TsubuCon 2023 has been hailed through multiple articles — several from here at Ultraman Connection ourselves — as a triumph of a show, with multiple incredible panels and attractions. However, in between those panels, fans could visit the incredible show floor, where creators, artists, and vendors from all corners of the globe converged to share their love for the Ultraman Series and other Tsuburaya Productions properties. Ultraman Connection found its way there in between amazing shows (Check out some of our other TsubuCon Recap articles to find out more about THOSE), and there was plenty to see and say!
The Show Floor, free to the general public, was held in the Prism Palace auditorium. Lines were enormous — our UC representative lined up 2 hours before the event, but the lines already wrapped around the building all the way up the stairs.
This long, long line ended in two places — one being the general show floor, or the “collection corner,” and the other being the Tsuburaya Department Store, which featured not only products from the official M78 shop, which offers an exclusive range of Ultraman merchandise, but also several rarities that were only available at TsubuCon! No matter which line fans found themselves in, they were greeted by a giant Ultraseven statue bidding them welcome.
A fan favorite at the convention was the exclusive Ultra Monster Series Gavadon (Starry Sky Version) soft vinyl toy, cast in a translucent, glittery clear plastic with blue accents. The toy was one of the first items on the show floor to sell out, with several fans never able to see it in person. Other items on sale included clear file folders, pens, mugs, stationary items, microfiber towels, action figures, badges, pins, arm slappers, notebooks, and, of course, acrylic stands of not only Ultras, but their human hosts as well.
The Collection Corner, in contrast to the Tsuburaya Department Store, is far more than just a shopping space. As fans entered, they were greeted by a giant Ultraman Tiga statue, and just past the ancient Giant, they were treated to displays of the latest Ultraman products, including a first look at the toyline for the of the highly anticipated Ultraman Rising Netflix film, showing not only the S.H. Figuarts figure of Ultraman and his baby Kaiju costar, but the Ultra Action Figure and Shodo Shokugan iterations of the character. In addition to the Ultraman Rising figures, In addition, the show floor gave fans a first look at the newly-announced S.H.Figuars Shinkocchou Seihou Ultraman Gaia (V2) figure.
Teams from Tsuburaya’s Tsuburaya Imagination, Kaiju Step, and Ultraseven Another Story AR programs were also present, handing out plenty of prizes for fans young and old, while teaching them the ins and outs of each project.
Licensed Toy Makers included M1-Go, Marusan, CCP, X-Plus, US Toys, Cool Props (1:1 busts), Future Quest, HandsomeTaroM, ThreeZero, Volks, Secret Base, Siccaluna, Max Toy Factory, Shin Bin shop (with gold & silver plated Ultraman A Type, Ultraseven King Joe, and Ultraseven), One Up, Passion Tank, and many more, with each licensee showcasing their latest works not only for display, but also for sale! X-Plus, in particular, gave UC a preview of not only the prototype of GanQ in the 25cm Daikaiju Series, but also a painted physical figure of Alien Mefilas from Shin Ultraman.
The toys weren’t the only Ultraman Series goodies getting shown off — there was plenty of Ultraman-themed apparel available, coming from well known brands such as Cospa, Gallery of Hakeba, Avirrex — a Japanese company known for their bomber-style jackets — and even Koshin Shop’s Ultraman themed winter gear, including down jackets, boots, and backpacks.
A popular treat that Western fans may not be aware of was official Ultraman Uirō, a delicious mochi confection sold in multiple different flavors, each corresponding to a different Ultraman on the box.
Legendary Kaiju Artists Shinji Nishikawa and Yuji Kaida (our editor in chief’s idol), were also present, sharing tables side by side as they displayed their art skills to fans new and old, even providing sketch commissions!
Hiroshi Kanatani, another artist who was out on the show floor, is known for his detailed sketches and manga. We at UC got to catch a glimpse of him drawing an exclusive piece of art of the legendary Ultraman King for a fan.
In addition to these artists were the works of Noriaki Tanimura, who showcased his Ultra Kaiju Mononoke Project. The project takes inspiration from traditional Japanese Jōmon period art, and uses only materials produced by nature — examples include the very scroll paper being made from wild rice (Makomo), and utilizing ink, mud, and a special brush to create a sort of “living art”.
A vast plurality of Kaiju and other characters from the early Ultra Series can be found in Tanimura’s pieces, and in addition to his scroll work, he also had a few Ultraseven characters such as Eleking and Metron made into gorgeous postcards.
In addition to merchandise shopping, the show floor offered once-in-a-lifetime meet-and-greets and autograph sessions. On Saturday, fans got the chance to meet characters from the original 1966 Ultra Q, including lead heroine, Hiroko Sakurai. On Sunday, actress Kaoru Ukawa, known for playing Satomi in the Heisei-era Ultraseven OVAs, and Bin Furuya, the original suit actor for Ultraman, as well as Amagi from 1967’s Ultraseven, were available.
The show floor was a genuinely massive space for fans of the Ultraman Series and Tsuburaya Productions to find new and classic ways to celebrate their favorite series, but it was by no means the only experience that TsubuCon had to offer. Check out our other coverage of events at TsubuCon, all over the site! And stay close to Ultraman Connection to find out even more about the Ultraman Series, including some announcements from TsubuCon you might have missed!