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Friday, Feb. 3, 2012

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Valley of the dolls: Figurines are put on display at last year's Wonder Festival, an event that is very popular with anime enthusiasts. WONDER FESTIVAL

Figurines become art at event

Staff writer

The skills involved in making handmade figures of anime characters inspire a respect on par to that of the traditional arts. The craftsmanship, artistic sense and passion surrounding the hobby are qualities that attract people from around the world.

Garage kits for such figures and the finished figurines will be displayed and sold at Wonder Festival next weekend, which is the biggest event of its kind in Japan.

The event has been held twice a year since 1992 and last summer's Wonder Festival attracted more than 38,000 people, according to its organizer Kaiyodo, the Osaka-based maker of figures and models.

With vendors basically consisting of anime fans and independent craftspeople and sculptors selling kits and figurines of famous anime characters, you would think that copyright issues would be a problem. However, rights holders give the sellers a single-day license for the event after they apply for permission through Kaiyodo.

In addition to the anime figures, the organizers for the event say a few of the artists also create their own characters to be sold as figures and kits as well.

Wonder Festival takes place Feb. 12 at Halls 1-8 of Makuhari Messe in Chiba (10 a.m.-5 p.m.). From Tokyo Station, take the JR Keiyo Line to Kaihin-Makuhari Station. Tickets are ¥2,000 and include an official guidebook (in Japanese). For details (in Japanese), visit wf.kaiyodo.net.

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