Hoods on eBay

VN’s attracted a lot of fans worldwide, and I get all sorts of compliments on the site from very happy readers. Despite all that love, none of you seem especially concerned that I do NOT own an antique armored Japanese hood!

Well, here’s three chances to correct this obvious oversight peeps. I know a couple of you are billionaires with nothing better to do with five grand than spend it on a frivolous gift for a nerdy publisher, so make with the PayPal:

eBay store “japan-premium-seller-trading-assistant” (awesome) has this basic little black number in hand-linked chain mail for a demure $1700. I’m really sure it’s an authentic battle field piece, too.

I was raised in central New England, a culture that still resonates a comparitively puritan slant on style, so this fancy-pants hood (that make any sense?) might be a bit much for me… although its a bargain at $4800, and again, it’s gotta be an authentic antique, right from the soil of Sekigahara I’m sure.

However I absolutely LOOOOVE this combination plate and mail hood, dated pre-1800s. All kidding aside, this reasonably priced $2600 relic is the most awesome design ever – the perfect combination of protection and maneuverability, often attributed to battlefield shinobi in manga and movies. Love it! I don’t even care they don’t offer any sort of historical authentication…

Could also save around $600 and buy new, too:

This awesomeness is from the nifty Rakuten website, which while it claims to be “The Iga-Ryu Ninja Shop” is – I believe – in reality the “Iga-Ryu Ninja GIFT Shop” as the  clothing and gadgets are right from the tourist exploiting ninja themeparks (and some recent ‘historical’ ninja books as well). Dig through this site, you’ll see every decade of ninja movie represented, from basic black Raizo-wear to more 80’s Chiba-fare, up to Naruto headbands and Azumi ensembles for the ladies. Yay history!

But you have to embrace this sort of stuff if you’re going to be a ninja fan, and realize the exploitation and fishtales have been going on for so many centuries, the lore and fandom IS history in itself…

And no, I won’t stop putting out if you don’t shower me with gifts. But hey, some of you web folk and bloggers could throw VN a plug, that’s what we really need.

Shinobi-based ‘Sugoroku’ game

Have owned this “sugoroku” illustrated game board for years but am finally discovering the actual nature of it.

Click the image for a new page, then click that image for a huge-ass scan of this. Details below as well.

Essentially a Japanese version of Chutes and Ladders, these thin paper game boards have been produced for centuries in one form or another (read here about an older version of the game based on backgammon and made illegal twice in Japanese history).

I’ve seen several based on chambara, tokusatsu and boys adventure anime, but this one is a melting pot of various ninja properties – or is at least meant to EVOKE those properties. Yeah, I’m thinking characters owned by multiple studios or TV networks appearing on one product means unlicensed…

Man, some of this art is just precious. Without being able to read the captions, I’m seeing illos that are certainly meant to be Masked Ninja Akakage and Kagemaru of Iga there, and a villain that could be a skull shocker from Lion Maru or a shinobi-fied Golden Bat.

Translations anyone?

80’s ninja patches – still available!

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In the 80’s, embroidered ninja patches were common in the pages martial arts supply catalogs, but who knew many are still available. Each of these can be ordered online from myriad sources, and your local dojo supplier or karate school probably has a few on hand this very moment. Gotta love the staying power of some of this 80’s unlicensed art…


Colorized SHINOBI-NO-MONO menkos

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Thought a good follow-up to my anti-Ninja Assassin / pro-Shinobi-no-Mono rant last week would be a look at some rather strange S-n-M related merch – colorized menko cards.



Released contemporary with the 60’s series, these ‘cigarette cards’ used stills from the B&W films, with colors rather awkwardly overlaid. I think the idea was to make the otherwise grave imagery as colorful and kid-appealing as possible, because the color choices are pretty illogical otherwise.





I think for the month of December we’ll concentrate on MERCH, this being the most gloriously commercialized of all holiday seasons. So look to the Collectibles and Toys and Statues categories to bring out the ninja kid in all of us…

Wicked awesome 80’s stickers!

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Last post was all about centuries-old woodcut print masters, y’know, all high-artsy and stuff, so for the sake of balance we’ll take it down a notch or two and bring things screaming into the 80’s.

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As, according to some people, we’re about to enter a new craze fueled by the pending release of the biggest budgeted ninja movie ever made, I’m looking back to the original American craze with some low-brow merch. These vending machine stickers are so wicked mint and totally tubular, my 80’s new wave balls are about to explode…

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If you look at enough 1986 issues of Black Belt, you’ll find all the original photos or advertising illos these are knocked-off from. The head above was from an Asian World of Martial Arts magazine ad if memory serves.

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A direct lift from Ninja III the Domination, albeit in day-glow safety colors, can only be matched by the awesomeness below:

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I adore vending toys and stickers and whatnot. You find some really great knock-off art, and these unlicensed gems are just superb.