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Figure Newcomer Guide #4: Retailers

Figure Newcomer Guide #4: Retailers
15 авг 2010 18:28:23

Sorry it took me a while, but I'm going to offer a double-serving of guides today to make up for the delay. Once again, the icons are completely unrelated due to lack of a fitting icon.

Greetings, comrades! I return today with another write-up to help you get into figure-collecting. So you've decided on a figure you want, but have no idea how to go about actually obtaining it? Well, this guide will deal with the various retailers out there to help you buy with confidence!

Japanese Webshops

Japanese webshops are by far the most common choice for folks buying Japanese figures. They have a wider selection than their domestic counterparts, and are often considerably cheaper. They get items in far earlier, and sometimes carry exclusives. However, their two biggest flaws are the fact that they price in Japanese Yen, and some countries charge customs fees. The Japanese yen is stronger (against the US dollar, British pound, and several other currencies) than it's been in years and continues to grow, meaning that the amount you're actually paying has been slowly rising. Likewise, some countries charge customs fees for imported items. However, the pros of Japanese webshops generally outweigh the cons.

Amiami

Amiami is the largest figure retailer in Japan, and opened their doors to the rest of the world last fall. Because they move such a huge amount of product, they can afford to offer lower prices than the competition (usually 10%-30% off the MSRP, depending on the item). Their customer service is also top-notch - despite their website stating that they can't cancel preorders, they'll happily do so if you ask politely. If you receive a defective item (like the infamous Ultra-Act Ultraman, they'll send you a free replacement if you send a photo of the defect and proof-of-purchase. They offer three shipping methods; EMS, Registered SAL, and normal SAL. Overall, Amiami is top-tier in terms of prices and service - however, due to their popularity, they also sell out of items very quickly.

Hobby Search

Hobby Search, or 1999.co.jp, is one of the longest-running of the "big four." They're pretty solid - nothing to make them worse than the competition, but nothing to make them better, either. They've recently started accepting Paypal, and are now offering a consistent 15% discount. However, their customer service is far from amazing, and they don't allow preorder cancellation on some orders. In the end, though, if you know you're not gonna cancel a preorder and Amiami is sold out, HS is a solid choice. Also, they're rather prone to misspelling listing names - until very recently, S.H. Figuarts were "SH Figurets," and they were convinced for several months that Woody from Toy Story was called Woddy.

Hobby Link Japan

HLJ is kind-of a mixed bag. On one hand, they have no major discounts to speak of, making them more expensive than the competition. To make up for it, though, they offer wonderful customer service, and are the only major webshop to let you cancel and shuffle around preorders however you want. They're also fond of putting items on clearance (for example, they have a number of Revoltechs from late last year to early this year for 40%-off), and do shipping sales quite often. If you're willing to deal with the slightly higher prices, HLJ provides wonderful service and flexibility.

Otacute

Otacute is... meh. Their biggest benefit is that they price in USD, so international buyers aren't hit as heavily by the rising yen. However, their prices aren't spectacular, and there have been various reports of people receiving smooshed boxes from them (fragile packing materials - they even used beer boxes for a while). They don't allow preorder cancellations, and they refuse to ship preorders shipping in the same month together (unlike every other retailer). Their biggest advantage is that they offer exclusive items, like the Touhou Project Figmas and the many exclusive Figuarts (Nazca Dopant *sniff*). With most orders, they'll throw in a tiny little bonus like some Revoltech stickers or a keychain featuring a character from some obscure VN). Overall, though, I'd avoid them unless you have no other choice.

Domestic Webshops

Domestic webshops are a mixed bag. On one hand, they offer much faster, cheaper shipping with no customs fees. On the other hand, their prices can sometimes get ridiculous (I saw a Revoltech Kenshiro for $55). However, if the price of an item is close to what the Japanese retailers are offering, you may as well take the bait and save a bunch on shipping. They also sometimes carry items that are long-sold-out on the Japanese sites (it's how I found my Revoltech Yotsuba last year), but just be careful about bootlegs (especially with garage and resin kits).

So I hope this article helped you gain some perspective on the pros and cons of the various retailers. Happy shopping, and don't let the Woody get you!

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mu597
mu597 (USA)
15 авг 2010, 10:21:47
2 (2)
Оцени коммент!
I love HLJ they are perfect for my habit of pre-ordering way too much stuff and canceling it at the last second! :)
usagi_joou
usagi_joou (Russia)
16 авг 2010, 00:19:42
0 (0)
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absolutely same here!
I'm too old for this shit, ain't I?
Velorn
Velorn (Russia)
15 авг 2010, 10:40:01
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Оцени коммент!
You're wrong, two months ago I've cancelled preorder of Hitagi (by Kotobukiya) in Hobby Search ;)
RRRRURRRUS!
----
I'm sorry for my bad English xD
KururuSouchou
KururuSouchou (USA)
15 авг 2010, 11:00:41
0 (0)
Оцени коммент!
Really? I suppose they must have changed their policies since the last time I used them (back in '09).
Velorn
Velorn (Russia)
15 авг 2010, 11:09:11
0 (0)
Оцени коммент!
also they have "points system"
RRRRURRRUS!
----
I'm sorry for my bad English xD
Glory
Glory (Russia)
16 авг 2010, 04:36:10
0 (0)
Оцени коммент!
It's possible to cancel an item by writing them an e-mail.
The rain beats hard at my window
While you so softly do sleep...
Ahegyao
Ahegyao (USA)
15 авг 2010, 15:57:46
1 (1)
Оцени коммент!
This might be worth noting so let me add some more info on domestic retailers. There's a chance, albeit slim, that they carry bootlegs. Hobbyfan, for one, is notorious for selling bootleg resin kits. I don't know why they do this, but it's nice to know regardless.
I love plastic crack
KururuSouchou
KururuSouchou (USA)
15 авг 2010, 16:05:30
0 (0)
Оцени коммент!
Resin kits (and GKs in general) are pretty hard to obtain, so a lot of folks take the "bootleg kit is better than no kit" approach. Regardless, I'll update the article. Thanks for the input!
Eld
Eld (Canada)
15 авг 2010, 17:25:29
1 (1)
Оцени коммент!
Kinda want to emphasize a particular difference between AmiAmi and Hobby Search. I've been using Hobby Search until AmiAmi started their English website, and one thing I sorely miss from Hobby Search is their web item recombination system. Basically allows you to keep track of the items you ordered and recombine items with same release months to be combined together in a single shipping on the fly.

AmiAmi does this too, but their system is much more passive. Somehow they're completely missing any sort of web interface to browse through the items that you've pre-ordered or recombine them as Hobby Search had, so for me it gets sort of frustrating trying to sort through just what I've pre-ordered to date and making sure I'm under budget. However you can e-mail them directly and ask for order details and recombination as needed - and I think they try to make sure all your recombinable items are put together before they send them out.

Other than that, AmiAmi puts out a consistent 19% discount on their items, comparable to Hobby Search's 15% discount + 5% point accumulation (actually, this works out to be 15% discount and then 5% of 85% -> 4.25%, so very little loss even counting the point). On top of that, AmiAmi tends to carry more exclusive items than Hobby Search, and I like exclusives alot, making me a constant user of AmiAmi since their English website inception.
Nessuno può emendarsi dal peccato che scorre nelle vene
No one can escape the sin that flows in their veins
Glory
Glory (Russia)
16 авг 2010, 04:44:25
0 (0)
Оцени коммент!
Another very nice article into our collection! :) I like how you started the list with AmiAmi (which I use constantly cause of reasons Eld mentioned) and finished with Otacute. Speaking of Otacute, they almost shipped my Mugi nendoroid to USA's Moscow instead of the capital of Russia. How do you like it? :D
The rain beats hard at my window
While you so softly do sleep...
KururuSouchou
KururuSouchou (USA)
16 авг 2010, 08:23:21
0 (0)
Оцени коммент!
If I see a beer-box with a Nendoroid inside, I'll be sure to let you know. X3
Amb
Amb (Norway)
09 июн 2011, 09:25:51
0 (0)
Оцени коммент!
I like HLJ, and always order from them.
Since most collectors buy from either AmiAmi or Hobby search, HLJ usually have items in stock for longer and people buy from them only when others are out of stock. And I don't think the prices are that different (although HLJ is the most expensive one).

Also; The Norwegian krone is also strong so I'm not really hit by the yen rates = w =
crotchweasel
crotchweasel (USA)
28 дек 2011, 21:22:08
0 (0)
Оцени коммент!
Damn I hope Otacute's shaped up a bit, I have 8 preorders from them!
EddieT
EddieT (United Kingdom)
30 окт 2012, 15:44:08
0 (0)
Оцени коммент!
Great Blog KS ^_^
Hi All
I have only been collecting for about 6 months and am selling something I used to collect to fund this new hobby. I am in the UK and have used quite a few different on-line sellers. Lately I have had a lot of success with a Japanese company called Anime-Export. They listen, they do what you ask and pricing although maybe not as cheap as some is competitive. Recently I have been seeing some older One Piece figures on their site and they are still priced below what they were advertised for here and on European sites.
Anyhow I hope that helps some.
P.s Personally I don't like HLJ or Hobby Search 1990 as they both seem to feel its their responsibility to see that the buyer gets slugged with every possible tax here. When I explained to them that what is asked for is actually the value and not the price paid on the declaration form therefore providing a technical but perfectly legal loop-hole they simply refused to see my pov which I found frustrating. I come from a country that doesn't feel it a necessity to tax figures so being here and paying almost 65% income tax (accumulated) then being squeezed for more on something neither bought, sold or manufactured here (so how it can attract a VAT is interesting in itself) is an insult!
God Bless Freedom

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