Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Natural History in Unexpected Places: WONDERFEST-Japanese Science Fiction Toy Show!

JAPAN! So many amazing things! Sometimes in unexpected places!!

Today, an unusual post. As many of you know I'm currently visiting Japan to study the Sea Stars of Japan at the National Museum of Nature and Science. 

In a happy coincidence with this year's visit, my trip took place at the same time as the massive Japanese science fiction/toy and model-kit show called Wonder Festival.  I have a uh... passing interest in Japanese pop culture.. Godzilla, Ultraman, so forth...and so, why not? I've never been to one.. I wonder what its like??

HUGE. A massive space with a massive crowd! 

Much of it was pretty much what you would expect. Renditions of everyone's favorite Japanese monsters, robots and so on...

But one of the things I had NOT expected was to see how this incredible pool of artists, craftsmakers, modellers, and even retailers were heavily influenced by Natural History! 

Here in this enclave of fantasy were an innumerable number of items which were inspired by the natural world!!  I saw everything from actual animal skulls for sale to various figure kits and monsters inspired by insects, sea stars and more!

I don't know if I should have been surprised but I was VERY impressed by how creative and frankly, f*cking STUNNING some of the art and displays were... and yes much of it for sale.

I've mentioned in other posts, how the Japanese apparently have a pretty huge appreciation for natural history and an inordinate fondness, if not outright obsession with various marine invertebrates.. 

But pictures were encouraged and so here's a cross-sample of things that caught my eye. I'll be honest and say that at the time I didn't think to capture the names of the companies and artists who created these items. And so, the omission of their names is my fault... but knowing how much of these things exist is a pretty awesome fact in and of itself...

A steampunk Fangtooth Fish! My pictures don't do it justice..
A real one for comparison...
and here is a nice Steampunk rendition of what I believe is Sternoptyx, aka the hatchetfish! another resident of the deep-sea
But steampunk fish were not the only fish in attendance. Actual fish skeletons were also to be had! Here are some cool preps in tiny glass/plastic boxes!!
And one closeup of a particularly cool one...
Invertebrates were also well-represented!! Here are some resin or porcelin (not sure I remember) highly detailed STOMATOPOD figures! Each about 2 inches (6 cm) long. 
Origami has a LONG history in Japan..and so a good representation of paper craft displaying various marine animals was on display...
But MY favorite??? The paper craft model of the Cambrian predator Anomalocaris!! 

Some interesting snails with a skull motif!! 

I don't honestly remember what these figures were made of but they were visually AMAZING.

Here.. some horseshoe crabs that have never looked better! 
Some colorful but more conventional crabs...
Some Coelacanth action! 
A rockin' green lobster! 

And then, there was this guy, who had metal casts of various crabs in various sizes... these are parthenopids I believe (elbow crabs).

One guy was selling these stunning Bismuth samples!! The surface oxidizes giving it these brilliant colors

and of course, you always got the classic: Paleozoic Anomalocaris and Dunkleosteus vinyl figures! 

1 comment:

Cecily said...

Steampunk cephalopodssss!!!!!!