Author Topic: Review - The Fujipet 'Thunderbird'.  (Read 13987 times)

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Skorj

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Review - The Fujipet 'Thunderbird'.
« on: August 10, 2007, 04:37:15 AM »

Original Box.


Note small light leaks, and curved film plane.


The Marvelous Man Who Invented the Holga.


The Gray Mice Struggle Off to the Data Mines.

Yeah, yeah; here we go again. How much puff about one little toy camera can there possibly be? Is it really that good? はい!

Part of the mystique - me thinks - comes from its unavailability. The few that exist outside of Japan (apart from the odd EE) appear to come from perhaps just one source. Mint-in-box examples in Japan have been known to sell for over USD500. The Fujipet badge, money-box, and original 1950s Fujipet calendars also pop up sometimes. All we need now is the Fujipet t-shirt?


Fuji Film - Minna no Camera, Fujipetto (Everyone's Camera). Asahi News. 1961.

A few different models exist; the classic `Thunderbird` version in two series (early and late), the EE (with selenium cell activated aperture), and a 35mm version called the Pet 35. Fujipet straps, cases, bags and dedicated filters were also available. Super rare editions with gold lettering, and Mighty Atom (Astro Boy) logos have also been spotted.


Rare green / gold combo with bag and manuals.




Garden Variety Brown.

All are very well built, from quality moldings (over a metal chassis), with well-plated metal parts, and nicely machined aluminum. Some Thunderbirds have plastic lenses, others glass. All EEs and Pet 35s have glass lenses. The Thunderbird and the Pet 35 come in a range of colors, including gray, red, yellow and green. EEs are to be found only in black.


1959 red Fujipet, box, manual and strap.


1960 green Fujipet.









When I first discovered the red one in an old camera shop in Nagano, I was enthralled by the looks. Those fins! That viewfinder! How can something that dinky be a camera? With a lot of vintage cameras being obscure 127 or 620 format, the Pet`s readily available 120 was immediately attractive.


Original 'Y' Filter. This one cost me JPY300, and guess which frames above were shot with it?


Lapel Badge.

Using one itself is of course great fun; loading is easy, though lending character, the 1-2 operation requires you to remember to cock the shutter before attempting to catch that one-in-a-million opportunity. Two shutter speeds, and limited apertures do lend some element of control to the process too.

Sometimes they come with original film too:




Cutest toy camera ever made?



As well as being as cool as cool, fun to use, the results too please; none of that sometimes over-the-top Holgaesque vignette or fragile Diana feel. Just nice soft focus, subtle vignette, and an ever-so-slight curve to the film plane. The occasional lightleak pops up sometimes too, just enough to keep it interesting.


Nishi-Funabashi. Fujipet. Kodak BW400CN.



Children of the late 1950s and early 1960s often stop me in the street to tell me they had a Fujipet. With over a million made, there must be many more laying un-loved in asoko across Japan. More information can of course be found at the only English Fujipet site (CLICK HERE), and more Fujipet photographs in the monthly 'Grabs' section on filmwasters. ありがとうございます。


Manual Cover.

Super-duper rare green / red Pet 35:


If you are lucky, you may even discover one of these:


Courtesy of The Mijonju Show.

Next month: The Ninja QL17. Have fun.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2011, 06:05:29 AM by Skorj »

woodstove

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Re: Review - The Fujipet Thunderbird.
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2007, 10:12:44 PM »
I found a Fujipet EE at a shop in Sendai last month; now I'm on the hunt for the original "thunderbird" model. Great review!

ndroo

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Re: Review - The Fujipet Thunderbird.
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2008, 01:07:47 AM »
I want one of these!  >:( But they always cost a big bomb in e(vil)bay

digiboy

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Re: Review - The Fujipet Thunderbird.
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2008, 05:43:29 AM »
yeah cool article Mark....thanks for mine...gotta get it out to 'try' an top my Photo service shot...

gregor

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Re: Review - The Fujipet Thunderbird.
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2008, 08:21:40 PM »
is there any correspondence between the pet's body color & release date?  I just picked up a pet with a gray body off e-bay for the the surprisingly low price of 130 USD.  Guess it's good to bid around the holidays !

Once it arrives and I've run a roll or two through it will post some pics ;-)

Skorj

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Re: Review - The Fujipet Thunderbird.
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2009, 04:04:58 AM »
is there any correspondence between the pet's body color & release date? 


No. Not that I can recall. All colors appear to have been available through all years. Apart from Series 1 or 2, the only way to reliably date a Fujipet is to look under her top-plate. If you are lucky, a Nengo or maybe Gregorian year will be stamped in purple ink. Sometimes the name of the inspector we assume can also be found in the same place.

Sean's site referenced above has further details, including samples:



Showa 33, being 1958... Skj.

gothamtomato

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Re: Review - The Fujipet Thunderbird.
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2009, 06:06:22 PM »
Are these cameras still in production? And if not, if someone I know is going to Japan, and I'd like them to pick one up for me, where would they get one? A flea market? And what should they look for and/or watch out for to get one in good, working condition?

How much do they go for over there?

THanks.

gregor

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Re: Review - The Fujipet Thunderbird.
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2009, 06:17:25 PM »
These are not in production - 1960 was the last year.  There's an in excellent condition thunderbird on ebay US as of last night - shipping from Taiwan. It was at 170 or so USD. a good price as they can often go up as high as 400 USD.

gothamtomato

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Re: Review - The Fujipet Thunderbird.
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2009, 06:59:46 PM »
Are they cheaper in Japan? Is it something you can easily pick up in flea markets there, and is only expensive over here?

I have a friend who'll be going to Japan & was wondering if they might be able to pick one up for me. Should I just tell them to look in a few used camera shops? Any direction you could give me would be appreciated.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 10:00:21 PM by gothamtomato »