Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to all!!!

It's that time of the year where we share in the festive atmosphere of Christmas.
It's a time of giving and loving. So be sure to have a Great Merry Christmas. Give your love ones special gifts and just take in the Christmas spirit of giving.

And since it's the time of giving, GIVE yourself that Model Kit or Miniature figure or Wargaming stuff you always wanted! That is if noone was able to get it for u ;)

You gotta understand, the hobby of wargaming, model kit building and niche toys aren't exactly a typical gift that people who give each other. So be UNDERSTANDING.. HEHE

Nonetheless, Merry Christmas to all reader and fans of Toyconstruct. may you have a festive and blessed Christmas with Good tidings and great fun!

And Have an Awesome Happy New Year ahead in hobby, family, loved ones and life!

Thanks for giving this blog an awesome year and we shall see you again with many more great stuff soon!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Things you can get in Tokyo for Model Kits

So after the trip was all said and done, my hobby goodies was a pretty substantial one.

Trinkets and Treasures of a fine expedition.

From the two Models I purchased from the streets of Akihabara...

To the Shizuoka Hobby Fair 2010,

I was able to get quite a sizeable amount of stuff back to tinker and feature in the near future of the Toyconstruct blog.

One thing that I left out that requires honorable mention is the model display casings and spray cans that I bought from Daiso in Japan.

For those who don't already know, Daiso sells almost all items at 1oo Yen (1.2 USD) in Japan.
Aside from the spray cans and the plastic container, the display casings were a little more expensive but they were still very very reasonable in comparison to the Tamiya model casings that would cost 20-30 bucks. Each of these casings are big enough to store at least two ships of scale 1/700 (Destroyer or Cruiser class, NOT bigger) and they cost about 300 yen or so, which is no more than 4 USD. So you can imagine how much you save.

Wanted to get another one, but I was worried about my baggage space. Turns out it was barely enough spare baggage spare for me to bring everything back to Singapore. So do take that into account.

On a sidenote, Will be featuring the Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention soon and it will be followed by heap loads of stuff from me and Joshua.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Model Kit History and Gundam

Japan Part 2

In my follow up to checking out and seeing the awesome model kits, I decided to travel to the birthplace of model kits for Japan. This place is none other than the city of Shizuoka in the Shizuoka Prefecture just south of Tokyo. Taking a 2 hour bus ride, this place is near to Mount Fuji and is famous for growing tea leaves and strawberries.

It is also has a long history in the craft industry which gave rise to the emergence of Plastic Model kits. Shizuoka is also a resident place for major plastic model kit companies such as Tamiya, Aoshima, Hasegawa and Fujimi.

So as mentioned before I left, I went to Shizuoka to see the Shizuoka Hobby Fair.
However upon arrival to the fair, i think i might have mislead many on what I have describe in my post about what the Fair is about.

Initially i thought it was about the major companies (Tamiya, Aoshima, Hasegawa, etc) coming together in one big convention to showcase their products and their new releases, but I was mistaken. Apparently, this fair that I went to is focused more on showing about the history of plastic model kits and showcases a few of what is popular among the various major model kit brands, It also had a part of the Fair celebrating Gundam's 30th Anniversary.

The one i was expecting in actual fact was the Shizuoka Hobby SHOW (not fair) which showcases new release and sells all their new stuff and great stuff for each of the model kit brands. This is usually held in the Twin Messe Shizuoka every May for 3-4 days, which means it was impossible for me to see as I missed it totally.

So what you saw on my previous post, in terms of the Youtube Vid is separate from the fair itself. I am sorry for misinterpreting the mess up.

However, there is no love loss as this fair that is held almost half a year provides a lot of insight to the hobby I am doing and it was worth the trip to see all the awesome stuff.

Wooden Model Kit of various Japanese WW2 battleships.

In the beginning, Hobbyists' scale models derive from those used by firms which made the full-sized actual products. From architecture to engineering, these craftsmen from these areas use scale models of the actual product to provide an outlook and idea of the design and structure. Originally, "scale" was a physical measuring instrument which was first used by shipyards to derive anything bigger than a house to express something proportionally.

It was from this origins that model industry emerged with hobbyist delving more into model kits of certain scale. The Japanese model industry traces its legacy back into the late 1920s where it used wood to make model toys. Using sashimono woodworking joinery techniques, the industry made these toys purely for educational purposes. This can be seen from the picture above and below.

Simple Wooden Models of the 1930s for kids to fix up

Following World War 2, many scaled military models were used for recognition and military purpose but some pre-war consumer models were also sold. Nonetheless, plastic soon entered as the main material for model kits from the 1940s-1960s. As such, during this period, with the importation of US built scale models, many Japanese companies either turned to plastic models to compete or went under.

Robot Model kit with missiles flying out of it's head.... Crazy.

On top of cashing in on the making of plastic military model kits of various war eras (Particularly World War 2), Japanese model kit companies also decided to cash in on BANKABLE Japanese characters to diversify their production. From Astro Boy to the Bat Mobile, such model kit companies wanted to ensure that they capture a big consumer market for their manufacturing purposes.

Alien Model Kit?..Hmm interesting. Car Model Kits are also really popular during those times and it stretches all the way to current day Car Enthusiast.

While the model kit market has become pretty niche and hobbyist are not your everyday person that you would meet on the streets, the museum chronicled how the hobby and model kits as a whole have developed across the years. From 1960-1970s, it was pretty much the "Military" era of model kits where Military model kits such as those my dad has been collecting were pretty much the coolest toy in town. These kits ranged from WW2 to Vietnam Era Warmachines.

From the 1980s onward, we see the emergence of Gundam Model kits. Later on, Tamiya cars soon entered and dominated the model kit scene in the 1990s.

As the new millennium begin, it can be easily observed that the model kit industry started shrinking as model kits were not much of a commodity toy and it was hard to fight against technologically advance toys and games that have taken control and become an integral part of a kid's life.

But that has not prevent the Model Kit industry from changing itself to cater to its niche market and the Hobbyist generation of people.

An Awesome diorama display of some WW2 Model kit stuff

There is a great feeling inside of me to explore the small museum and realize that there is still a market for model kits which gives impetuous to these model kit manufacturers to develop more kits for me to build, enjoy, admire and play with. The future is still an unknown but I am excited to see what the Model Kit industry and the manufacturers in it have in store for me, especially in terms of Modern Military stuff!

This hobby has almost become a certain form of art in itself. But since it has also been coined or associated to the nerdy part of society, it isn't something that can be always appreciated by all. I am pretty sure it isn't a popular trendy thing to do too. But good model making and good painting would always be a great sight for all people to enjoy and that is what Hobbyist do!

While the model kit museum would be one of the main attraction of the fair, the biggest attraction would be the scale 1/1 Gundam. With Gundam being in existence for 30 years, it celebrates its anniversary by reassembling the famous original RX-78 (2) Gundam
that was seen in Daiba in Tokyo in Shizuoka. Noone knows whether this will be the last time you can see the actual size scale 1/1 Gundam and therefore it was a must for me to go check it out.

And I was truly not disappointed by the massive size of the Gundam with all its detail and splendor.

Located near the NTT Docomo Building, this awesome size Gundam is something you would see any other country build of one of their favorite mascot. (I like to see America build Megazord.) Then again, in terms of Mecha and Robots, nothing can be as Iconic, Relevant and in continuation as Gundam.

And with such a big following, this 30th anniversary was a great way to get Gundam fans to gaze at the real deal of awesomeness

Furthermore, it is able to move its head and has certain real effects of a Gundam. Obviously, it can't move on its own like the Gundam in the show but for me, it was good enough.

Shoe size sir? hmm not sure if we got that size around.

Even though I was sort of a Gundam Modeller back in the days when I barely was 8 or 9 years old, it brings back memories and it also had impose a great feeling of Awe to see such an awesome build.

If you do not really care for Military Models or even the Model Kit Museum but you are a fan of Gundam. Going to Shizuoka to see this awesome Gundam model is definitely worth the journey.

All in all, the two days in Japan that I dedicate to seeking and sightseeing my hobby stuff were worthwhile and something that will remain in my memories for years to come!

I do hope that you guys enjoyed my review of Japan in terms of the hobby aspect of it. And for those who take a similar interest as I do , I recommend you to visit the places I have recommended to get a feel of how awesome is the hobby world in Japan.

Check out this Biggest Toyconstruct Facebook album here


Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm Back

Hi there all, After two weeks in the land of the rising sun I have return. (That goes for those who do not already know.)

Its been crazy for me as I have so many things to show yet so little time to blog and do everything. Just today, I have also been to the Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention and that is not all that I will have plan for the craziness of my life so far.

In any case, I shall start with the Tokyo Review of what I have been doing and pretty much show you where to go and what to do if you are a modeller or model kit enthusiast.

Unfortunately for Tabletop gaming or Warhammer fantasy, it is pretty hard to find anything around Tokyo area and I am not sure if there is even an interest or a market there. Either that, or it is too remote or unknown in the mainstream society of Japan for me to know.

First of all, in terms of model kits, Japan is one of the major places in Asia to get really great model kits. With brands like Tamiya, Hasegawa, Aoshima, Bandai and Pit-Road. It is a major centre that has a strong model kit industry with these major manufacturers. The only other big manufacturer of model kit would be the Dragon Brand which is based in Hong Kong.

So first and foremost, if you were traveling in Asia, based on where model kit brands originated from, Japan would be leading in terms of brands. However, even in the great labyrinth of Japan's capital, Tokyo, Model kits aren't really the biggest "in" thing for teenagers and young adults

As such, don't expect to get your armor/airplanes/warships in your nearest department stores.
You won't find it in the common street shops too. But of course, there are a lot of shops with model kits around Tokyo if you know your way around.


Also known as Akihabara Electric Town, it is an area just 5 mins off Tokyo Metro Station. For those living or residing in accommodations near Shin-juku or Shibuya, it will take u a lil longer to get there through connecting subway stations. Take note: This place is specially known for its electronics, computer, anime and otaku goods.

Some of you might be wondering how does model kit fit into the categories of what this place is known for. Model Kits are categorizes under otaku goods. The word Otaku in Japanese terms would mean someone who has an "obsessive interest" in something.

While it may seem a bit extreme to term Modellers as Otakus, it is normally used to describe people who are into anime and cosplaying. However, in modern Japanese slang, Otaku just literally means a fan of a particular theme or hobby interest. So Modellers are pretty much Model Kit Otakus.

When you emerge from the Akihabara Subway station, it is easy to get lost and disorientated. However, I am pretty much suffering that effect every time I arrive in a new area in Tokyo.

It doesn't really help when everything is in Japanese. Thankfully for me, My gal is able to communicate in Japanese and get our way around. However, because this isn't really a hobby that she is familiar with, I had to also look out for the military model kits too. But fret not, as it isn't really that hard to find model kits once you explore the area a lil bit.

A junction in Akihabara.

It is common to see many electric stores as u walk the streets of Akihabara. It is also not surprising to see Japanese girls advertising for their Cafe which are called Maid Cafes. Akihabara is known place to have Maid Cafe, which sort of became a trend in Japan.

It wasn't long before we were able to locate several hobby shops. These hobby shops do vary in sizes. Some could be several stories in size or just one small shop like the one above. Your best shot is to go to those big ones as most of the small shops usually sell things that are more popular and common like PVC Anime figures, Cars and Gundam Related type of model kits.

Be sure to look out for words like 戦車 which means Tanks or Armoured Vehicles, 飛行機 which would be Airplanes and Fighter jets, 戦艦 which would mean warships. In general though, Model kits are represented by the kanji words "模型".

Most of the big hobby shops have sorted their toys and model kits into categories, in which they dedicate one level for each type. Therefore, Gundam would have one level, Military model kits would have one level, Anime stuff would have one level and Railway trains would have one too. (These would be the main categories in the big hobby shop)

Once you locate found these big hobby shops, you will realise that their array and variety of model kits are huge. While it is predominantly Japanese brands, you can still see a sizeable amount of other model kit manufacturers from China (Dragon) to American and European (Revell).

As my main model collection being 1/700 modern warships, they are not say the biggest mainstay of the model kit industry. So because of that you would think that these hobby shops like the ones in my home country, would not have much.

But I was dead wrong, on the contrary, they have a huge stash. Needless to say, it is predominantly Modern JMSDF naval ships but there are also US and Russian Modern Naval warships here and there.

One of the big hobby stores with its array of just solely Modern Naval ships.

With Military model-kit making being a very very niche hobby in the world today, I usually have to resort to buying my kits online. Worse yet, it is almost very rare now for me to actually pick out a kit that I mean to build from a retailer.

TamTam Hobby Shop, ( Military Models Level

However somehow, I was able to get the specific model warship that just got release from a big hobby shop by the name of Tam Tam in Akihabara. The irony is that the Model Kit was a Dragon Model kit (Not Japanese) that just only got release recently.

it is the 1/700 Type 45 Daring Class Destroyer from UK and they had it. While it took us a few searches from various model shop, I was surprise to find it easily.

I must point out that this example goes to show how huge the collection of model kits that each of these Big Model shops have in terms of variety. If it were armor or planes, they have a very good stock of many brands so you need not worry much.

Gundam still seems to be a real big thing with regards to easy model kit making and it still has a big impact on Japanese Modern culture. I will be elaborating about Gundam even further on my next post of my Japan trip with relation to Toyconstruct. But as my pictures show, Akihabara has many hobby related stuff around that area and it ranges from Robots to Model Kits to even..

BB Guns!

Akihabara have shops selling shit loads of BB guns that look almost as real as the real guns. Obviously they cost quite a lot to get.. and its a pity i can't really buy and bring this back to singapore. Firstly, U can't really bring this on the it through your check-in luggage or on-board the flight. Secondly, Singapore bans such items and therefore it is impossible for me to collect such weaponry.

Lastly, some of these hobby shops sell loads of mini-toys. These mini-toys are collected from japanese candy boxes that feature some array of toy collectibles in it. Usually, people would buy these candy product to get a Randomised toy collectible in it.

As such, hobby shops use these gimmick to their own benefit. These hobby shops would buy a whole batch of candy boxes that come with some sort of toy collectible and take out the toy to sell it seperately from the candy box (usually at a more expensive price to gain profits). However, this benefits the consumer as they can choose what mini toy they want to get without having to go through buying loads of candy box and not getting a specific mini toy they want.

Toys Toys Toys.. Akihabara is filled with niche products and toys. So if you are one who is interested in buying model kits and anything that I have shown in Japan, Akihabara would be ur first choice place to go to do some Retail Shopping!!

That's it for now. Next entry will be part 2 of hobby stuff in Japan.

For more pics on my journey in Akihabara, Check out my facebook album at


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Game of Thrones (HBO)

Hey Everyone

Hope you all are doing well and enjoying the hobby we all share :) I love fantasy and sci-fi, which either makes me a geek or a Games Workshop/Star Wars cash cow lol. Winter is coming where I am at, and I am not a big fan of the cold...I really hope JQ is having an awesome time right now!

Anyway, have you heard of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series? If not, you should read it! It's a dark fantasy series that some have compared to Tolkien, with quite a lot of gore, sex and betrayals. The basic plot goes like this: there's 7 kingdoms ruled by the King (who originally ursurped the throne), his rule is unsteady and forces around him are moving to secure the King's throne...the geographical range is great, as it spans from medieval settings to oriental environments.

Fan-made map of the world in the Game of Thrones

The books are written from the perspective of the many characters in the book. All the characters are really complex and you may start hating one character...but once you read through his/her'll get to appreciate who they are. I did read it since last summer (under influence from JQ) and I have to say it's one of the most compelling reads I have picked up. There are a total of 5 books, with 4 published so far...and I am reading the 4th one right now.

Ned Stark and his greatsword, Ice...he's played by Sean Bean who was also LoTR's Boromir. The tree is some sort of totem the northerners pray to, and have faces inscribed on them.

Jaime Lannister sitting on the contested Iron Throne, which is a mass of swords/blades molded together to form a throne. The intention was that the king had to be vigilant all the time, and if he slipped, he'll be cut by the throne..

Well, HBO is in the process of making a TV series of the books and it's slated for an April '11 screening. HBO is pretty much known to be kick-ass when it comes to making series (eg. Band of Brothers, Pacific). It really looks like a lot of good work has been put into this, such as the artistic effort to ensure the world looked authentic, and having the author on board for the production (which is unfortunately rare in book to film adaptations).

At the bottom of this post are some teaser trailers and a behind-the-scenes feature...which makes a very compelling trailer itself for the HBO series. If you have read the books, you'll be close to crying when you watch the feature as it brings to life the scenes from the book. Personally, I am excited about this new series coming up, and it'll be a treat for all fantasy fans alike...especially if you're looking for a gritty and artful treatment of fantasy.

In the meantime, I am about 2+ weeks away from coming back home, which means that the WFB battles we promised are indeed coming up on the horizon. I am still in the process of getting my tripod together as I am missing a tripod head...and would be able to take some pics soon (explaining why my past few posts aren't about my minis). Plus, we have JQ coming back soon from his adventures in I guess there's quite a bit of stuff to look forward too in the near future!

Thanks for your loyal support, JQ and I really appreciate the time and color you all add to this tiny space on the internet. It is always a pleasure to read the stuff you guys write on this blog!

Till next time, do take care and stay geeky my friends.


Behind-the-Scenes Feature