June 21, 2007

Shanghai has tons of Ultraman toys.


As noted previously on Scary-Crayon, Wes spent a few days in China in May 2007 -- and in Toys from Shanghai, he describes his experiences in the foreign toy shops and reviews his spoils. Toys have little holes, too.  (6/21/07)

-posted by Wes | 9:48 pm | Comments Off on TOYS FROM SHANGHAI!!!
Toys from Shanghai!

Gashapon figurines rule.

It took me a while, but the discussion and review of the toys that I picked up while in Shanghai is finally online. Enjoy! And if you know anything more about any of the products or series mentioned in the article (frex, if you're familiar with "Air Gear", know where to find cheap Kamen Rider figures online, watched tons of Ultraman in your youth, etc.), do feel free to share. Also feel free to share any camera techniques you have! I tried a little something different for this one -- shooting against a white felt background and upping the camera's exposure to +1.7 EV (bright!) -- so let me know if you're experienced with shooting figures for toy comics or eBay auctions and have any helpful suggestions.

I think I more/less said everything that I wanted to say in the article, but I didn't go into great detail concerning the prices of toys in Shanghai compared to those in the United States. You can do some comparisons for yourself by looking at the included Toys 'R' Us advertisement, but note that (for example) the 20th anniversary Optimus Prime is ¥698 after the Star Card discount. Normally it's ¥828, making the toy roughly $90 on sale and $110 at regular price. Compare that to here, where even on Hasbro.com you can get Optimus for $69.99 -- and you can find him for significantly less than that on eBay. Just pointing out that, in many cases, I didn't find the assumption that everything is cheaper in China to be true. Yes, bootleg shit was cheaper -- much cheaper -- but bootleg shit is pretty cheap everywhere. As far as the real deal stuff goes, though, products in China were largely more expensive.

All for now -- hopefully I'll have another feature for you (which may or may not be the lengthier discussion of my experiences in Shanghai; we'll see) before we're too far into July. Given my present rate of posting, though, I'd be shocked if I got something up before the end of June. 🙁 Anyway, ja!

-posted by Wes | 9:12 pm | Comments (9)
June 5, 2007
Dusty Plastic HELL: Hot Flash #100!

''The Merchant of Nanjing Road''

Dusty Plastic HELL: Hot Flash #100!

And in Dusty Plastic Hell: Hot Flash #100 (yay!), we head on over to China for a sampling of Wes's adventures on Nanjing Road, the main street for shopping in Shanghai. Indeed, one can buy all sorts of things there...  (6/5/07)

-posted by Wes | 11:13 am | Comments Off on Dusty Plastic HELL: Hot Flash #100!
The 100th Hot Flash!

Indeed -- with today's Hot Flash, the official number of Hot Flashes finally comes to 100. For those of you who've been wondering what happened to me these past couple of weeks, I was away on a short trip overseas to Shanghai, China, which will likely be the focus of several Scary-Crayon features in the coming weeks. Today's comic provides a sampling of my adventures on Nanjing Road, which I read was the definitive place to visit for shopping in Shanghai. I had no idea how far "shopping" went, however, as -- in addition to the numerous people trying to sell me bootleg Rolex watches, Louis Vuitton handbags, Nike sneakers, and pirated DVDs -- I was approached by roughly fifty people (you read that right, 5-0) trying to entice me into hidden massage parlors/brothels. I have the surprised "wtf" thought here because that was my reaction to the first encounter (and all such subsequent encounters, really, but still), but the "little hole" dude was actually the very last guy I met on Nanjing Road. In fact, when I angrily informed him that I was in the process of trying to hail a cab and get the hell away from that street, he showed me the proper place to stand in order to attract their attention and wished me a good night. Weird.

Anyway, the sex merchants all followed more or less the same script: first they'd offer a massage and, failing that, they'd proceed to push sex. They didn't lower their voices or imply that their offer was anything but on the up-and-up in the least. When I met the "little hole" man, I was standing on a street corner with a pedestrian woman standing directly to my left (the merchant was on the right), and I looked right over at her when he said it and jerked a thumb in his direction as if to say, "Can you believe this dude?!" Seeing as how she just kind of smiled and nodded, I don't think she understood him at all, which could be why the brothel spokespeople don't feel the need to whisper when soliciting foreigners. You can say whatever you want when nobody understands what you're saying!

What was even more amazing than the frankness and sheer number of the people who approached me, though, was their persistence. Sharpie Wes and the brothel merchant look pretty stationary because I'm lazy with the comics, but keep in mind that we were moving the entire time -- these people would pretty much run up to me and walk with me until I finally convinced them that I had no interest in entering their hidden dens of corruption through my consistent and repeated refusals. But should it really have been so difficult for them to believe that a person would be uninterested in having sex with some random woman in a hidden location in a country where said person can't even order a soda at McDonald's because he can't freaking read the menu?

I mean, all of the merchants seemed to be under the impression that foreigners will buy anything if the price is low enough, whether they want it or not (and admittedly I did buy several things I did not want while on Nanjing Road, though less because of the low prices than because in some cases buying something seemed like the only way to get people to LEAVE ME THE BLOODY HELL ALONE), but buying sex just isn't the same buying as a bootleg Spider-Man 3 DVD. And while I can't imagine ever buying sex ever, let alone under the circumstances of Nanjing Road, I suppose that they wouldn't have been so bloody persistent and attacked in such hordes if all travelers were as unreceptive as myself. That thought both frightens and disgusts me.

Anyway, all for now -- see you next time. 🙂

P.S. Is there anything about the trip that you'd be particularly interested in reading about in article format? Perhaps a more thorough discussion of my day on Nanjing Road? A roundup of all of the toys that I was able to procure? Or something else? Do let us know.

-posted by Wes | 10:58 am | Comments (12)
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