German toy-maker Steiff is launching a $340 limited edition stuffed Pikachu doll

German premium toy-makers Steiff are launching a limited edition stuffed Pikachu doll that measures at 11 inches tall and is made with the finest natural mohair for an added luxe touch.

The adorably plush Pokémon will be priced at $340 USD with a limited Japan-only release of only 1000 units.

Preorders are available via GoodSmile right now, with a February shipping date.

BEAMS (Japan) x Pokémon x New Era Pikachu fitted cap collection

Japanese hobbyist Satoshi Araki’s incredibly detailed and lifelike dioramas

My Modern Met:

Japanese hobbyist Satoshi Araki creates painstakingly-detailed dioramas at an incredible 1/32 and 1/35 scale. And, what’s even more impressive is that he does all of this work at night, after he’s done with his day job. Araki constructs and paints objects that fit in the palm of your hand, and he builds complex scenes that fit on a tabletop. Miniaturized motorcycles, monsters, and tanks look deceptively enormous once photographed up close.

When viewed at the right angle, Arakis’ dioramas produce the illusion that they’re scenes from real life. His world often seems run-down or even post-apocalyptic – piles of trash, soggy boxes, and dilapidated buildings line the street.

 

Satoshi Araki Facebook page

Japanese character toast… All you need is aluminum foil!

RocketNews 24:

The Japanese have long since proved themselves adept at crafting adorable characters from globs of rice.

Now it seems they’ve chosen bread as their next canvas for cute, using a method much more accessible to those who don’t have the time to cut up and arrange hundreds of tiny piece of seaweed—all you need is aluminum foil, a utility knife and a toaster!

 

As you can see in the pictures above, the process is as easy as, well, making toast:

1. Cut a square of aluminum foil to fit the shape of a slice of bread.
2. Draw the design of you choice on the aluminum foil with a pen.
3. Cut the parts you want to darken while toasting.
4. Lay the aluminum foil over the bread.
5. Toast in the toaster oven and enjoy!

We’ve posted a series of example images from several Japanese blogs for your viewing pleasure below.

If you want to try making your own bread designs, one of the Japanese bloggers who shared several of the images suggests adding an extra layer of aluminium foil around the edges midway through toasting as the perimeter tends to darken faster than the center. If you have trouble getting the aluminium foil to stick to the bread, you can also apply a thin layer of mayonnaise or butter to help it stick.

 

Emojis as a new art medium

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RocketNews 24:

If you’re as addicted to your phone as we are, there’s a good chance you can draw 95 percent of the emoji you know with your eyes closed. Much to the chagrin of high school English teachers everywhere, it can sometimes seem that half of our communication is taken up by the colorful little faces. And it’s understandable–they can express quite a bit!

But thanks to a new site, anyone can freely combine emoji for a hundred times more expressiveness. That’s exactly what Kazuki Takakura, art director for a Tokyo theatre company, did–and the results are nothing short of spectacular! And slightly nightmarish.

▼Forget your paint palette, we have emoji!

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With the evocative URL emoji.ink, the website presents users with every emoji available, as you can see above. After selecting an emoji, the user is presented with a blank canvas, upon which your chosen emoji can be placed. Clicking and dragging will paste a string of the images, like a paint brush. You can quickly select other emoji by pressing any key on the keyboard or change their size. With a bit of practice, you can get something like this!

 

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Or, if you happen to be a real artist, unlike us, you can create something a bit more impressive.

But as impressive as the hip-hop art above is, things can always get…weirder. Especially when Kazuki Takakura, art director for Tokyo theatre company Hanchu-yuei, decides to get involved. While we’re sure that not all theater company art directors create bizarre works of emoji art, Kazuki has certainly gone a long way towards scarring us for life with stuff like Creepy Pikachu.

▼When you turn the lights off tonight, just remember: It’s under your bed.

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▼The only explanation offered for this was “Robo.”

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▼Sure, this might be a rooster. Or it might be the Devourer of Souls.

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▼Are those eyes…or tentacles? Or both?!

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▼This just reminds us of the Hifana “Wamono” video.

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 ▼This is supposed to be Pokémon’s Venusaur (Fushigibana in Japanese).

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▼Annnd…this non-edible version of Baymax is actually pretty cool!

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Disney’s Baymax appears in curry, hot pots, and more, thanks to cheesy food-based pun

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RocketNews 24:

You might not guess it, given the country’s well-known acceptance of stoicism as an admirable virtue, but Japan absolutely loves puns. In fact, the characteristics of the Japanese language, such as multiple potential pronunciations for the same kanji character, make it a veritable pun-producing machine.

For example, the character for “rice,” 米, is usually read as kome. When it’s combined with other characters, though, it’s read as mai or bei, with the latter being pronounced like the English word “bay.”

Of course, that also means bei is pronounced like the first half of Baymax, the loveable caretaker/combat robot from Disney’s Big Hero 6. And now that Japanese fans of the film have figured out how to put a little rice into Baymax, they’re also coming up with ways to put a little Baymax into their meals by making Baymax curry rice, rice balls, and nabe hot pots.

You can thank pop idol Haruna Kojima for kicking off the culinary trend. Earlier this month, the AKB48 member found herself with some extra time on her hands, so rather than make a plain old plate of curry rice, she decided to shape the fluffy white grains into a likeness of Baymax, adding two small, connected circles of dried seaweed to recreate his simple facial expression.

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Identifying her creation as Baymax, but written with the kanji for rice, Kojima posted the above photo to her Instagram account, where it put smiles on the faces and rumbles in the stomachs of all who gazed upon its appetite-stimulating cuteness. Even better, in contrast to the difficulty in trying to craft an edible version of Pokémon’s Pikachu or Yo-Kai Watch’s Jibanyan, Baymax’s soft, simple form and almost entirely white color scheme means that just about everyone can manage this cooking project, as proven by the steady stream of Rice-max photos that have been popping up since.

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View image on Twitter

Even six weeks after its release, Big Hero 6 is still going strong in Japan, wherepositive word of mouth about the films variety of action, comedy, and heartfelt emotion made it the highest-grossing movie in the country last weekend, just like it was for the three weekends before that. It’s a testament to the film’s broad appeal that stretches beyond just the kiddie demographic, and includes fans old enough to enjoy a little alcoholic refreshment with their Baymax curry.
View image on Twitter

Of course, Japan has a lot more ways to eat rice than just covering it with curry roux. How about a Baymax oyako-don, a rice bowl with chicken, egg, and the cuddly robot?

View image on Twitter

If you’re after even lighter fare, you can combine rice and miso soup, which is also a great way to make use of leftovers of the two Japanese staples.

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It’s also worth bearing in mind that the rice/bei/Baymax pun still holds up even if you’re not using plain white rice. For example, mochi (rice cakes) are just as appropriate for adding a dash of Disney to your hot pot.

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New Happy Meal in Japan lets you play with your food — and comes with a Pokémon toy to boot!

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RocketNews 24:

Sure, we know we’re not supposed to play with your food, but the temptation can be great when there are gadgets around like the Direct Food Printer that lets you draw and write as you choose directly onto food. But now, for a limited time starting this week, McDonald’s Japan will be offering a new menu item that allows you to draw directly on your food using … chocolate sauce!

It’s the “Oekaki Happy Hotcake” (Draw and Happy Hotcakes) set, and if you think drawing on hotcakes with chocolate sounds like fun, we completely agree! What’s even better,  the set can be ordered as part of a Happy Meal that comes with a Pokémon toy — now, what kid can resist that?

The Oekaki Happy Hotcake set comes with a brown and pink “chocolate pen”. The set on its own, which includes two pancakes, the two chocolate pens and syrup, will cost 314 yen (US$3), but it can also be ordered as a Happy Meal as shown in the picture below, with either a cup of corn or french fries and a drink, which will be priced at 530 yen ($5.25).

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And in a joint promotion that’s sure to delight kids, there will also be a special Pokémon Happy Meal option available, which will come with one of eight Pokémon toys that feature some of the usual Pokémon characters as well as those from the new feature-length Pokémon film, Pokémon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction, which will be premiering in Japan on July 19.

▼These four toys featuring Pikachu, Froakie (Keromatsu in Japanese), Deddene and Yveltal will be available as part of the Pokémon Happy Meal from July 11.happy 2 Pokemon 7-11

▼And these four featuring Fennekin (Fokko in Japanese), Chespin (Harimaron in Japanese), Diancie and Xerneas will be available starting July 18.happy 3 pokemon 7-18

▼The Pokémon Happy Meal will come in a special edition box which has pop up features that can be used like a frame or picture stand. The cute Pokémon illustrations are sure to catch children’s hearts!happy 4 Pokemon box

Actually, all of this looks fun even if you’re not a kid, especially decorating the hotcakes with chocolate ink! It looks like there’ll be another reason for children to ask their parents to take them to McDonald’s this summer. Both the Oekaki Happy Hotcake Set and Pokémon Happy Meal will be launched on July 11, and the Pokémon Happy Meal will be available for about one month, while the Hotcake Set is scheduled to be served until mid-August.

And yes, we admit we’re wishing we can get a Hotcake Set now and do some serious chocolate doodling … but we guess we’ll have to make do with crayons and paper until July 11!

People love Nintendo’s plastic Amiibo figures: Nearly 2.6 million sold

Engadget:

Nintendo has announced that sales of its Amiibo figures are “nearly double” that of Super Smash Bros. game sales on the Wii U. (Nintendo sold 1.3 million copies of the title in the tail end of 2014, and so math tells us that figure sales float around the 2.6 million mark, which is pretty incredible.)

Last month, Nintendo stated that figure sales were roughly equal to the game sales, meaning people apparently buying more figures now. Nintendo stated that some figures have already been discontinued, much to eBay profiteers’ delight. Naturally, a little bit of rarity can help give sales a lift.

Latest evolution of Pokémon cafe to open in Shibuya this January

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RocketNews 24:

To celebrate the release of Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, “THE GUEST cafe & diner,” a restaurant inside the Shibuya Parco building, will mega-evolve into a Pokémon-themed cafe for a limited time starting this January. They will offer a wide variety of meals, desserts, and drinks to fully restore the HP of all Pokémon trainers and their loyal Pokémon friends.

If you missed the Pokémon cafe in Roppongi last summer, now’s your chance to catch it again. The Shibuya Pokémon cafe is scheduled to be open from January 9, 2015 until the end of February. So if you’re a fan of the series, or just like to eat food with cute faces staring back at you, mark your calendar now. The cafe won’t take reservations, and they’re expecting big crowds, but based on what’s on their menu it definitely looks worth checking out.

Just take a look at some of the fabulous food they’re offering.

▼ Smiling Pikachu Omu-rice – 1,580 yen (US$13.20)

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First up is the ubiquitous Pikachu (you’ll see him quite a bit), with his saffron rice face and omelet ears. You get to choose between two sauces to go with your omelet-rice: either magma sauce (based on Primal Groudon) or aqua sauce (based on Primal Kyogre), both of which look to be ketchup. Best of all, you get a fresh Pokéball cup to take home with you when you’re done. Just don’t try throwing it at any Pokémon.

▼ Pikachu’s Favorite Hamburger Steak – 1,380 yen ($11.50)

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We’re not sure how much choice Pikachu was given in deciding his favorite hamburger steak, but we can’t argue with what he picked. The hamburger meat is actually packed together with mashed potatoes and hidden underneath the Pikachu head, which is made of egg. Pikachu’s red cheeks are little peppers, and his ears are made ofmonaka, a crispy wafer. The orange cubes in the salad are Pokéblocks (basically candy for Pokémon), and the blue thing is allegedly a Rare Candy. The cafe can’t guarantee any leveling up as a result of eating it though.

▼ Primal Groudon’s Fireblast Mapo Tofu – 1,280 yen ($10.70)

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The first non-Pikachu item looks pretty sizzling, with mapo tofu (fried pork and tofu with spices) surrounding the Pokéball in the pan. It comes with red rice and a fireblast-shaped salad, for maximum fire-breathing potential. Since it’s aimed at kids, it’s relatively mild, but if you’re a fire-type at heart, they provide some optional extra kick in a bottle for you to shake on.

▼ Pokemon Fried Potato Friends – 980 yen ($8.20)

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All of the starter Pokémon from Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire have come together to be fried in delicious potato wedge form. Now you don’t have to choose: you can eat Torchic, Mudkip and Treecko all at once. Just be sure your rival doesn’t grab one when you’re not looking, because you know they’ll pick the one that just happens to be super effective against yours.

▼ Pikachu’s Sweet Pancake – 1,580 yen ($13.20)

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Moving on to desserts, we start off with a culmination of everything sweet: Pikachu’s sweet face, sweet pancakes, sweet potato ears, and sweet maple butter sauce to pour on top. It’s so sweet you might just start shooting electricity out of your own cheeks. Just like the Pikachu Omu-rice, this one comes with a Pokéball cup you can take home to impress all your friends with.

▼ “Pikachu, I Choose You!” Cream Puff – 1,280 yen ($10.70)

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For the Pokémon trainer with a more sophisticated sweet tooth, this cream puff shows Pikachu coming out of his Pokéball as you toss him into battle. His face tops a pastry along with cream, fruits, and cotton candy, and it comes with a crepe on the side and a chocolate pen to write whatever you want.

▼ Primal Kyogre’s Hydropump Dessert Plate – 1,280 yen ($10.70)

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Probably the least visually impressive of all the items, the dessert plate looks like it was hit by a devastating hydropump attack. The dessert itself is a mixture of gelatin and candy, and the Pokéball is made of white chocolate and berry mousse. Compared with Primal Groudon’s impressive mapo tofu, this seems to be a rare occurrence of a water-type clearly not having the advantage over a fire-type.

▼ Pikachu’s Electric Shock Parfait – 980 yen ($8.20)

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If Pikachu’s sweet pancakes just aren’t quite sugary enough for your liking, then try this. It’s a giant wad of cotton candy stuck inside a mixture of mango mousse and pineapple gelatin. If the sugar rush doesn’t shock you into paralysis, nothing will.

▼ Volt Tackle Ginger Ale – 780 yen ($6.50)

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Of course eating any one of the above will put quite a strain on even the toughest Pokémon master, so you might want something to help wash it all down. Volt Tackle Ginger Ale is supposed to taste just like taking one of Pikachu’s volt tackles right to the face. If that sounds like too much for you, they have a lower-voltage version available for little kids.

▼ Mix Au Lait and Saiko Soda – 680 yen ($5.70) and 580 yen ($4.85)

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For anyone who’s only played the English versions of Pokémon, these two might not make much sense at first. But they’re actually the Japanese version of the items“lemonade” and “soda pop” that you can get from vending machines in the game. The Mix Au Lait is a fruity milk drink, and Saiko Soda is clear soda.

▼ Hot/Iced Pikachu Latte – 680 yen ($5.70) and 780 yen ($6.50)

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Choose from a hot or iced Pikachu latte. The hot one comes with a Groudon or Kyogre cookie, and the cold one comes with the horror of having to rip off Pikachu’s ears and drink his face.

The cafe is also offering a ton of other incentives to come visit, like the free coaster you get with each drink order.

▼ I think five is a much more reasonable “gotta catch ‘em all” than 719.

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If you bring your 3DS and copy of Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire, aside from battling with other avid Pokémon trainers, you can also download a special “Pokemon Cafe Pikachu” as a present. It’s name is “P-Cafe,” it has the moves Play Nice, Charm, Nuzzle, and Sweet Kiss, and it’s holding the item Sweet Heart. It’s not going to be taking down the Elite Four anytime soon, but it’s a fun little souvenir of your trip.

With a photo-spot to take selfies with Pokémon, and a shop attached to the cafe selling official limited edition goods, there’s plenty of ways to get your full Pokémon fix. So be sure to hop on your trusty Taillow and Fly on down there this January.

Store Information
Open Dates: Jan. 9th, 2015 (Friday) to end of February 2015
Hours: Open at 11:00 a.m., last order at 10:00 p.m., last drinks at 10:30 p.m.
Location: Shibuya Parco Building, Part 1, 7th Floor
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Udagawa-cho 15-1
東京都渋谷区宇田川町15-1

Pikachu meets the Renaissance in the wacky paintings of Notre Chauvet

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RocketNews 24:

 

Ronald McDonald towers over distraught men and women in floral wreaths, who reach out desperately to touch his glowing, Christ-like figure.

A 17th-century Simon Vouet painting is reimagined with a female figure from a 1960s comic-book, who shields herself from Father Time’s anger as Ned Flanders looks on laughing.

Welcome to the world of Notre Chauvet. Drawing on their training in traditional painting to combine classical elements with figures from pop culture, brothers Jo and Graeme Hagan create brash, dystopian visions that are as colourful as they are dark.

The Hagan brothers began releasing work as Notre Chauvet earlier this year, in a marked departure from the traditional impressionist style of their previous work. The group takes its name from the Chauvet cave in Southern France, which contains the earliest known cave paintings in the world. They see themselves, therefore, as carrying on a 40,000-year-old tradition: that of collaborative art.

Working in oil paint, as well as other materials such as gold leaf and silver foil, Notre Chauvet mash together two styles of illustration that could not be more different: stylised comic-book art, and Renaissance depictions of the human form.

 

▼ ‘Death of Father Time’

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▼ ‘The Becoming’

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▼ ‘Illusion of Lying’

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▼ ‘Split Decisions’

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Other paintings are firmly in the world of 2-D animation. Pikachu is surrounded by a crowd of cartoon characters, from Batman to the Pillsbury Doughboy.

▼ ‘Pikachu’s Nightmare’

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In W.A.L.T. (or “We All Love Terror”), an army of Mickeys have black empty space for eyes. Brains, blood and colourful vomit decorate the manic scene. It’s not pleasant, but its unpleasantness is transfixing.

▼ ‘W.A.L.T.’

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In their paintings of 20th-century icons, it’s not only Disney characters who wear costume and masks. Disguise is a recurrent theme: Shirley Temple becomes a facepainted clown; Marilyn Monroe, a prostitute juggalo.

 

▼ ‘Insane Clown Prozzie’

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▼  ‘Shirley’s Surprise’

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At times, it’s hard to know if these juxtapositions are rallying against their subjects’ iconic status, or subscribing to it.

▼ ‘Lord Shakur’

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▼ ‘Fame’

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Under clothing label Death Suite, the Melbourne-based artists have also released some limited edition T-shirts featuring their designs.

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▼ Who knew Winnie the Pooh getting his brains knocked out could look so cool?!

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You can follow Notre Chauvet on Instagram, where they post updates, as well as some stunning images of their work in progress. Check it out!