In our last VOCALOID figure collecting guide, we went over where NOT to get your figures. If you haven’t read that yet, be sure to check it out here. But that begs the questions as to where you should get figures from. So in this article, I’ll be covering VNN’s recommended places to shop for VOCALOID figures!
Good Smile Company
If you want a figure, sometimes your best bet is to get it from the source. Good Smile makes and distributes a multitude of VOCALOID figures. All products on their website are brand-new and straight from them. You can find GCS’s online shop here.
Guaranteed Quality. Should anything be wrong with your figure, Good Smile will help you out and replace damaged parts if it’s their fault. Obviously, they won’t replace something you lost or broke, but should something come broken, they’ll usually fix it. For example, my Sakura Miku: Bloomed in Japan version has a loose back bow. While it wasn’t a problem to start with, the bow snapped off when I tried to put the peg in to support her. I contacted GSC and they sent a replacement part.
Pre-order Bonuses. Sometimes GSC will offer bonus parts for their figures if you pre-order from them. Other times you can get things like stickers and can badges, which aren’t AS nice as bonus parts, but nonetheless are cool for collectors.
GSC Exclusives. Want a Snow Miku nendoroid? You better pre-order her on Good Smile’s website! GSC often has exclusive figures that they’ll only sell online and at events they attend. While you can sometimes find these for sale elsewhere after they’re released, your best bet is to pre-order.
Pre-orders. GSC lets customers order their products months in advance without paying. Though, you better not take advantage of that and bail when it comes time to pay. These pre-orders let fans who want a certain figure save up before the payment date. However, be warned that GSC usually takes the money out of your account about two weeks before the release date. To be safe, I always make sure I have the money a month in advance as they do require you to submit payment information when you place the pre-order, so they don’t send a bill like some places.
Flat Rate Shipping. EMS shipping is provided to countries outside of Japan and always costs ¥2,000 JPY or about $20 USD. While this can sometimes be an incredible deal (the 1/4 scale Miku figures, for example, are actually SUPER expensive to ship via EMS), it can also feel like it’s a bit expensive.
Price. The price is always fair as it’s the market value of the figures. However, sometimes these figures will be cheaper elsewhere. This is where you usually weigh in the pre-order bonuses as well as the size of the figure. Sure, those 1/4 scale Mikus are 20% off on AmiAmi, but shipping those gals is going to go way over that 20% discount.
Shipping. GSC usually only provides EMS shipping to those outside of Japan, which can be a problem for some countries with strict customs. In addition, they don’t ship everywhere. Be sure to check GSC’s FAQ section here to see if your country is covered.
Things to Note
Pre-order Periods on GSC Are Limited. Unlike some websites, they don’t leave pre-orders open until the last minute. Even if they don’t meet a pre-order quota, the pre-orders will end at a set date which they always give at the beginning of the pre-order period. After this date, the figure is no longer available for sale on GSC.
In addition, you can buy GSC products with confidence from any of GSC’s official distributors.
AmiAmi is a Japanese website that also sells to the international market. They’re a company that covers Japanese goods in general, so you can get tons of different figure brands from them as well as small merchandise and even snacks. You can find AmiAmi here.
Large Selection. AmiAmi doesn’t just stick to GSC figures. You name the manufacturer and they’ll probably have something from them. They’ll even sell prize figures brand-new here and there! It also seems that AmiAmi may end up being a distributor of Chinese VOCALOID figures, so they’re definitely worth looking into if you want some of the Chinese VOCALOID goodness.
Longer Pre-order Periods. Unless the figure’s pre-orders sell out, the pre-orders will remain open usually until the figure is released, and then sometimes even after depending on if they have any leftovers. However, pre-orders DO sell out, so don’t wait too long.
Pre-orders. Just like GSC, AmiAmi doesn’t charge for pre-orders up front. Unlike GSC, they also don’t ask for payment information up front. You’ll get the bill in your email inbox once the figure is ready to go and you’ll have 7 days to pay it.
Combining Orders + Monthly Orders. You can always combine orders releasing in the same month or add things to “monthly orders” that will only ship out when everything is available! Do you have a figure coming out in early June and another set for the end of June? Put them in a monthly order and everything will ship together!
Shipping Options. AmiAmi will ship pretty much anywhere via multiple methods. You can use EMS, SAL, or even untracked and uninsured methods if you want to go super cheap, though I’d recommend against that one.
How Items are Shipped. AmiAmi goes overboard with the protection of packages, which is perfectly fine with me as my post office seems to play various sports with the boxes. Mine have come stabbed, crushed, and many other things, but the figure box inside always remains in mint or near mint condition.
Sells Pre-owned. If you’re looking for a trustworthy website to buy pre-owned figures from, AmiAmi is definitely the spot to go. Their pre-owned system is really nice because they rate the quality of both the figure and the box so customers can get an idea of exactly what they’re purchasing.
Shipping Prices. AmiAmi doesn’t have flat rate shipping. In addition to that, they also use bigger boxes than they need to in order to pad your items nice and secure. Bigger box = higher shipping cost. This usually isn’t a giant increase, though, and does pay for itself when it comes to making sure the figure is safe.
Tentative/Provisional Pre-orders. AmiAmi has something called “Provisional Pre-orders” (they used to be called “Tentative Pre-orders” but the website recently updated and a few things have changed, including the terms they use). This essentially means you may or may not get the product. These pre-orders usually mean that they’re unsure of how much stock they’re going to get and are taking a guess at it. Should you not get the item, you’ll usually get an email saying it’s on back-order and that AmiAmi is looking into getting more stock from their partners. Should they be unable to, they’ll then email you again saying they were unable to grab the item.
Mandarake is actually a chain of stores in Japan that sells pre-owned and sometimes new figures. However, they’ve opened their internet doors to people all around the world. You can find Mandarake here.
Large Variety. Mandarake is kind of like a used book store but with anime merchandise. People bring in items they no longer want and Mandarake sells them. As a result, you can get a ton of different items and the stock is always changing. You can find everything from new to ancient figures.
Shipping. Like AmiAmi, Mandarake ships to many places and offers a ton of shipping options.
Lots of Protection When Shipping. If you think AmiAmi goes crazy with making sure their items come in mint condition, you’ll be even more amazed by Mandarake. They take extreme measures when it comes to making sure their figures aren’t damaged in transit, and I love them for that.
Pricing. The pricing of the figures is really fair from what I’ve seen. Some figures may seem really expensive, but that’s usually because they’re super rare. Sometimes things do get a bit overpriced, but overall, there are no complaints on the pricing from me.
Not Completely in English. Unlike other websites, a lot of the item names are only in Japanese, even on the English website. This leads to a bit of work when searching for items you want. But once you get used to how it works, it’s not that hard to deal with.
Storefront Items. Storefront items are items that are currently shown in store. This means that someone may grab it before it’s pulled aside for you, or it may have already been bought and the website hasn’t been updated. Should a storefront item sell before they can grab it for you, you’ll receive an email letting you know.
Shipping Prices. Due to Mandarake’s extreme protection of figures, the prices for shipping can feel a bit high. But it’s still worth it if you want to make sure your figure is protected. As with all places offering SAL shipping, you’re free to go with that if you want to cut costs but still have tracking.
Large Variety. Hobby Search also isn’t aligned to a single company. This means that they’ll have a wide selection of figures to choose from. They’re one of the places that were allowing pre-orders for the Stardust scale figure.
Pre-order Cancellations. If you make a pre-order but can’t keep it, you have a week to cancel it after it’s made. Please see their Cancellation Policy for more information.
Shipping. Hobby Search also offers tons of options for shipping and will ship to many countries.
Prices. They don’t have the best prices, but they don’t have the worst either.
Hobby Link Japan
Hobby Link Japan is another figure pre-order website that sells items from a multitude of vendors. Much like AmiAmi, they don’t focus specifically on anime merchandise, but branch out into snacks and the like as well. Currently, they’re really into advertising that you can get instant noodles. You can find HLJ here.
You Can Cancel Pre-orders. While most websites don’t take kindly to cancellations, HLJ will let you cancel any pre-order for a figure that hasn’t been released yet.
Large Variety. HLJ, much like most of the websites here, isn’t affiliated with any one company. So you can expect to find a wide variety of figures.
“Storage” Feature. You don’t have to have your figure shipped the moment it’s available. You can store them in your virtual storage in case you want to combine your shipment with other items of different release dates.
Prices. Out of all of the websites mentioned, HLJ has some of the highest prices. However, this is the price you pay in order to be able to cancel pre-orders at any time before the item is released.
CDJapan is, as you could probably guess, a website that specializes more on the music side of things. Their VOCALOID figure selection is limited, but you can sometimes find some great figures for great prices. They’ve actually been even cheaper than AmiAmi before! You can find CDJapan here.
Pre-orders. You can pre-order items on CDJapan. Pre-order periods are only limited by how much stock the website has.
Shipping Options. In addition to the regular EMS and SAL shipping other places offer, CDJapan offers a medium option called “Registered Air Mail.” It’s slightly slower than EMS, but much faster than SAL and is priced fairly reasonably. So if you want to get your figure fast but not pay for EMS fast, CDJapan has an option for that.
Selection. CDJapan’s selection of VOCALOID merchandise in general is incredibly random. They managed to get in the Stardust figure and even sold a few actual VOCALOID voice banks, but they don’t always have the VOCALOID figures. They’re a place to go check but are not a guarantee.
Pre-orders Require Payment. At CDJapan, you won’t have the luxury of waiting until the release date to pay. If you pre-order from them, you’re going to have to pay for the figure up front.
Tokyo Otaku Mode
Tokyo Otaku Mode is a Western website that sells various anime and VOCALOID merchandise. While their figure selection isn’t absolutely amazing, you can find items here that you can’t find anywhere else. You can find TOM here.
Limited Items! TOM has quite the advantage in the items category. Not only do they carry items from various manufacturers, but also they have some pretty limited stuff as well. I’m talking Racing Miku 2016 Nendoroid course limited. While their selection is limited, they also have items that the other places mentioned do not. And it’s all brand-new.
Sales, Free Shipping, and More! TOM also offers sales on items and sometimes even offers free shipping. For example, the Swimsuit Rin and Len 1/12 scale figures are both currently available for purchase with free shipping! Miku’s 1/12 scale swimsuit figure is a whopping 30% off as well.
Some Figures are Already in the USA. For U.S. residents, this is a huge plus. You can get fast, first-class shipping for an absolutely cheap price compared to EMS.
Prices are in USD. While the prices are what you’d usually pay for the figures at a convention from an official booth like Good Smile’s, the exchange rates can sometimes make buying items in JPY cheaper. However, at the same time, it can also make pre-order prices unpredictable on websites where you pay when the item is released. Figures are usually pre-ordered at least 3 months in advance and quite a bit more. In that time, the JPY could go up or the USD could go down. But with TOM, you know the price you’ll pay.
Pre-orders Require Payment. Just like CDJapan, however, TOM requires you to pay upfront for pre-orders.
Where They Ship. There are no set countries that TOM will ship all of their items to. You have to check the description of the items to see if they’ll ship to your country. More often than not, they’re only available in the United States. Sometimes TOM will add Canada. Other times, they’ll ship almost anywhere.
Slow Shipping. EMS is estimated to take 1-2 weeks when usually it takes most other places no more than a week for EMS shipments.
Shipping Choices. Shipping choices vary by figure. Sometimes you can only get EMS. Other times EMS, SAL, and Air Small Packet are available. While it likely has to do with the size of the item, AmiAmi can ship 1/8 scales via SAL with no problem.
These websites aren’t the only ones out there, but these are the tops ones VNN staff use. Be sure to check your local customs so that you know if any custom fees will be applied, and if so, by how much. Enjoy your figure collecting!
Shoutout to Chiku for once again providing an amazing featured image for this series! Thank you so much!
You can also watch the speedpaint of the image on YouTube. Please note countries with YouTube Red will not be able to view it due to audio restrictions.