Sunday, February 6, 2011

Buying from Mandarake

Mandarake can be fantastic for Takara doll collectors. I've ordered from them twice in the past, and I'm waiting on my third order now.

The order process is fairly easy. There's an option next to every item in the "shopping cart" to cancel the whole order if it's out of stock. You submit the order, and they pull your items off the store shelves, pack them, and send an order total. The Nakano store can now ship via DHL, which has rates similar to airmail and SAL.

My Tips:

  • Know roughly how much your order will weigh, so there are no shipping surprises. You can check weights of some older products on HLJ. Brown Box dolls are about 200g, dolls in Calendar Girl size boxes should be around 250-300g. Each time I've ordered, the shipping box and materials weighed around 500g on their own.
  • Always read any notes left under the product details. If it's only in Japanese, I recommend OCN's translator. Click the second circle from the left for Japanese to English translation. The buttons in the middle are "Translate" on top and "Clear" underneath.
  • Search with the Japanese text names for Jenny (ジェニー), Licca-chan (リカちゃん), and Barbie (バービー). The employees managing the site don't always use the English names.
  • Watch out for discoloration, some of the dolls have obvious sun damage.
  • Look out for tampered-with dolls. I haven't seen it often, but this old Olive is wearing a new Castle gown. The employees aren't experts, but they do mark the dolls with opened boxes. Most are fine, but buyer beware.
  • Check the site regularly. New dolls are added several times a week, but the best ones sell out within 24 hours.
  • Keep a mental list of the dolls you really want, and order ASAP if they come up.
  • There's a 500 yen handling fee on orders under 5000 yen.

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