(Update 2011/12/18 - Yuuka and Princess Bitch are both available at Tokyo Hunter.)
As a result of some unscrupulous individual making off with my camera during a recent trip to Taiwan, posts of this nature had to be put off until a later time. But since recent events have been mediocre at best, I've only added 4 new resin kits to my collection since last October.
1/7 Yoshii Yuuka by Ishiyama Satoshi (Orchid Seed)
Availability: WF2011 Winter only, 100 copies
While I found Tsundero to be an enjoyable eromanga, I wasn't exactly blown away by the intricate plot or the subtle characterization. The whole time while reading the titular chapters (starring Yuuka) I couldn't help but feel like I was reading a less drawn-out (but much less endearing) version of B Gata H Kei. When Orchid Seed first announced their WF2011 Winter GK lineup, she was quickly passed over in favor of the more amusing Princess Peach (which I didn't pick up at the time either due to lack of funds).
Still, this wouldn't be the first time I've come around to a kit (the 9,000 yen starting bid and the prospect of combined shipping were also contributing factors) so I went for it. Eventually though I had to raise it to the edge of my comfort zone (12,500 yen) so now I'm undecided about the whole affair.
1/7 Princess Bitch by OSIRIS (Heavy Gauge)
Availability: WF2011 Winter only, 40 copies
From eromanga F.S ISM (fair warning: avoid). I'm happy but also amused that nobody ended up bidding on her because 9,000 yen is a steal considering the sculptor and the very limited quantity run (prior to I had been eyeballing this 19,000 yen listing for months in hopes that either the seller would drop price or a cheaper option would present itself). I might attribute this to the notion that Japanese fans in general do not consider well-rounded body types to be attractive, but then again F.S ISM is quite terrible so they may just hate it by extension. It's a toss-up really.
1/7 Ignis of the Endless Winter by Ishiyama Satoshi (Orchid Seed)
Availability: WF2011 Summer only, 40 copies
So I paid 24% extra up front for Tokyo Hunter's service to avoid the drawn out bidding wars and to avoid missing out. Boy am I glad I did in the end. Although 10/39 copies eventually ended up on YJA, each auction winner paid on average an additional 58.6% on top of retail (values ranged between 39.7% and 70.7%). This is not even taking deputy bidding fees into account.
I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said this kit made WF2011 Summer for me, so it wasn't particularly reassuring when the day of the event had passed (JST) and I still haven't received confirmation whether the hunt was a success or not. By morning of the 25th (JST) I was already a nervous wreck, staring at the multiple auctions of Ignis that had now been listed on YJA and wondering if I'd made a terrible mistake. Well in hindsight the fact that I wasn't contacted hours after the event regarding a full refund should've been enough to clue me in; but it didn't, and I sat there all depressed for 4 more hours.
1/5 Kousaka Tamaki by Toushirou (Cobra-Kai)
Availability: Wonder Festival 2006 Summer, World Hobby Festival Yokohama DASH-1 and Wonder Festival 2007 Winter, >150 copies (est.)
Just hours before the auction was about to end I found out my SMJ bidding limit had been reduced to zero. I hadn't used the deputy service since July 2010 and my credit card on file had expired. Luckily I remembered that I had a PayPal account with Rinkya so off I went.
Even though I had an account set up there I never used it. Although I'm not fond of the repeat log-in requirement just to see your bidding history, I'm starting to come around to their service for the sole reason of better exchange rates. Though Rinkya charges more for commission, they only take about 2 yen off the current exchange rate (whereas SMJ will always take 5 yen off the current exchange rate). This was something I stupidly overlooked before and for that I apologize if I've mislead anyone into thinking SMJ was all-around superior to Rinkya.
Here is a comparison of what I paid for Tama-nee (Rinkya) vs what I paid for Yuuka (SMJ). There is a difference of 2,000 yen between the items but I feel this is sufficient as a reference:
Tama-nee (aka Rinkya)
Date won: July 26, 2011
Price: 14,500 yen
Exchange Rate offered: 76 (historical exchange rate for this day: 78.101)
Price in US: $190.78
Handling Fee (YJ to Rinkya Japan warehouse): $15
Total (item stored in Japan) = $190.78 + $30 + $15 = $235.78
Note: Item weight is 530g
Shipping via EMS from Japan to Canada = $34 (already marked up 25% by Rinkya)
Grand Total: $269.78
Yuuka (aka SMJ)
Date won: Sept 6, 2011
Price: 12,500 yen
Exchange Rate offered: 71 (historical exchange rate for this day: 77.374)
Price in US: $176.05
Processing Fee: $3.00
SMJ internal shipping: 1,790yen <- this 2nd conversion is easily overlooked
SMJ internal shipping converted using exchange rate offered: $25.21
Handling Fee (YJ to SMJ USA warehouse) = $3.00 + $25.21 = $28.21
Total (items stored in USA) = $176.05 + $15 + $28.21 = $219.26 (actually rounded to $219.30 on invoice)
Note: Yuuka was shipped together with Princess Bitch (total weight is 620g)
Shipping via EMS from USA to Canada = $35.35
Grand Total: $254.61
Despite the initial 2,000 yen difference, in the end the difference is only about $16. It's still tough for me to say if it's better/just as good to use Rinkya for higher end auctions as SMJ's commission becomes a flat rate of $35 once you go past 33,000 yen (up to 100,000 yen); but for items between 6,000 to 33,000 yen Rinkya offers competitive rates. Anything below that though it's probably best to stick with SMJ.
If you guys know of other comparable deputy bidding services that offer real-time bidding I would love to hear about it.
Can you believe the size differences? Tama-nee is supposed to be 1/5 scale, but she's dwarfed by the 1/7 scale Ignis (oh I assure you the box is quite full). And I'm finding it difficult to swallow that Yuuka and Princess Bitch are also 1/7 scale. On my way home after the clerk at Canada Post handed me this tiny ass box which supposedly contained the pair I couldn't help but wonder if either SMJ screwed up or if Bitch got confiscated at customs.
The box wasn't even full.