Proxy and forwarding services
Read the terms of service very carefully.
Before using any of these services, you must make sure that you completely understand how their service works. Do not be the idiot that orders an 18+ product to a forwarder, then complains when they do not allow it to be shipped. Make sure that you read their website often to make sure that their service hasn't changed. This is just a list of various services, with some advantages and disadvantages to some.
Proxy - Someone who buys your shit for you, for a fee of course, and then sends it to you. Proxy services vary in what they offer and what their fees are, so it’s in your interest to investigate them and find the one that best suits you. Used in conjunction with sites where you can’t pay directly or when you don’t feel confident about your moonspeak to place your order.
Forwarding - Use when you can pay for your items but you need a Japanese address. You pay for the item and have it sent to the domestic address of the service. The forwarder then sends the item to you, for a fee.
★ - The store is able to undervalue or mark your item as a gift, which may help avoid extra fees. For more details check the undervalue section.
List of proxies & forwarders
MFC Shops Database Subject to >opinions, take everything with a grain of salt.
- Buyee - Partnered with Yahoo! Auction Japan, if you ever use Y!AJ and click the buying from overseas option, this is what you'll be using. They are very simple and easy to use, however they charge 500 Yen per item to consolidate your package which will quickly add up. Buyee will store your item for 90 days, it is unknown what they will do with the item after that period is over.
- Zenmarket ★ - They are easy to use, you can bid for things yourself or place a sniper bid. They charge 300 yen per item plus a 3.35% money transfer fee and up to 9% for shipping insurance. Their packaging is very good. Their search is not the greatest and it occasionally misses items, it is therefore recommended for you to use the Japanese website when looking through Y!AJ and the like and then to paste the website into Zenmarket. There is no consolidation fee when combining items. Zenmarket will hold your item for 45 days before they will start to charge you per day.
- 2you4 - They are quite cheap and have good customer service. They will not undervalue and will change the value if there’s a receipt in the package they get.
- Proxyrabbit Japan - Good customer service and packaging, and they deal with adult items too. They might be slow to tell you when they get your order, but if you email them and ask them they usually ship it really soon after your email. They allow you to use paypal when purchasing adult items.
- FromJapan ★ - Shipping can be expensive but the package is usually well protected as a result. It's easy to use and they are very quick to respond if there are any issues. You can bid in real-time or place a sniper bid which can be freely edited or cancelled until 10 minutes before the auction ends.
- Big in Japan ★ - Here is a guide for using BiJ with Suruga-ya When using as a forwarder, purchase a ticket and list what items you are purchasing and from what store. If you are using them as a proxy, then read this page and follow the instructions.
- J-Subculture ★ - Their fees are quite low and their customer service is good. Bidding is in real-time or you can place a sniper bid (which can't be cancelled).
- White Rabbit Express ★ - White Rabbit Express is very quick and easy-to-use. Simply add the url for your items you want them to buy and get an instant estimate. Usually their fees are 12.5% but there are occasionally times where they drop down to 8% such as during summer. They also charge a $1 fee per unique item and $4 fee per shop. White Rabbit Express gives you an option to pre-approve domestic shipping to speed up your order. The pre-paid amount is 800 yen per shop, and the overpayment will be refunded back to you. Adult goods OK. They are not used as often as others, which means Y!AJ who do not wish to sell to gaijins will most likely not have blocked them yet.
- Blackship ★ - The people behind White Rabbit Express have launched a forwarding service, therefore you can probably expect the same standards mentioned above. You can login with the same credentials on both sites. Blackship will send you a photo of your package when it arrives so you know which shop it came from (but the photos can be rather blurry sometimes). Be careful of their fees, there appear to be a large amount of them. They allow you to enter your own customs value before shipping. Adult goods OK.
The following need updated, however they are not necessarily worse than the above. Those who update the guide simply do not have experience with them and so are not able to add information about them. If you do use them, please update with any information or post the information in the buyfag thread where it will hopefully be seen.
- Ash Doujin Resale
- Proxy Kolektakon
- Shopping Mall Japan - Japanese yen rate is always -5 to current.
- Rinkya - One of the most expensive proxies, only useful for expensive (50,000+ yen) orders.
- Noppin - Expensive for multiple small items, but you can bid for things yourself.
- FromJapan Blog (VITAMINA)
- TENSO - Partnered with Rakuten, ads everywhere, no longer forced EMS as of Nov 2014
- Japan Auction Agency
- Japan Shopping Service
Finding released figures
Once a figure has been released, it may become very difficult to find or it may become so easy to find that the price begins to drop. The following websites should help you in both situations.
FiginStock - Useful when you are hunting down figures, you can add the figure you want and the site will let you know if it becomes available at any of the popular stores.
Camelcamelcamel - Allows you to track figures on Amazon JP and it will give you an alert when a price drops.
Auctions (by which I mean eBay and not Yahoo! Auction Japan)
If you’re going to try and buy figs from eBay, you’re going to need a lot of patience, a keen eye, low gullibility, and sometimes a lot of money. A lot of people like to overprice what they sell by a lot, and the few deals that pop up every now and then will go up in price fairly quickly.
Here is a list of rules that to abide by before making a bid on something.
If the price is too good to be true, then it usually is. Nobody is going to sell his Nendoroid or figma for $0.99. I certainly wouldn’t. There is absolutely no way a company can profit if they sell their products for 90% off constantly. Always check the actual listing to figure out why it’s so cheap. Sometimes the shipping fees are astronomical ($67 in one case) and other times the figure is a bootleg (It sometimes says that the figure is a “Chinese version”). Very rarely would it be an honest seller who is starting low to encourage bids. Always use your common sense when it comes to judging prices.
If the seller (item location) is in China/Taiwan/Hong Kong, expect it to be a bootleg. Almost no exceptions. China is #1 in the world for counterfeit and bootleg goods; Taiwan ranks at #3 despite being a tiny island. Instead look for a Japanese or American seller with good reviews, and even then be wary and do your research. Obviously look into the seller’s own photos and don’t be afraid to press the seller for photos if they are not provided. eBay favors the buyer over sellers, so you can’t go wrong.
If the seller uses a stock picture, expect it to be a bootleg. If the seller uses only stock pictures and posts no photos of the actual figure or item on hand, then it’s more than likely a bootleg. If you don’t know what the actual product looks like, then just don’t buy it. It’s not worth paying $20 for what ends up being a crappy Chinese knockoff. Always look for pictures that look like they’ve been taken by the seller. Ask the seller for proof photos. That increases the chances that it’s not a bootleg.
Read the description. ALWAYS READ THE DESCRIPTION. It doesn’t matter if the figure is legitimate or not, you always want to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want. This is where you can find out the shipping prices, whether the box or the figure is damaged or not, if it’s missing any pieces, and any other details that the seller might include. Steer clear if the seller appears to be unable to write coherent English. If the auction mentions that it’s a “Chinese version,” that’s a euphemism for bootleg. Sometimes a figure can look legitimate but the seller indicates that it’s a bootleg in the description. Sometime it can look like a bootleg but the seller includes actual pictures of it after the the stock ones. Don’t go bidding uninformed.
Do your research Check for how much the item you want has sold (or not) for in the past (click on the Sold Listings box).
Be wary of snipers. Once you actually find a legitimate figure and start bidding on it, make sure to be around when the auction ends. It’s very likely that if you’ll lose the auction if you don’t actively take watch over it. I’ve seen figs double in price in the last 10 seconds of an auction. If you want the highest chance at winning something sit yourself down in front of your computer during the last five minutes. That will give you the best chance at winning your fig and affords you the opportunity to “out-snipe” the other snipers.
Everything is expensive. eBay is not the place to be looking for deals. Most of the “Buy It Now” figurines are WAY overpriced, and sometimes the starting prices for the auctions start at absurd amounts ($85 for a nendo, for instance). Good deals come every now and then, so if you’re really hell-bent on buying something, then set up a search alert or check on a daily basis.
Look for a mention of the original manufacturer. Find out who the original manufacturer is at MFC and look for it in the eBay publication. Most ebay bootlegs have no mention of said manufacturer.
Check the amount of bids. If you’re still unsure if something is a bootleg or not, look at the number of bids. Remember that there are other people on ebay looking for deals on figures (as improbable as that sounds), and that some of them are more knowledgeable about avoiding bootlegs than you are. A bootleg will never have upwards of 1 to 2 bids on it. Use this strategy in combination with others to make sure you don’t get ripped off.
Trusted Ebay Vendors.
- >Sellers from /a/
In summary, use your common sense, expect to pay more than other sites, if you’re not sure if it’s a bootleg or not, don’t buy it (or ask your friendly neighbor, /a/).