When it comes to JapanLovers, passion and love are at an all time high.
With so many different hobbies and activities to fall in love with in Japan,
it is easy to get lost (and even crazy).
But with love and dedication comes the happiness that we all find so fulfilling.
Toy collecting can give that fulfillment. And no one knows it better than Ritchie,
otherwise known as (and rightfully so): Brickaholic.
Let’s get to know more of and share the Be@rbrick love with this Featured Otaku JapanLover!
The Brickaholic: A History
I’m Ritchie from Hong Kong. Got the nickname ‘Brickaholic’ because of my passion for Be@rbricks. I have been collecting them for around 9 years. I’m the guy who likes to have a low profile but as you get to know me, you’ll know more about me. :)
Toys have always been my hobby since I was young. I remember I would play G.I.Joe figures with my small brother.. haha.. I only really started collecting toys seriously when “Star Wars: Power of the Force” figures came out. There were so many characters in the Star Wars Universe and I had to get every one of them. This led me to toy hunting. I would go around toy stores, supermarkets, department stores.. anywhere that would have toys.. just to search the missing figures to complete my collection. Though I have stopped collecting Star Wars, toy hunting is still my hobby and that is for Be@rbricks.
Accidentally In Love
I actually discovered Be@rbricks by accident. I was surfing eBay looking around for toys when I saw a seller selling this toy in the shape of a bear. This got my attention because of its design. The bear was in blue, 28 cm in height, had two ‘X’s for its eyes and it was smiling with its teeth out. This really caught my eye. Without thinking any further, I purchased my first Be@rbrick.
When I received it, I was even more impressed. Even though it’s just like ‘a standing plastic bear’, it was so cute and because of its teeth, it always looked like it was smiling. So it was this that made me want to know more about this figure. I learned that this was a ‘400%’ size Be@rbrick. I also found out that there were other smaller ‘100%’ sizes in different designs. I started taking interest in this bear-shaped toy and buying those designs that I like.
I like Be@rbricks because behind every Be@rbrick is a story. Toys used to be just comic or cartoon characters but Be@rbricks are different.
I always feel there is something mysterious behind a Be@rbrick. Take the first Be@rbrick I bought. I learned that it was designed by KAWS and the design is his creation, Chompers. I started to learn more about KAWS and his work. It’s like a new way to appreciate art. Instead of going to an art gallery and looking at flat canvases, you can actually appreciate a designer or artist’s work in your own home.
Be@rbricks are, now, not only a designer’s work but spans to fashion brands, characters, promotion materials.. anything that can be drawn on it. No matter what design is on a Be@rbrick, there is always a story.
My favorite Be@rbrick? This is a hard question to answer. It’s difficult to choose one. If I had to, I would choose those Be@rbricks that are clear/transparent with a design at the front. Such as the recent Tokyo Skytree (Magic Time Ver.) and the 2012 Christmas Tree. To see a clearer picture of the design, put a light behind the Be@rbrick. These Be@rbricks uniquely shine and stand out with light. I do like rainbow-colored Be@rbricks too!
Capturing Brickaholic Moments
I guess with most collectors, they would just keep their collections in their packing, sealed and stored in a box somewhere. I used to be like this too.. haha.. but as my collection started to grow, I started to realize that keeping them in boxes is such a waste. It was to me like, paying for something and putting it aside. It sounded really silly so I started displaying them.
It was then I really started to have fun with Be@rbricks. From displaying, I started taking photos of Be@rbricks on backgrounds of magazines, ads, posters.. I thought for a moment that Be@rbricks could live their own lives too! Now, I treat my Be@rbricks like they have their own lives just like anyone of us. I would capture their moments and show people how I see them.
Bringing Be@rbricks to life is what I enjoy doing so most of my photos are inspired by what is happening around me. It could be something that’s happening in the news or something I ate that day or a window display I saw.. It could be anything. Sometimes an idea would pop up in my head and I would visualize how it would look like with Be@rbricks.
A very important element you would notice in my photos is the use of miniature props. Chairs, tables, cakes, bags, brooms, even the background has to fit in the lives of these Be@rbricks. Without these miniatures, the Be@rbricks would probably live a boring life.. haha.. I can let you know that when I go toy hunting, I also hunt for miniatures that would suit my Be@rbricks. Sometimes these miniatures cost more than the Be@rbricks. :P
Tips for Collectors
Toy collectors always say Hong Kong is a heaven for toys and I have to agree with that.. hehe.. You can get, literally, anything in Hong Kong. But as Be@rbricks get more and more popular and collectors grow in numbers, some pieces that are limited may be hard to find. That’s why I keep a good relationship with a toy store in Hong Kong. Because of our long relationship, this toy store knows my collecting habit and would always keep items on hold just for me. I do really have to thank them. Another place for toy shopping is, of course, Japan.
I can get crazy in Japan because of its easy access to toys anywhere. I enjoy shopping in Tokyo so much that I always try to go there at least once a year. Best place for toy shopping in Tokyo? Nakano Broadway, just a few stations from Shinjuku. This building of three floors full of toys has everything, and at affordable prices too! “Mandarake”, one of the largest anime and manga stores, sells the widest range of toys. I can spend a day there! :P
For other shopping places, I would recommend Project 1/6 and a smaller “Mandarake” store in Shibuya. The Medicom store in Skytree Solamachi is a must-visit place. Akihabara is an area for toy hunting too as there are a lot of toy stores hidden in the upper floors of buildings. And for the latest new toy releases, visit the Yamashiroya toy building just outside the Ueno JR train station.
A True Toy Lover
Collecting toys can be really pricey, but some people think of toy collecting as an investment too. There is always a sense of pleasure when you hear that the price of a rare toy you have suddenly jumped three times its original cost. But nothing beats the feeling of actually ‘playing’ with them. The connection of you and your toy is priceless and worth every dollar. :)
Look for a toy that you really like. Don’t go collecting something just because everyone is collecting it. When I started collecting Be@rbricks, not many people knew what they were. Be@rbricks weren’t so popular at that time but I still collected them anyway because of my bond to them. Some people would say it’s just a piece of plastic but that is not what I see through my eyes. Choose a toy that you really like and learn from it. You’ll be amazed at what a toy can actually teach you.
The Next Stage in Be@rbrick Addiction
My collection would definitely continue to grow.. haha.. I don’t see an end to my Be@rbricks. I would still keep on taking pics of them too. I will poke into their lives and show everyone how they live.
Another I would like to do is to update my Be@rbrick blog on a more frequent basis. I have a Be@rbrick blog (www.brickaholic.blogspot.com) and in this blog, I would introduce a Be@rbrick and its history. I actually like doing this as people would understand more and learn from their designs. I also want to show people the joy of collecting Be@rbricks. Sadly, because of work, I hardly have the time to update it. :( Well, if I receive support, it might give me the push to do it.. haha.. I should get my blog up and running again, shouldn’t I? (JapanLover.me team: Yes, we think you should! Haha~)
You can follow me through my Instagram account @brickaholic.
I guess I’m most active at Instagram.
I also hope to get my blog running at www.brickaholic.blogspot.com as soon as possible.
Just started my Twitter account @brickaholic.
Anyone I can follow? Or we can chat Be@rbrick, toys or anything through my Line account: brickaholic. Cheers! :)