East Meets West [2016]

07 March 2017

Actually got up early on a weekend (wut?) and decided to run around to some spots I hadn’t been to in ages on the west side (west of me, anyway)! I really need to do a better job of taking pictures of the outsides of these places, lol. (Sorry for the crap cell phone quality. OTL)

First stop on my adventure was Big Lou’s, a consignment shop/slot car raceway on Sepulveda, where you can find all sorts of interesting things for sale.

From plushies to ornaments and from Hot Wheels to Transformers, there’s something for everyone here!

I’m pretty sure all those comic book standees are handmade. :O

Afterwards, made it over to Gardena’s Tokyo Central & Main supermarket, which used to be a Marukai.

Another reason to quit this hobby. DX

Here’s an entire section dedicated to Dragon Ball.

If Dollfies aren’t your thing, you can still invest in an Evangelion action figure that costs more than your car payment!

It’s a good thing I haven’t gotten into Gundam (yet)!

The Pokemon saw me coming, haha.

While I didn’t buy anything at Big Lou’s or Tokyo Central & Main, I did buy stuff at second-hand bookstore Book Off’s Del Amo and Gardena locations. I impulse bought the Nono action figure since I actually wound up liking Gunbuster 2: Diebuster the second time around and finally completed my (regular version) collection of the Japanese version of Your Lie in April — for much cheaper than what Kinokuniya was charging in-store or even at AX!

See the full album on my Fan Page on Facebook and be sure to Like The Vault on Facebook, where I’m finally caught up through 2010! 😀

2016 09 03 Sat: East Meets West


TOM LA SALE! [2016]

07 February 2017

When I heard that the Tokyo Otaku Mode (TOM) Shop was pulling up stakes and heading up north, I cut out of work early to check out their moving sale! Not sure if they’ve ever opened their doors to the public before, but I order from them all the time online. They usually have some great promos and their loyalty program (in the form of TOM Points) is an added bonus — even though they’ve reworked some of their rules regarding the program.

Most of the items were unmarked so you had to bring them up for them to check the price online. What wasn’t so cool was that the Aniplex+ items were full price (as noted) — which meant they were actually more expensive than buying them on their site!

I’m not a gamer, but all non-figure merchandise was 40%!

Happened to run into Sojian-senpai while I was down there so we did some exploring and wound up grabbing noms at Hakata Ikkousha Ramen.

This was the only loot I wound up getting — a Nendoroid of Best Girl Funami Yui from YuruYuri and a free bag of a Japanese snack that wound up being pretty meh, lol. There were a few things that caught my eye but they seemed to be a bit on the pricey side, even with the discount.

These were taken on my fixed focus cell phone, so excuse the terrible quality. ^^;

See the full album on my Fan Page on Facebook and be sure to Like The Vault on Facebook, where I’m finally caught up through 2010! 😀

2016 08 22 Mon: Tokyo Otaku Mode LA Warehouse Garage SALE!

Black Friday 2011 Reviews Part II: Remote Loots Peddlers!

19 January 2012

So much blathering that it couldn’t be contained in just one blog post! Here’s the second part of my reviews of the stores I bought stuff from during my Thanksgiving Weekend buying binge! Be sure to read the first part, which covers retailers of the more local (to me, natch) variety!

I placed an order with Hobbyfan.com for a bunch of figures late Friday night (technically the morning of Saturday 11/26) and I received the confirmation by e-mail pretty quickly, as was the case for the other two e-tailers below. However, much to my chagrin, I received a notice the evening of Tuesday 11/29 telling me that The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Yuki Nagato Disappearance Ver. Nendoroid was out of stock and therefore canceled. TAT

On Thursday 12/1 I got an email saying my order had shipped. Woohoo! New figurehs to look forward to! But then, to my extreme disappointment, another e-mail came on Friday 12/2 refunding me for the Ui Hirasawa K-ON! Nendoroid. Wh-what? They got my hopes up by charging me and telling me the order shipped, then crushed me after the fact? Nuuuuuuu!!

Anyway, I received the package a few days later on Monday 12/5. I like that they included this bit of cardboard on top. Not a whole lot of places do it, and it might seem kind of pointless, but even with some shifting around it’s just enough to add an extra layer of protection from errant box cutters!

They could’ve used a few more packing peanuts, though. :p

I’d bought from Hobbyfan before and one of the complaints I had was that sometimes the price for an item varies depending on which page you see it on. :/ I didn’t notice that issue this time, but my other gripe still stands: their inventory system doesn’t operate in real-time.

I know a lot of these stores don’t have real-time inventory, but not telling you something is out of stock until after the order ships nearly a week later is kind of lame. Someone from ABCToy4Me told me once that Hobbyfan doesn’t always pick up their shipments in a timely fashion… which has led to ABCToy4Me picking up Hobbyfan’s shipments for them! I don’t know how that’s even possible, but I’ll be pretty peeved if I ever find out that ABCToy4Me poached my Nendos! 😡

Next up is Robert’s Anime Corner Store (RACS). I’d never bought from them before, but my cousin has and he had a good experience, so I decided to give them a try. While I’d apparently missed their 15% off coupon on Black Friday, they had a 10% off coupon and always offer free shipping on orders over $49 so I decided to go for it.

I placed my order late Saturday night (okay, okay — the morning of Sunday 11/27). If I’d known I wasn’t going to get Yuki from Hobbyfan, I prolly wouldn’t have ordered Kyon and Haruhi. :< Anyway, the order confirmation came in right away, and I got another e-mail on Monday 11/28 saying my order had already shipped! That’s fast! :O I sent them an e-mail saying so and that I’d mentioned their sale in a post here. Imagine my surprise when I received a reply from Robert himself thanking me! That was some great service, I thought, but I should’ve read that shipping confirmation more closely.

I received the package on Monday 12/5 and noticed the Fragile sticker on it. You don’t see that too often, and now I was even more impressed. However, the box seemed a bit small for all the figures I’d ordered. Hmmmm.

I opened up the box, and ahhhhhhh. Completely filled with packing peanuts! Nice! But looking at the packing list, I realized that one of the figures I’d ordered, Alter’s Houmei from Shining Wind, was no longer available. :< I'll admit that she was a (very expensive) impulse buy that I thought would look nice paired up with my Momohime from Oboro Muramasa by Alter and that I didn’t really need her, but I was pretty bummed nonetheless. While the shipping e-mail did say she’d shipped quantity 0, I wish the notice would’ve come in a separate e-mail. Who reads those shipping e-mails that closely anyway? :p But aside from missing the mark on their fill ratio, RACS managed hit all the other customer service goals they state on their website!

The last package I opened was from Kotobukiya’s US store. They had a 30% off coupon code which was allegedly good on in-stock items, but there were reports that the coupon code did not work on any of the Bishoujo line of figures.

Anyway, I’d ordered Tamaki Kousaka from To Heart 2 and an Ayumu “Osaka” Kasuga from Azumanga Daioh right after my order at RACS and I received the confirmation by e-mail immediately. Unfortunately, I received a phone call almost a week later on Friday 12/2 telling me Osaka was out of stock and not expected back in. I tried to verify the new price, but the rep seemed to be pretty clueless. I eventually okayed the one figure for shipment, but after I hung up I realized that the new amount the rep had quoted me didn’t include tax. I e-mailed them about it b/c I didn’t want to spend that much on a figure I didn’t actually need, but they shipped without ever replying.

I received the package on the following Monday 12/5. As you can see here, they did not include enough packing peanuts, but thankfully she didn’t have to go very far to get to me. The packing list/invoice still included Osaka, so I had no idea what the actual cost was for this order (due to shipping charges) until they finally robo-e-mailed a refund notification on Thursday 12/22, nearly 3 weeks after they’d shipped! :< While I do like some of Koto’s figures, their service left little to be desired so I think I’ll be sticking to buying from dealers rather than directly through their on-line store for now.

I found it amusing that even though I placed these orders with e-tailers in different locations (RACS is clear across the country) over a long holiday weekend, they all arrived at my door on the same day. It’s disappointing that each one of these sellers managed to ship incomplete orders, but I’m just glad that I got my Max Factory Mari Makinami, since she’s the one I wanted the most. I was actually waiting for Anime King to run their crazy 30% off sale like they did in 2010 to get her, but they decided not to do it this year. Oh well, their loss is RACS’s gain!

I would have to say that in terms of service, My-D Pins & Collectibles and Robert’s Anime Corner Store were my two favorites! My-D Pins has a helpful, friendly staff and RACS is quick and responsive. Both are class acts!

Toylet.net is also a winner with the option of local pick-up. Additionally, in my experience, they enjoy the advantage of an inventory system that errs on the conservative side rather than crushes your hopes and dreams! (In 2009, an item I wanted was out-of-stock, but they let me order it when I e-mailed them about it — yays!) Next time, though, I’ll be sure to check their eBay auctions for even better deals!

Hobbyfan.com does what it does at decent prices, but canceling items like they did seems to be the norm for them. Crossing your fingers when ordering might help. :/ And Kotobukiya, I don’t know. If you were Alter or even Good Smile, I might put up with that kind of hapless service, but come on… you’re Kotobukiya. You really should be trying harder. :p

EDIT: Received a couple of e-mails from Henry at Hobbyfan on 1/23 and 1/24 after I told them about my review. He apologized for the cancellations and mentioned that some of the items in the sale were directly from their supplier and not based on current stock, since not carrying extra stock is the best way to pass the savings on to their customers. In that case, it’s quite possible that their rate of cancellation is much lower during the rest of the year.

EDIT: Received an e-mail from Bob at RACS on 1/24 thanking me for the review and reminding me that they use environmentally-friendly cornstarch packing peanuts. One more reason to buy from them! However, I would not recommend eating them instead of ramen when trying to save for more figurehs. ^^; Also, from the e-mail it sounded like they manage their inventory manually! :O They worked full shifts over the weekend in order to take things down as they sold out.

Be sure to check back next week, when we’ll go slightly further back into 2011 to relive some memories from PMX!

Black Friday 2011 Reviews Part I: Local Loots Peddlers!

17 January 2012

Happy 2012! Hope your holidays were festive! ^____^

Talky Tuesdays™ resume with some reviews of B&M/on-line stores! As you may remember from my posts here and here, I went on a bit of a spending spree during Thanksgiving weekend. ^^;

Pictured is everything I boughted! Of course, the Ui and Yuki nendos I’d wanted so much didn’t make it to me. :<

Here are the first things I did get my grubby little mitts on, since they were from an actual B&M: two pins I picked up at My-D Pins & Collectibles. My-D Pins is like an indoor swap meet/yard sale; people rent showcases and put their goodies in them, and then you buy their stuff! I took a ride down there on Small Business Saturday (11/26), when you could get a $25 statement credit just by buying $25 worth of merchandise at a small business with your American Express Card!

The Donald Duck pin is one of nine limited edition D23 pins released at D23 Expo 2011. They’re so limited, I didn’t even see them when I was at D23! The series has Donald dressed up as several different characters, but I couldn’t resist this pin of Donald cosplaying Aladdin because Donald is my favorite of the Fab Five and Aladdin is one of my favorite Disney movies! It doesn’t hurt that Aladdin was also designed by Glen Keane, who is Ariel’s designer as well. The Donald pin was on sale b/c the owner of the showcase was doing 15% off during Thanksgiving weekend, so I needed to get something else to get to the $25 minimum.

Wait, the Ariel pin wasn’t my first choice? :O Did I have too much turkey and the tryptophan affected my brain? Of course not! (I didn’t even have turkey on Thanksgiving! ._. ) I had seen The Little Mermaid pin the last time I was down there and I’d been considering it, but when I finally took a closer look this time, there was damage to the box and it was obvious that it had been used. Plus, the price had been marked up 25%! But I finally caved and picked up this limited edition pin as well. It comes with a reproduction of the artwork that the pin is based on, and Ariel is just too cute! Plus, with the $25 statement credit, the pin was technically free! 😉

The people working at My-D Pins were great! They were friendly and helpful, and they seemed to be pretty knowledgeable as well. It really seems to be a fan-run shop, and there are many things here besides just Disney pins. Of course there is a crapton of Disneyana, both old and new, but there are also movie posters, TransFormers, action figures, and more! You should definitely check them out if you happen to be in the vicinity of Disneyland!

Okay, well, I prolly just bored you all with my Disney escapade, so on to the figures! Or, in this case, UFO prizes!

Toylet.net was blowing out lots of their accessories and UFO prizes. While I don’t usually go for those types of things, I couldn’t resist the Akira Kogami plushie, especially since there are so few figures of her! And Ritsu Tainaka is one of my waifus from K-ON! (Yui Hirasawa is the other) so I had to get the muffler towel. I was originally going to use it as an actual muffler/scarf but based on the material, I think SEGA intended the accent to be on the towel part. ^^;

Anyway, I ordered these items late Saturday night (technically the morning of Sunday 11/27) and I received the confirmation by e-mail immediately. However, since I selected local pick-up to save on shipping, I didn’t get an e-mail saying my order was ready until almost a week later, early Saturday 12/3. I replied that I would be by on the next business day, Monday 12/5, and was able to pick up my items without much fuss. Of course, I saw later that Toylet included these items in its eBay holiday auctions and they sold for way less than what I paid. :< Oh, well, that's the world of collecting for you!

After I got home, I found three packages waiting for me — the rest of my Black Friday/Thanksgiving Weekend purchases! Check back for my reviews of those retailers that had to ship their stuff to me! (EDIT: Find Part II here!)

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