When I was in high school and just starting to get into anime, find merchandise of my favourite shows was like finding a needle in a haystack. Outside of conventions, not many stores sold anime stuff, the only one near me was a stationary store called that I’m pretty sure sold unlicensed products. So I spent most of my adolescence collecting anime keychains and not much else. Now, almost ten years later, my understanding of what’s available in Sydney and how to get the merchandise I want has changed drastically. Today, I wanted to share my go-to physical shops in Sydney for any merchandise hunters out there!
First up, let’s look at my favourite physical shops you can visit in Sydney.
Anime at Abbotsford
Anime at Abbotsford has been around for over thirteen years, but the suburb it’s based in (Abbotsford) is super out of the way for me. However, I recently found that they opened a shop in the Sydney CBD, about a fifteen minute walk from Central station. The CBD shop specialises in figurines with a small range of keychains and mini collectibles. What I really love at Abbotsford is how passionate the staff are there. They’re so knowledgable about products and always happy to help with any questions. One of the owners has his own Hatsune Miku nendoroid collection on show, it was actually seeing that collection that got me into collecting Miku nendoroids myself. I tend to order a lot of my prize figure level goods at this shop. Did I mention they have really awesome custom bags?
Anime at Abbotsford also run markets, where people can hire a table and sell their second-hand goods. The owners make sure that all the items are legit, and if a bootleg is found they will reimburse the cost while they contact the original seller. Unfortunately, these markets are held in Abbotsford, so almost impossible for me to get to.
Anime Kaika is a super convenient shop located five minutes away from Town Hall station. The shop is about a 40/60 split between figures and assorted goods such as keychains, blind boxes and plushies. To be honest, I haven’t bought much from this store but I do visit it quite often as it’s very close to my mum’s work. One issue that I do have with Kaika is with their preorders. Items over $50 require a 20% deposit which is non-refundable, which is fair enough. But for items under $50 you have to pay the full price, and it’s also non-refundable. I haven’t been in a position where I’ve had to cancel a pre-order with them, so I’m not sure how lenient they are on this policy. But it’s a policy that does make me shy away from pre-ordering with them.
Zing! Pop Culture
Zing! is an off-shoot of Eb Games and sells geeky merchandise, you can find d&d guides, pop vinyls and Disney backpacks here. The stores do sell some small anime merch like blind bags (but they seem to be made by American companies) and some keychains. They also do figurines, there’s American figurines, QPosket and also Banpresto figures. Specifically for anime, you’ll be able to find some Sailor Moon QPoskets and lots of shounen anime prize figures like DBZ and My Hero Academia. Despite being a chain store, the prices are actually more expensive then small stores like Anime at Abbotsford and Anime Kaika. Where Abbotsford and Kaika sell figures for about $35, Zing can range from $38-$40. Zing! stores can be found all over Australia.
Hobbyco markets itself as Australia’s oldest hobby shop, being established in 1935. The shop has all things hobby from model trains to board games. In terms of Otaku goods, they have the largest selection of Gundam goods and other model kits I’ve seen. You can find prize and scale figures here (although a smaller selection of scale). You can also pick up some gachapon and blind boxes.
Good Games is a company that focuses on role playing table top games, if you’re into Dungeons & Dragons – they’re the place to go! However, they’ve recently expanded their selection to otaku goods. You can mainly buy plushies and prize figures here. Like most of the shops listed here, figures are generally about $35 each. However, not all their shops carry figurines, I recently visited their shop in the city centre and there wasn’t anything but other shops in the suburbs do have them. Strange!
Kinokuniya is a massive bookstore in Sydney CBD. The store sells all sorts of books, but a large section of the store is dedicated to manga (in Japanese and English), as well as anime/game art books, figures and miscellaneous goods. To be honest this shop is a little bit pricey, and not one I’ve shopped at often. But it’s amazing to walk around, especially through the shelves and shelves of manga. I probably should have taken a picture of the manga, but they’re always filled with people and didn’t wanna look like a creep.
While conventions probably won’t be held for a while in this current climate, I thought it’d be worth including them anyway. Conventions are a bit of a mixed bag, I’ve had great experiences with them and also horrible ones. For example, when my first time at OzComicCon I wasted $45 on bootlegs. Unfortunately, many convention organisers do not check that sellers goods are legit, I don’t know if it’s because they don’t care or don’t have the time. But it seems ridiculous to charge an entry fee to a convention and not make sure the goods are legit. The only convention that I know of that does is the Madman Anime Festival. I had to opportunity to visit the convention a few years ago in Melbourne, you can read more about it over here. But essentially for shopping, it’s a good one to visit!
Speaking of Madman…
To be honest, while I do have a lot of fun visiting shops and looking around a lot of my purchases are done online on websites like AmiAmi and Mandarake. But there is also one Australian company I love to shop from, and that’s Madman. Madman is a film and television distributor, one of their focus is Japanese media. The company distributes anime DVDs, manga and merchandise, they even have their own anime streaming service AnimeLab. I tend to only shop from Madman during their Summer and Winter clearance sales. You can get some fantastic deals on figurines and merch, you just gotta keep an eye out for the sale and get in early!
The importance of research!
While I’ve shared the shops I like to visit, and clearly pointed out what my favourite is, it’s up to you to do the research of what’s best for you based on your own interests. For example, a shop I haven’t mentioned on here is King’s Comics. For fans of American comic books, this place is a heaven, and while I can’t comment on their prices of comics (since I don’t know the usual going rate), their prices for anime figures are absolutely shocking. Some of them can be about $10-15 more expensive than the other shops on this list. Check out the comparison below, from top to bottom – Kings Comics, Zing, Anime Kaika and the current sale price during the Madman Winter Stocktake sale (as of 3 August 2020). All the same figure, just VERY different prices, make sure to do your research to get the best price!
Where to avoid
Unfortunately, for all the great shops out there, there’s bound to be some that sell dodgy goods. I would avoid any store selling anime goods in or around Paddy’s Market (which is a large underground market in Sydney). Look, I don’t mean to make a blanket statement about a whole place but from my experience, I have yet to see something legit come out of that market. In general, stick the golden rule when shopping – if it’s too cheap, it ain’t legit.
One of the Biggest Positives about Aussie Shopping
A really strange positive I’ve noticed about shopping in Australia is that it’s a lot easier to find inflated figures or sold out goods for decent prices. For example, a couple of months back, when Demon Slayer was booming their SEGA figures were going for 5000-6000 yen each (they’ve since gone down as their being re-released). When the figures were released in Australia, you could get them for the usual price of $35 each. When the Demon Slayer Tamagotchis were up for pre-order on AmiAmi and HLJ they sold out within a day, but they’re readily available at Zing and Abbotsford. Knowing the worth of figures, and how the market is can help you score some great deals!
Sometimes being in Australia you can feel so separated from all the fun, geeky events happening in other areas of the world. But there’s definitely lots of different shops in Australia that you can check out to get your otaku fix. This guide just focused on Sydney, since I live there, but thee really are fantastic shops all over the place. For any Sydney-siders or potential visitors to the city, I hope you’ve found this guide useful. If I’ve missed any places, make sure to let me know in the comments. I’d love to find new places!