Interview with Marxell Del Valle, owner of Flying Raijin in Japantown
This is the first in a series of interviews with Japantown businesses. We’ll be talking to the owners about their backgrounds and how they got into business. If there’s something you’d like to see or read, let us know!
Flying Raijin is in Japan Center Mall’s West Mall
How did you develop an interest in GK* resin statues/anime collecting? Can you tell me about your journey and what motivated you to start this business?
I used to buy anime figures from stores. I got scammed several times with figures, so decided to open the business so others wouldn’t get scammed.
*GK stands for Garage Kits.
What are some of the most prized anime items in your collection? Can you describe them and explain why they hold such significance for you? Are they superheroes, anime, or some other type?
The Lifesize Naruto is my most prized possession. Naruto is the protagonist of an anime called Naruto. Note: Naruto Uzumaki (Japanese: うずまき ナルト, Hepburn: Uzumaki Naruto) (/ˈnɑːrətoʊ/) is the titular protagonist of the manga Naruto, created by Masashi Kishimoto. As the series progresses, he is a young ninja from the fictional village of Konohagakure (Hidden Leaf Village).
How do you go about finding and acquiring resin anime merchandise? Are there specific platforms, events, or communities that you rely on?
It’s all contact based. It took me a long time to acquire my contacts. I’d like to expand the business.
Where do the molds for the resin statues come from?
The molds are designed by imagery software, then proceeded to be hand made. I put in the order with the art studios, then it takes 6 months to a year for the finalized statue to be made.
Is there a particular genre, series, or character that you focus on collecting? What draws you to these specific choices?
Overall, my focus is on anime. The goal is to have the ultimate anime store.
Do you have any strategies or tips for organizing and displaying your anime collection effectively? How do you maintain and protect the items in your collection? What would you tell collectors about how they should maintain their collections?
The shelves must be strong enough to hold the weight. And the figurines need to be dusted regularly. I dust them all. The goal is to get Moducases. Figurines can range from 40-200 pounds on up. Note: Moducases or Moducases are specialized cases for anime figurine collectors. They are stackable modular cases for displays, which offer dust protection.
Have you ever faced any challenges or obstacles while building your anime collection? How did you overcome them, and what did you learn from those experiences?
The biggest obstacle was getting the contacts. I am still trying to expand the best anime collectibles list. Becoming more commercial is another obstacle. Our space isn’t as big as we want, but we’re doing the best we can with what we have.
Do collectors collect figurines just to have them or are they for investment purposes?
The statues go up in value, generally. It depends upon the statue and style. Most go up in value. We try to buy the best ones. I’m really picky about the ones that come into the store.
How do you stay updated with new releases and limited-edition items? Are there any resources or strategies you use to keep track of the latest merchandise?
If something new comes out, I’ll purchase it. We inquire and then they send pictures. The anime statue market isn’t that big. We might be the only one in the U.S. to have some of them. People come from other states to buy as well.
Have you ever considered selling or trading items from your personal collection? What factors do you consider when deciding whether to part with a particular piece?
A statue must really catch my eye for me to buy it. The sacred ones are some that aren’t displayed. I wouldn’t sell my Naruto. It’s not a money thing. It’s like parting ways with a child. You wouldn’t sell your own child.
As an anime collector, how do you balance your passion for collecting with other aspects of your life? Do you have any rituals or dedicated time for your hobby?
I don’t really have extra time—trying to build a brand takes time.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out as an anime collector? Are there any pitfalls to avoid or valuable lessons you’ve learned along the way?
There are pain points. Ask for payment plans. Don’t hesitate on a figure if you really want it. Go ahead and buy it. Plan accordingly and don’t go broke.
Is there anything that you wish people would ask you but don’t?
How the handmade process works. People don’t understand the process. My learning Chinese is a big thing. I’m learning Chinese with Duolingo.
Piece of advice: If the price is too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.