A guide to obtaining anime figures not readily available outside of Japan


It is rare to find an anime show or video game from Japan that hasn't had countless figures, cell phone straps, t-shirts, mugs, and other accessories based off of it. This is partly a result of the exploitation of the otaku innate addiction to collecting. While generally associated with “nerds”, the term “otaku” is closer to what would informally be called OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder, in that they addictively collect a specific form of media. Anime is just one, albeit common, art-form which otaku can be indulgent in. Partly as a result of this addictive behavior, otaku have a lot of purchasing power, due to their willingness to spend money to build their collections. This purchasing power creates sufficient demand for merchandise related to anime for it to be profitable for the creators to pursue for even moderately popular anime.


Choosing a Figure

So you've decided that you really like a particular anime, and would like to know which figures exist for it. The easiest way of doing this is going to http://myfigurecollection.net/ and searching for the title of the show, or the name of a specific character you are interested in. From there you can select a figure in particular you are interested in, and read reviews for it. Reviews are helpful because the quality of figures is not consistent across manufacturers. You may also want to search by the show or character name written in Japanese on these various websites if you can't find too many options. This information is available for nearly all recent anime on http://en.wikipedia.org

Comparing Prices

Now that you have your figure selected, you will want to shop around to see what your options are. You should keep the My Figure Collection tab open, and start going through this list in a new tab. If a JAN number is listed for your figure, that should be your first search term. If that yields no results, than search by the name of the figure, the name of the character, or the name of the series. A large portion of the final cost will be dedicated to shipping services. EMS is the default option due to it's terrific speed, and only slight increase in cost over the significantly slower options, and also includes insurance. This should be kept in mind though, and if possible figure purchases should be bundled together to reduce shipping costs overall. Whichever site has your figure, and the most other figures you also desire should be the one you order from.

Figure Retailers

Ordering Process

Once you have chosen all of your figures and are ready to check-out, try entering your address and see if the website accepts it. If not, you will have to use a forwarding service. That will be covered in the next section. Before being charged, most websites require you to wait a period of a day or two for them to calculate shipping charges. You will need to enter payment info before this, but are not charged until they get your approval for the final shipping charges. If paypal is accepted, that is generally your best option for payment method, though credit card may be easier if you don't have a paypal account. Transaction fees in converting your currency to JPY have to be considered, since the majority of these services require payment in Yen.

Currency Conversion

Most credit cards have a low fee on foreign transactions, between 1-3%. Some cards, however, have a 0% fee. These include all Capital One cards, Discover Card, and many air-travel branded cards. Check your credit card terms under the fee section to make sure before using a particular card. If you don't have a credit card, or your credit card has a >2% fee, you should use the paypal currency conversion “feature”. This feature is turned on by default when you are about to check-out through paypal, and is not clearly indicated. They do charge a fee, so make sure you go through the “select your payment method” options to find the “allow my credit card processor to do the currency conversion” option. Paypal will warn you this will involve a fee, but if you use the above mentioned credit cards it will not.

You may wish to check on https://www.google.com/search?q=yen+conversion+rate or a similar conversion service to determine how much to expect your final bill to be. There's a delay between your authorizing the payment, and it actually being charged, so the final credit card charge may vary.

Forwarding Services

Recently a few options have popped-up for ordering from website that don't ship overseas. You need to create an account on a forwarding service, and they will give you an address to mail your purchases. Depending on the service, you may need to inform them to expect a package, or they may even need to place the order for you. Keep in mind that you will have to not only pay for the item and shipping to you, but also shipping to the forwarding service, as well as a forwarding service fee, making this an expensive option often, but usually not as expensive as just buying the item from an e-bay seller. Some options include:

Final Notes

Now that you are an expert in ordering figures, you may want to plan your purchases in advance. Figures that aren't out yet are generally cheaper than after they are released, so you may want to use one of the retailers to pre-order for all of the series you are excited about. Some popular figures sell out within a day of pre-orders, anyway, so to get the really rare ones this is the best option.

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see Forwarding service

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