- Buying Import Zoids

    There's tons of amazing Zoids available on Japanese only markets, and this can be a problem to collectors in other countries. Most Japanese sellers won't ship overseas which means you have to go through a third party (also known as a deputy service) to import them to your country.

    This article will help walk you through buying Zoids from Japan. These guides may not apply to all countries.

- Expected Costs

    Buying Import Zoids are expensive. You have to not only pay for shipping to you, but also pay for the banking charges and the cost of the seller shipping Zoids to your importer. You are also likely to pay a service charge (which all companies charge.)

    Exchange Rates: If using a Deputy Service be sure to check their website to see if they have a pre-determined exchange rate. If not be sure to use Paypal's exchange rate (assuming you're using them) and not the Google Exchange Rate as these don't always match up. You can view the cost by going to send money. You can input the number without having to actually send any money and it will automatically inform you of the rate.

    Normally the fees that you can expect to pay are:


    Base Cost: The cost of the Auction/Purchase itself
    Banking Fee: $2 (This is a cost charged for bank transfers in Japan)
    Domestic Shipping: $5-$20 for most Zoids (shipping to Importer)
    International Shipping: Varies depending on country. This is shipping to you.
    Service Fee: Usually $5-$15 for items under 10,000 Yen.


    I live in the US (Washington State) and can usually expect to pay $20-$50 international shipping on EMS, for a Zoid as large as a Kotobukiya Blade Liger. Old motorized kits are a bit less to ship. Toy-Wave is a very useful site that, while mostly out of stock of Zoids items, contains a weight listing for many. Check the shipping calculators for shipping companies from the country of origin.

- Ordering Process

    Buying from Japan can seem daunting at first but it's not much different from ordering from a normal web store. The first step is choosing a service, which I'll make a list of below.

    The second step is to send in your order through their submission form. Most stores either require a deposite of 50% or 100% of the maximum bid (or purchase) amount. Buy-it-now items usually require full purchase cost. Once they've placed the bid for you you'll receive an invoice within a few days for the remaining bid amount, domestic shipping, and service charge.

    After the item has arrived at the Deputy Service you can usually have them hold items for you for quite a while with some services. This allows you to buy multiple items and have them shipped to you all at once to save on shipping costs. Then it's just a matter of choosing and paying for shipping!

- Stores


    There are tons of stores that you can order from, and lots of deputy services. I'll cover the deputy services first because that's what this article is most pertaining to, but at the bottom I'll also list stores where you can buy Zoids that ship outside of Japan. Most cheaper options are from Ebay. Some of these are established and some are Ebay stores.


Celga
    Celga is a deputy service. It has pros and cons, but I often use this one over others. They use a fixed exchange rate which is often fairly low compared to Paypal's. This is a con. Their service fee is typically $5 for 1000 Yen/under items, and $10 for 1001-10000 yen items. The biggest benefit of using this company is that they are willing to hold items for well over a month. Sometimes even 2-3.


Japamart
    This is another importing store that does both importing and forwarding, bidding from Yahoo Japan and buying from online web stores. I am not sure how long they normally hold items for.



Japan Stores
These stores usually require a deputy service to order since most sellers will not ship outside of Japan.



Yahoo Japan
    Yahoo Japan has a massive selection of Zoids products. Many people think of model kits when they look for items to buy but there are so many figures, cards, games, etc. out there that are oft forgotten. If you shop around and carefully calculate fees you can also find amazing deals.


Rakuten
    This is a place where sellers can come to sell their items for flat fees. Amazing deals abound, especially on old Kotobukiya Zoids which tend to skyrocket in price.



Direct Purchase Stores
These stores can be purchased from without having to use any kind of deputy service. They do not have additional service and will ship overseas to most people.


AmiAmi
    AmiAmi is an excellent store, price wise. You may notice from our upcoming release board that they're the store we use most! They get all new Zoids in at a large discount and are quick to ship. They are not the cheapest option, but they do give you points for every purchase. These points can be saved up and used later to get a discount on your items, a yen amount equal to the number of points you have.
    A recent, unfortunate series of events has forced me to ammend the AmiAmi section, in which a Zoid did not reach me. They said they would only do a partial refund (the item cost, not the shipping) when the Zoid got back to them, but it was lost in the mail due to the customs packet coming off. I would never be getting a refund. They also would not return any money if the item was lost for good, because they said it was unfair for them to have to pay to make things right with a customer if it was not their mistake (they claimed and it is highly possible that it was USPS). They also will not contact USPS to resolve such issues. I would expect this from a single person, but from a larger company I expect better customer service than this. Don't get me wrong, I've gotten dozens of items from them in the past, but was appaled by the "Sorry, your screwed" policy of a lost $300 item.


Hobby Link Japan
    HLJ is a Japan-based store that will ship worldwide. They often get Zoids in at great discount prices and will allow you to add items to your personal warehouse. In this case you pay the item cost when it becomes available and then you can have the items held and combine shipping to save money. It's worth noting they are one of the most affordable stores for DHM/HJM. The biggest issue I've heard of HLJ is that they take a while to update stocks, and can take a long time to inform buyers of these issues (I've even heard of several week long waits). They also only ship twice a week. I've waited for 6 days to have an item shipped before.


Toy-Wave
    Toy-Wave is a US store that imports Zoids. While their prices may seem high at a glance, it is important to take into account the cost of importing. They often are only a few bucks more expensive (for new items) than importing them yourself, and saves you the hassle. The down side is that Toy-Wave has very scattered customer service. I've ordered several times from them and they always messed up at least one thing, however minor, such as giving me wrong tracking numbers or none at all, when they were paid for. They're fairly understanding though and are easy to work with. I also don't recommend them for thin boxes as I've known them to wrap these packages in thick bubble wrap, which constricts on thin boxes like HMM Zoids and bends up the box a lot.


Tatsu Hobby
    This store is in California, and often gets in Kotobukiya Zoids. The shipping cost, being inside of the US should make up for the price difference of ordering straight from Japan.


Mandrake
    Mandrake has a wide variety of Zoids available and is a massive web store. You can find different kinds of items, not just models. The deals on some of these are amazing, even on exceptionally rare kits. Just a warning up front that it also contains a lot of hentai/inappropriate content.