A Little Something Called “WonderFest”

Twice a year, at the Tokyo Big Sight, there’s a little one-day event called "Wonder Festival". It’s a very big deal for certain small circles of sci-fi modeling geeks–especially Mashinen Krieger fans. Why? Well, first, there’s usually some manufacturers on hand to make new product announcements. Second–and most importantly–garage kit makers can get a license to sell their own creations (based on the Maschinen Krieger world) at that event.

Actually, the summer WonderFest made the news this year, due to an unfortunate escalator accident. It seems that it was overloaded, causing the escalator to seize up and then send all the people on it crashing to the floor below. Fortunately, there was only one serious injury. Video footage of it was widely seen on news networks such as CNN. See the news story here.

So all these odd little creations that there’s often a fan interest in are produced–usually in resin, and usually in very limited quantities. Now, I’m not in a position to travel to Japan for this one-day event (though I hope to in one of the coming years), but I’ve been fortunate enough to be in a circle of folks that are. The short of it being that I email a "shopping list" (based on what I believe to be available), send some money via PayPal, and hope everything comes out alright.
The Summer 2008 Wonder Festival was held on August 3rd, and I did have a short shopping list for that one–only about 6000 yen worth (go look up the conversion–knowledge is power!). Just two kits, both from the same vendor, but both very limited. First up is the 1/76 Neuspinne. It was a "new" kit for this WonderFest (they hadn’t offered it before), and only 30 were available. Second up was the 1/76 Zerstover. This was a kit that had been available at a previous WonderFest, so they were only offering 15 of them for sale.
I was hoping for the best, but really didn’t know anything for certain until the mail arrived today. You see, the guy doing the buying for a group of us at WonderFest has a lot to do in a very short amount of time. Picture a Wal-Mart with only five $200 laptops on "Black Friday" and you get the general idea. Our man on the scene ("Dr. Tak") buys everything he can get his hands on, ships it to a friend in the U.S., who then ships it on to us–the individual purchasers. And today, I received my individual purchases.
They’re TINY! They’re about two-thirds the size of a normal Maschinen Krieger kit box (like, for the Heinrich), but they’re very authentic to the originals. From the box colors and layout to the instruction pages, to the little camo cards (paint scheme cards) that come with them. I’m sure I’ll be raving more about them when I get the opportunity to actually build them, but for now I’m just excited. It’s Christmas in August!
For a tour through the Summer 2008 Wonder Festival, click here to see Dr. Tak’s report (complete with many pictures). And a huge "thank you" to Dr. Tak, Jason Eaton, and everyone else who make this possible for the fans outside Japan.

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