I love JUNGLE. It's like a mini-Mandarake. In retrospect, that analogy is meaningless unless you're an active Mandarake user, so let me just reiterate the quaintness and efficiency of this wee import site. Read on.
One morning, as I surged through forums with veritable nerd-like gusto, I noticed a discussion on the legitimacy of an import shop named JUNGLE. It had a link. I clicked. Great wonders unfurled before my eyes. "Le Gasp," I thought, "a site I've never seen before!"
I performed a quick legitimacy check online and was reassured by numerous forums upholding JUNGLE's authentic nature. A quick look at their introduction assauged my fears. I'm always partial to online shops that have physical locations, and JUNGLE's front page is choked full of physical-store photographs. That, plus their gramatically awkward and overly enthusiastic introduction is endearing.
Upholding the spirit of adventure, I decided to order something. Something small and kind to my wallet. A nendo. It arrived at a speed so astounding I felt compelled to make several bad sports car analogies. "Incroyable!" ejaculated my obligatory French-Canadian side despite that I am zero percent French. In astonishment, I ordered another. Then another. And then one more! A bulbous light of comprehension announced its presence with spectacular ardour. I. LIKE. THIS. SITE. Cheap, used, ocassionally rare merch that looks (and therefore must be) new. What else could I ask for?
WHAT ELSE, I ASK YOU?
End story time. Initiate review. Just so specify, JUNGLE runs several websites out of several locations, and I will be talking about JUNGLE International (based in Osaka rather than L.A.).
JUNGLE is a second-hand shop. Whatever is available is whatever people drop off (or so I assume). That being said, they sell all sorts of things, including garage kits and exclusives. They don't carry books though, which makes me a little sad. No art or manga or doujinshi either. You can't make preorders either, but that's expected for a second-hand store.
Unlike Mandarake, JUNGLE's product count is small enough to surf comfortably. I've never seen their sections go over 9 pages, which makes it incredibly window-shopping-friendly. It doesn't take much more than 10 minutes to quickly flip through any one section.
As a smaller, more obscure site, items on JUNGLE do not sell out as quickly as items elsewhere. Even rare, highly coveted items tend to stay listed for a couple days at least. This makes it wonderful as a last-ditch attempt to find items you've missed everywhere else. Like Mandarake, there is always a risk of someone snatching your item before the system is able to take it down, but JUNGLE seems much better at keeping their webpage updated than Mandarake, and I have never heard of this happening (as of yet).
JUNGLE does not offer much product information. Like Mandarake, they list the manufacturer, price, and condition of the box, and very little else. The condition of their products is listed as:
SEALED = New.
A = New, but the outer box has been opened.
B = Used, i.e. the item has been removed from the box before
Most of their products have photographs, although some do not. I have personally never bought anything without proper photographs, nor do I suggest anyone do so. If sellers do not take the time to snap one quick shot of their product, I'm inclined to doubt the quality of both seller and item. Buying blind is never encouraged, folks.
It appears JUNGLE intended to include ample information with their products, but never got around to it. How curious. Why bother putting in an information box if no information is ever entered? Ocassionally a comment will appear to give buyers a heads up, e.g. "Box slightly damaged" but usually, the information box remains sedulously blank.
|Well, at least we know it's sealed...|
I've compared JUNGLE to Mandarake too many times to let the analogy fail. JUNGLE prices itself at the cheaper end of Mandarake. That is, if Mandarake has 3 identical nendoroids, one priced at 3000 yen, another priced at 2500 yen, and the last priced at 2000 yen, JUNGLE will have it for 2100 yen. If Mandarake has 2 Saber Lilys priced at 20 000 yen and 16 000 yen respectively, then JUNGLE will have it for 16 800 yen. See the pattern? In that aspect, JUNGLE is a relatively cheap import site for used merchandise.
Unfortunately, JUNGLE also charges a 5% International Handling Charge, which they claim is needed to cover "Paypal transaction fees, credit card international transaction fees, packing materials and filling out declaration forms" (as though shipping within Japan doesn't require PayPal transaction fees or packing material...but I'll let that slide). But let's be honest, 5% is a lot better than what most proxy sites demand.
JUNGLE or Mandarake?
This is a question I wrestle with a lot, and my answer is as unhelpful as it is blase: It depends. It's all about stacking Mandarake's automatic 500 yen handling fee for items under 5000 yen and required 300 yen tracking fee against JUNGLE's 5% handling fee. To help clear things up, let's run some simulations (everyone loves simulations!).
Let's say I find a Nendoroid Meiko on both Mandarake and JUNGLE. Here is a simulation of how prices might go down:
|Base Price: 2100 yen||Base Price: 2000 yen|
|Handling Fee (5%): 105 yen||Handling fee (for orders under 5000 yen): 500 yen|
|Shipping (Small Packet SAL): Estimated 800 yen||Shipping (Small Packet SAL): estimated 800 yen |
+ 410 yen for tracking = 1210 yen
|TOTAL: 3105 yen||TOTAL: 3710 yen|
Clearly, I'll be ordering from JUNGLE. The price difference isn't huge, but every dollar counts when you're a collector. Saving 605 yen might not seem like a lot now, but it's enough to pay for an extra large double-double at Timmies (kudos, if you're Canadian enough to know what that is).
Now, let's do the same simulation with Saber Lily.
|Base Price: 16 800 yen||Base Price: 16 000 yen|
|Handling Fee (5%): 840 yen||Handling fee (for orders over 5000 yen): 0 yen|
|Lowest Possible Shipping (Unregistered Small Packet SAL): Estimated 1500 yen||Lowest Possible Shipping (Registered Small Packet SAL): Estimated 1500 yen |
+ 410 yen for tracking = 1910 yen
|TOTAL: 19 140 yen||TOTAL: 17 910 yen|
Yikes, what a difference. Looks like I'm going with Mandarake on that one.
As a basic rule of thumb, if I want a one-shot small item, I go with JUNGLE. For anything more expensive, I stick with Mandarake. While the two sites seem to charge similarly, the price difference can be significant when all extra fees are taken into account. Once again, it's a case of common sense and buyer's sensibility. Do the math. It's worth it.
Shipping and Shipping Cost
JUNGLE ships at the speed of light! JUNGLE has won every shipping race I have planned for them, trouncing Mandarake and AmiAmi by at least a week when using unregistered SAL. What gives them this astonishing velocity? Is it...love? Probably not, but I assume shipping speeds depend on a variety of factors, e.g. zone, customs, and company.
JUNGLE offers EMS, SAL, and unregistered SAL as shipping options.
Now, JUNGLE does something unique. It also gives you a choice in "shipment timing". Apparently you have a say in how quickly your package ships out. I have never seen another import site do this. It's an interesing concept. It's also nice to see they allow you the option of leaving your order open for a week to allow for adjustments. (It's my understanding that Hobby Search now also does something similar, but seeing as I haven't ordered from them in a while, I can't say for sure.)
I do have to mention that once you have an account, you can't change your shipping address. JUNGLE gives you a 5-digit customer number when you sign up for an account. In the process, you are allowed to enter one shipping address. If you move, or want your items sent to a different location, you have to sign up for a new account. A bit of a hassle, yeah, but not our of our abilities.
Payment is rather straightforward. You order. JUNGLE bills you. You confirm order. Done. They require payment within 5 days of your invoice. If you do not pay within that time, they kindly send you another reminder and give you 2 more days to pay. After that, they cancel your order.
You are allowed to add more items to your order after the initial order is placed. However, you must still pay within 7 days of the original invoice. So adding more items to your order at a later date does not mean an automatic extension of your payment deadline. Keep this in mind when combining orders or adding items.
JUNGLE accepts payment via PayPal (you can set up a billing agreement with them on PayPayl for even faster payment) or credit card. They do not accept Mastercard, only Visa, American Express or JCB.
I knew I should have taken a picture of my JUNGLE boxes before I recycled them! You'll just have to trust me when I say JUNGLE's packaging is quite sturdy. It involves bubblewrap and packing paper. The boxes they use are of appropriate size (unlike AmiAmi) and appriproate heftiness. I will insert images when they become available. Forgiveness, please!
JUNGLE is relatively easy to navigate, at least from my point of view. Once again, the ease of navigation is probably attributed to its puniness. You can't really get lost on a one road town, after all. If you click "Back to Toppage" you can also find a list of new items they have acquired in the last day or so, which is very useful if you don't want to resurf everything all over again.
There's a pattern to be found here. If there is nothing substantial written in this section, then the site has not ever done anything to incite my ire. I usually only politely and playfully email sites when they
Language wise, they have "a staff of 14 people composed by 13 Japanese and 1 Italian". Isn't that adorable?
Cancellations and Returns
JUNGLE does allow cancellations anytime prior to shipping. They seem like a friendly lot of people, so they probably don't throw a hissy fit like AmiAmi either (no one throws a hissy fit like AmiAmi, except perhaps Mandarake). Like most sites, they discourage cancelling "since a lot of work goes into recalculating the shipping fee and rearranging boxes". Does recalculation and rearranging really take a lot of work? Naw, probably not, but whatever the reason, try not to cancel. It's a bother from a business stand point, and let's admit it, no one likes a non-committer.
Once the item is shipped, they do not accept returns or exchanges. What you buy is what you get. Sorry, folks.
Product Availability: N/A (well, it depends on what comes in, doesn't it?)
Product Information: 5/10 (not much, could use some updating)
Prices: 9/10 (Dude, used prices are almost always awesome)
Shipping/Shipping Costs: 9/10 (excellent, very quick, but no estimates as of yet)
Payment: 9.5/10 (easy and straightforward, but why no Mastercard, I wonder...?)
Packaging: 10/10 (never had a problem)
Site Navigation: 9/10 (good categorization, neat, small)
Cancellations and Returns: 7/10 (cancellations discouraged, but not disallowed; no returns)
I like this site. I like it a lot. I've always hated Mandarake's "buy 5000 yen or we'll slap on a 500 yen handling charge just to punish you for being poor" attitude, and JUNGLE is a healthy alternative. Sure, their selection isn't as vast as Mandarake's, and they don't have anything paper-based, but it's great nevertheless. JUNGLE's only real weakness I can see is their lack of product information and occasional lack of product photos, but that's an issue easily remedied.
Currently, JUNGLE is one of my favourite places to pick up Nendoroids (along with Plamoya, when they're on sale). Give it a visit one day, and check back by often. They update their stock almost regularly.
Ciao for Now,