Exactly what the title says! If you want a collection like mine you need a few things – a bit of spare cash and to live in Japan. That last one is probably a little bit tricky but don’t worry, I’ve found some great websites where you can import this awesome merch. It is not cheap but it is -usually- the best deal you’ll get short of living in Japan or picking it up while on holiday.
- Square Enix Shop < The most obvious place to pick up merch. You know it’s 100% legit and is also the only place I use to pick up jewellery. They ship from warehouses local to each region (ie. the European store is based in France). Their customer serivce has improved a lot over the years. The merch team also attend a lot of conventions such as MCM Expo.
- Nippon Yassan < My current favourite import site. Competitive prices, good customer service and flexibility to have items marked down. Never had a customs charge from these guys. Ordered my FFX Japanese Vita from these guys and it couldn’t have been easier.
- Nin Nin Game < Very similar to Nippon Yassan but gives the option of having your item shipped from a warehouse in France so cuts out the risk of import fees. This is more expensive and I usually gamble on the fees because they also mark down prices but it gives more flexibility.
- Ami Ami < An old import site I used to use for figures and Japanese exclusive merch. They ship via unregistered SAL (best way to avoid customs charges). SAL is supposed to be slow but it has actually arrived before my EMS parcel on some occassions (sometimes EMS gets caught in customs for ages if they have a backlog). The staff are very helpful and best of all they have good sales on. This is where I got my IX Play Arts from and the boxes arrived in much, much better condition than any Play Arts I have ordered from Play.com. I used to rave about this site but lately I’ve been hit with a lot of customs charges, even on the SAL goods. They won’t mark down prices 😦
- Play-Asia < Like Ami Ami, this used to be one of my favourite import sites but their high shipping costs and the frequent customs charges have put me off them. They have so many little gems on here but they do not last long. Usually FF merch isn’t produced for very long before they move onto the next thing and this site sells out fast. Delivery speed is not the best but that’s to be expected when importing from China. It should be noted all the items from here are 100% legit. In general Ami Ami is a cheaper option if they sell the item you’re looking for.
- Yes Asia < A fair site to use. It is more expensive than Play-Asia but stock lasts quite a bit longer and this site has free shipping. I’ve ordered only one or two items from here and they’ve arrived in perfect condition. As with Play-Asia, delivery speed is not the best but that’s to be expected when importing from China. It should be noted all the items from here are 100% legit and again are usually exclusive to Japan.
- Hobby Search < I have brought some Final Fantasy trading cards from here and I was very impressed. Staff are very helpful, the only downside is they won’t ship via unregistered SAL and they aren’t quite as cheap as Ami Ami… But they don’t sell out as fast as Ami Ami so it’s a very good alternative.
- Play < This was once a fantastic site for UK buyers but since being taken over by Ratuken they have stopped reducing gaming merch to rediculously low prices and don’t seem to stock as much as they used to. Most of the merch on here is Play-Trade (similar to Amazon Marketplace) and makes it confusing when browsing. I’d no longer recommend them very highly but on occassion you’ll find a bargain.
- Tokyo Toys < Another UK site. This one is an expensive one based in Central London. I’ve picked up a few figures when I’ve been visiting before (most notably my KH Cloud Play Arts). I also ordered my Loveless Locket from here too. It’s not a bad store but usually it’s RRP or over and I generally feel like I’m being ripped off seen as I use AmiAmi and eBay far more often. Also seems to have a limited range of stock too. You won’t find the Japanese exclusives which Play-Asia and Yes Asia sell.
- eBay < This is probably where I’ve picked up the most FF merch over the years. Things can be very unpredictable – there can be some really good deals while on the other hand there can be some complete rip offs. Before shopping here make sure you do research into real and fake items. Avoid buying from Hong Kong and China in general unless you are completely sure you’re getting the real thing. Also I’ve noticed recently there are a lot of fakes from Australian sellers. I avoid them completely now as it’s not worth the risk. This is the only place really to get a hold of the older bits however.
- Yahoo Japan Auctions < This is an unusual site but is definitely the best way to obtain the older and rarer merch at good prices. It’s basically Japan’s answer to Ebay. The catch is that you have to be based in Japan and you have to pay a small subscription fee to join. To get around this you can either get a Japanese friend to bid for you or you can use a handy site like Rinkya to do it for you. I actually used this site to import my Static Arts Cloud, VIII/X Play Arts Arms and my two Amano prints. They charge commission and can hold your items in their warehouse for a few months for free while you buy other items (or in my case save up for shipping). The staff are really friendly and I’d recommend them highly. Rinkya is not the only site that offers this service – there are tons out there willing to buy from Yahoo Japan or even direct from Japanese stores at a fee but Rinkya is the only one I’ve dealt with myself.
I hope this has given you a bit of help on ways to start or expand your FF collection. Leave me a comment if you have any questions, if you want to share other sites to use or if you’ve picked up any bargains recently!