The Incredible Toy Shops: Star Case of Tokyo

I’m not sure it can come off as anything other than bragging, but here it is: this week I’ll return home from my fifth trip to Japan in as many years.

And this trip offered a long-awaited opportunity while passing through Tokyo to drop in on a small toy shop that’s been on my radar for a few years now. Of course I’m referring to none other than Star Case, in Tokyo’s Kouenji district.

Boxed Empire Strikes Back action figures by Takara.

Boxed Empire Strikes Back action figures by Takara.

Star Case is smaller than most American bedrooms. But judge it by its size will you? Well just don’t. Yuu Katagiri, the shop’s owner, has taken great care to densely pack each square inch of his space with jaw-smashing, brain-melting Star Wars gold.

The dozen or so glass display cases are rich with Star Wars toys and trinkets of every imaginable stripe, but certainly with an emphasis on the rare, vintage and extremely high end. The items that don’t fit in cases (boxed vintage vehicles and their ilk) are stacked on top of the cases clear to the ceiling.

It should come as no surprise that there’s a large contingency of Japanese-produced vintage items. As I gawked at a collection of four mint-on-card Takara 8″ vintage figures from 1978, Yuu was quick to point out that it’s the “only set”. I’m not sure what he meant by that but hey, I’m on board.

A very limited edition custom toy by Star Case.

A very limited edition custom toy by Star Case.

From every vantage point there’s a new wave of awesome to behold. Turn this way and there are vintage Japanese advertising placards hanging from the ceiling. About face and you’ve got a life-size Darth Vader presiding over the cash register. And for knowledgeable Star Wars collectors there’s intense payoff in the matter-of-fact display of a vintage Kenner Yakface hardcopy prototype. If you’re into more modern offerings there are generous displays of Gentle Giant, Attakus, and Sideshow items as well.

As if all this wasn’t good enough, there’s an added twist that sends Star Case far over the top: custom vinyl Star Wars toys designed and produced by Yuu Katagiri himself. According to Yuu he designs, sculpts, and produces two or three different releases each year, selling in limited quantities of 50 to collectors worldwide. The toys themselves are a playful collision of vintage Star Wars and Japanese Kaiju that fit right at home in the Star Case universe.

If you go – and I highly recommend you do – bring plenty of cash (Star Case takes no credit cards and prices tend to reach high altitudes). An interpreter wouldn’t hurt either as Yuu’s English is limited.

Here are plenty more photos from my brief visit. Enjoy.


Various Japanese Star Wars premiums and wind-up R2-D2s.

Mexican Lily Ledy 12" Figures

Mexican Lily Ledy 12" Figures

Mint-in-box Kenner Star Wars vehicles.

This is a Japanese item, what appears to be an unopened case of bagged Star Wars erasers.

Mint, unopened 4" Empire Strikes Back action figures by Takara, 1980.

Unopened packages of Star Wars Morinaga.

A custom glow-in-the-dark Darth Vader by Star Case.  Apparently an exclusive from the 2009 Star Wars Celebration.

Gentle Giant animated scluptures.

A full array of custom Star Wars figures by Star Case's Yuu Katagiri.

Plenty of vintage Star Wars soap and shampoo.

Miscellaneous Return of the Jedi collectibles from 1983.

Extraordinarily rare boxed Power of the Force vehicles from 1984-1985.

Scores of vintage Star Wars action figures including rare Droids Vlix and vinyl cape Jawas.

A Hardcopy prototype of the rare Yakface action figure.  Complete with color swatches.  Boba Fett first shots in the foreground.

A complete set of all Power of the Force coins by Kenner, 1984-1985.

Various modern Star Wars models and statues.

Exceptionally rare Kenner Six Pack of action figures from 1981.

Star Wars pachinko machine.  Date unknown but I'd wager 1990s.

Japanese die-cast figures, plus a Japanese 12" Luke Skywalker.

Japanese wood model Tie Fighter

Japanese movie viewers by Nakajima, 1977.

Mint, boxed Palitoy AT-AT.  France, 1983.

Mint plush Wicket doll by Kenner, 1983.

Star Wars advertising from Japan.

Star Wars advertising from Japan.

Yuu Katagiri, owner of Star Case, with one impressive life-size Darth Vader.

The Star Case business card.



  1. bobby wrote:

    When you say the prices are pretty high, can you give a solid example? and did you get anything?

    • Pete Rosenzweig wrote:

      You could take my description of prices at a high altitude in two ways.
      First, the shop is filled mostly with items targeted at only the most serious collectors. (Yuu mentioned that Steven Sansweet has shopped there.) So in some cases there are things here that may only exist in very small numbers elsewhere or not at all. These items are expensive. That Kenner Six Pack of unopened figures is about $800. Whether or not that price is actually high (vs. its market value) I’m not sure. Difficult to say since that item doesn’t exactly get traded openly on eBay. And for certain there are items much more rare than the Six Pack at Star Case.
      Second, there are a fair amount of more every-day vintage items like mint-on-card vintage 4″ figures. I’d say he’s got items like that marked at about a 30% premium over what you could buy it for on eBay. But hey, he’s got a brick-and-mortar store to run so really that’s no different than any comic or toy shop in the U.S.
      And unfortunately I didn’t actually buy anything. I have plenty of vintage items trafficking in and out of my house already and the super rare stuff offered at Star Case is out of my league plain and simple. Sadly!