- Buying & Importing 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.

Quick Links:

Yahoo Japan     |    Mandarake     |    Mercari     |    Suruga-ya JP     |    Rakuten Global Market


- Expected Costs


    Buying Import Zoids are expensive. You not only have to 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:

- Fee Type- Expected Cost
Base Cost:The cost of the Auction/Purchase itself.
    * For USD, removing the last 2 digits gives you a very rough approximation.
Banking Fee:$2 (This is the cost of 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.
    * In the US around $20-$30 (EMS) on small kits, $45 for HMM Liger Zero size.
Service Fee:Usually $5-$15 for items under 10,000 Yen.

    All in all you can expect to add $35-$40 to the overall cost when you import a Zoid. Finding a service that'll hold items and combine shipping will go a long way if you buy a lot of Zoids.

- 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!

- Deputy Services


    A deputy service will buy Zoids from Japanese stores and ship them internationally. Due to banking and personal reasons, many sellers in Japan won't actually ship outside of the country, and this locks off a huge portion of the market for international fans. These sites are great services and have been recommended by members of the community.

    * Live bidding means whether or not you can bid in person.

Celga

Celga
Payment Methods:
    Credit card
    Paypal
Combined Shipping:
    Yes (Free)
Live Bidding:
    Yes (Membership Only)
Holding Time:
    Several Months
Details
Packaging:
    Newspaper*
    Individual Plastic Wrap
Fees:
    1~1000 Yen: $5
    1,001~10,000 Yen: $10
    10,001 ~ Up: $10 for every additional 10,000


Pros:
    The benefit of Celga is their unlimited storage service. Items can be held for literally half a year, possibly more, with no additional fee. This is especially useful for large or heavy items. You can purchase the item first, then worry about shipping it later when you get more cash. The service is also willing to buy from virtually any web store, whereas sites like Buyee have a select list of stores only, or charge additional fees for certain stores.


Cons:
    Celga is a manually handled service which lacks the automated convenience of its competitors. Bidding is handled by staff, and this means that if you aren't serious about your bid being your maximum bid, you may lose out if you submit a bid too close to the deadline. They also have a fixed fee and currency exchange rate, which often leads to it being more expensive.

    The site is notably slower than automated services. When you submit a bid, it can take them a few hours to note it. The bid itself is only placed within the last few hours of the auction to avoid driving up the price. Store items take on average 1 ~ 2 days to be purchased, which is fairly standard for deputy services. If you haven't heard about your item, don't be afraid to E-mail them and ask! Celga has very polite, personalized customer support. They'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.


Shipping:
    When you request shipping from Celga, they ship all of your items together. You cannot request that they only ship certain ones. Each item is individually wrapped, either in shrink wrap or bubble wrap, with a sticker that includes the Auction/Store link. Flat items like books are packaged in the bottom of the box, and any unfilled space is packed with newspaper. I must say, their tetris skills are superb. I've never received a damaged item from them out of hundreds of items ordered.

Buyee

Buyee
Payment Methods:
    Alipay *(Store only)
    Buyee Points
    Credit Card
    Paypal
Combined Shipping:
    Yes (*Fees)
Live Bidding:
    Yes
Holding Time:
    30 Days
Details
Packaging:
    Uncertain

Main Fees:
    150 Yen for items under 3,000 Yen
    500 Yen (Covers inspection, insured)
Additional Fees:
    500 Yen Consolidation Fee (2 items)
    1,000 Yen Consolidation Fee (3 or more items)
    1,500 Yen Safe Packaging Fee

    30 Day storage is free.
    100~300 Yen per day for 31~90 days.
    * The site has further fees for certain situations.

Notes:
    Buyee is a popular choice for buying from Japan. It has the typical storage time, the lowest fees around, and benefits from not requiring a deposite. This makes it a convenient option if you wish to bid on an item, but don't really want to wait for the refund process if the auction isn't won. Just be sure to ship it quickly as the storage limit is 30 days.
    The safe packing fee is basically where they repackage the items for you to make sure they're shipped securely. Otherwise everything is shipped in the original packaging that it was received in.

Jauce

Jauce
Payment Methods:
    Paypal
Combined Shipping:
    Yes
Live Bidding:
    Yes
Holding Time:
    60 Days (~180 Days)
Details
Packaging:
    Basic repacking, necessary padding
    Optional smart packing to save on costs (fees)
    Optional fragile packing for delicate items (fees)

Main Fees:
    400 Yen + 8% of the item cost
    Depositing Fee: 40 Yen + 3.9%
    Off-site Stores: 1000 Yen + 8% of item cost
Additional Fees:
    Storage fee after 60 days.
    * 200 Yen/month for small items
    * 700 Yen/month for large items (Ie. Guitar)
    * After 180 days the item will be discarded.

    Smart Packing: 300 Yen
    Fragile Packing: 600 Yen

Notes:
    Jauce has quickly become a fan favorite among fans. While the fees can get steep, they've recently remodeled their packaging fees to make things more convenient for the buyer. Smart packaging refers to them repacking your items to carefully remove any excess boxes, padding, etc. that may increase the weight of the item (and thus international shipping cost.) Fragile packaging usually adds a layer of thick bubble wrap around the box contents.

    Generally speaking, Jauce is a great middle ground for services. The fees aren't bad, and the long storage time makes it a great option for combining different lots. Just be sure to pay attention to the time that you've had items in storage, as it'll roll into a fee period after 60 days. Even so, with 180 day maximum limit, it's extremely unlikely that you'll lose your items.

Japamart

Japamart
Payment Methods:
    Bank Transfer
    Credit card
    Paypal
Combined Shipping:
    Yes (Free)
Live Bidding:
    Yes
Holding Time:
    30 Days
    $1 fee per additional day, per item.
Details
Packaging:
    Uncertain

Main Fees:
    1 ~ 2,500 Yen: $5 (+$1 for Mbok Purchases)
    2,501 ~ 5,000 Yen: $8
    5,001 ~ 10,000 Yen: $10
    10,001 Yen and Up: $10+$1 per 1,000 added Yen.
Additional Fees:
    $1 per day, per item, after 30 days of storage.
    $10 late payment fee (72 hour deadline.)
    $10 additional late fee for every 10 days.

Notes:
    This is another importing store that does both importing and forwarding, bidding from Yahoo Japan and buying from online web stores. One of the benefits of Japamart is that they have an automatic sniping service, which automatically places bids within the last few moments of the auction. This means you don't have to stay up late to make sure your bid gets placed.

    While this site has low starting fees, it is extremely important that you make prompt payments and shipment requests. Otherwise you run the risk of heavy fees and possible loss of the item.

- Japanese Stores



    There are tons of Japanese stores out there, but these are some of the most common and useful. Anything in this list will require, to some extent international services to buy from. Scroll back up to the deputy services page if you need more information!



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
    Rakuten's Japanese store has a much wider selection, and lists things for a flat price. Because multiple stores are listing items, however, you're going to come across an annoying amount of overlap. Including plenty of golf clubs, but I'm sure Zoid shoppers are used to that. Prices are usually fairly static with little leeway.


Mercari
    Mercari is a Japanese market where users can list their products for a flat sale price. You'll find some interesting items on this site every now and then, from users who don't want to market their items on the wider YJ auctions. It's worth a look for those few rarities. However, it also keeps sold listings visible, and like most sites that do this, the option to hide sold listings is extremely dysfuntional, so there's a lot of wading.


Suruga-ya JP
    Suruga-ya is perhaps better known for its media, doujinshi, and assorted goods more than it is the Zoid kits themselves. Not that it doesn't have any. Normally the Zoids selection isn't great, but the prices can be, and occasionally rare books or CDs/games will pop up here.

    It's worth noting that there's been a lot of issues among buyers with Suruga-ya. In particular that items are packaged poorly, or in many cases take a LONG time to ship out from the site. So best to go with a deputy service that provides some insurance and more importantly, will check that the item boxing/etc. is ok before shipping internationally.

    The site used to have an international option but reviews were abysmal due to damaged products, so I'm not sure if it's still around. For what it's worth, I bought a few items from here and they were received in fine condition, so they may've upped their standards since then.

- International Stores


    Some of these stores are situated in Japan, but you can still buy items and have them shipped internationally. The selection is often smaller than the Japan-only version of the stores, so it might be worth checking out possible importing options.



AmiAmi
    AmiAmi has the lowest prices you'll find online. Situated in Japan means the shipping can get expensive, but even so the final price usually works out to be cheaper than competitors. They usually get all the new Zoids products and are quick to ship. The site allows users to combine orders by month, which can save on international shipping if you're a pre-order enthusiast.

    I'd be remiss not to note that AmiAmi has no lost item security. If your item is lost, even if the tracking confirms that it is lost (ie. returned to sender but never arrives,) they will not provide any kind of refund. Even going so far as to say that it's physically impossible for them to make a mistake. In my case, that mistake was shipping the box without sealing the customs/shipping information packet. Even though I had purchased insured shipping, I was told that AmiAmi needed to file for it. They acted like this was an inconvenience, then never filed.

    The TL;DR here is that the prices are great. Issues with your order are very unlikely, but if they do occur, you'll be shit out of luck. If you buy a lot of Zoids, the possible loss will ultimately be outweighed by the overall savings.


Mandarake
    Mandrake has a wide variety of Zoids available on their 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.


Rakuten Global Market
    Rakuten Global is the international website for the Rakuten JP store. The selection isn't as quite but the price is quite nice, and it provides consolidation, so you can combine multiple items to get lower international shipping.


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.

    HLJ can take some time to update their stocks, and they only ship twice a week, so it can take up to 6 days for items to ship out. An important note to keep in mind if you're paying for faster shipping. The prices are also not the best.


Toy-Wave
    This store is out of date and I don't recommend ordering from it anymore. Back in the day, I always had some minor issues. Always got my items, of course, but things like not getting the right tracking order, not having stocks updated, etc. It is, however, excellent for checking the weights of older Zoids and HMMS for shipping calculation.