Cute animals in powered exoskeletons: 6 wondrous items from the 2015 Wonder Festival (Japan)


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The latest edition of Japan’s bi-annual Wonder Festival brought out both male and female cosplayers, plus Sailor Moon figurines, which are well-known stalwarts of any good event celebrating anime and the creative arts. But what about the actual handmade models that put the wonder into the festival?

Amateur hobbyists converge at the event to display and sell unique goods, resulting in an array of never-before-seen models and items that can’t be found anywhere else. From ramen kewpie dolls to seductive vegetables, we’ve got photos of the most imaginative and eye-popping goods you’ll see this season.

Sylvanian Families powered up in exoskeletons

These little guys are a great introduction to the creative, no-holds-barred, mixed influence nature of the show. The cute, furry animal characters won’t put up with any funny business in these outfits.



▼ 2,000 yen (US$16.84) for an exoskeleton set? You won’t find these sets at your local toy store.





Ramen Kewpie Dolls

Incredibly popular in Japan, cherub-faced Kewpie Dolls are always up for a bit of creative cosplay, having appeared in the past as fish roe, balls of algae and all manner of fruit and vegetables. Popping up in a bowl of ramen, however, complete with cascading locks of noodles, is a surprising scenario, even for this character.



Relive memories from long-lost amusement parks

The model kits at the Yukinonz stand might look ordinary, if not a little amateurish, to the untrained eye. Nostalgic hobbyists, however, would see this as a unique chance to breathe life back into old fun parks which have sadly disappeared or fallen into disrepair.

Nara Dreamland once shuttled happy passengers around the park in a shiny, three-carriage monorail. Today, it sits lifeless amongst dilapidated buildings, visited only by curious haikyoists, or urban explorers.



▼ The submarine is another abandoned monument from Nara Dreamland.


Takarazuka Family Land once had a glorious ropeway in operation. Sadly, the ropeway and amusement park no longer exist.



Vegetables with attitude

Otonamiya is a company that uses resin and clay to create an extensive range of goods, including the Kewpie Ramen figures featured above. It’s their remarkable harvest of carrots and radishes that really steals the showm though.






Optimus Prime featuring Original PlayStation

If you’re a fan of the original PlayStation console and have a soft spot for Transformers toys, this is the stuff dreams are made of. Takara Tomy A.R.T.S is set to release this kit on 28 February. Standing at 19 centimetres (7.5 inches) tall and retailing for 10,800 yen (US$90.94), Optimus Prime folds up neatly into a replica original PlayStation console, complete with memory card and controller.



Venus de Milo action figure

The Figma doll series, produced by Max Factory and distributed by Good Smile Company, has done more than just give this famous beauty arms, creating a fully poseable Aphrodite to keep artists and fans of classic sculpture entertained for centuries to come.


There are some great gems to be unearthed at the Wonder Festival. With the next event scheduled to be held at the Makuhari Messe Convention Centre on Sunday 26 July 2015, we’ve still got some time to save up for our upcoming wondrous purchases!


Artist Profile: The disturbing sculptures of Dongwook Lee



Dongwook Lee’s works focus on the contradictions that are fundamentally inherent in human existence and life. Exquisitely hyper-realistic and surrealistically imagined renditions of his miniature human figures are staged in absurd situations in Lee’s works, in which the bleak everyday life transforms into poetic horror.

In Lee’s work, a fragile warrior is wearing his own flesh as his armor, and the naked child stands with innocent face in front of blood-stained killing (which he might have committed). His oeuvre stands at an odd intersection of life and death, beauty and cruelty, civilization and wild, and reality and fantasy, unfolding a world of fantasy where people are severed from reality.”

Check out this link:

Artist Profile: The disturbing sculptures of Dongwook Lee

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Artist Profile: Kazumi Akao’s “Gumi Chan” figurines at Paul Smith London


Figurine artist Kazumi Akao and set designer Nobuhiko Yoshimitsu make Gumi Chan, a set of handmade figurines depicting the suburban modern jazz era of 1960s Japan. Akao chose the ’60s because of the decade’s particularly optimistic sensibility, trying to bring hope back to Japan where people are still affected by the 2011 natural disaster.
Inspired by her dream of a better life, Paul Smith offered to exhibit Gumi Chan at his storefront in London. See the pieces on view now until February 27 at 9 Albemarle Street.
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Artist Profile: MINIMIAM- Playful Mini Dramas By Photographers Pierre Javelle And Akiko Ida

Since 2002, gastronomy fanatics Pierre Javelle and Akiko Ida have been photographing a series of playful dioramas, called MINIMIAM, combining miniature figurines and various kinds of food.

MINIMIAM is an apt combination of the words miniature and “yummy“ (miam in French). The miniature dramas, featuring model train figurines and fruit, vegetables or sweets, introduce us to the lives of mini people of various vocations in their everyday situations. The photographers take the close-up shots of their scenes first, and then show us how the scene works in a bigger picture.

Through the MINIMIAM project, the two professional food photographers draw our attention to contemporary issues like global warming and our dominant relationship with nature. The main purpose of these mini dramas, however, is for the photographers to have some fun and make the viewer smile.

Check out this link:

MINIMIAM: Playful Mini Dramas By Photographers Pierre Javelle And Akiko Ida

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3D Printed Final Fantasy VII Characters: Materia-lized

Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the FF series to have 3D graphics. Those graphics probably look laughable now, but the squished low polygon rendering of the characters make for really adorable figurines. Look! It’s freakin’ Biggs and Wedge! Well, Gaia’s Biggs and Wedge.

final fantasy vii 3d printed figurines by Joaquin Baldwin

The figurines were designed by Joaquin Baldwin and are printed using full color sandstone. All of the main heroes are included along with some of the villains and many of the secondary characters, including Sephiroth, Zack Fair, a Moogle, a Chocobo and the Turks.

*Update: Square Enix got wind of Joaquin’s products and sent a cease and desist notice to Shapeways. Joaquin’s work counts as copyright infringement, so he had to stop selling the figurines. So say goodbye to Aeris. Again.*

Ride on Cid’s airship and head to Shapeways to order the figurines. They cost between $13 to $32 (USD) each. One funny thing about this set is that Joaquin seems to have priced each figure based on the amount of material needed to print it. This means Cait Sith and the Chocobo are the priciest ones, even though Cloud, Sephiroth and many others in the set are more popular than those two. The cheapest of course is Barrett’s kid Marlene.

Check out this link:

 3D Printed Final Fantasy VII Characters: Materia-lized


Jun Kazama from “Tekken” Joins Bishoujo statue series


Bishōjo is a Japanese term used to refer to young and pretty girls, usually below university age. Bishōjo characters are seen in almost all genres of anime and manga, especially in dating sims and visual novels (also known as bishōjo games), and harem anime and manga.

A mystic character concealing mysteries within herself, Tekken character Jun Kazama has been made into a 1/7 scaled (220mm high) figure, in her characteristic Kazama self-defense fighting style.

Retailing for 7,140 yen, with a release date of February 2014.

Check out this link:

Jun Kazama from “Tekken” Joins Bishoujo statues series



Square Enix gets creative with their DC Comics VARIANT line of collectibles


Square Enix, the Japanese video game developer, publisher, and distribution company that is best known for its role-playing video game franchises including the Final Fantasy series, has some recent additions to their line of “Play Artscollectible figures. Teaming up with DC Comics, and getting the permission to come up with their own creative renditions of iconic characters, they have rolled out their DC Comics VARIANT line.

Check out this link:

Square Enix gets creative with their DC Comics VARIANT line