Thursday, 15 September 2011

AmiAmi Review

Updated: 10 July, 2013. Today we'll be looking at AmiAmi, one of my favourite import sites for anime figures. It also happens to be the first site I ever ordered from. So, how does this site stack up to other sites of similar caliber?

(**Click to enlarge photos**)

Product Availability

AmiAmi boasts a wide variety of products, including figures, scaled models, gundams, books, CDs, toys, trading cards and dolls. I can't speak for any other product, but their figure stock is quite standard. They usually stock PVCs and coldcasts by well known companies like Alter, GSC, MegaHouse, Orchid Seed, Kotobukiya, etc. In addition to the well-known companies, AmiAmi also happens to host Touhou figures at a reasonable prices. Touhou figures can get incredibly pricy very quickly, and often cost twice what AmiAmi charges, so this is a definite plus.

As far as I know, AmiAmi does not stock exclusives. Occassionally, a garage kit will go on sale.

Strangely enough, AmiAmi isn't always clear exactly which products are in stock. Below, you can see three Sale Statuses, two of which are rather clear (released and sold out), and one of which, well, doesn't say anything at all really. It's like someone just plumb forgot to imput the data. Whatever the sale status is on any given product, it's always a good idea to click on the link anyhow, as some of the statuses are mislabled. I have found "sold out" products still in stock, and "released" products that are sold out before.



Pre-Owned Section

AmiAmi also has a god-given Pre-Owned section, where you can find a plethora of used items for wonderful prices! I can spend an hour surfing the pre-owned section, staring at all the deals, exercising extreme restraint lest I order all of them.



The pre-owned section, like the front page, is updated regularly (except on weekends). Note: The pre-owned page is just the tip of the iceberg. Click on any of the links to expand the section.


Really expand the section. If I click on the "Bishoujou" section, I get (cout 'em) 58 pages of used items to surf through. Welp, there goes my money.


AmiAmi has a rating system for used items. A-grade is like new, B-grade is good, C is acceptable, etc. I am comfortable ordering B-grade pre-owned items and above. C-grade will often come with huge discounts, but also with noticeable damage or missing parts. Because AmiAmi does not provide images of said damage, it's a gamble buying lower-grade items. Always read the side-bat when buying used items for extra information, if any. If the figure is missing parts, or has conspicuous damage, AmiAmi will tell you.



AmiAmi updates their stock every day (except on weekends). It's up-to-date like that.

Everything is authentic, of course.

Product Information

AmiAmi provides relatively detailed descriptions of their products, including important information such as release dates. They also have excellent stock photographs.

I'm always impressed with how quickly this site manages to update information. Products can appear on AmiAmi days ahead of other import sites.

While information is bountiful, there's some critical dimensional information missing. AmiAmi barely provides any weights, and never provides product box dimensions. Half the time it's not their fault, since weight can't be calculated on pre-ordered items, but I expect released items to mention it. Without it, shipping prices can't be estimated, and seeing as we're importing, costs can become steep very quickly.

Prices

This is the reason I pre-order most of my figures from Amiami.

The discounts are awesome. Many products can be found at 15%-20% off (or more). At such discounts, they have some of the best pre-order prices out there. Furthermore, AmiAmi supports a bargain bin, which advertises any item over 25% off (though I have seen items listed at 81% off).

Please note that Amiami's discounts will disappear once the figure is released. These are pre-order discounts I'm talking about. Of course, over time, if the item is still in stock, it tends to get discounted again (albeit not to the same degree as when they were pre-orders).

Of course, as mentioned before, the prices in their Pre-Owned section are nothing less than spectacular.

Shipping and Shipping Cost

Combining Items

AmiAmi allows you to combine items for shipping through an easy-to-access, item combination page. Here is a quick run-down of allowed combinations.

In-stock + In-stock  OK No restrictions as far as I've experienced.
In-stock + Pre-order  OK Pre-orders must release in the current month, e.g. July (you can't order an in-stock item in July, then hold out for a pre-order scheduled to release in September).
Pre-order + pre-order  OK Pre-orders must be cheduled to release in the same month (if the release date of one item changes, AmiAmi will automatically separate the items, and email you with notification).

An interesting note about combinations. Combining items, especially if it's only two or three, pushes up your shipping costs dramatically. Instead of EMSing a big box, I have each item ship by unregistered SAL, and have saved close to $20 each time. If you wish to separate an order after you are invoiced, send AmiAmi a polite email. They are usually willing to help you out.

Shipping Options

AmiAmi offers EMS, registered SAL and unregistered SAL shipping. Having used all three, I would  recommend unregistered SAL whenever possible despite its slower delivery speed. I've never had a problem with damaged or lost packages, and I don't mind waiting for my products, so lower shipping prices are a definite plus. EMS is expensive, although it might be worth it if your package is large or fragile (or you prefer to get your packages faster).

One nice thing that AmiAmi does, is allow you to choose a shipping method after they calculate shipping costs. Yes, you choose a shipping method when you order, but you can change the method accordingly when you go to pay your invoice. This is incredibly useful, especially with large boxes. If an item is too large to ship through unregistered SAL, you will be given the prices for SAL and EMS shipping. If you're unsure between SAL and EMS, you can see how much each would cost (for your particular box). This streamlines the shipping procress, and eliminates the anxiety of choosing one shipping method over another. Great feature, AmiAmi!  



The time it takes for goods to arrive varies depending on where you live, so there's really no point in me evaluating it. I usually get EMS packages in under 10 days, and SAL packages within a month.

Mark down?

AmiAmi will not mark down the price of your packages for the sake of avoiding customs. It is against the law, after all, and AmiAmi doesn't want any trouble (they have a business to run and livelihoods to protect). If you live in a country where customs is a problem, I would suggest using services that do allow mark downs, such as Big in Japan. 

Payment

Amiami accepts payments through Paypal and credit card. If you live in Japan, you can also hand them a wad of cash, but seeing as we're international buyers, we can only throw money at the screen and wonder why nothing's happening. Fees are due within 7 days of recieving their invoice.

You can also pay through eCheck, though I've never used this method myself. AmiAmi doesn't give you the option, but welcomes you to email them about it if you are so inclined.

Packaging

AmiAmi packages are tightly cushioned with wadded up paper. It's sounds cheap, but the paper's actually quite sturdy, and unlike some other sites, Amiami uses a higher-grade packing paper rather than plain newspaper. Again, I've never had a problem with damaged products.

AmiAmi is notorious for their gigantic boxes. Suich and I joke that they only have three box sizes, medium, big, and bigger. While oversized boxes aren't always a problem, I've had my fair share of "WHY?" moments.

Here's an example. This is a box I got from AmiAmi last year. You can see I ordered three items. They came in a solid, corrugated box, packed snug, with quality packing paper. Good. Now look closer. Izaya's box is 16 cm in width. The ruler in the box tells me I have 17 cm of empty space above Izaya. That's easily enough room to stack Erio, who's box is only 13.5 cm wide, on top of Izaya. In fact, with a box so sizeable, I could have easily ordered doubles of both Izaya and Erio and still have extra space for packing paper on top. Look, AmiAmi, I love you lots, but someone in your warehouse obviously can't Tetris.

Pictured: Terrible Tetris skills.
Sui Chee also once recieved a package that was four times larger than her item. We had a good laugh over it, because laughter ameliorates the pain of unnecessarily high shipping fees. Medium, big, and bigger indeed.

Customer Service

AmiAmi is very good at getting back to you. Every time I have emailed them, they've emailed back within 24 hours (weekends excluded). From what I've experienced, they are courteous, helpful, and knowledgeable.

AmiAmi doesn't usually allow cancellations, but if you really have your hands tied, you can email them politely requesting a cancellation. I've done this twice in my history of shopping with them, and although they lecture you a bit, they've always been understanding. Try not to cancel too often though, as they're not afraid to ban accounts that break their rules too often.

Site Structure and Ease of Navigation

AmiAmi's site presents simply and nicely, with easily navigatable (is that a word?) categories. You can also sort products through several subcategories (like my favourite, "Sale Items" and "Pre-Owned"), allowing for more specific searches.

Although AmiAmi has a search bar, it's rather non-specific. Say I want the 1/8 Love is War Miku figure. If I type in "Miku" I'll be bombarded with a plethora of Miku items (trust me, there are a lot) with no way of specifying the type of product I want. To get specific searches, I have to type in something along the lines of "Love is War Miku figure". Again, not a huge deal, but something they could definitely improve.

Occassionally, the site will crash. Pages will mysteriously go missing. Links will degenerate. While this happen on even the best sites, I've noticed AmiAmi seems to go down more often than other sites. The pages usually fix themselves within minutes to hours. For example, I ocassionally get this screen, which usually pops up in their pre-owned section.



The Run-Down
Product Availability  9/10 Great selection, amazing pre-owned section, but no exclusives (at least not new anyhow)
Product Information  8/10 Excellent information, nice product photos, but no estimated shipping costs.
Prices  10/10 Competative pre-order discounts, wonderful pre-owned prices, and a heavily discounted bargain bin.
Shipping/Shipping Cost  8/10 Easy-to-use combination system, gives you a choice between shipping options upon invoice, solid packaging, but sometimes sends hilariously gigantic boxes
Payment  10/10 Easy, with several payment options.
Packaging  10/10 Strong, corrugated boxes with lots of packing paper. Never had a single damaged product.
Customer Service  10/10 Prompt, usually replies within 24 hours, usually helpful
Site Navigation  8/10 Relatively well organized, with a professional look, but has a somewhat unwielding search system, and ocassional broken links

Overall, AmiAmi is an excellent, trustworthy site. I've never experienced a single problem with them as of far (and trust me, I order with them very frequently). I highly recommend them for their excellent prices, heavenly pre-owned section, and prompt, efficient communication.

Visit:

As usual, you're welcome comment below about your experiences. We would love to hear about your experiences!

Cheerio,
Jenn

10 comments:

  1. I never knew about this site, and you've given it such a good review. I usually use Hobbysearch, though I've used ones like Otacute and some Germany-based one for some older figures and have never had any problems. If Amiami tends to have better prices, perhaps I'll keep my eye on it... eheheh.

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  2. Glad I could spread the word! Their prices are truly stellar, although it all depends on those finicky exchange rates.

    Thanks for reading!

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  3. the update of stock time at midnight, is it based on JP time?

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    1. AmiAmi's english site use EST as far as I can tell (ignoring daylight savings time). Their updates are not always right on the dot, but they usually update around midnight on weekdays.

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  4. Should i get SAL unregisterd? I want to get a small figure but my dad might now let me get one if the shiping is too much.I dont mind waiting and amiami sounds like a good website to buy from.Also can i pay with a debit card?

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    1. I always use unregistered SAL whenever possible, and never had anything go wrong. For smaller figures, it's the most cost efficient shipping method. Of course, it all depends on what you're comfortable with.

      Unfortunately, AmiAmi doesn't accept debit card payments.

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  5. The boxes can be hilariously large, but since my mail often comes to me with dents in it, I appreciate it. I once had a jumbo amiami box that had a gouge in the side that (because of it's oversized-ness) missed the figures themselves.

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    Replies
    1. Yikes, good to hear your figure was fine. Thankfully, I've never had a badly dented box before (kudos to the delivery people). Huge boxes can be annoying and costly, but in the end, it's better to be safe than sorry!

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  6. Question:
    After placing an order, the order acknowledgement was sent to me. I did a few changes to my order then I received another mail.
    What must I do after that? Do I wait or must I confirm anything first?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sakura,

      The order should be have been updated to the status of the latest acknowledgement email. As far as I've experienced, there's no need to confirm anything afterwards. To be safe, check your AmiAmi account to make sure everything is in order. =]

      Cheers,
      Jenn

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