Summer Wonder Festival 2012
Tokyo Hobby Festival Features Godzilla, Ultraman, Gamera, Space Battleship Yamato 2199 and More
Author: Ed Godziszewski
Official Site: wf.kaiyodo.net
Special Thanks to Yoichi Kakuma and Tetsu Shiota, Anime Jungle
Wonder Festival is a semi-annual orgy of models kits, toys, product announcements, promotional events, and cosplay spearheaded by the good folks at Kaiyodo. My business schedule regularly affords me the opportunity to attend in winter, but ordinarily I do not have meetings scheduled during summer time. That’s not such a bad thing since July and August in Japan typically feature brutal heat and humidity. So when I was suddenly called to Japan for meetings at the end of July this year, I wasn’t exactly thrilled, but the silver lining was that my trip coincided perfectly with summer Wonder Festival. Although I had a business appointment that would require me to leave by noon, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see how the summer show compares its winter counterpart.
As a general observation, I would have to say that, as enthusiastic as collectors and modelers may be, there seems to be a point where they also say to themselves “What the hell are we doing standing in line for hours in this ridiculous weather?” Ordinarily I will arrive at 9:00am, about an hour before opening, and I see the lines snaking around the convention center, thousands of people long, enough people to ensure that it will take almost an hour to admit everyone once the doors open at 10:00am. This time, there was but a fraction of the usual number of people in line, which actually restored some of my faith in humanity… there is a point where common sense prevails, even for fandom.
Not that it didn’t get quite crowded in the convention hall after opening, but getting grilled by the sun while waiting in line was not a popular option. A good amount of people showed up after the opening bell. Even the ever-enthusiastic cosplay crowd seemed to bow to the reality of the summer sun. While the back lot of the convention center is ordinarily teeming with cosplayers and hordes of eager photographers, just a meager handful ventured outside. The majority preferred to crowd into the breezeways between halls where shade prevailed. Even cosplayers get the idea that standing around in layers of plastic, vinyl, heavy fabric, and masks is an invitation to heat stroke.
While overall it seemed that attendance was perhaps a quarter less than in winter, the event itself was pretty much business as usual. Monster fans did have a number of interesting new items to enjoy, although a good portion of kits on display were holdovers from last winter. X-Plus showed off its impressive upcoming figures of Varan and MechaGodzilla 2003 (but no Titanosaurus in sight), and the Monster Arts Burning Godzilla and Junior Godzilla were showcased at Yuji Sakai’s table together with his other always impressive kits.
Monster Maker 28 showed off a prototype of his upcoming Godzilla 1964 which wowed passer-bys. The folks who make those amazing puppet figures of Toho monsters entertained the crowd as usual; this show’s big addition being a full body Godzilla marionette that could perform the shie pose (from MONSTER ZERO). I’m not sure I saw everything, but in the short two hours that I was able to zip around, at least I felt that monsters are surviving.
The big thing in the event hall was a booth for the new YAMATO 2199 animated series. The booth’s purpose is, of course, to tout all the new merchandise related to the show, and to do so they used the combination of a huge model Yamato and a crew of attractive young ladies in Yamato crew outfits posing for pictures. Ordinarily, costumes for animated characters just don’t look right in 3D, but in this case, I don’t think anyone was complaining.
Just as I was preparing to depart for my business obligation, I stumbled across M-1’s table, always a beehive of activity and full of interesting vinyl goods. Taped to the front of their table was a poster showing a biography of Kumi Mizuno, and even with my limited Japanese, it wasn’t hard to figure out that it said Ms. Mizuno would be there to sign autographs at 1:00pm. Oh, what a cruel fate, to miss out by a mere hour on the chance to see her once again. Such is the blessing and the curse of business as the reason I could attend in the first place. I had a choice to make… continued employment or seeing Kumi Mizuno… well, I opted for keeping my job. That heat can make you do crazy things after all…
Be sure to check out Ed’s previous reports on Wonder Festival and Super Festival:
- Welcome to WonderFest!
- SUPER FESTIVAL 51
- Winter WonderFest 2010
- Winter WonderFestival 2011
- Winter Wonder Festival 2012