Today we will be overcoming the first obstacle involving where to pre-order figures.
My main website for ordering would be Amiami. They usually have a small discount for the products they carry, and a point system. The number of points per item is really insignificant (1% of the item's price) but if you are one who likes to save, why not?
Amiami also allows you to combine your orders directly on your own, but for any splits in a combined order (for separate shipments) you'll have to contact Amiami directly via an email. Another good point they have that is worthy to note would be that they allow changes to shipping method after the invoice. In fact, the invoice would have all the different kinds of shipping method you can choose from (Unregistered SAL, Registered SAL and EMS) with all their respective prices stated, and you get to re-choose whichever you prefer.
However, like most Japanese pre-ordering sites, they do not accept cancellations, and might even ban your account if you do so. But I believe that all figure collectors should have the basic discipline not to back out after an order is made, thus this point doesn't actually affect me much.
Big in Japan
This was the first site I used when I first started pre-ordering figures directly from Japan. Their interface is easy to use and they carry exclusive products and might also have items cheaper than those listed on Amiami.
Though, for the combining or splitting of packages, you'll have to leave a message on the order slip's message box (you can add more messages but you are unable to edit your previous sent messages) and hope that BIJ sees those messages and act accordingly. Of course, there are several instances when they failed to meet my requests sent in through the messages. In this aspect, I prefer Amiami to BIJ as I can see clearly what in which order are combined and which are split.
BIJ also doesn't allow any changes in shipping method, which is a major turn-off for pre-orders as the weight of the item is still unknown and BIJ estimates might end up being very off. For instance, you might wish to ship 3 items combined in a single package in SAL only, but the total weight is over 2kg and BIJ bills you in EMS instead. However, you are unable to choose a different shipping method from the payment page, as opposed to Amiami, and you end up having to email them to ask for a change in shipping method or to split your packages, and pray that they saw and process the message.
Recently, BIJ has stated that changes in shipping methods after invoicing is not allowed, probably to cut down on their manpower so they don't have to re-weigh and re-calculate shipping costs for every customer. However this means that you have to accept the final shipping method BIJ chooses for you, regardless of what it is.
In fact, I had many bad experiences with this rule, especially when they ignored me until the deadline for payment (7 days) was nearly up, and I had to pay to avoid being blocked. Only after the payment was made did I receive a reply from BIJ.
For now, I am not using BIJ anymore except for forwarding services.
HLJ prices are higher than other sites (Amiami, BIJ) but for what they charge, they make it up with their flexibility! That means, HLJ allows cancellations~
I repeat, HLJ allows cancellations! Which is something necessary at times, and furthermore, they also have a feature called a "private warehouse" where they allow you to store your in-stock items there for up to 60 days. What this means is that you are able to combine items across months for shipment!
You will no longer have to feel ripped-off for shipping a single Nendoroid for SGD$7 when you use HLJ. Simply combine all your small orders over the 2 months into 1 larger shipment to make shipping more worth it!
For figures, the Japanese site is almost always more worth it than its counterpart western side, so I'll urge all users out there to use the Japanese site. However, your searches have to be in Japanese and the pre-order prices for figures on Amazon JP are higher than that of the above-mentioned three sites. And more often than not, you might need a proxy of forwarding service.
On the bright side, I'm pretty sure Amazon JP allows cancellations, and sometimes their items also come with Amazon shop exclusives, which are exclusive items you can get only if you pre-order with them. This is quite similar to how Amiami exclusives work as well!
Carousell and other local stores
Carousell is an app where you can buy and sell your items, and figures are no exception. In fact, having a local online store which you may not need to travel all the way to, might be a better alternative.
Local stores now also hold pre-order goods and some of them have physical stores that allow you to pre-order only directly at their stores, like Otakutachi, or a handful may have both a physical store and a website and allow you to pre-order both directly at their stores or online, for instance toyntoys, but others are simply online-based, such as ToyCoin.
Do note that their prices might be a little on the steep side as local prices are considered higher than normal if you are one who constantly orders from Japan directly, though ordering from Singapore stores might save you the stress of worrying over exchange rates, so it might be well-worth it to do so!
From Your Fellow Collector,
- Where to get second hand figures?
- What to do if you have issues with your item or receive a damaged box?
- Storage of Figures
- Storage of Figure Boxes
- Maintenance of Figures
- Bootlegs- Sale of your figures