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e-Hobby

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e-Hobby is a Takara-affiliated online store owned by Part One Co., Ltd. Even though the e-Hobby Shop sells all sorts of toys manufactured by Takara and other Japanese companies, it's best known for offering exclusive redecos of Transformers toys.


History

Part One Co., Ltd. was officially founded in Shinjuku, a district of Tokyo, on April 25, 1977, originally set up as a project design production company. By December of 1979, the company was already expanding, now also including a professional photo studio. Part One has been providing various kinds of services to Takara ever since the days of the Diaclone line, among them products planning, packaging design, character design and promotional planning. Among other things, Part One is responsible for designing the packaging for the Binaltech toyline. Today, Part One's official company description is "Digital Design Office".

The e-Hobby Shop was officially launched in March of 2000. In August of the same year, a delivery center was set up in the city of Sango, which was later moved to Yashio in November 2002. Even though the address e-Hobby.co.jp was used from the get-go, the site was temporarily also available under the (now defunct) URL http://e-hobby.sputniknext.com/, but eventually permanently moved to its current location in May 2003.

In March 2001, Takara would release the first exclusive toy through the e-Hobby Shop, a black redeco of the original Megatron toy that was reissued by Takara at the same time. "Black" Megatron had originally been offered for pre-order at BotCon Japan 2000, since the e-Hobby Shop hadn't been widely established yet by that time.

Since then, the range of exclusive product got bigger. Reissues of the original Generation One Ironhide and Ratchet toys that were part of Takara's store/convention exclusive "Collector's Edition" series came in 2001, followed by more same-character redecoes in new colors. With the launch of Takara's "Transformers Collection" line of "bookbox" reissues, e-Hobby would start to regularly offer an exclusive redeco of almost every toy released as part of the line. Many of those redecos were based on old Diaclone or Microchange variants of the toys in question, but were given new names and identities, with extensive bio profiles for the characters written by Hirofumi Ichikawa. In cases where no Diaclone or Microchange variant of the toy existed, e-Hobby would take obscure "extra" characters or weird errors from the cartoon series as inspirations for a redeco, or even come up with an entirely new deco.

In addition, e-Hobby would also continue to release exclusive redecos of non-TFC reissues and even of toys that were not reissues at all, including product from Robot Masters, the "Hybrid Style" line, Kiss Players and Binaltech.

Furthermore, e-Hobby also offered exclusive "USA Edition" versions of toys that were originally released by Hasbro, complete with the Hasbro packaging. In all these instances, the only difference to the Hasbro versions of those toys was an additional e-Hobby sticker on the packaging. Toys from Universe, Hasbro's 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime version of Takara's Masterpiece Convoy and Cybertron toys not part of the Galaxy Force series were all made available this way.

Beginning in 2007, e-Hobby also started offering limited quantities of toys that would originally be exclusively available at Japanese conventions, starting with the Wonder Festival 2007 Winter exclusive exclusive Binaltech Black Convoy. However, in all instances only Japanese residents were allowed to purchase the toys, unlike the other exclusives which could usually be ordered by foreigners as well.

In December of 2007, e-Hobby announced that they had stopped accepting orders from international private customers altogether as of September of the same year.[1][2] As a consequence, only Japanese residents are able to order toys directly from e-Hobby now, whereas international fans have to resort to third-party sellers.

In addition to Takara toys, e-Hobby also offers toys from other Japanese manufacturers such as Tomy (who are now merged with Takara into TakaraTomy) or Bandai. This included the Star Wars Transformers toys, who were distributed through Tomy Direct in Japan in a similar fashion as Takara's "USA Editions". However, thus far the only e-Hobby exclusive toys came from Takara.


e-Hobby exclusive toys

Reissues

  • Ironhide and Ratchet (sold as a set, but packaged separately)
  • "New Year Special" Lambor and Alert (sold as a set, but packaged separately)

Exclusive companions (redecos) for reissues

Other exclusive redecos

Convention exclusives later available at e-Hobby

"USA Editions"


Notes

  • Because e-Hobby is mostly known for exclusive toys and many Western fans aren't aware that e-Hobby also offers regular mass retail toys like most online stores, pre-orders for new mass retail toys listed at the e-Hobby website are occasionally mistaken as a confirmation that a toy is either exclusive to e-Hobby, or that an e-Hobby exclusive redeco is planned.
  • Another common misconception among fans is that e-Hobby "makes" the exclusive toys. While e-Hobby is presumably responsible for creating the color scheme and decos, the toys are still produced by Takara. After all, Toys "R" Us doesn't manufacture its own exclusive Transformers toys either.
  • "USA Edition" is not a term limited to imported Hasbro toys sold through e-Hobby either. In the past, Takara have released exclusive "USA Editions" through stores such as Jusco, Laox, Toy's Dream Project/Toycard or even selected stores participating in the "TF Station" program. A few "USA Editions" weren't even exclusive to any specific store at all. The most frequently used store to carry "USA Editions" other than e-Hobby, however, was the Japanese branch of Toys "R" Us.


External links

Footnotes

  1. e-Hobby stop international orders The Allspark
  2. e-Hobby stop international orders Tranformers @ The Moon
  3. 3.0 3.1 These toys were also available as regular mass retail releases in Japan. The e-Hobby exclusive "USA Edition" versions were of specific Hasbro variants of those toys.

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