Even among toy aficionados, SECRET BASE’s creations are a niche to themselves. These coveted toys are sought after for their details and very limited availability, though not everyone would place them on their wishlist. To continue with our introduction of key Japanese brands, we visited SECRET BASE early this year, to find out more about it and its products.
> SECRET BASE (Japanese Only)
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Hideaki "Hiddy" Kinoshita (Left) [Freshness Gallery: SECRET BASE]
SECRET BASE, which has no relation to the blog for Harajuku news with identical name, is the creation of Hideaki “Hiddy” Kinoshita, who saw a need to create something radically different within the Japanese toy scene.
SECRET BASE Skull Bee (International Verison 1) [Freshness Gallery: SECRET BASE]
The story of SECRET BASE started a few years back. With the potential to become a professional soccer player, Hiddy lived abroad briefly in the U.S., to strengthen his skills at soccer camp. It was during this time, the Osaka-native developed an interest in Western toys, which were still uncommon in the competitive Japanese toy market. (With the exception of popular toys, like Barbie, Disney characters, and etc…) Unfortunately, an injury forced Hiddy to let go his dream of professional soccer. Naturally, he dove into his other passion – toys.
In 2003, Hiddy opened SECRET BASE after a long and fruitful employment stint at the pioneering toy store, ZAAP! - a now defunct toy store which was one of the first in Tokyo that focused on rare artist/designer toys. It couldn't be worst to open a niche toy store at the time. It was towards the end of a toy collecting craze in Japan. However, Hiddy set a single purpose for SECRET BASE, to fulfill hard core toy collector’s, like Hiddy himself, insatiable practice.
SECRET BASE x Medicom - King Skull Brain [Freshness Gallery: SECRET BASE]
While the mainstream toy scene demands for toys that are sleek, cool, and cute, SECRET BASE will strive for just the opposite - oblong, ghastly, and ugly. The rationale is simple: to make toys not for the sake of the market as a whole, but for the fans themselves. Hiddy summoned up best with a music analogy: hard-core punk rock will not hit the Billboard's Top 10 chart now, but die-hard fans will still be there, supporting the culture. So, as long as there are fans of SECRET BASE toys, he will continue to make toys.
SECRET BASE's Toxic Phantoms [Freshness Gallery: SECRET BASE]
SECRET BASE’s toys are known to be “colorful” if not frightening (actually a good thing). However, SECRET BASE is also known for their quality and the details that goes into its toys. This season is no difference. One such toy is a special edition Skull "2" Mantis, covering in a felt material, also known as flocky. Although the process is time consuming and expensive, the result is a very unique product.
SECRET BASE's Skull Brain (Secreter 5 Ocean Version) [Freshness Gallery: SECRET BASE]
Another is the collaboration with the artist PUSHEAD. Deemed by Hiddy to be the best illustrator when it comes to “skulls and creepy themes”, each of the figurines are hand painted by PUSHEAD, a process that takes up to 4 hours or more. Hiddy jokingly stated that PUSHEAD was on the verge of a nervous breakdown at the end of the production run.
SECRET BASE's Skull Pirate (Unpainted Version) [Freshness Gallery: SECRET BASE]
The focal point is not only on the appearance of their toys, Hiddy and his team of friends/designers constructed an elaborate story for each character. You can Read parts of it on SECRET BASE’s website (Japanese only). It reads like a storyline of a marital arts movie, with betrayal, revenge, and all other emotions rolled into one. It is Hiddy’s desire to produce a manga at the end of current production run to tell the story of each character and how they’re related to one another.
Currently, only a limited number of retailers carry SECRET BASE's goods out of Japan. Stores like SUPER 7, of San Francisco, Toy Tokyo, of New York and Span of Sunset of Los Angeles. However, you might see more of them in the near future as Hiddy and the gang pursue more collaborations, like the recent Haunted Ghosthunter with SUPER 7, as well as Medicom and the Japanese punk band BALZAC.
Medicom's BALZAC Figures [Freshness Gallery: SECRET BASE]
SECRET BASE's Skull "2" Mantis [Freshness Gallery: SECRET BASE]
[Freshness Gallery: SECRET BASE]