Winter WonderFest 2010
Godzilla, Gamera, and Ultraman at Winter Model and Toy Collectors Show Held in Tokyo on February 7, 2010
Author: Ed Godziszewski
Official Site: Wonder Festival
Owing to an accident in 2008 which occurred at the Tokyo Big Sight, former home of Wonder Festival, this biannual mega collectors event was canceled for the year 2009. But after securing a new venue at Makuhari Messe, WonderFest is back and bigger than ever.
For fans of Toho monster films, Makuhari Messe is a convention center complex which also happened to be ground zero for the final battle of GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA II (1993), conveniently nestled between the huge skyscraper that Mechagodzilla slammed Rodan into and the baseball stadium home of the Chiba Lotte Marines which Godzilla summarily trashed. The entire area has been nicely rebuilt since its destruction in 1993, and is now the new home of Wonder Festival. This new venue provides easier and less expensive access than its predecessor, located just a few minutes walk from JR Kaihin Makuhari Station, around 15 minutes past Tokyo Disneyland on the JR Keio Line. Like Tokyo Big Site, Makuhari Messe is located next to Tokyo Bay, making it subject to strong swirling winds outside.
Despite the venue change, Wonder Festival remains pretty much unchanged as an event. Thousands of attendees arrive early, making enormous lines that stretch for several blocks, posing a challenge for event organizers to keep things under control once the doors open and the mad dash to the dealers’ tables commences. By slowly letting in a hundred or so patrons at a time, the influx of crazed exclusive-hunting collectors was managed quite well. Some collectors beat the rush by paying for a dealers table and then barreling through the halls at the opening bell in their effort to be first in line.
To be honest, I have never been inclined to find out what these people are so determined to get, but the lines seem to form in front of table selling figures of scantily clad female animated characters, mostly with highly exaggerated features. With the preponderance of dealers selling endless and seemingly indistinguishable variations on these same characters, it’s hard for an outsider to understand what the big deal is all about. But then again those people similarly can’t understand what the big deal is about Godzilla suit variations and the like. Touché.
And as in years past, another main event at Wonder Festival was the cosplay, and this year brought out probably the largest volume of entrants that I have seen. There was no shortage of alternately odd and interesting costumes, but this year I wasn’t able to spot that one special, egregiously over-the-top must-see costume. When you’ve seen a girl with an umbrella growing out of her head or a pink and white Darth Vader, even the most accurate Kamen Rider or Saint Seiya just can’t compare…
For monster and science fiction movie fans, there was still plenty of product available at this year’s show, but in comparison to previous Wonder Festivals, it seemed like the volume of new products had declined. The most impressive display still had to be the company showing off their custom designed puppets of Toho monsters, each with their own gimmicks like lighted eyes and heat rays (really just compressed air). While their booth remains the same, the makers continue to add new offerings to their lineup, this year’s main addition being Baragon and 1956 Rodan. A big hit was Bill Gudmundson’s resin and etched brass Atomic Heat Ray kit (from MOTHRA) which sold out all 25 copies in short order. Toho sfx director Koichi Kawakita was also on hand, promoting a superb $11k replica of the Oxygen Destroyer and selling copies of his newest books.
Since, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll spare you a few thousand of my own and let you see some of what was on display for yourself.
Be sure to check out Ed’s previous reports on Wonder Festival and Super Festival: