Wonder Festival is an event that’s a lot like Comiket but focuses mainly on figures that come not only from big names such as Banpresto and Furyu, but also die hard enthusiasts who devote their time to creating unique works known as garage kits to sell to interested fans. Whether you’re into figures or not, WonFes 2017 is an event that simply anyone can enjoy, because you’ll be amazed at all of the amazing figures you run into. The event takes place on the weekend but is a semiannual one, which means it takes place both in the winter and summer seasons in Japan. Much of WonFes takes up the entire Makuhari Messe venue, with majority of the halls filled with independent artists and their garage kits, while the other end caters to the more established brands as we mentioned earlier. Be that as it may, some of the indie work you’ll come across at WonFes is truly out of this world, and you’ll often wonder if these works are top of the line or not because the detailing is truly wonderful.
We recommend that if you plan to stay for a longer period of time, book a room ahead of time to avoid losing the best rooms.
Within 0.5km of Makuhari Messe:
APA Hotel & Resort Tokyo Bay Makuhari [0.2km]
Hotel Francs [0.3km]
What to Expect:
Wonder Festival or WonFes for short is a crazy and jam packed one day event, that places much of its attention towards the buying and selling of garage kits from both independent artists along with big names. There’s a plethora of figures to gawk at the minute you descend the escalators towards the event, and with so many halls to choose from it can be an overload for the brain. Despite that, any die hard collector of figures will be in heaven as this event comes with just about every brand name you can think of from the legendary Volks Inc., Banpresto, and of course Bandai Namco and their illustrious Gundam kits.
Expect to see a wide variety of unique creations from the independent section as these artists pour hours if not years into their kits, and display them for people to take photos of or simply buy them at a premium. The lineups are truly massive and that should come as no surprise because this event is like walking through an art museum filled exclusively with figures that cater to just about everyone. If you love the more western styled figures such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or even The Witcher, it’s there. If you’re more of a Nitro+ junkie and desperately need your Super Sonico fix, she’s there in abundance. Every direction you turn there’s always something fascinating to stop and admire, then spend five minutes trying to capture every angle with your camera.
What to Bring in Order to Enjoy the Event
If you’ve done your research at all before coming to WonFes 2017, then you’ll know that having a camera on hand is the golden rule. That is perhaps the most important tool that you’ll need to have in your disposal because, for most of the time you’ll be wandering around trying to get a glimpse of the latest goods and exclusive one shot releases that many companies have up on display. You don’t need a top of the line device of course, but we truly suggest investing in one because you’ll be able to take home some unforgettable memories of the event in high quality.
Aside from a camera and perhaps some warm clothing because winter is a little chilly, we highly recommend bringing money. Perhaps that’s already an obvious thing to do, especially if your intention was to splurge like a madman (or madwoman), but even if you’re not going to do a lot of spending bringing a good amount of money along with you is definitely important. Food services are available so you can always take a break and sit down to chomp on some pizza, or if that isn’t your thing Makuhari Messe has plenty of options to choose from to satisfy your palette. Bags are are always given at these types of events so while it’s not entirely necessary for you to supply your own, we do suggest carrying an extra one in case something happens to rustle your feathers and entices you to buy.
What to do while there, what to see and what to do:
The Heaven for Figure Otaku
Comiket is the heaven for manga otaku, Tokyo Game Show is for the gamer otaku, and Wonder Festival is for the figure otaku. That’s the beauty of Japan and its pop culture, it has every option covered for just about everything out there and so you never have to worry about there being a shortage of events. While there aren’t as many of events compared to overseas, it’s not about the quantity but rather the sheer quality that goes into everything. It’s truly hard to explain everything through words as you’d need to truly be in the venue to experience everything we did, but there’s a lot to see at Wonder Festival 2017. We started off by heading to the independent booths to see just what new and innovative ideas these devoted artists had in store.
We managed to come across some wicked designs that were mesmerizing to look at, one of them was this lego elevator that not only blew us away but was a nostalgic moment for us. We had an opportunity to speak with the creator of this Lego elevator, Takanori Hashimoto or Yattaran as his nickname, and he told us that it took him quite a long time to make sure all the parts were in working order. The two of us agreed that it truly is a nostalgic piece of work and that it inspires children as well who walk by it and take pictures. If you’d like to see more of Takanori’s exceptional work, be sure to follow him on Twitter @05yattaran for more.
With there being so many garage kits being displayed at Wonder Festival it was truly hard to pick out the gems, but we came across yet another wicked design by artist Tatsuhiro Akama. This time the art represented a more futuristic feel with his work focusing on mecha. We asked Tatsuhiro-san just how long it took him to complete both models and he said about half a year. We were totally blown away by the design and had to get him to stand beside his work to show off the size of it. Funny enough and a little off topic, Tatsuhiro has a passion for cars and we happened to both love Initial D, and on the back of his business card there’s a paper card cutout of a Fairlady Z which made us smile. If you’d like to check out more of Tatsuhiro’s work and his upcoming manga series, be sure to check out the website below .
We ran into another interesting booth which featured works from the popular Wonder Showcase, and one artist named Clay Goo was more than happy enough to show off his figures. The sheer detailing on these figures are what initially caught our attention and blew us away. This is what we were talking about earlier in the article where sometimes you’ll run into work that you think are big name designs, but are actually the works of indie artists. While we couldn’t spend too much time speaking to Clay Goo, he provided us with his card and so if you’d like to see more of Clay Goo be sure to follow his twitter @cooggoo, and if you’d like to see more of the Wonder Showcase follow them @WsSC_Luv. There’s also their official website as well to see more!
The Big Names
So after indulging ourselves in the indie world for over an hour, we decided to check out the big names and see just what they had to show off this year. As always, names like AmiAmi and Takara Tomy were in attendance showing off their latest designs, along with Banpresto, Native and more. There were just too many names to count on our hands but the sheer amount of displays at the event were unbelieveable, with lineups lasting well over an hour just to get close ups. We started our extensive journey off with Nitro+ since we wanted to see just new Super Sonico designs they had, and man they definitely delivered because there was an assortment to choose from. All the designs had very unique aspects to them, such as the pose and detailing pertaining to the articles of clothing Sonico had on (or lack thereof).
Afterwards we moved onto the more western side of town and we were surprised to see Hideo Kojima’s mascot named Ludens, make an appearance. Ludens is the main mascot for Kojima Productions, the new company behind the mastermind who created the legendary Metal Gear Solid series. Seeing this massive structure in person was truly breathtaking because up close the details were gorgeous, and a part of us prayed that Kojima would pop out of it to surprise everyone. Unfortunately that didn’t happen but we were more than ecstatic to finally get a glimpse of it. Moving forward we bumped into some notable characters from the Ninja Turtles franchise Bee Bop and Rocksteady, who looked superb and almost lifelike with sheer detailing done to emphasize their expressions. Fans of the Witcher series would be proud as figures of the cast were in attendance, with each showing off their unique poses and bloody corpses lying beneath them. We caught a glimpse of the Star Wars booth which showed off some cool looking models along with lightsabers that had our temptations boiling to pick one up and start dueling with someone. Overwatch made an appearance as well, showing off their latest chibi figures Mei and Mercy.
We kept our emotions in check and made our way towards another well known spot, which was filled with Transformer models all of which looked incredible up close and made us want to open our wallets out of impulse. That’s the dangerous side of Wonder Festival 2017, there are honestly so many astonishing pieces of work that you’re often drawn to them by temptation and your guilty conscience starts to kick in. Native had a very nice booth setup which was for 18+ only, but unfortunately the line was so thick that there was a sign that stated a roughly 1 hour wait just to grab some snapshots. So instead of going to Native we found another booth named Kalmia Project that had some stunning figures which were displayed on a clean and gorgeous white backdrop, which was perfect for taking photos. Much of our adventure after Kalmia were just random shots of various popular figures such as Dragon Ball, Evangelion and more, so we’ll share those with you as well.
About halfway through the day and we were feeling pumped because we still had so much to see and do, so we wandered around and eventually stumbled across a Bleach booth that had its most recent mobile game on display, with a signed poster by Kubo Tite for all to salivate over. Of course you simply couldn’t have Jump Festa without Goku and his friends at the Kame House, so we made a stop over there to see what was happening as well. One of the setups we loved most was the artwork section where the artwork of all the popular Jump Manga were on display, and honestly speaking some of these were just a marvel to look at because the penmanship was just so articulate and well detailed that everything just popped out in great detail. The Jojo wall was incredible too with all of its vibrant colors used to really bring out the true essence of the series. We could literally talk about every booth that we went to, but that would take ages to complete so we highly advise that if you want to experience everything like we did, then save up your money and come to this yearly event because it’s worth it.
You simply can’t have Wonder Festival without cosplayers dressing up as their favorite characters, and so we made a quick stop to the cosplay area to gather some cool photos for you. Despite the cold winter, these dedicated individuals endured the chill and were kind enough to show off their hard work in costume. We’ll leave you with some of our favorites down below as these ones had the most detail, but also the most passion behind them.
Honeys Anime Final Thought
Wonder Festival 2017 has come to an end for the Honey’s team but it surely isn’t the last since the summer version is just around the corner. In spite of the cold temperatures outside, things heated up quite a bit inside with jaw dropping designs and amazing people with remarkable talent. There were also some upcoming anime announcements such as Frame Arms Girl, which is slated to make its anime debut next month so be sure to stay tuned for that. If you ever make your way to Japan in the winter, Wonder Festival is definitely one event that you cannot sleep on. It’s only a day event and so taking advantage of it all is paramount, especially if you’re hardcore on figures. If you’ve attended previous Wonder Festivals please let us know what you thought in the comments below, and share some of your photos as well for everyone to see!Also, if you’d like to see more photos from Wonder Festival 2017, click on my Facebook icon down below! Be sure to follow us also on Twitter to keep up with all the latest buzz straight from Japan!
As always, for everything sweet be sure to keep it locked here on Honey's Anime!
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!