Wonder Festival is a bi-annual event hosted at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan. It’s a place not only for big name companies to showcase their up-coming figures, but also for people to sell their self-made non-official figures (garage kits).
There is usually enough coverage of this event that it’s possible to see photos of most if not all up-coming figures on-line without attending the show, or even being in Japan. Sometimes, however, companies will have “no photo” signs next to figures that are still in early development stages, and although oftentimes sneaky photos of these figures make their way onto the internet, sometimes they don’t. (One example of this from this past show was an un-painted Elsa figma. I couldn’t take a photo because there was a staff guy standing right next to it at the time). Pokemon merchandise in general tends to get lost from reports, probably as a combination of there not being much Pokemon related merch available coupled with “no photos allowed” signs. Being able to report on this year’s Wonder Festival and see up-coming Pokemon figures in person was one main reason I wanted to finally attend Wonder Festival.
I’ve lived here for 7+ years, so why did it take me so long? The main reason is I hate crowds, also why I tend to avoid attending festivals or conventions of any kind here. (I only attend the summer festival in my city because the festival center is along the street just outside my apartment building, meaning I can go out, get food, and eat it inside my home!) Taking into consideration that Wonder Festival only lasts for 1 day, I was very concerned about how many people would be attending. My worries were basically for nothing; it was crowded, of course, and there were lots of lines for everything, including taking pictures of some of the more popular figures, but the lines moved pretty well, and it never got crowded to the point where you couldn’t move or didn’t have some semblance of personal space.
In short, it was a very enjoyable experience, more so than the Tokyo Game Show, which honestly isn’t very enjoyable. I hold more than a passing interest in figures, and I had a lot of fun seeing figures in person that up until then I had only seen on the internet. If you’re ever in the Tokyo/Chiba area when a Wonder Festival occurs, I highly recommend attending!
Moving on to the meat of this report…
Upcoming Pokemon figures!
The Red figure hyped by Kotobukiya turned out to be an illustration only, with not even an unpainted prototype figure, which was kind of disappointing. The Red figure will come with Pikachu and is scheduled for a release sometime during 2016. Price is still unknown. Red is the first in this series, with the announcement of the second figure coming soon.
The 20th anniversary Red and Green Nendoroid figures were previously announced, but it was fun to see them in person!
There are a bunch of differences between this and the previously released Red Nendoroid, including hair color, eye design, and the style of his jacket. Basically, there are enough differences that Red fans can easily justify owning both.
The little Mew is my favorite part from the 20th anniversary set; I wish you could buy him separately!
Pre-orders start February 27th and end March 31st, with an official release date of July 9th, 2016. Retail price for this set is 7,500 yen + tax.
Next up: the G.E.M. figure series from Megahouse!
Ash comes with Pikachu and Charmander
Misty comes with Togepi and Psyduck. Both figures retail for 6,264 yen and are currently available for pre-order, with an official release date of late May, 2016.
Jesse and James from the same series are semi old news at this point but still worth mentioning.
James comes with Meowth and his release date is late April.
Jesse comes with Wobbuffet and her release date is tomorrow (February 12th).
Both Jesse and James retail for 5,940 yen, most likely cheaper than Ash and Misty because they only come with 1 partner Pokemon instead of 2.
Last but not least, Medicom is starting a “Champions” series of Pokemon figures under the Perfect Posing Product line, starting with Steven Stone
With his Pokemon companion, Metagross.
And followed by Cynthia
With her Pokemon companion, Garchomp. At this point, there is no information available yet for release dates or prices.
One of the companies had the newly released All-Star (and Ash Ketchum) plush for sale, but these you can find anywhere, so it wasn’t too exciting.
On a final note, while I didn’t do a lot of shopping while I was at Wonder Festival, there was one item I was looking forward to…
I got into Love Live over the summer of 2015 via the mobile app. I have yet to watch any of the anime (and who knows if I ever will) but I love rhythm games, and I’m a fan of the Love Live music, so the two together is a match made in heaven for me. Since returning to Japan after my summer break, I’ve started collecting mainly figures and straps of my favorite girl, Nico Yazawa, (as well as Nozomi Toujou).
Furyu (a company that specializes in claw machine prize figures) advertised they were “selling” special versions of previously released Honoka and Nico figures. I was especially excited (and nervous) for this Nico because the original release of this figure was the first Nico figure I won when I got back to Japan in September and so the figure itself holds sentimental value for me.
Based on my Tokyo Game Show experience, I was worried that, especially being a Love Live item, it would be difficult to get, and even if I lined up early and got in quickly, there would be huge lines and I would be out of luck. This was entirely not the case and I worried for nothing.
To get the special figure, you had to buy a “play” ticket that cost 2,500 yen. The ticket meant you could play as many times as it took to win the figure, so basically, you paid 2,500 yen for the figure. You waited in line to buy your ticket (or tickets if you wanted more than 1 figure), and then you waited in a different line to play the machines (so many lines). I still am not sure what the point of the machine was other than to make you feel amazing. The setting was so incredibly easy that 9/10 people were winning their figures in 1 go.
The figure is also a great souvenir as it says “Wonder Fest” on the box.
Here are the two Nicos together. Not only are the colors on the alternate version different but the base is black as opposed to the white on the original.
I have so many photos of so many amazing (and weird) figures, most of which I probably will end up not sharing anywhere, which is kind of a shame, but taking them was fun at least!
Feel free to leave comments if you have questions about anything related to (or unrelated to) Wonder Fest.