About Wonder Festival:
I went to an event called Wonder Festival hosted by Kaiyodo last week, and found the event extremely interesting. Wonder Festival is the largest garage-kits event in the world.
view of atrium
What is interesting to me is:
1) all of the amateur and professionals that creates garage-kits are treated equally as "dealers".
2) the quality of amateur-made figures are extremely high
3) Wonder Festival created an original "One-day, limited license system" which allows amateur garage-kit creators to legally display and sell their kits if they get "One-day license". If the dealers fail to obtain "One-day copyright license", they can't display nor sell their kits. This license is valid only for this day, so they can't sell their kits legally on other days. To obtain this license, licensors require the dealers to submit some document, photo, loyalty payment, submission of sample product etc- the process and requirements differ among licensors)
(wikipeida article in Japanese on "One-day, limited license system")
At comiket, parody comic creators and novelists do not have permission from the content owner to create books. Wonfes was like that in the past- and creating and selling figures and garage-kits without a license from the content owner created much friction with the content owners. Therefore, content owners, creators and Wonfes committee agreed upon this one-day licensing system.
This is how an license certificate looks like:
Number of "dealers" is 1,650
Number of participants in the previous festivals are:
2006 summer 37,099
2007 winter 40,294
2007 summer 40,268
2008 winter 45,156
...and am still waiting for the number of participants for 2008 summer.
You need to ask each time you take photo. Most dealers says ok, some require you to wait till certain time (like you can take photos after 14:00 etc, and very rarely they put up a signage saying "no photos")
About Garage Kits:
Garage Kits are amateur-produced model kits. Garage kits originated with dedicated hobbyists frustrated with being unable to find model kits of subjects in the commercial market where mass-produced plastic models are mainstream, they started producing high quality kits on their own. They are ofted sculpted with silicon rubber and casted with resin.
Due to such nature of garage-kits, its quality is extremely high, but the number of production is low (as it is not mass-produced, amateur made in an intensive labor environment)
Not everything sold is kits:
Although Wonder Festival started as a garage-kit event, some people started to sell the completed figures not the kit itself. (Some sell both)
Sold out quickly:
Amateur garage-kits/figures are 1) high quality and/or unique 2) not mass produced, limited number and rare 3) cannot be legally sold on normal days, so despite it being fairly expensive- 40-100USD or so- they get sold out quickly. I went into the venue around 11:30 and figures were getting sold out already.
Some of the kits I saw at Wonder Festival:
Basically, kits would look like this:
And when you purchase those kits, you can create a figure like this.
Some kits you buy unpainted, put it together and paint yourself.
Some are really really detailed
and some are as simple as this one:
This kit only has face, and you can put commercially marketed "nendo-roid series" hairs to fit to those faces.
Figures from various animations can be found here:
Gegege no Kiotaro
Figures of games were being sold too.
(even Yayoi creature...!)
Not only animation and games, but a figure of an actor in a movie "Siberia Express" was found:
BTW... I found that a convenience store near the venue was trying to sell loads of Haruhi figures :)
All of the photos can be found here: