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Where to Buy Gunpla in Tokyo: Gunpla Shopping Guide: Akihabara Edition

Gunpla has grown in popularity in recent years, and Gunpla shopping has also changed with the times, especially post-pandemic. Today we’ll be looking at my Gunpla shopping recommendations, and concentrating on where to buy Gunpla in Akihabara!

Gunpla Shopping, Post-Pandemic

Today we’ll be talking about the best places to buy Gunpla in Akihabara, a part of Tokyo known for its deep otaku roots. But before we dive in, first I’d like to explain a little bit about how the covid pandemic affected the world of Gunpla at large, and what it looks like nowadays. When covid hit Japan, there was a serious increase in demand for hobbies and activities that could be conducted without leaving the house! Model-making is obviously nothing new, and the hobby has had its fans for a long time, but these unusual circumstances sparked new interest, and the enthusiasm for Gunpla spread like wildfire. Gunpla is easy and accessible for beginners, which meant it was the perfect place to start for new model makers or anyone reigniting an old flame, so to speak. In no time, the piles of Gunpla model kits that graced the shelves in hobby shops and electronics stores disappeared, and these shops’ distribution logistics went haywire. Then, of course, resellers joined the frenzy, hoarding products and then selling them off at 2~3 times list price. It was the wild west of Gunpla.

All that is to say, in the years since the pandemic chaos, the way Gundam is sold has gradually changed. There are new rules now, with many shops only allowing shoppers to buy one of each kit, a certain number of items per person, and even one transaction per day. Retailers are increasingly implementing advance reservations as well, or even establishing lotteries for popular sought-after new product releases. It’s gotten to the point where unprepared shoppers will sometimes find themselves bemoaning the situation, thinking “all I want is to buy some Gunpla, why is this so difficult?”

It’s one thing to give you info on some of the best Gunpla shops in Akihabara, but if you have any particular shopping goals, you’ll want to make sure you’re well-prepared for the experience!

Buying Gunpla in Tokyo

Fortunately, after a rough patch during peak pandemic lockdown days, the Gunpla market is back on track, and supply and demand is finally balancing out. It’s hard to say if things will ever go back to how they were pre-pandemic, but in the meantime Bandai’s production line has been expanded, and the market is growing fast. If you’re looking for a rare or popular kit, of course you might find yourself looking at steep prices, but if you pay attention to tips and hints from the Gunpla community, you’ll find some Gunpla shops that offer great deals. So today I’d like to introduce you to a handful of my personal favorite Gunpla shops in Akihabara (chosen entirely based on my own subjective opinions).

Gunpla Shop Recommendations in Akihabara

① Akihabara Radio Kaikan

▲ Akihabara Radio Kaikan

Found just outside the Electric Town exit of the JR Akihabara Station, Akihabara Radio Kaikan is a huge complex of shops focused on various otaku hobbies, and it’s home to the largest concentration of Gunpla shops in Akihabara. Two shops in particular, AmiAmi and Yellow Submarine, are particularly famous within the Gunpla community for selling old and new Gunpla products respectively. AmiAmi specializes in resale items, and they often stock popular Gunpla products from years past. But since they make no announcements regarding what kits they have, and when they’ll go on sale, if you want a chance to see what they have before it’s picked over by other Gunpla fans, you’ll have to head to the store first thing in the morning. Yellow Submarine, on the other hand, focuses mainly on the newest Gunpla product releases. Get there before noon on the release date of a new item, and more often than not you’ll be able to get your hands on it. The shop is also known for selling Gunpla part by part, which comes in handy when you want to modify your Gunpla… or if you’ve lost a part. (The recent surge in demand has also cut down on the number of parts they have available, though.)

② Volks Akihabara Hobby Paradise 2

▲ Volks Akihabara Hobby Paradise 2, AKA Volks Akihabara Hobby Heaven 2

Walk down the main street in Akihabara, and you’ll see Volks Akihabara Hobby Paradise 2 taking pride of place next to Bic Camera Akiba. On the 4th floor, they offer a wide selection of both new and older resale Gunpla, so it’s worth taking a look at what they have in stock. Here, too, they don’t make any announcements regarding new resale stock, so if you’re looking for something specific, it’s hard to know if they’ll have it or not. It’s really just luck of the draw!

③ Jungle Akihabara 1 (Jungle Fantastic Machinery Museum Mecha Store Akihabara)

▲ The old Jungle Fantastic Machinery Museum Mecha Store Akihabara

Once a separate shop next door, Jungle’s “mecha store” has now joined up with the main shop, which you’ll find if you slip down the alleys off the main street, and head to “Akihabara Junk Street.” This shop sells only used Gunpla items, but instead of jacking up the prices, they tend to keep things reasonable, sticking fairly close to list price. Of course, it’s unavoidable that even here some Gunpla is priced at a premium, but many rare items are surprisingly affordable! It’s a real hidden gem in Akihabara.

④ Surugaya Akihabara Plastic Model Building

▲ Surugaya Akihabara Plastic Model Building

Head straight north from Volks Akihabara, and after passing by Akihabara’s Don Quijote, you’ll finally find the Surugaya Akihabara Plastic Model Building. As far as I can tell, this shop has THE largest selection of Gundam model products in the Akihabara area! They offer a handful of new items, but they mainly focus on second-hand resale products, and their prices tend to be fairly high. It’s not the place to go if you’re looking for an amazing deal, but they have a fantastic selection of limited edition items and special event items, so it’s fun to take a look, and maybe splurge on something special!

★ The Best Route for Gunpla Shopping in Akihabara!

If you’re going to be carrying around a lot of new purchases, you’ll want an efficient route through Akihabara! This is my own route recommendation for Gunpla shopping in Akihabara, which will take you to all four shops mentioned above!

▲ My go-to route!

Find Your Own Akihabara Favorites, Too!

Today we looked at a few of the most popular must-see Gunpla plastic model shops in Akihabara, but there are many more places to buy Gunpla in the area than the spots listed above. Gunpla shops are generously scattered throughout the Akihabara area, from teeny-tiny holes in the wall to huge multi-story buildings, which means there are even plenty of places I myself haven’t seen yet. Maybe in the future we can take a look at even more of the best places to buy Gunpla in Akihabara!

Of course, as mentioned above, demand for Gunpla is soaring, to the point that some shops are even restricting purchases. If you want the newest releases, old classic kits, or any more specific products in general, it might be a bit of a struggle. But have patience, take your time to look through everything carefully, and maybe even try coming back to Akihabara once or twice – you’ll be sure to find some great Gunpla to take home with you!

JAPANKURU

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