Previously announced a couple months ago, the Bandai Namco Cross Store has finally opened in London’s Camden Market last week, marking Bandai Namco’s return to physical locations in London after the closing of Namco Station in London’s Southbank a few years ago.
Located within the famous Camden Market (a short walk from Camden Town Underground Station), the Bandai Namco Cross store is split into multiple sections dedicated to the different branches of Bandai Namco’s various brands across two floors:
- Gashapon (Capsule Toys)
- Megahouse (Figures)
- Banpresto (Figures)
- Ichiban Kuji (Prize Lottery)
- Sun-Star (Stationary)
- Bandai Namco Entertainment (Video Games)
- One Piece Card Game
Taking up most of the first floor, and likely being the first area most visitors will see, the Gashapon section would be a dream come true for capsule toy collectors, with loads of different Gashapon machines featuring figures and merch from all sorts of franchises from games, movies, anime/manga, and more, with helpful signage to show what themes the machines in each section are based on. Each Gashapon machine uses tokens that are purchased from exchange machines in the store, with each token costing £2 and the Gashapon machines varying from 2 to 3 tokens per go. At £6 a go for some of the more premium machines, it may seem a bit pricey for a random capsule toy, but to some looking for authentic Japanese Gashapon toys to collect, it might be worth it for the convenience/experience of being able to obtain these toys yourself in the UK from the same machines as found in Japan.
The other main part of the ground floor features the arcade area (dubbed ‘The Arcade’) which featured a small selection of crane/prize games, and a couple of arcade machines like Mario Kart Arcade GP DX and StepManiaX. As this was the first London based arcade officially operated by Bandai Namco since the closure of Namco Funscape, I was expecting to see a few more arcade games relevant to Bandai Namco, like Tekken or Taiko. On the store map, there is a large blank space next to the current arcade area, so I’d wonder if there may be plans to expand the arcade with more machines in the future?
Upstairs, the One Piece card game area occupies the back end of the top floor, featuring a space where you can buy booster packs and decks from the One Piece card game, along with a seated play area where you can play against other people, or join training sessions (pre-booked) to learn the basics on how to get started with the One Piece card game.
Elsewhere, the Banpresto section features a variety of figures from different series on display and available for purchase. The MegaHouse figure section is also partially connected to this area, with some shelves featuring figures from the MegaHouse brand.
The Ichiban Kuji prize lottery series has also been featured in its own section in the store’s top floor, with multiple shelves of different prize sets you can choose from. In Ichiban Kuji, you buy a ticket and that awards you a prize from a selection of prizes available in a single set, with prizes of varying values and quantities. You could think of it like a real life gatcha game since you always receive something for your purchase, but when a person wins a prize, that item is taken out of the remaining prizes available, which can affect the likelyhood of your ticket winning a certain prize. Also likely due to UK regulations on gambling, the store mentioned that you must be 16 or over to purchase an Ichiban Kuji ticket and they also had signs mentioning that the display cabinets for the actual prize sets on offer were not to be photographed (perhaps if that could show the odds of winning certain prizes based on what ones are still available?). A ticket was £14 which could be a good price if you win one of the more substantial prizes like a figure, but if you end up with a tiny keychain it might be a bit of a disappointment.
Overall, the Bandai Namco Cross Store seems to be an interesting way for certain Bandai Namco brands to have an official launch in the UK and the location within the popular Camden Market should make it well situated for people who are curious about the brands to just pop in while nearby. The prices for some of the items however are a bit of a hard sell, especially if you have even a little bit of knowledge on any other retailers for such items as you could likely get a better deal elsewhere for non exclusive or hard to find items.