These store critiques serve as the sole basis to educate and inform those with as broad a range of an online shopping experience in the anime otaku market from nil to expert about how green or adept my own experiences have been molded through my interactions with these stores. As always, there might or might not be a severe discrepancy to other reviews of exact stores that you may have read or found out in some way. While each individual takes from his or her own experience, I am merely adding my own two cents to help broaden the spectrum of the integrity of stores that you shop or may potentially shop at. Be as it may, this is the interwebs and you are more than welcome to take my ramblings with a grain of salt. In the same token, I am an insanely hardcore collector and will simply not shop at certain places unless I am, ultimately, left with no other alternatives.
Honesty is the best policy and I am a brutally honest person. This store review will be unlike what you have experienced before as I don’t plan to sugar coat or skim through the superficial surface to expose what I feel is pertinent information about where you go throw your hard earned cash at.
Harima says, “You’ve been adequately warned.”
Crème de la Crème for Store Qualities
[If you are not familiar with french, "Crème de la Crème" translates into "the very best of the best" and is equivalent to the idiom "cream of the crop".]
First and foremost, I’d like to give a gist of what I feel are qualities that elevate a store to the very top or bottom for that matter. In reading and understanding this initial section, it will help shed light on the individual store evaluations that have left me as a continued and loyal customer or one that avoids said store like the plague. Hopefully, any one coming into this hobby or have been lingering about (like me) may find some usefulness in all of this.
- The default MSRP for numerous anime paraphernalia is high relative to what the merchandise is. This is more so prevalent if the primary means in obtaining these goods requires direct importing from their native countries. I’m all too familiar with the high cost in figures as well as an assortment of anime merchandise and want to know that the store price does not vary vastly from the announced Japanese MSRP. I am completely aware of whether or not I am getting price raped, thank you very much.
- An accurate on-hands quantifiable number of a particular item. Ideally, a store would always be on top of their inventory stock and flush out any out of stock or unobtainable goods from their stores’ system, but I understand that this is not always the easiest thing to do with a business.
- Repeating offenders in not knowing the status of their goods’ inventory -whilst making excuses for it- are likely to hit the shit black list.
- In regards to the above bullet point, communication is key in inventory related situations. One of the most irritating things happen is order a figure, get charged for it and later receive a message that the item was not in-stock to begin with.
- If you are unable to fill my order due to allocation, distributor cancellation or any other phenomenon, then I need to know immediately so I can plan my hunt accordingly. I <3 hunts so an allocation is not bothersome in any way. What is bothersome is being left in the dark due poor communication and being led around in what seems like an infinite circle.
- Responsive customer service within the allotted time frame as described on the website or within a reasonable window (2-3 days). Under special circumstances, I am understanding to life’s unforeseeable events or having prior notice to the delay in communication, but it depends on the situation and each situation will be evaluated accordingly.
- Relaying information is a big one for me as I am keen on whether or not someone is attempting to sidestep my inquiries. It is simply not enough to be able to activate some generic relaying robot to get back to me especially if the response has absolutely nothing to do with or avoids my original inquiry. I am very big on communication and will let bygones be bygones if the store genuinely informs me of the situation sans delving into any official business matters (which is none of my business).
- Variety in how to get a hold of the retailer is always a plus. Accessibility in being able to contact the business without having to go through a complicated process or search for a contact information that should already be readily available to the consumer’s fingertips.
RELEASE DATE INFORMATION
- “Release dates are subject to change” is the mentioned or unmentioned warning to most if not all products nowadays. This is not so much a problem for overseas (Japanese or close to Japan) online retailers whose release date is always pinpoint accurate to that of the announced release including any applicable delays. I need a good approximation of when to expect my goods to arrive.
- “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is definitely not the approach I take whenever my figure is not released in the expected time window without some type of prior notice or justifiable reason.
SHIPPING AND HANDLING
- Masking actual total cost by over-inflating and profiting through shipping and/or handling fees really irks me.
- Damaged goods as a result of negligence and tightwad syndrome is an immediate red flag. Frugality at the expense of a customer is something to be looked down upon.
- An assortment of merchandise to provide an individual’s fill all at one store. This is extremely hard to do and I am not familiar with any store that is able to fulfill this on every level possible, but there are stores that are close and make an attempt in fueling an otaku’s fix. Depending on the individual and their needs, it is plausible that all you need is one shop to be able to buy everything that you want.
- Last but not least, there needs to be some sort of incentive for me to want to shop there. You could consider this as a perk to shopping at this store that makes it stand out from the rest of its competitors.
While I am a very extreme (read nitpicky) individual and a collector in every sense of the word, I am also not without reason if the situation is appropriate which you will read later on. There are limits to my extremities and always a time and place where the customer is always right type of mentality versus being a full-blown out-of-control, unrealistic, underhanded bitch hell bent to screw over a retailer to get whatever is desired. As with the latter, I do not condone such behavior and have never personally employed said tactics to achieve a desired outcome, so these reviews are just exactly what they are – unbiased, unabridged, and based on pure facts. Keep in mind that that there is no perfect store and the very best ones have other strong suits that lessen or completely nullify other potential flaws. I have, yet, to encounter an immaculate store that is perfect in every sense of the word.
For any non-overseas retailer, there is a varying time frame on when or even if the product will come in. Unless it is directly from the source, be prepared for delays or a possible distribution allocation. Even if a store directly imports from the origin of goods, it will still take some time and will rely heavily on the means of transporting bulk shipments as EMS for so much product is not reasonable for any business to do. Whenever ordering from a US retailer, it boils down to a waiting game and more or less throwing all of your eggs in one basket unless you order from multiple sources for that absolute “GET” item (which I have done in the past). There are both pros and cons to this as 1) you will be saving on shipping for the most part since standard rate of shipping for a reliable method (EMS all the way for me, baby!) is high to begin with 2) reviews as a result of a delay can solidify or break your preorder 3) lost time in being able to retrieve a now hard-to-get item 4) multiple middlemen increases the % in aesthetic to serious item damage.
Initially, I wanted to add more meat to this section by listing out traits that compelled individuals to order from particular stores, but to further avoid any unnecessary verbiage of what I feel will already be wordy in nature, I’ll get on with the main event.
Otakufuel is simply the best out of every US online retailer store that I have ever bought goods from. Let me start out by saying that after more than 600 figures, I don’t even bother to waste an ounce of my time anywhere that will just prove to be headache and bullshit inducing, but they are prime examples of what a US online retailer that is anime oriented should strive to be.
What started out as a complete leap of faith to obtain the first batch of FREEing Haruhi Suzumiya and Kyon’s sister bunnies (they sold out on Mikuru Asahina as I was submitting my order at 12 in the morning) has turned out to be a long lasting and harmonious business-consumer relationship.
To this day, I have had the equivalent of more than all of my individual digits on both my hands and feet combined in terms of orders fulfilled as smooth as smooth can be.
Otakufuel is situated on a Californian base of operations run by anime fans who decided that they wanted to go and be able to hook up other diehard fans at affordable prices. This is one of the really endearing things about this company to me is that because they are anime fans, they are suited to understand the days when dvds were $29.99 for 3 episodes, not knowing where to readily get those cool snacks referenced in your favorite anime or paying affordable prices for authentic officially licensed goods. Without bearing the all-too-typical corporate face that so many of these impersonal retailers have, this love for anime and blatant effort to make this hobby accessible and affordable to all is reflective in the outrageously excellent prices, fantastic customer service, and variety of goods made available on the website. I think the only thing that they are missing is an actual brick-and-mortar store that I’d be paying a daily visit to.
Otakufuel is run on a secure server so there’s never a need to ever be wary of a haXX0rz on the prowl. When ordering online, it’s very important to know that exchange of identity, credit card information, mailing address, etc. will be kept secure and not for viewing eyes since identity theft is high and no one wants to be a victim of identity theft. I’ve been a victim of identity theft on my card whose usage occurs once every lunar eclipse, so I was not at all pleased when I was charged all sorts of ridiculous things such as a porn site subscription.
Like most stores, Otakufuel worked on an honorary system where the customer preorders the items and is not required to pay for the item in full until confirmation of arrival of goods or a deposit for a very expensive figure. Due to some customers not making good on their store credits, having a high cancellation to fulfillment ratio, stringing them along by not abiding by the policy and paying within the required time frame or otherwise doing shady things (these are the only things that come to my mind as to why a revision to the policy would arise), the legacy policy was enacted to weed out problematic customers whilst still being able to provide their preorder privileges to customers who have always made good on their orders. For all non-legacy customers, you will have to go through Options 1-3 until you build a good enough of a customer history to qualify for the legacy status. For preorders, you can opt to pay upfront in full which is recommended if you cannot bear the possibility of allocations and prefer to not worry about the cost later on or put down a 20% nonrefundable deposit and be charged for the full amount upon arrival of goods. The last option is for a mixture of both in-stock and preorder items that requires full payment upfront, so one shouldn’t assume that just because you have a preorder item automatically suspends your order of in-stock items to an indefinite status which is not only unfair to the retailer, but sheer stupidity on the consumer’s part.
As other Californians can attest to, state tax at 9.25% and possibly on the rise is nothing to shrug your shoulders about. This is a driving factor in where I go and buy things from especially if there is not an actual storefront to go to and cut out any shipping costs. So, if I have to pay for both state tax AND shipping, then you better believe that I will most likely not be placing any orders through you unless I am left with no choice. For those who are in a similar boat as me, the $99 free shipping is one of the many appeals that this store has to offer. If you are an ALTERista like me (I only know of ELT, Meowpao, Ryan, and Rico), $99 orders are a piece of cake that you do $99 at least 5 times. As indicated in their preorder policy page, the stipulation for the free shipping is that you must be in the US of A, paid at least $99 sans any applicable taxes/shipping if the order contains multiple preorder item(s) and have the items ready to be shipped. Figures come out at different intervals and release dates don’t stick, so if you’re wondering how they will treat holding goods for you, then it is better to ask them about it. I primarily order figures, so I can always gauge the shape of the packages that my figures are shipped in. Another plus to the free shipping is that heavy or large items (see ALTER 1/7 Hayate Yagami) get shipped for free due to the $100+ pricetag not to mention if you are ordering a lot of other figures, then it’s a real monetary saver. I’m sure that I’m the bane of Otakufuel’s shipping department^^ In theory, you could probably order a bunch of goods of contrasting weight or size such as wall scrolls, figures, Ramune, Hi-Chew and whatnot all in one package to qualify for free shipping, but I imagine that that order cost more money to ship and is probably cumbersome to pack.
Speaking of shipping, the other facet to that is the process of packing these goods to be shipped in. My first order of FREEing bunnies had a dent in the upper corner of Haruhi’s box which I emailed their customer service department and received a prompt reply with an apology. From that point on, every package that I’ve received from them was packaged with the utmost care in making sure that the goods would be secure in-transit. I’ve gotten very slight dings or creases on a few of my boxes which was indicative of having to deal with multiple middle men involved with the transport of goods en route to a distributor and finally the retailer and not carelessness of the retailer themselves. They take a lot of pride in providing a level of excellence that goes far and beyond normal standards. I am rather meticulous with the aesthetic condition of my boxes as I have 99% of my figures still in their boxes and I have anal collector tendencies, but I have always forgiven the superficial abrasions as it’s simply not reasonable to have anyone bend over backwards for you if it is out of their hands. Multiple middlemen and distance traveled factor heavily on whether or not you will be getting a mint/near-mint/acceptable box. For those who are relying on reselling their figures and are particular of the condition of the box for resale value, then import directly from Japan to cut out as much middle ground as possible. You can’t expect that you can get the cheaper price, cheaper shipping and always have a mint-y box. This is not to say that US retailers are not capable of delivering mint condition boxes as I have had a plethora of them from Otakufuel.
Customer service is second to none over at Otakufuel. I have had the pleasure of getting prompt and honest communication in all of my dealings with Tracy – Otakufuel’s primary go-to girl – whether it be inquiries, policy explanation, or receiving my allocated notification. Yes, even my correspondence that has to do with my order not being fulfilled due to allocations is pleasant because she is always upfront about what has happened and I appreciate being informed about my order status as opposed to being strung along with empty words and false promises. I’m a big girl and won’t break or throw a interweb tantrum via social media if you tell me that my order can’t be fulfilled. A prime example of this is the notoriously inflated AlphaxOmega Queen’s Gate Alice whom I had paid a full deposit upon initial preorder. There were problems with the line and unfortunately, they got the short end of the stick and weren’t made aware of what had happened. She gave me the skinny and asked if I wanted to move my payment towards any unpaid preorders to avoid paypal fees for a refund. Each time there has been news of an allocation which is very rare, I am always made aware of the situation so I can act accordingly. This seems like a very simple and obvious thing to do, but a lot of retailers are afraid to break the news to their customers who are most likely prone to overreactions. I have never blamed a US retailer for not being able to get merchandise if the circumstances were unfavorable and against them. Honestly, what do you expect? My advice is if you don’t like delays or possible cancellations, then fork over a higher flat rate shipping to import the goods directly from the source. The only other exception that Otakufuel has in terms of communication is that they have a zero tolerance policy for people who have gotten the boot and lost the privilege to shop with them. They are the only store that I know of that is smart enough to ban people, but I have no problem with this policy as retailers need to protect themselves from the crazies as well. Just because you’re dropping dough doesn’t entitle anyone to abuse or exploit/extort a retailer to the point of extinction. I’ve seen it happen waaaaaay too many times and I’m glad they have this policy for their own protection. I don’t think they ban too many people as their policy is laid out for all kingdom come to see and Tracy is a very communicative person who is very approachable and personable. If you’re stupid enough to screw them over or blatantly disregard their policy, then, yeah, you deserve to get banned and excommunicated.
The amount of anime stores – brick-and-mortar and online – in my state is so overly saturated that there’s a bountiful supply of choices of where to go in person or at the touch of a button. In the same regards, state tax hurts. It actually hurts a lot and I avoid shopping online and even in person just to avoid the taxes when I could possibly be getting a cheaper deal from a different state or country after the total cost has been calculated. This is where Otakufuel shines the brightest. They have the greatest prices out of every US online retailer and brick-and-mortar store that I have shopped with. Occasionally, I have gotten things from other stores for cheaper only through some blowout sale that comes around a few times every year AND I didn’t have to deal with taxes or shipping. With Otakufuel, you don’t ever need to wait for some sort of blowout sale to get the stupendous prices that they have. I always scout where I am going to buy my things and meticulously weigh out every single possible factor before I go and hit the “Add to Cart” button and finalize my order. I think this is just one of Otakufuel’s many ways of hooking up anime fans like themselves. I, for one, am extremely grateful to be able to fuel my hobby without sacrificing my bank account to the gods. If other stores could beat Otakufuel’s prices, then I’d be shopping with them. Since, I prefer Otakufuel, then the only logical deduction is that other stores don’t even come close.
If you don’t believe me, I’ll name obvious examples:
- Good Smile Company 1/7 Ryogi Shiki (Kimono version) $45.95
- Good Smile Company 1/8 Rin Kagamine & Len Kagaamine $58.95 apiece
- ALTER 1/8 Mitsuru Kirijo $54.95
- ALTER 1/8 Franco Il Nero $54.95
- ALTER 1/8 Enma Ai $45.95
- Good Smile Ryoko Asakura Extended Parts Nendoroid $37.95
- ALTER 1/7 Hayate Yagami $99.99
- Good Smile Company 1/7 Hime [Monster Princess] $63.95
- ALTER 1/8 Gwendolyn $75.95
… and so on and so on. The above examples are just ones that I randomly chose from my old order notes, but if I were to list every price that Otakufuel had the superior retail price for, then the list would go on for a very long time because they’ve got the competition beat easily. And, this is just for figures, but they are just as awesome in both their manga, dvd, and accessories department. Since Tracy is a personal avid fan of manga, the manga section gets a lot of love in terms of selection as well. The selection in otaku or Japanese candy and snacks is well diversified with a variety of Pocky flavors, Hi-Chew assortment, Ramune, etc. I have plenty of access to Japanese candy and then some, so I just binge on snacks at an actual store until I get tired of the indulgent snacking and must wait to reset my taste buds again. If you don’t have access to local markets that sell snacks or are just curious, I highly recommend Hi-Chew. So delicious! I’m really happy with their dvd selection as well. There are so many boxsets for great prices and the 3 episode-$29.99 dvd price apiece is a thing of the past.
Otakufuel offers a hunt service of some sort to take in special requests and hunt down limited or hard-to-find items. In my green days, I inquired about the elusive ALTER 1/8 Black Lagoon Revy and they answered me promptly with a price quote. This is not where I got her in the end because I was able to get a friend to get it for me, but I like how they were quick to respond and give me what type of price bracket that I’d be looking to spend. I have read that they were able to use their skills to hunt elusive and very hard-to-find manga for excellent MSRP prices in the midst of all of the inflation. If you have a hard time looking for things and want a safe and reliable way to look for items with confidence and shed away any fear in doubting authenticity, I’d definitely give their hunt team a go.
Last but not least, with the abundance of stellar things that they are offering in terms of business professionalism, hooking up fans, and fantastic service, all orders over $25 ship with a free, mysterious gift. This is a complete incentive thing on their part to just be nice to customers, in my opinion. I have specific, particular tastes, but I have never shown ungrateful disdain for any gift sent in my direction. I was always just priviledged to be shopping at a friendly and reliable place without worrying about some bullshit was being concocted to force feed me about my orders or some f-ed up thing. Since it is at Otakufuel’s discretion as to which gift will be given, every customer should just treat it as what it is – a gift. There’s an accompanying rant to this that I’ll spare you for the time being, but the point that I’m trying to convey is that you can get no gift and a really messed up order or you can get everything immaculate plus the free gift that you didn’t have to pay for. Just be thankful and count your blessings.
Would I recommend Otakufuel? Can you say, “Hell effin’ yeah!”
- Excellent Customer Service; prompt responses in a timely manner
- Listed Business Hours with Work Number, Contact Form, and Email Address(es) Provided
- Ridiculously fantastic prices for authentic merchandise that have you coming back for more
- Figures, Manga, Snacks, DVDs, Accessories, Copic, Games, etc.
- Free shipping for orders over $99 within the continental US
- Tracking on carefully packed packages
- Free mystery gift on orders over $25
- Easily navigable website with cool headers
- Hunt Team at your disposal
- Genuine Otaku
Big Bad Toy Store, also known as BBTS for short, is based in the heart of Philadelphia, if memory serves me correct. BBTS is a hodge podge of popular culture all boiled into a steamy stew of variety. There is enough variety to offer a wide selection of toys and collectibles without necessarily specializing in one specific field.
There isn’t exactly an “About Us” dedicated page anywhere on the website when I have searched. The “About Us” section is usually the first thing that I read, followed by the numerous FAQs and policy pages just to make sure that I know exactly what I am diving into as well as giving a face to an online entity. There are absolutely no bootlegs on this website, so you can order with ease.
The most noticeable and unique thing about them is their grading system. In a similar fashion to that of comic books, BBTS employs a 8-tier grade from 100 to 60 in increments of 5. For technical sake, ’100′ will never be given out as a grade due to the minuscule flaws that comes with all items, so only 8 grades will be be taken into account. Based on what number you see on the item page, you get a rough approximation of what type of condition of goods you will be getting. When the option is available, the customer can opt to upgrade for a marginal increase (let’s say $2.00) for the higher graded item. This is a very informative and helpful evaluation for collectors who want to know the condition of their goods.
The grading system is as follows:
Item Grade = ‘100’ We do not grade any items at ‘100’ because extremely small flaws may be present, but not noticeable upon inspection.
Item Grade = ‘95’ This item is in near-mint to mint condition with no visible flaws.
Item Grade = ‘90’ This item is in near mint condition and may have extremely minor wear such as slight sticker damage or very minor surface scratches.
Item Grade = ‘85’ This item is in excellent to near mint condition and may have minor wear such as: small paint scuffs, minor sticker wear, minor surface scratches.
Item Grade = ‘80’ This item is in very good condition with some moderate wear such as: moderate sticker wear, moderate paint scuffing & scratching, minor paint chips.
Item Grade = ‘75’ This item is in fair to good condition with moderate wear such as: heavy sticker wear, paint chips, scuffs, somewhat loose joints, scratches and overall signs of use. Please closely inspect the images to view the wear present on this item.
Item Grade = ‘70’ This item is in fair condition with more extensive wear such as: heavy sticker wear, paint chips, scuffs, scratches, loose joints, minor stains and overall signs of use. Please closely inspect the images to view the wear present on this item.
Item Grade = ‘65’ This item is in somewhat poor to fair condition with heavy wear to some aspects of the item. Damage and wear may include: heavy sticker wear, paint chips, loose joints, scratched plastic, stains, worn paint and overall signs of heavy use. Please closely inspect the images of this item to view what may be damaged
Item Grade = ‘60’ This item is in poor condition with heavy wear to many aspects of the item. Significant damage may include: heavy sticker wear, heavy scratching, paint chips, loose joints, scratched plastic, stains, breakage to non-structural parts. This is the lowest grade item we offer and not recommended for display. Please closely inspect the pictures of this item to view what is damaged.
-Taken straight from the BBTS Vintage Department Grading System
I believe that I’ve only upgraded once out of the handful of orders that I’ve done with them and it was definitely on par with the evaluated grade for substandard, standard, and collectors. Usually, I am late to the party and have only one grade to choose from as those are the only goods in-stock.
The next unique thing to BBTS is the ‘Pile of Loot’ system. ‘Pile of Loot’ is a system that allows a customer to order items and accumulate an unspoken amount of goods in a virtual storage bin until the customer is ready to ship everything. This is an economical way of saving up on shipping for international customers who prefer to receive their shipments in bulk. Another benefit to this system is for people who preorder a lot and would prefer for all of their preorder items to arrive before one package is sent out. Apparently, the time limit is to the discretion of the customer and may even extend for months (or so they say). Personally, I don’t order enough to warrant a bulk shipment from them. And, even if I did order a ton, I’d order so much that I’d have bulk shipments coming in on a monthly basis. In theory, this is a excellent system, but I imagine that BBTS must have a huge warehouse that allows them the convenience of being able to hold customer orders in addition to allocating space for all of their inventory stock. Despite boasting a “months” reference, there surely must be a line drawn and I would be surprised if they got a “Hold all of my items until I buya house in 2 years” scenario.The stipulation for being able to use the ‘pile of loot’ system is to use a credit card on all orders as well as the liability of having orders potentially cancelled within 15 days. The last part about orders potentially being cancelled intrigues me as there is no elaboration as to the type of situation that would call for this type of cancellation. Hopefully, there is forewarning about an impending cancellation or allocation of goods if there is too much on hold in the form of an email sent.
Speaking of packages, I have had ok to greatly packaged boxes from BBTS. The Max Factory MM figure I got on sale had a slight dent, but my ALTER Idolm@ster and Medicos Queen’s Blade trading figures arrived in immaculate condition. I no longer remember the condition of other figures that I have gotten from them, but I don’t see dents so the packaging must have been great as well.
All in-stock items can be paid with money orders, credit cards, and paypal. You will need to use a credit card to make a preorder with them and will be charged automatically with the arrival of goods. BBTS runs on a secure server and values its customers’ identities, so there is no need for wariness for online orders. You can also get a refund in the form of store credits on a full-priced item that is listed on sale if the purchase date is within the last 30 days.
If you’re a fan of iconic series or popular culture such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, and the ilk, then BBTS definitely has the selection. I think the only thing that they are missing is a comic book and graphic novel section. While anime is not their strong suit, they still have a very good selection of items with most upcoming goods up for preorder. The price range for the anime-oriented figures is the baseline price for most markets. They buy toys from individuals which explains the wide variety of goods offered on their store.
The best thing about BBTS is the clearance sale. Discounted items range from as low as %35 up to %50 off from what I remember. If it weren’t for the fact that I preorder a lot of ALTER and exclusive and/or limited items, I would have exhibited no control and snatched up some more items from their non-anime line. I’ve personally picked up and missed out on some really stupendous deals from them.
The other side to that coin is that it’s such a headache to go through their sale. Items are organized according to what % is being marked off of them and it takes some time to sift through all of the pages just to make sure that I’m not missing out on anything.
- Authentic licensed merchandise
- Informative Vintage Grading System
- ‘Pile of Loot’ system that is beneficial for preorders, bulk shipments, and international customers
- A real blowout sale
- Buyback toys for in-store credit
- Refund for recently purchased item now on clearance within certain time period
- Excellent customer service
- Extensive variety of collectibles at your disposal
- So-so to great packaging
- Hard-to-navigate sale section
Where do I really begin with Toyslogic? My very first order with Toyslogic was a dream come true and everything went so seamlessly smooth. In my early days of collecting, I was trying to get a hold of the now elusive Good Smile Company 1/8 Kino figure after being enamored by the series. From my limited and noobish search, Toyslogic came up and I took a risk on them. A pleasant experience such as this would be few and far in-between in the upcoming months.
I’ve mentioned earlier that I don’t really like to bother and waste my time on what I deem to be a fruitless endeavor. As many times that I’ve wanted to go and give Toyslogic a chance and do some orders with them, there is always numerous things that happen that have extremely put me off to placing my trust in them.
As a California based store, you’d have to really be stupendous and offer me some type of incentive for putting forth my hard-earned cash. Toyslogic falls short below the bar in this respective for many qualities that I value in a retailer; if I’m gonna get the same type of service, then I might as well have something else going for me such as free shipping, closer retail dates, honesty, and so forth.
First and foremost, I feel and have always felt that they tend to over-inflate their shipping which is one of the easiest quality to turn me away. You can go and add things to your cart and do a fake checkout to gauge the cost in shipping and there was always a disparity in cost here versus other places and sellers. An ex-forum member can attest to the lackluster service and difference in shipping prices when one shipping option was selected and paid for, then the item actually shipped via a cheaper alternative without so much an upfront refund to the customer. Had the customer not brought it up, would they have pocketed the extra dollars and change? Plus, they have never striked me as a store that actually cared about the integrity of the goods being sent unless someone brought up a formal and very public complaint on their forum. The majority of packages comes with the cheapest and unreliable packing material on the face of the planet – crumbled up, dirty newspaper. There has been a recent change in converting over to packing peanuts, but from the looks of things, it may not be across the entire board and who knows how long it will last.
Customer service is really lacking for me. I’m not about to go through any unnecessary crap to see a marginal difference or the slow rise in improvement. It takes quite some time to get some response from any of your inquiries. Many customers have to resort to enlisting as a member of their forum just to nag pm one of the owners for an escalation in response. Quite frankly, if you need to join a forum just to get a hold of someone, then there’s something definitely wrong. Perhaps, a lot of this lack in customer service and response time has to do with sketchy information and side-stepping information. Here is a personal example:
I paid for the Beagle 1/7 Range Murata Chris limited and Good Smile Company Saber Lion Nendoroid immediately after I received the invoice some time in early to mid-January. The expected release date for both items were slated for the same time period in late January, hence the only reason why I grouped my order accordingly. Around late January, I received no package nor a simple heads-up notification and politely gave them some more time. Some weeks pass and it is now the middle of February with an inquiry sent their way about the status of my goods. Ivy informs me that they are waiting for a batch to arrive this week and it will ship promptly. Hooray!!! …except not exactly. Not only does the supposed week pass, but a couple more weeks pass by and I’m aggravated by all of this. In the end, Mark’s response to my inquiry was a genuine response to the effect that another batch of the Saber Lion Nendoroids were being shipped from Japan due to the overwhelming popularity of the item. So, I paid for my goods in mid-January and didn’t actually receive them until late March even though they claim to charge for goods upon confirmation of arrival. Yeah, right. I am fine with having to wait for another batch. I am fine with hearing that my order was allocated or canceled. As a living paradox of contradicting things (I am patient and impatient), I can live with all of the things that I mentioned and the Earth would continue to revolve. What doesn’t agree with me is the lack of communication and honesty when a business is sitting on my money without so much a valid explanation. After everything is all said and done, the frugal packing material did more harm than it did good. As we all know, newspapers have ink printed on them and the ink rubbed off on parts of the Beagle 1/7 Chris limited box. Yes, it rubbed off on the noticeable white parts of the box. Then, to top it all off, there was a seriously unprofessional note with a reproached tone on my invoice paper, making sure that Mark was extra certain that he checked and got the correct product version. Seriously, what the hell?! Couldn’t this individual have sent him a memo preferably not anywhere on my invoice?
Last month or so, I canceled the Reika figma limited to a copy of Gantz due to feeling more secure from my usual import source. I had no problem paying a cancellation fee as it was in accordance with their policy. Imagine my bafflement when I check that my card was charged the cancellation fee x sales tax. Seriously, what the hell?! How could you possibly charge me sales tax when nothing had actually been purchased from the get go?! I scoured their policy trying to see some shady fine print that they would go and try to tack on sales tax onto the cancellation fee. After sending an email demanding an explanation and a correction on what should be charged, my fee was rectified. I wonder if I had never said anything, would they have bothered to refund me retroactively if they realized their own mistake. It makes you wonder how many times they mess up and how many times it goes unsaid.
Other instances of poor customer service are not limited to:
- Being sent the wrong figure with a significant price difference compared to the actual product
- Charging the full amount and sending only a partial order amount
- Opened goods
- Damaged goods
- Being charged on an already paid order (which has caused an overdraft fee)
- Lack of notications on order statuses ( e.g. item sold out or canceled)
The cancellation policy used to be extremely lenient that a lot of customers (most likely regulars) would cancel things at the drop of a hat as soon as the hottest commodity was announced and a trail of identical preorders for said item would surely follow suit. This vicious cycle was repeated numerous times over as the figure industry tends to always announce something hot and in-demand. In this economy, this hurts a retailer very much because it potentially leaves them with stock that won’t be pushed, thus decreasing whatever potential overhead they may have to invest and bring in other goods. To correct this, they have adopted a stricter preorder policy that requires a 20% to 50% deposit with some figures carrying an absolute “no cancellations” warning. While it’s good to get in your preorder in for something than risk regretting that you weren’t able to get it later down the road, it’s equally not correct to have a retailer shoulder an individual’s flimsy stance and back out at the last second. So, be advised and wise in the preorders that you do because a cancellation could mean losing out on a deposit or not being to cancel at all.
As a collector of the finer tastes in exclusives and hard-to-get items, a store that offers these goods can potentially make my life easier or make no impact at all. In recent times, Toyslogic has been parallel importing a lot of highly sought after or exclusive items with a fervor. Despite this, I still can’t place my trust with them. For example, they have pushed back the Megahouse 1/8 Melona – Winter Green event exclusive ver. – numerous times that she’ll be hitting her 1 year anniversary since release. Originally, I had the ultra chic Megahouse 1/8 Menas (which can be seen in this post) Hobby Japan exclusive version on order with them, but had to immediately cancel as this was one figure that I was not going to miss out on. Other figures that members have requested on the forum can be obtained through them for a jacked up price. Many individuals will tell you that it’s roughly the same as going through an individual who specializes in special order, but the biggest difference is that the individual is most likely going to be the only middle man you’re going to have to go through and deal with. As a connoisseur on this facet of figure collecting, I have a generalized price comparison of an acceptable and justifiable range for inflation and I can tell you that a lot of items are well over inflation. The alluring Kotobukiya Noumi Halloween figure (seen in this post) is a beaming example of this at $150. Individuals who lack connections, talent or alternative means in seeking out options will be the primary advocates in justifying that the price is a steal and even more so from such a reliable retailer. Well, it’s not and at this point, it’s highly recommendable to just get it straight from the source.
They seriously need to fire whoever keeps track of their inventory. It’s a far too common tale to hear that Item A was charged and goes into the “Ready to Ship” status only for the customer to find out that Item A has long sold out and a refund will be issued. Ooops, sorry. The necessity to charge for an order immediately before everything has been confirmed and is ready to go is indicative that the retailer has no problem taking your money without meeting their end of the contract. Flushing out inventory is no easy task, but to trip over the same mistake incessantly that you’re practically humming the same tune ad-nauseum is just plain ridiculous. I can forgive the slight slip-ups here and there in conjunction with solid communication, but not not having a tight grasp of where your inventory is at really bothers me as I do not want to be the customer on the short end of that stick.
Price match policy allows a customer to comparatively window shop at numerous stores and provide a favorable price for Toyslogic to price match under the above stipulations. This used to be blatantly advertised on the front page of their home website for the longest time, then suddenly got taken off. Perhaps, this deters new or uninformed customers from making good use of this policy. I have never done price match for Toyslogic because there was never a need to do so. If I can get the figure for much cheaper, I’ll just shop at the other place especially if it is Otakufuel which brings me to the quote below.
“Actually, Otakufuel figure prices is not that low in particular, only on one or two figures. We price match most of them for preorder, unless the figure is released or sold out, we do usually match or beat their price.”
There are numerous fallacies in this statement that I will shed light upon. Otakufuel does, indeed, have a good selection of figures with the lowest prices that I’ve come across any US retailer as indicated in my bullet point. Using “not that low” in conjunction with a visible verbalized quantity of “only on one or two figures” is just a weak attempt to mask their okay to inflated prices and downplay their competitor. Toyslogic will selectively hand pick what figure to price match and it isn’t always a guarantee that you will be getting a price match. At best, they will shave a bulk of what their intended profit margin would have been and offer it for a couple dollars higher than what Otakufuel has it listed for. And, that’s if you get lucky. Don’t be surprised if your price offer is met with rejection let alone any request being beat in prices. Despite not utilizing this service, I know for a fact that not everything customers ask for in terms of a price offer will be met down to a tee if at all. The majority of consumers use Otakufuel as a basis for a price offer request which makes no sense whatsoever other than customer loyalty that can be blinding in many regards and fear of the unknown (which is taking your business elsewhere).
I am a big fan of Odin Sphere, but I would not shell out $130 not including tax and shipping for a figure Gwendolyn by ALTER. While Toyslogic does not have static prices on their website and it is highly emphasized to preorder the item to get it at preorder prices, the drastic mark up in price leaves a lot to be questioned. At most, you would be spending in the $87 to $95 dollar range for Gwendolyn, but this is at least a $30 incremental increase. An increase in price after the item has released is not a new thing for me, but this is too big of an increase without any sort of explanation except for avarice. The few instances where I have seen a mark up in price is due to the unforseen increase of cost in getting the figure or any unnecessary stress that came in doing so (e.g. bad distributors), but these types of stores are usually good at guaranteeing original orders at the prices they were ordered at. I wonder if this trend has anything to do with inflating popular items to be bought by unsuspecting and/or new to the hobby collectors who don’t know any better. With that extra $30 or so in my pocket, I could be buying a nendoroid or figma or one of Kotobukiya’s Shining Wind gals.
Prices for preorder items are not exactly static, either. The owner has made mention on the forum that the price that you ordered the item for will be the price that you will be paying for in response to a member’s inquiry. Well, there is a testament in the exact opposite of that statement that includes a price increase on the ALTER 1/8 Yukiko Amagi regular shop ver. What happened to that price guarantee? I’m very understanding and sympathetic to unforseable events, but if you’re gonna enact a policy, you don’t make yourself sound genuine about it and recant everything you said later on. Rules are rules for a reason and exist so that there isn’t gray area for both the business and consumer. If I am buying something for an established price and the owner says that there is a price guarantee, you can’t just do a 180° on me.
Bronze for $500 1% discount
Silver for $1000 3% discount
Gold for $3000 5% discount
Platinum for $6000 6% discount
“The amount is based on paid balance including prepaid since Feb 01 2009″
“Once you reach a certain level, we will apply that VIP level discount on your next invoice.”
VIP status will be retained after a year, but the paid balance will be reset to the base amount. E.g. sliver status will start with a paid balance of $1000.00 next year”
“VIP status will not affect preorder fulfillment, it will still base on first come first serve”
In my opinion, this has got to be one of the stupidest and waste of money VIP incentive programs that I have ever seen for anime merchandise. There was such a big brouhaha over the technical end of how they got the numbers that they did from the early % amounts. Before, a percentage of what you paid for last year would form the basis of what VIP tier that you would start out with. Out of amusement, I didn’t know where I was at out of curiosity despite being informed that it would be on the next invoice. All my invoice had was the reprimanding note that I stated earlier. Amazingly enough, with as few orders that I have, I might even reach the bronze tier and get a whopping 1% applied from here on out until I reach the next tier in the next ice age or so. So, if my order had a surplus of $200 past the numerical requirement to reach the next level, does that mean that $200 was as good as nothing if the discount does not retroactively take into effect. There is another VIP incentive program that will retroactively apply the VIP discount on the order that bumped the customer into VIP status which is definitely a plus because not everyone’s orders will always be a nicely rounded out number just enough to qualify for the discount.
You also need to be aware of what level you are at and the remainder amount needed to reach the next level because everything in-between will be wiped out into the abyss in the following year. Let’s say you have reached the silver status which is a base amount of at least $1,000 paid in your name. By the end of the year, you have spent $2,800 and are shy $200 of reaching the Gold status, the following period would have reset to a base amount of $1,000 with $1,800 in the irretrievable void.
Another thing worth mentioning is the really low discounted percentages being offered. The difference in base amount for each tier is astonishingly steep with +500, +2000, and +3000 level differences for a +2%, +2%, and +1% increase in discounted percentages. So, I can spend a cumulative amount of $6000 just so that all my future orders will be discounted an additional 6% OR I can go and shop elsewhere where the prices are still lower than what the 6% has to offer or get a bigger discounted percentage for an accessible VIP program. You do the math.
Last but not least, we have their very own self-promoting machine of a forum. There is a strong backbone for a figure community, but there is an even stronger and overwhelming sense of fanatical loyalty to the store. If I was an easily impressionable individual with relatively no experience in online shopping, I would see all the gushing loyal advocates and feel at ease with placing my order, too. Despite many numerous “you messed up” threads ready to be accessed, the surface tells a story of the always pleased customer who only shops here because they are the very best in every single regards. What you don’t see is how severely downplayed some of these screw-ups are or hardcore mistakes that remain left unsaid or the customers who give nothing but saccharine induced positive ravings but want to leave at the drop of a hat as soon as a replacement store has been found. If you really love them so much, why would you be secretly scouting another store to replace them with is something that always comes to mind.
For all of the latest figure news and updates, I actually visit other blogs and forums. For being able to differentiate whether or not something is bootleg, there are only a select few individuals who really know what they are talking about on the forum. I only know telltale signs of a bootleg by being completely immersed in this hobby and watching trends, but H-Gurl a la Zero-type is one of the most knowledgeable individuals I know for counterfeit product even if she doesn’t personally own them herself. There is another forum that I frequent where the atmosphere is quite pleasant and the members are so great to interact with. Well, you can always take pictures and post your haul over at the Toyslogic forum, so I guess that’s something.
I believe a forum is capable of bringing this united sense of “camaraderie” amongst peers if the collective unit has something that unifies them under a single domain and that is that they are all customers of Toyslogic. There is a reason why I love Otakufuel so much, but it is not one where I place my hands over my eyes and pretend or downplay things if a wrongdoing were to ever occur or swallow any force-fed bullshit.
For starters, Toyslogic is backed up as the epitome of fantastic online anime shopping in the “Stores to Avoid” thread. The biggest and obvious flaw with this is that no self-promoting online forum would allow anything but a glowing review of their store on their own forum. The fundamentals in criteria for being placed as a “questionable” store have been met by Toyslogic in many regards AND on multiple occasions. While onlookers are too busy oooh-ing and aaaah-ing at all of those nasty stores whose customer service supposedly suck, deliver messed up packages, screw over your order, et cetera, individuals fail to realize that Toyslogic is no better than that. They are fully capable of making mistakes like other retailers and are fully capable of trying to correct your problems just like any retailers.
It is a taboo of some sorts to be buying from other retailers to the point that the occasional jabs at competitors is highly looked favorable upon with snippets that are blaringly obvious. When shopping with a retailer, I pride the business on their sense of professionalism and etiquette. Trash talking fueled purely on baseless assumptions just to undermine a competitor is really cheap and underhanded. I understand every business must compete with another business for any and all potential sales, but creating lies is definitely not the way to go to establish a clientele base. I don’t care if you don’t understand how they are getting their figures for much cheaper or how they are pricing their figures at a relatively low cost in comparison to your store, it doesn’t give you the right to say that they must be doing something shady to be getting prices that low or getting their merchandise from a country that isn’t Japan. As a business, Toyslogic should know that they must always be professional in the face of adversity. If resorting to whining and taking cheap shots at your competitor (Otakufuel in this case) is the very best you have to offer, I can’t expect much if anything from you in a business-to-consumer relationship. There was another store they took cheap shots at because they were denied their shipment of the Good Smile Company Pixel Maritan Battle Preparation Nendoroid because they wanted to get it cheaper. Granted, it was wrong to deny a shipment and profit over the stock instead, but to bark about profiting over inflation shows a lack of appreciation to the hobby itself is hypocrisy on their end.
Toyslogic only sells authentically, licensed merchandise, but I don’t think it’s worth it unless you have no other alternatives. For exclusives or limited product, just go straight to the source and save yourself the trouble as the appeal of not having to put money down fades away real quickly if you don’t get your item. Toyslogic to me is in the same vain as Kidnemo is for a lot of people. Too much hassle for my time and money.
[Update 8/29/09 - So, I am trying to apply some money from the order that I paid in full towards another order, since I was given the "ok to go ahead and cancel a figure that has been continually delayed and might possibly get allocated. Then, to my completely unaware self, I find out that the order that I paid for actually went and paid for another figure not even agreed or discussed upon to be included in that invoice due to the release date. I scour for the original e-mail containing the invoice and was even more shocked to see that the invoice I previously viewed had been completely changed from the original one without so much a warning or notification AND it didn't even include the other now paid figure. Apparently, my invoice reflects what was shipped to me and NOT actually reflective of what I paid for, but they decided they would substitute the figure that I thought I originally paid for and include another figure that I never gave clearance for payment. Nice to know they can change your invoice without telling you and decide what it is you will be paying for. Seriously, what the f*ck?!]
- Authentic licensed merchandise
- Customer service akin to chickens with their heads cut off (frantic and disorganized)
- Not consistently well-packed packages that comes with tracking
- Numerous contact options that you can potentially be ignored for some time
- Dodgy replies to inquiries
- Price Match policy that defeats purpose of what price matching is all about (if you’re lucky)
- History of mistakes with damaged goods, opened goods or out-of-stock merchandise
- Being charged even if the goods aren’t on-hand to ship
- Unclear business policy for certain scenarios
- Not-so-worthy VIP program
Hobbyfan is a California based store that sells a wide array of Japanese geared merchandise. They’ve got resin kits, prepainted resin kits, accessories, dolls, figures, keychains, and even Japanese idol Juicy Honey card collections. Keep in mind since the resin kits are recasted off of the original prototype which tends to be exclusive to an event, kits you would buy from here are considered bootleg. I’d have to say that they are the US version of e2046 in terms of the variety of merchandise carried.
I don’t think purchasing bootleg recasts of an artist’s original work makes you a terrible person because there are numerous reasons why an individual would take this route, but habitually doing it gives no love to the original artist and supporting the artists allows for more beautiful things to be created. I don’t know if any stores that sell recasts will actually give royalties or a percentage of their sale back to the artist. Highly unlikely.
Moving along, as with the other retailers mentioned thus far, Hobbyfan values your privacy and is run on a secure server. They accept all the major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover). They no longer take paypal or bank wire transfer due to the negative experience on their part. This limits the type of clientele that purchases from them because not everyone has access to a credit card.
Packaging has been stellar on my shipped orders. One of my older released items even had tissue paper wrapped around it. There is also tracking to help follow your package’s route. I like knowing a rough estimation of when to expect my package’s arrival. Shipping prices are also very good. I’ve become accustomed to inflated shipping prices that low (see actual) cost of shipping is always like a breath of fresh air to me.
Hobbyfan has an excellent selection of an even more excellent sale. Unlike most stores that tend to put unpopular or less desirable items on sale, I have often seen many great and popular pieces that people would love a chance at owning. The one thing that I don’t understand is how some of the things on sale have a preorder status and date as opposed to being added like any normal in-stock items. Maybe Hobbyfan has a source where they are receiving their clearance items for those fantastic prices. Other incentives include giving out bonus gifts when you spend a certain amount on one order with them.
They offer a low price guarantee which is practically the equivalent of a price match offer under different conditions. With the exception of clearance items, they can price match any identical in-stock items. I don’t do price matching with them, either, so I’m not quite sure if this extends to oversea retailers who tend to have better, overall prices.
Hobbyfan charges your credit card when they are ready to ship your items and actually follow through on their word. I have also received out of stock or unable to fulfill order email notifications from them.
If I allocated more of my funds to kit building at full steam or dakimakuras, then they’d probably be seeing more of my business. From my limited shopping experience with them, I have no gripes to share and highly recommend them.
- Authentic licensed merchandise except for recasted kits
- Provide working hours, address, and multiple contact options
- Greatly packaged goods with tracking
- Excellent sale section
- Occasional order incentives
- Low Price Guarantee Policy
- A very wide variety of Japanese oriented goods such as figures, accessories, dolls, and AV Idol merchandise
- Large selection of kits, prepainted kits, and supplies
Kidnemo was one of the first stores that I saw when searching for anime merchandise. At the time, they had a very good reputation and my first order went without a hitch. I ordered Max Factory 1/8 Kasumi and 1/6 Mai Shiranui because they had good prices for both of them and I didn’t want to risk getting duped on eBay where bootlegs versions are abundant. This package was immersed in a sea of packing peanuts and everything was smooth.
The next order was for the not-so-limited in quantity Good Smile x Red Entertainment collaboration 1/8 Needa of Shuraki fame. Many stores had the same “limited to 5,000 and expect allocations” warning that I was worried about my order not being fulfilled. To prepare for the situation, I ordered her at both Otakufuel and Kidnemo, expecting to get allocated at one source. What a bunch of baloney! Not only wasn’t she rare, but they made this really over-the-top hooplah that there was a risk of allocation. Funny how I’ve seen stacks of boxes of her readily available for purchase. Needless to say, this is the last time I ever listen to some phoney limited production run unless I have to jump through circles to actually get said item. Rant aside, my Needa order was fulfilled at both locations and I was pleased with how Kidnemo handled my package.
I put in a very late order for the AlphaxOmega 1/8 Golden Darkness figure and was surprised that they still were taking orders on her. Eventually, I was notified that my order was canceled due to not being able to fulfill the order amount. I’m not sad in the slightest bit because it happens and other stores were having problems getting quantities of her. So far, so good.
Here’s a cordial response back to my inquiry for a recombination of orders to save on shipping on my most recent order:
Allow me to translate the above in its native Kidnemo tongue so that nothing is left to the imagination:
……..We must decline your request for combining your orders X and X because it will
……..actually be more cheaper if done in this fashion, as the automatic checkout for
……..both figures under a single order shows that a net total of $17.00 is much
……..cheaper than the checkout total for a figure apiece. We aim to profit at the
……..expense of our customers’ .satisfaction and feign altruistic motivations by
……..twisting your very own verbiage, we suggest that you do NOT pay
…….. for the cheaper cost.
……..However, if you still blah blah blah blah blah … in accordance to our standard
……..If you have any further inquiries or concerns, feel free to contact us via email
……..again here at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our on-site staff will be glad to
……..concoct and shove some more crap happily down your throat.
The response was actually hilarious as I could not believe that some entity had the audacity to write that response with “it’s all for you” undertones when their own automated system – which is inflated to begin with – shows that shipping together is cheaper than an order in separate installments. When has shipping in singular packages ever been cheaper. Oh, the huge and heavier box that will jack up my cost of shipping for being so domestic that we’re in the same state is really something that I was spared the hassle of going through. If you can’t read the thick sarcasm so thick it could cut through cheese, I was being sarcastic in that last line. If you’re gonna rip me off, do it with a straight face and don’t try to mask it behind good intentions because I can spot insincerity kilometers away.
Another gripe I have is that one of my orders which clearly had two items combined in a single order was shipped as soon as it arrived. In their shipping policy, they state that they can ship your items “without notice upon the item’s arrival” is further emphasized by redundancy that “pre-orders may be shipped in partial shipments if not all pre-orders have arrived.” This completely defeats the purpose of adding items with similar if not identical original release dates into one order; apparently, you can contact a representative who can arrange to have your orders shipped together. It seems like an unnecessary step to have, but the policy ensures that they can ship items upon arrival and profit in shipping as explained earlier.
For all in-stock orders of $149.99, the order can qualify for free shipping as long as it’s shipped within the United States. Well, that’s a good thing to have for customers who missed out on some things and wanted to add a bunch of those things to their cart. I’ve done that before where I meant to order or preorder a figure and later added the figure(s) if they happen to be in-stock. $149.99 is a fairly high quota to be meeting just to qualify for free shipping, but if there’s a bunch of in-stock items that are cheaper after the free shipping, then I say, “Go for it!”
As for the actual orders, everything was safely packaged and my figures were not harmed en route from the source to me. The end result of actually having my figure has never been a bad one; it is always the means in which I get to that end point that prove to be troublesome in some shape or form.
Selection is very good with a wide assortment of items ranging from figures to accessories to character goods to plushies to mecha to dakimakuras. Kidnemo pretty much gets practically every item up for preorder on their site, so if you can’t get in your preorder at your retailer of choice, Kidnemo will most likely have it up for preorder granted their amount hasn’t already been pre-sold. Some of the item pages actually have an embedded video where you can get a feel from the background of that product. As sheepish as it is to say this, I actually became acquainted with the To Love-ru intro song this way whilst randomly looking at product in the wee hours of the morning. The video made such an impression on me that I could not forget it’s stylish sequence, but for the life could not associate the background it was from. It wasn’t until I watched the anime that I remembered originally watching it on Kidnemo. The embedded video of R. Mika owning someone also explained why Megahouse chose the pose that they did for her. I own so many video games, but don’t have any time to go and play all of them.
Prices are fairly standard with other online competitors meaning that the prices don’t particularly stand out as good deals, either. They tend to keep quite a few older, previously released merchandise in their “Limited” section, but prepare for the extreme inflation in price. I take it that these things actually sell because I’ve seen one of them go out of stock. As far as I can tell – which could probably amount to not much -, there has been no indication of inflating prices after an item has been released or has been on preorder for some time. I could very well be wrong here, but I have not noticed anything out of the ordinary as I have with Toyslogic. Unique to Kidnemo are the Kidnemo special combo packs where they group figures from the same series and maker into a bundle of 2 items (I have only seen up to this amount) for a slighly cheaper price than getting the items separately. This combo pack is cool, but I don’t know if they will still apply their ship “without notice” policy if one of the 2 items in the bundle gets delayed or requires another batch shipped. From what I have observed, this combo pack has only been reserved to the more cheaper priced items (e.g. nendoroid and figma) probably because it’s more profitable to market the bundle as such and customers are more inclined to complete the line at those prices.
Another thing to mention is that Kidnemo has begun to stock limited and/or exclusive items up for preorder on their site. This is where I see an insane amount of inflation and it would probably be cheaper to seek out alternative means. If the customer is none the wiser, then it wouldn’t really matter in the end, would it?
This isn’t conclusive, but for the most part, the packages include confirmation numbers where I was able to pull tracking information off of. Looking at my order notes in conjunction with the confirmation numbers, delivery signature has been added as an additional precautionary measure on their part. Kidnemo has never actually sent me a shipping notification that my item has shipped which is irritable since many of have hectic schedules and need to plan in advance for shipments. I know that I certainly need a heads up of penciling in a Post Office/Fedex/UPS run into my busy schedule. If the employee never added the confirmation numbers in the order notes section, then there really would be no way to gauge that the item had actually shipped to you without an inquiry on your part or the tan coloured “Oooops, we missed you” slip. Everything is already laid out that a simple shipping notification can’t be all that bothersome, but this is just like falling short at the finish line.
Something to about the service is that I’d like to reiterate that the end result of my orders is always great, but the means is just something that I could do without. For example, my order for the Kotobukiya 1/8 Rogue and 1/8 Black Widow were double charged on my credit card. Immediately after emailing them as to why I was charged without a justifiable tangible reason, they then explained to me that they messed up and did it twice because they shipped my item without charging me sales tax. Ah, any type of credit card activity that I’m not informed of does bother me because I feel it would be common courtesy to let your customer know so that they aren’t weirded out with the unexplainable transactions.
Cancellations require a reason, order number, and item name emailed to their sales department 1 month prior to the item’s street date or a 20% fee of the total cost of the item will be charged to your credit card. Yamato’s 1/7 Ringo Noyamano Hentai Kamen figure is the only figure that I’ve ever cancelled with them. Upon concluding this section of the store review critique, I felt that I was leaving out an experience with this store and realized that my severe distaste with Yamato’s Ringo figure was blocked off in my mind that I completely forgot about my original order with her. Requesting a reason for a cancellation serves as a good deterrent to cancelling the figure because not everyone would like to share their personal reasons and serves as an additional step rather than just being to cancel with ease. I really wanted you, Ringo. As soon as some type of reviews surfaced, I was completely shocked and disenchanted with the outcome of the figure that in my haste, I wrote out to Kidnemo that “I’d like to cancel this figure because I cannot justify spending X amount of money for something that looks like bootleg”. Yes, I kid you not. The cancellation was received and approved and everything was good again except for Yamato deceiving me.
All in all, I can’t say that I’ve had the horrible stories others have had when dealing with Kidnemo and it helps that my figures haven’t been damaged, yet. Aside from the superficial to disdainful communication up to this point and their inflated shipping prices, if you really need a figure and there is no other alternative except to import overseas, then you gotta do what you gotta do.
- Authentic licensed merchandise
- No business hours listed and limited means of contact [contact form & email]
- Greatly packed packages with tracking information (so far)
- Nonexistent shipping notifications
- Displeasure with customer service
- Inflated shipping price
- Free shipping on in-stock orders of at least $149.99
- Kidnemo combo packs
- Some limited and/or exclusive items
- Unclear business policy on certain scenarios
Ah, so many things to say about Poweranime and so little time to do it. They operated in both the real and online world with a store based in the Westside Pavillion mall. In my earlier days of scouting out shops, I was excited to find another physical store to go and visit and gauge out the selection to better round out choices for shopping.They are…were definitely a giant store that had inventory that seemed to pop out at you. Initially, I was amazed with the amount of product they had and the variety of it on the sales floor. I have never seen a store that has practically 90% of their entire inventory for any given character from a particular manufacturer all on the sales floor. The good thing about having so much stock is the ability to meticulously hand pick and nitpick every corner, crease and dent on a box until you find one with an aura of glowing pristine goodness to it. My first time there was spent taking in everything slowly while immediately dissecting sections of the store to better familiarize myself with product placement.Prior to ever visiting the store, I ran through the entire website sifting through at least 100+ pages of anime figures all jotted down with prices and price comparisons on my black wide ruled notebook.
On my first visit, there were certain sections of the store that were neatly organized and other sections that were in complete disarray. I sat down and went through box after box after box in the disorganized sections to make sure that I hadn’t missed a figure that I potentially would have bought. My very first purchase – while undocumented with photography – included great prices on Wafudoh Pleinair, BOME Isoroku Yamamoto, Kotobukiya Seena, and Kotobukiya Clalaclan as well as steals on Kotobukiya Shii Arisugawa, Good Smile Company Char Rhousemann, ALTER Kos-Mos ep. III, and ALTER Aegis. Both the ALTER Kos-Mos ep. III and ALTER Aegis were doubles of something that were already in my possession.
My first impression was a positive one and I decided that I would be keeping an eye on this store. There was an upcoming sale to take advantage of loyalty points for all in-person purchases accumulated in a certain time period. Initially overwhelmed by the abundance of physical stock around me, I made an extensive list that outlined prices and sum differences. Once the initial appeal of a new anime store fades away, it’s very noticeable to point out flaws. When approached about a list of figures and their location in the store, all of the figures looked up in the inventory by the cashier turned up as a cold trail. Figure after figure, I was met with a response informing me that the figure was sold out. Baffled with the amount of figures that were no longer part of the inventory, the cashier tried to reassure me that they always keep up-to-date with their inventory. If it’s one of many pet peeves that I have, I can’t stand liars and blatant ones at that. Flushing out sold out inventory is no easy task, but it’s futile to lie about something that should be part of your obligation. Reggie, the owner, was in the store and gave an indifferent shrug to what was happening. Now, I’m not asking for an employee (including the boss or store owner) to cater to my whim, but blatantly disregarding your customers is unacceptable business practice.
Poweranime has one of the weirdest business practices – no employee is allowed to go to the back room while on the clock even though there are is a sufficient amount of people on the floor. I was informed that the items that I was looking for could potentially be in the back room, but he could not check due to this policy. The only person it seems like that can freely go back and forth between the back room and the floor was Reggie, but he can’t be bothered with such lofty requests when tending to children and their Super Smash Bros. Brawl competition takes precedence over everything else (note sarcasm).
During that particular visit, there was a cashier who stayed strictly behind the register, an individual monitoring the temporary daycare section with the ongoing videogame competition, an employee walking on the floor, and Reggie who couldn’t be bothered at all. I think 5 people is a sufficient enough of a number to make sure that the floor is covered, but, perhaps, Reggies doesn’t like his employees lounging in the back room. Despite all of this, I still made off like a fox with my haul AND the nice gentleman on the phone held a bunch of things for me while I called during my break. Most notably, I got the sought after Max Factory 1/8 Mikuru for such a steal (which is ironic because I almost had 3 of the same Mikuru for really great prices).
Up until now, my purchase in itself was very good. The quality of the service was so-so with Reggie, the owner, being the worst. Although, if you are a mother in your late to early fifties, he will personally greet and take care of your transaction himself even though her transaction is peanuts in comparison to yours. I guess his ingratiating attitude doesn’t work too well on a customer who isn’t receptive to that type of salesmanship. The store is not as organized as it could be and due to having so much product on the floor, they slap those metal detector stickers that are possibly one of the worst things to put on a figure box. There was more time spent catering to the children – whose parents leave in the store while they go shopping – than actual customers who offer potential business. I also got the impression that a good majority of the employees had a certain “tail between the legs” attitude about them that was a bit disconcerting to me as if they were afraid to go the extra mile to provide information or assistance lest they risk incurring someone’s wrath.While these flaws were apparent, I dismissed them due to the awesome prices.
Here’s where these flaws are no longer dismissible among additional things weighing in on my overall opinion of this retailer:
Upon one of the visits, the rare and apparently limited in production Orchid Seed 1/6 Chichinoe+ Hip Young Girl was spotted atop one of the glass display cabinets. The interchangeable breast gimmick highly amused me, but we both agreed that she was a fine figure to own. The only other place that did have her in-stock sold out and I wasn’t able to drop by due to schedule bookings. I had the cashier do a search for me and she was still in her system – which doesn’t amount to anything -, but I would be contacted as soon as she was found in the store. Keep in mind that her original MSRP was $89.99. Imagine my lack of shock to find her listed on their site within days with the newly inflated price. I still remember Reggie looking me straight in the eyes with his best St. Bernard puppy-eyed expression that he would make sure that he would inform us. Reggie, you, sir are full of total bollocks. I’m glad that I found her elsewhere for $80+ dollars sans bullshit.
Next visit was justified on the grounds that enough points were accumulated to get a free figure. We decided with Max Factory 1/8 Taiga Aisaka and promptly brought her to the register. Imagine how livid I was to find out that we could not qualify for the free figure because some dope threw away a printed out sheet with customers and their point tally. The female cashier tried desperately to ameliorate the situation by seeing if she could appeal to the owner. “If you print out your points and show it to us, we can settle this for you” is the matter of fact response that we received. We informed him that we live out of the way and the proposed solution was unfeasible for us. Seriously, I’m going to further waste my time and my gas for your screw up?! It’s completely farfetched to believe that the store owner has no other means of keeping track of these things other than a printed sheet. Besides, if he already knew that the paper was accidentally thrown away, he should have gotten another copy ready in the store in the event of his absence. He looked up transactions under our name and found out how amazingly simple our purchases were – few transactions comprised of large quantities of figures. The transaction was completed and I had my free figure, but it would not undo the bitter aftertaste in my mouth about this experience. How could you possibly leave your associate in a situation where they are most vulnerable to a customer and allow them to be helpless if there is a possibility that everything could have just been avoided from the start.
The final straw came on a visit around the time an announcement of closing their door one last time. Thinking that this would actually be a half decent sale, we dropped by to check out if the discount had increased. “For now everything is marked between 15%-30%” and that’s exactly where it’s going to stay. There was nothing of particular interest to buy until I spotted the Square Enix Play Arts Gabranth figure and ultra rare AlphaxOmega Queen’s Gate Alice. Final Fantasy trading arts Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 were both added to my purchase. Apparently, I had gotten the very last of Vol. 2 which was super glued in it’s casing AND not all of the boxes were with it. The cashier assured me that the boxes were in the stock room and could not go to retrieve them due to being the only person in the store. First and foremost, why not use some putty or friendlier adhesive to secure the trading figures in their case and why leave the store with only one person present during what is supposedly a massive going out of business sale?!
The following day, we returned to lay claim to the rest of our Vol.2 boxes only to find out that they are not in the back room and probably lost somewhere in the warehouse. What the f*ck?!?! Fuming, I just left the store and decided that I’d just go and buy a new set and display these because I refuse to be involved in any type of interaction with them.
Poweranime has a wide selection of items to choose from if the inventory is up-to-date and serves as an accurate reflection of what they actually have. Had I ordered all of the items that were sold out via online, I would have received at least 10 email notifications of the item being sold out. The other facet of the inventory not serving as an accurate tool to gauge selection is that not every item is accounted for. For example, the AlphaxOmega Alice was nowhere to be seen online nor was Good Smile’s Char Rhousemann just to name a few.
Static pricing is at the discretion of Reggie and whether or not he feels like inflating a rare item. There is a difference in prices between the online and actual store MSRP, but the advantage to going to the store entitled you to being able to pick the item’s condition, getting discounts in sales or getting things that are not put on the online store. Online prices are competitively priced whereas there are some products that are inflated.
As you can tell, customer service or lack thereof is extremely poor. I have had the pleasure of not being adequately helped with simple questions being answered, blatantly being lied to, hassles with product, employees who are unsure of what to do and say, etcetera. I’ve also, to no avail, tried emailing Reggie at the email that he provides.
One thing that has always bothered me was the display cabinet. For supposed anime fans, it doesn’t transfer very well or at all in the treatment of displayed figures. I don’t know what light is used in the display cabinet, but at least 85% of the figures suffered “burn marks”, severe discoloration or have warped in shaped, thus beginning to lean in a way that would put the Leaning Tower of Pisa to shame. Such a shame to see so many of these figures in bad condition.
Perhaps, online shopping is marginally better, but it weighs heavily to me whether or not a store can live up to it’s name in a real life situation. With online, my orders could be handled by an automaton human who just processes and organizes my invoice, but a personal experience gives you a sense of the type of people you are dealing with because you get to fully observe everything in it’s natural habitat.
A wide variety of merchandise and the handful of awesome stuff obtained through sales is not enough to keep my attention let alone be able to hit the “Add to Cart” button. The bitter aftertaste that my interaction and experience of this store, it’s practice and especially that of the store owner. To put it simply: “Poweranime just sucks!”
I’m leaving this as a static “Figure Reviews” page so there it could be utilized as shopping reference. More stores may be appended to this page.
Here is another store review courtesy of Meronpan for more examples of store feedback.