Caltrops: Nanoblock Osaka Castle Deluxe Edition

To the Lego diehards out there, saying the following would probably be akin to speaking in tongues to them. Or perhaps it may be blasphemous. But Nanoblock is a fun/challenging alternative to Lego. For those that do not know, from the brand name, you could surmise that the blocks are quite small. And you would be correct. Many are only millimeters in size. Though the entry level stuff they sell are kinda cartoony and often quite silly(pixel-style Pokemon, Hotdogs, Ramen bowls, etc). The deluxe kits are really well done and are not for the faint of heart.

I’ve built a few Nanoblock kits in the past. But nothing on this scale(in terms of pieces). I know I had the regular Tokyo Tower model and Kaminari-mon model. And those were nothing compared to this. I believed they maxed out at 300 pieces each. Both of those have more larger upgraded kits now, I believe. I’ll probably be picking them up sooner rather than later.

This kit came with 2,430 pieces. Though you do get quite a bit of extra replacement pieces. A great service, in my opinion. Considering how easy it is for these pieces to grow tiny legs and walk away. I built this kit over the course of a couple weeks. With the occasional helping-hand from my wife. Though she got frustrated quite easily with the tiny bits.

The Deluxe Osaka Castle kit comes in a very large box. Compared to the smaller kits I’ve built. Which come in small packets. Inside the box is a lot of plastic bags full of tiny bricks. Some bags are mixed, which is annoying considering they are not labeled for steps. Some bags containing all the same size and color brick. So It really helps to get organized. I use tackle-boxes that I found on amazon. They come in sets of four. These are the same boxes that I use for leftover 40K bits, and I must have about 15 of them around my hobby area nowadays.

Tearing open these bags and pulling pieces out one by one is a recipe for disaster. I found pieces in the box that had escaped.
These tackle-boxes allow you to get organized. And it makes it much easier to find what you’re looking for.

The average Nanoblock kit has only one small base plate(though some do not have plates at all). But this kit has the build area of four large plates plus 4 small plates(two spaces are left open though). The smallest pieces are roughly the size of a tick that’s found on your leg after walking through a field in late spring.

Nanoblock licensed tweezers are great for building. There are 2 types. The ones with the flat forks are good for larger pieces.
The second tweezers are made to grab the pegs on the tops of the pieces. They work wonders for these little nightmares. But can also be used on larger pieces.

While building, I have to take care not to overdo it. Because it is quite easy to get frustrated and tired when working with these small pieces. Also, my fingers occasionally couldn’t grip the tweezers anymore. I was averaging anywhere from 200 to 500 pieces built in a sitting. When you put the finishing touches on, you do feel pretty good about what you just accomplished. Kind of like finishing a massive puzzle.

I really enjoyed this Deluxe kit, and my next Nanoblock kit will likely be the 5,200 piece Deluxe Himeji Castle.

The kit came with a set of four tiger stickers to place on the front and back of the top of the castle.
The trees were added last. As oppose to step three or four. Adding them that early is a recipe for them getting knocked off and lost.

A Little Background and History


I like working on projects that have personal meaning. Not just always just doing something for the hell of it, you know? Various parts of Japan I consider to be my homes away from home. Osaka is a great city, with great food and culture. I find it closely relates to New York City in terms of attitude, and the “don’t quite give a fuck what you think” mentality. They even break with the normal for things treated as standard in Tokyo(or Japan in general). Things like which side of the escalator to stand on, and which side to walk on(It’s opposite from Tokyo and most of Japan).

Plus, I have been drawn to the Osaka/Kansai dialect of the Japanese language for a very long time. My absolute love for Japanese comedy(stand-up) nurtured that. Sometimes I am more comfortable in a Kansai-ben environment than Kanto-ben. (+ben = dialect. Kanto-ben would be the standard dialect for the Tokyo region.) Occasionally, I draw looks for letting Kansai dialect of my own slip out for no apparent reason. It’s not natural.

I chose this Nanoblock kit because I made a visit to Osaka Castle in 2015. It was a humid yet breezy late summer Kansai day(Kansai 関西地方 Kansai-chihō, is the name of the region Osaka is located in). Not only did I see the outer grounds of the castle(including the walls, gates, and moats), but my wife and I climbed all the way to the top of the tower.

From the top you are afforded great views of the surrounding neighborhoods and much of Osaka. Inside the castle tower is quite cramped though. Particularly in the upper levels. And there are really low ceilings. But that make sense if you put enough thought into it. Humanity was so much smaller all those hundred’s of years ago. I’ve been to a few of these castles in various parts of Japan. All of them are small inside.

While Osaka Castle was first built in the late 1500’s, it has been destroyed multiple times. Osaka was a site of some of the biggest power struggles in the fascinating feudal Japanese history. Particularly between two of the most powerful clans. The Toyotomi and Tokugawa Clans. It was also destroyed by natural disaster. A bolt of lightning took out the tower once. Compared to the giant stone castles that westerners largely know, Japanese keeps were made of wood primarily. So, they burned down easily.

The current Osaka Castle tower was rebuilt in the early 1930’s as a result of donations from the community in an effort to restore a major piece of history. It was built and restored in accordance with the Toyotomi-era design(1585). Prior to the Tokugawa Clan’s destruction of the tower. But was largely made of concrete this time around. This way it can stand for ages to come.

Unfortunately, I was unable to take pics inside the castle. There are many Japanese historical sites(shrines, temples, castles, etc) that prohibit camera use in various areas. Also, the cramped quarters make slinging a bulky DSLR around is kind of annoying to the other people trying to enjoy that slice of history. Inside are whole rooms of gold and artwork from hundreds of years ago. Static displays of Toyotomi’s armor, symbols, and weaponry are also viewable. You can even get a picture taken in samurai armor. It is a tourist attraction after all nowadays.

And I will tell you this, those giant helmets that you see on Samurai, were damn heavy. I cannot imagine waging war with those on. But of course, the old medieval armor from Europe was also cumbersome too. A knight in full plate armor knew not the joys of celerity.

I mentioned above, that the next Nanoblock project would probably be Himeji Castle (姫路城 Himeji-jō). Himeji castle is a much larger and much older(middle 1300’s!) castle in Hyōgo Prefecture. I have not yet visited there, as I haven’t ventured that far west in Hyōgo. Yet. But it is on the short list for my wife and I’s next trip to Kansai.

[This post was originally published at Otherverse Games & Hobbies]

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All of these are true except for one:

Robert is: a Hobbyist, a Music Lover, an RPG Gamer, a Mustard Lover, Chaotic Neutral, a Japanese Speaker, a Veteran, an Otaku, a Table Tennis Player, an Anime Fan, an Aviation Professional, a New York Rangers Fan, a Chaos Lover With Loyalist Tendencies.

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