|Godzilla Flickr / by SebastianDooris|
There are three types of toys I'm going to cover today. Unfortunately I'm not talking about the big, older vinyl robots like giant Mazingers that are 3 feet high, Japanese Transformers, or big 6 foot tall Gundams, even though they do exist. What we have on the menu are Macross transformers, the new articulated Godzilla figures, and Gundam models or Gunpla. All three of these types of toys are pretty popular and they come in all price ranges from a few tens of thousands of yen ($20 - $30 USD) to hundreds of thousands of yen (beyond my price range).
Also check out my post on real robot anime mecha if you're interested in the genre.
Macross is one pretty popular anime series with a big following even in the USA and Canada where it was shown as Robotech. The older Macross and Macross Plus DVDs are available in North America, but unfortunately, licensing problems won't allow the really cool Macross Frontier series or its movies to show here. The Macross Valkyrie transforming fighters are able to transform from humanoid robot, to half-plane / half-humanoid robot, and full plane modes. These are very cool and there are loads of model kits, and transformable toys available. Just check out places like amiami.com or hlj.com to view or buy them if you are not in Japan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VF-1_Valkyrie. Some of the more affordable figures are from the Revoltech or Mecha Damashii lines of toys, but they may or may not be transformable.
Godzilla is my favourite Kaiju ever since I was a small child. I've had several sets of Godzilla figures over the years, but the new releases from the S.H.MonsterArts line from Bandai are very posable and quite detailed. These are mid-range in price and good value for the money. I did like the ad campaigns for it and there are great commercials for it.
Gundam Model Kits or Gunpla
Gundams models are their own business. You can have other plastic model kits, but Gundam modelling has its own name "Gunpla" and its own industry. You can go to the naval section in a hobby store or the Gundam section - it is that big. Again, these model kits come in all levels of pricing from simpler, less articulated models to complex models that have thousands of parts to assemble. I like building the occasional model, but am not too good at the detailing. However, I have used Gundam Markers (yes, they have their own paint pens) to do detailing. I like full articulation and detail of these models. At online retailers you can often find them on sale (this could be a good or bad thing) and get a kit to try. Some of the pro modellers are just amazing in what they can do for paint jobs and in the dioramas you sometimes find.
You can tell they are trying to expand their market as it isn't just for guys. Gundam modelling is also for space frogs invading the Earth if you have watched Sergeant Keroro. Gunpla is a pop phenomenon that often shows up in various anime. Distantly related to Gunpla would be the giant 1:1 scale Gundam in Odaiba (http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2012/02/gundam-front-tokyo-at-diver-city-in.html).