ReinierReinier a.k.a the Wise Silver Wolf

About

I have been watching anime since I was 10 years old and first started collecting figures back in 2002. The first figures that I owned were small sega prize figures about 5-8 inches tall from Evangelion. I started to collect larger figures in 09/2010 and now exclusively collect figures that are 8 inches or taller because I feel they have more detail than smaller figures.

I have only been collecting scaled figures since 09-2010 but I have learned alot of money saving tips since collecting scaled figures is quite an expensive hobby.

My tips for people just starting to collect anime figures are:

1) Check Mandarake often, sometimes you can find really good deals on there and even come across really rare figures. Rare figures usually sell out within hours of being posted.

2) Make sure that you read very carefully the condition of the item before making your purchase on Mandarake because they dont allow more than 2-3 cancellations for the lifetime on an account. Cancelling orders more than 2-3 times will get your account permanently banned from Mandarake.

3) Make sure to tick the "Cancel the order if this item is out of stock" box if you no longer want your Mandarake order to be processed if one of the items from the order is sold out. Canceling the order later on through email request will count as a hard cancellation and will get your account banned.

4) Never buy anything from eBay unless you absolutely have to as a last resort. Check AmiAmi, Big in Japan, Nippon-Yasan, Hobby Search, HLJ, Mandarake, Jungle and Y! auctions first. eBay is infested with many fake figures from Hong Kong.

5) Check both the English and Japanese Mandarake sites when looking for items on Mandarake because they post up stuff on the Japanese site that isnt posted on their English site.

6) Dont pick EMS when buying only a single figure unless its Polystone or Polyresin. Try to bundle EMS shipments with at least 5 other items you want so that you will save money on shipping. SAL takes 2-5 weeks and it will usually cost alot less than EMS for single figure orders. Registered SAL cost only ¥410 more and gives SAL tracking numbers and a small amount of insurance.

7) When purchasing 1/4 scale or larger figures EMS will be required, try to make the most of it by buying at least 5 other figures from the same store.

8) Dont use SAL during December, it will take 30+ days for you to receive your package because of the holidays.

9) A few years ago it was common to save money by pre-ordering figures but lately (2013+) it seems like figures are being over produced by manufacturers and its very common to find them with ¥2,000 less bigger discount after release in pre-owned shops like Mandarake or in bargain sales. The exceptions are prize figures since they start at a low price and sell out quick or limited edition releases and manufacturers like Max Factory, Native, Okayama Figure Engineering, and Hobby Japan Limited releases. If you truly MUST have a figure its worth pre-ordering it to make sure that you wont miss out on it but in most cases you will be able to find it cheaper after release instead of pre-ordering it due to over production by manufacturers.

10) EMS only covers damage to the actual figure, not the figure box so try to pick registered sal when possible to save money on shipping.


Useful Sites:

Riuva <--- Whats PVC,Polystone, Coldcast, and ABS?

Fig instock.com <--- Emails you when figures come back in stock at your favorite sites.

Keepa <--- A firefox addon that adds a price history graph to all Amazon product pages, it works on all Amazon websites from all countries.

Mobile Barcoder <--- A firefox addon that lets you create scannable barcodes that you can scan with your mobile phone. This app is useful for scanning tracking numbers and easily adding them to a tracking app on your phone.

Shiprack <--- A free android app that lets you keep track of all your packages easily from your phone and notifies you when the shipping status changes.

Time Zone Converter <--- Converts time from other timezones to your timezone so you can know what time it will be in your timezone.

Historical Conversion Rates <--- A website that tells you what the conversion rates were for each day. This is useful for calculating conversion rates of combined figure orders.

Rainlendar <--- A Free desktop calendar that lets you add events and reminders to a calendar on your desktop. I use it to post my weekly schedule and when Y! auctions will end in my local time.

Mandarake <--- Sells second hand figures for low prices compared to their real value.

From Japan.co.jp <--- My Favorite Y! middlemen service, they charge a 10% comission fee + ¥200 handling fee. FromJapan lets you bid in realtime or sniper bid. The company lets you cancel sniper bids and withdraw deposits at any time that you want, deposits are automatically refunded after 20 days if not used within that period of time.


Figure Shop Mini Reviews:

Nippon-Yasan: (7/10) Nippon-Yasan usually has among the lowest prices for items along side Big in Japan and AmiAmi. The boxes that they use arent as sturdy and clearly labeled fragile as those from AmiAmi resulting in more damaged figure boxes though. It is usually a roll of the dice every time you order from them, one package might arrive in prestine condition and the other package will arrive with a smashed up figure box. The benefit of using them though comes from the lower pre-order prices and ability to pay now or later.

Big in Japan: (9/10) Big in Japan is among the most economical figure stores out there, most of the time they arent as low priced as Nippon-Yasan but they still beat out all the other retailers in price. They have a very strict cancellation policy, even 1 pre-order cancellation will result in your account getting banned. The way that BiJ packages their figures is usually pretty good, better than Nippon-Yasan resulting in less damaged figure boxes. For packing they usually put packing paper on the top, bottom, and sides of the figure box or if the figure box is too big they will usually just stack it on the top and bottom of the figure box.

AmiAmi: (7/10) Quick shipment, they charge you what shipping cost them to send out packages. The benefit of using their shop is that you dont have to pre-pay items and they allow you to combine monthly orders into a single EMS shipment. Most of the time shipping will be cheaper if you use Registered SAL and have each item sent out individually but if your ordering a fragile item it might be worth it to bundle everything together in one EMS shipment. AmiAmi usually sells out really quick on popular figures since their a popular shop. Customer service usually uses scripted responses when you write them a message and they dont take ownership for poor packing jobs so you will have to file a claim with the post office if something goes wrong. The way that they pack their shipments is still some of the most sturdy in the industry though and their the only company that has boxes with a big red "fragile, handle with care" sign on them which is why I gave them a decent score. The poor customer support, scripted responses, and failure to take ownership is what hurt their score.

Figure Haven: (9/10) I have ordered two figures from this shop so far, prices are pretty high sometimes but shipping is a flat $5 for U.S customers. The items I ordered arrived 2-3 days after sending payment and were very well packed with bubble paper, packing paper, and the figures box was wrapped in protective paper as well.

HobbyLink Japan: (7/10) HLJ usually takes 2-3 days to send a payment request and up to a week to ship out items after receiving payment. Their packing is pretty standard, most of the time they will use some inflatable cushions around the items box and place a plastic bag over the figure box to protect it from damage.

Hobby Search: (9/10) I have purchased several items so far from this shop. The items all arrived in a timely manner with packing paper wrapped around the box and packing paper to fill the box so the item wouldnt move around. I gave this shop a 9/10 because their great but usually more expensive than AmiAmi or BiJ.

Jungle: (10/10) I have made 5+ purchases with this store so far, every time the item was sent out on the same day that I paid or the next. Questions are usually answered within 1 day if you email them. The prices of their items are a little higher than on Mandarake and they charge a 5% handling fee on orders but their extremely professional and quick. Packing is pretty standard with packing paper to fill the box and a plastic wrap around the items box.

Kirinhobby.com: (7/10) A U.S shop that gets their figures from AAA distribution. This shop has alot of older and sold out items in stock but their prices are a little high and they have very limited selection. Shipments are sent via Fedex and packed with packing paper.

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