine.

    I could take a PC apart and put it back together - but when it comes to cars I havent got the foggiest.

    Yuki-chan likes to take the car for a spin from time to time.

    And this is what our Dualis looks like now - felt really horrible driving around in a sticker-less car at first ^^;
    More photos here >>>

    If you are a foreigner in Japan, you will need a Japanese drivers license - read what it takes to get one.

    Read more about Mirai Suenaga >>>

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    There's a chill in the air, but in this case, it's not a bad thing at all!  Check out this note from a reader who asks about a recent really cool Steiff find!  Over a series of communications, Diane from Florida (of all places!) shares:


    Check out this adorable polar bear!  He is over 14 inches long and about 8.5 inches at the height of his rump.  His head seems to be bent, I am not sure if this is his original pose.  He retains quite a bit of mohair, which I think was white at one time.  

    The bear retains his small underscored Steiff button.  I'm thinking mid 1920's.  His paws need to be replaced for sure. Could this be the early polar bear on wheels? It may be my imagination, but I think you can see an indentation on one paw where the wheels may have been. I sure would appreciate any information on this adorable piece.

    Do you think he should be restored, or should I keep him as is?



    It's white-out conditions over this great bear for sure!  What we have here is Steiff's Polarbaer or Polar bear.  He is standing, six ways jointed (more on that soon!), and made from white mohair.  His detailing includes black claws, a simple hand embroidered black nose and mouth, and little black shoe button eyes.  This is a great design that did appear with and without wheels.   He was produced with wheels in 17, 22, 28, 35, 43, 50, 60, 80, and 100 from 1910 through 1919, and without wheels in 14, 17, 22, 28, 35, and 80 cm from 1908 through 1928.  Diane's bear has the 4mm button, which dates him before 1925.  The photo on the left shows an excellent example of this polar bear design; this particular bear sold for close to $2,200 at the 2010 Steiff auction at Christie's in London.  

    So is this item the "wheel deal?"  It's hard to tell from the condition of his paw pads if indeed he originally had wheels.  In general, larger items were mounted on their wheels and carriages, not sewn on.  The frames had a little "thumb" that was inserted into the foot of the animal to secure the item to the carriage.  You can see an example of this here on the left, on a 1920's era lion on wheels. Much smaller and lighter items were stitched to the wheels and carriages, as the stress and pull was not as great.  It is Steiffgal's best guess that items with felt paw pads would in general not be stitched on to carriages as this would not be a strong and durable connection for the long run.  

    One really head turning feature of this Steiff polar bear design is his "ball jointed" neck.  This feature enables the head and neck to be twisted and rotated into different lifelike positions.  This proprietary movement was invented by Franz Steiff and registered on May 24, 1908 in the German patent office as a "toy animal with movable head."  According to company records, this was accomplished by... "attaching a swivel jointed mechanism to the head which was then secured to the body by means of a tube running from the neck to the torso."  Steiff used this feature on a few models of their polar bears, begging poodles, pigs, cats, and opossums.  Here on the left you can see the engineering behind this movement feature; this illustration is from the Cieslik's wonderful 1989 reference book, "Button in Ear The History of The Teddy Bear and His Friends."  

    Let's sew up this blog posting with a brief discussion on restoration.  Every collector has a different opinion about whether to repair a piece or not.  Here is Steiffgal's thoughts... if an item is very rare, and the chances of ever finding another are slim to none... and/or the piece has amazing sentimental value or a family history... and/or if the treasure is at great risk for falling apart or becoming more damaged if it is not secured... then yes, Steiffgal would probably suggest restoration.  Of course, it is critical, and ethically essential, that if you do have a piece restored and then move it along at some point, that you let the new owner know about the work.  

    Steiffgal hopes that this conversation on this delightful jointed polar bear has really warmed your heart.

    Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more 

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    The Toys for Tots campaign is a way of getting underprivileged children toys on Christmas.

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    The past week's collection of my daily toy-snaps aka #toypixday posted HERE on my Facebook - along with little stories-snippets and commentary. I was a toy-collector first before I turned "toy-blogger", so this is my way to indulge in the hobby and my humble collection too :)

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    Scored this sketch-cover from illustrator Noval N. Hernawan, with Supergirl on the cover of his blank HATCH portfolio-comic - I requested a sexy superhero-chick with a skirt (What? Are you going to deny me my otaku-ness? *cough*) and in the process scored a little doodle of my blog-mascot in character too! And yeh, I never did give him a name tho! (Although there has been an ongoing question on

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    THE DESTROYER is a customized Hell Lotus by CABLE, with the WIP catching my eye not too long ago, and with the final version on display at the recent Hell Lotus Art Show (seen above), I asked the customizer "why" the name "The Destroyer", and how it all started… "For this particular toy I named it 'The Destroyer' due to Clog2. He told me to custom his toy and I was surprised. Firstly, I was

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