Nico Cardenas

And the world of Figure blogging, design, and photography.

The Site

Otakumouse™: Toy and Figure Blog is a hobby site/blog focused on the anime figure scene. The site is currently being managed by Nico Cardenas who works as a Designer based in Manila, Philippines. Shoot him an email at needlemouseinteractive@gmail.com.

How It Started

The "Otakumouse" idea started in the middle of 2008 and 2009. Those were the years when I was just starting my figure collecting hobby. It was originally called "Needlemouse Otaku" because I was using the name "Needlemouse" in all of my design projects that time. Then I realized the name was just too long to pronounce and to remember so I decided to change it.

I really want to preserve the word "mouse" because it is already a part of my identity as a designer and I also want to keep the word "otaku" because it encapsulates all of the topics (games, anime, toys, etc) that I want to showcase in this site. So I just decided to replace the word "needle" in the name "needlemouse" with the word "otaku" giving me the name "Otakumouse". It's pretty lame I know. But you get the message ;)

The "mouse" emblem has been around for many years and is originally a part of my designer identity. Since I already have a the actual "logo", I mostly focus on designing the logotype when I'm rebranding Otakumouse. I did 4 major iterations of the logotype since 2008 and I was actually laughing at myself when I saw my earlier designs because they look crap and unprofessional :P

Today, I'm happy with my current logo and I'm still not sure if I'll be doing a logo re-design anytime soon. One thing's for sure though, the logotype will change but the "mouse emblem" will definitely remain.

Logo and site evolution: 1.) 2008 - The very first logo I did for Otakumouse / Needlemouse Otaku. The site didn't saw the light of completion and was trashed after I realized I still don't have the necessary skills required to create a blog/site from scratch. 2.) 2011 - Studied web development and after 2 1/2 years, finally rolled out my own personal blog/site and theme called "OtakuPro". 3.) 2012 - Released V2 of Otakumouse and evolved OtakuPro as a framework dubbed as "OtakuPro V2". Changed the logo after a few months because I realized the font I selected was widely used online including the popular site "Tokyo Otaku Mode". 4.) 2012 to Present - Updated the logo by redesigning the logotype from ground up. It is the current logo of Otakumouse.

Worldwide Otaku Report: Image I took for Culture Japan and Ascii Media's Worldwide Otaku Report book. Book still not yet published though.

Cycling hobby: Before I even decided collecting figures, my main hobby was Cycling (Tour de France anyone?). I started cycling when I was 14 and I still do cycling today. In a span of more than 10 yrs, I managed to acquire different types of bikes ranging from mountains to roads. I even have a folding bike if I'm not racing :P You can check out my bike collection in this earlier post. Also, here's "Black Stallion" - one of my latest bike (pictured above).

Nico Cardenas

I currently reside in Manila, Philippines and I do Design work for a living. I've been in the design industry for roughly 9 yrs now doing both local and international work for a variety of clients. Most of the work I do ranges from Illustrations, UX Design, Motion, Web, and Print. I also occassionaly do code work but I don't consider myself "good" in that field. Current programming languages in my belt are Actionscript 1, 2, 3, Javascript, HTML5, CSS3, and a bit of PHP.

Things On My Head: Artwork I did for a client in the US. It's actually a portrayal of what's inside a Designer's head. It just shows that Designer's are very creative people and their imagination are limitless.

Wild Life: A 100% freestyle doodle artwork I did for a client in the US. It does not have any direction and I just draw the first thing that comes into my mind. My initial inspiration was the chaotic environment of the jungle's wild life.

As a Designer / Graphic Artist

Design and illustration has been my real passion and It was the only skill I'm good at when I was a kid. I also didn't excel in any academic subjects back when I was still studying but I do get high grades if the subject has something to do with "drawing" and "design". I don't have any specific style when it comes to my illustrations and I just directly doodle what I have in mind. This skill opened up new oppurtunities for me and It helped me a lot when I was just starting my career both in the design and development industry locally and abroad.

Designer Monster Series: Did an artwork series for a US client which depicts pop art styled creature designs. Illustration above is a family of crazy "bear like" creatures who loves camping. I wouldn't call the artwork "Campbear" for no reason :P

Anime / Manga Illustrations: In my earlier days of drawing, my sketch pad was always filled with characters from titles like YuYu Hakusho, Rurouni Kenshin, Slam Dunk, and Dragonball. Media back then were mostly anime related and as a kid, nothing gets more fulfilling than having myself draw my favorite characters from my favorite anime shows.

Aside from doing pop illustrations, I also draw anime / manga. I'm a big fan of artist Tony Taka and I've been using his works as a reference in improving my own style. I also dig the works of Kirisagi Gunma, I-NO, and Bosshi.

Codes, Programming, Development

When I was first starting my career, coding is not really a part of my workflow. If a client gets interested in my work and ask for a portfolio, I always send it via CD. It's an OK move for some clients but it's not very efficient. I told myself I needed a much more better way to market myself. Behance was not yet around that time and sending your Deviantart account is very unprofessional - so there's no way for me to showcase my works online. That's the time I decided to teach myself how to code. Started learning Flash (since it's big back then) then moved forward and taught myself HTML, CSS, Javascript, and a bit of PHP.

I had my fair share of coding horrors and nightmares throughout my career and I tell you, it was never fun to fix a broken or buggy code. I've been a part of numerous development projects in the past ranging from desktop to web apps. Though sometimes enjoyable, I still prefer designing things.

Figure Photography

Anime figures are not toys. They are fine sculptures created by some of the best illustrators and sculptors in Japan. They are not mass produced and are always in limited stocks.

That's why it is somewhat a standard for figure collectors to take pictures of their figures and share it online. As a figure collector myself, it is so rewarding to see the fine details of a figure when doing figure photography.

I currently use a Nikon D7000 DSLR camera paired by a 50mm F1.4G lens. I'm also using a "mini studio" as the staging area for my figures.

Alter Dizzy: One of my favorite figures in my entire figure collection. The 1/8th scale figure rendition of Dizzy made by the talented people at Alter. Did an in-depth review of the figure which you can check out in the reviews section of this site.

Join the conversation | 42 Comments

  1. King | Sun, 2012/12/09 at 12:01 AM

    Your website is amazing, I really like the theme color

    • Otakumouse | Sun, 2012/12/09 at 6:19 AM

      @King: Thank you very much sir! :)

  2. snowonsummer | Tue, 2013/02/26 at 8:37 PM

    Hi, I’ve seen your office at one of dannychoo websites.

    I’m aspiring to be just like you, love your exp and office setup .. hope someday will have one too :)

    • Otakumouse | Tue, 2013/02/26 at 8:42 PM

      @snowonsummer: Thank you very much! Don’t worry about it, I’m sure you can do it too! Hard work is the key and just continue to study! :)

  3. snowonsummer | Fri, 2013/03/01 at 10:42 PM

    @otakumouse thank you for the support, I wanna ask some questions, hope you don’t mind .. do you used a quick blank-themes (refueled, starkers, etc) for making a wordpress themes ? I myself used refueled, and believe it or not, no matter how much changes I made, it still reeks of the blank themes style, I just don’t get it.

    love those headers, do you create the font yourself or is it not a font ?

  4. Otakumouse | Sat, 2013/03/02 at 12:56 AM

    @snowonsummer: Nope :) I basically created OtakuPro™ from scratch. I’m not really a fan of using theme frameworks specially when it comes to personal projects. Theme frameworks sometimes require you to adhere to their own specification making you a bit limited in the design side of things ;)

    For the logo, it’s basically a heavily customized “pixel” font :)

  5. CloudStrife-xx | Sat, 2013/03/02 at 8:35 AM

    Just wanted to stop by to say your website/blog is a great personal creation. Definitely an inspiration for people in the field of design.

    • Otakumouse | Sat, 2013/03/02 at 11:33 AM

      @CloudStrife-xx: Thanks Much!!! :)

  6. snowonsummer | Thu, 2013/03/07 at 3:01 PM

    @otakumouse can I call you nico ?

    I see that this theme site changing every version, just wanna ask, when changing the themes and the featured / preview image, do you make the thumb image from the first post again ?

    Are you freelancing online or offline ? wandering because I want to know how to earn from those skills :)

    thanks

    • Otakumouse | Thu, 2013/03/07 at 3:21 PM

      @snowonsummer: Hi! Are you talking about OtakuPro V1.0 or the one I’m currently using (OtakuPro V2.0)?

  7. snowonsummer | Thu, 2013/03/07 at 5:48 PM

    @otakumouse I’m talking about both ? I see that in each version, the size of the featured/preview images are different, do you generate the image it self or is it auto generate ?

    • Otakumouse | Thu, 2013/03/07 at 10:33 PM

      @snowonsummer: Ahhh, in OtakuPro V1.0, I basically create the images manually. In OtakuPro V2.0, I already made it automatic :) Though I still prefer doing it manually here on my site because automating the process tends to crop the important parts of the images I wanted to display :P

  8. snowonsummer | Fri, 2013/03/08 at 12:27 AM

    @otakumouse: ic, then you do manually all the post featured / preview image, hope the themes doesn’t change much again *lol*

    just wondering though, at what point you do freelancing ? what kind of skill you got when first accepting a freelancing job ? do you do online or offline job ?

    thanks

    • Otakumouse | Fri, 2013/03/08 at 3:33 PM

      @snowonsummer: Hahaha! For OtakuPro V1.0, that’s pretty much it. Will not do any changes on that frame/theme. All of my time is currently concentrated on OtakuPro V2.0 which I’m about to release real soon! Just super busy with work T_T

      I’m originally a Graphic Artist / Designer then I self studied programming in the process. I basically do projects online and I’ve been doing it for roughly 5 yrs now :)

  9. snowonsummer | Tue, 2013/03/12 at 12:45 PM

    I’m back …

    Hi, nico .. I wanna go back taking care of my website, but first I need to change the theme to a more proper function theme, but first I wanna ask you something, do designers these days doesn’t need to follow the 960grid anymore ? seeing that your web themes (otakupro) is 1000px or more :)

  10. Pinkcheeks | Sun, 2013/05/26 at 5:26 PM

    Oh so this is Otakumouse.com! Hello there! Sheng (kixkillradio) mentioned your site to me coz I’m looking for note worthy websites of Pinoy figure photogs to add to my blogroll.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Otakumouse | Sun, 2013/05/26 at 11:05 PM

      @Pinkcheeks: Woah! Thank You!!! > <

  11. Shijin-kun | Thu, 2013/07/25 at 12:42 PM

    This is an awesome website. I come here to get close up pics of the figurines i plan to buy.

    • Otakumouse | Fri, 2013/07/26 at 4:18 PM

      @Shijin-kun: Thank you very much Sir! ^^

  12. Richmond Ko | Wed, 2013/09/18 at 1:38 PM

    *BOWS DOWN*, I really love your blog! The design! The layout! The posts reviews and photos are just all amazing! =3 You’re my inspiration haha! :p

    • Otakumouse | Wed, 2013/09/18 at 2:15 PM

      @Richmond: Awwww… Thanks so much buddy! Feels great to hear those warm compliments from you!

  13. Vincent Lee | Sun, 2013/09/29 at 2:35 PM

    Best blog I’ve seen, great design and style! Absolutely brilliant!

    • Otakumouse | Sun, 2013/09/29 at 7:59 PM

      @Vincent Lee: Wow! Thank you very much sir!!! Appreciate your warm comments! \m/

  14. randhis | Tue, 2013/12/03 at 3:33 PM

    how did u get so rich and afford such gadgets?i am so jealous of u

  15. Otakumouse | Tue, 2013/12/03 at 4:00 PM

    @Randhis: Thanks much sir! :3 ^^

  16. Jaeho | Thu, 2013/12/05 at 6:44 PM

    Hi I’m from South Korea. This is one of the best website I’ve ever seen as a subculture fan. Very impressive and love your reviews too!!!!

    • Otakumouse | Thu, 2013/12/05 at 7:25 PM

      @Jaeho: Thank you very much!!! I really appreciate it! ^^

  17. The Duke | Wed, 2013/12/18 at 6:24 PM

    Dude, didn’t really thought your also from the Philippines, it feels great to see that a kabayan is behind this wonderful. Nice job!!

    • Otakumouse | Thu, 2013/12/19 at 7:44 AM

      @The Duke: Thank you very much sir!!! ^^

  18. Oppa the WaRDeN | Fri, 2014/01/10 at 6:28 PM

    as an IT student got to say about your work “GODLIKE”
    and one more thing where to buy authentic figma and nendoroid cuz i stated to collect them and they ended up bootleg can you help me T-T

  19. snowonsummer | Sun, 2014/01/26 at 10:28 PM

    Hey OM, nice to see the sites already responsive

    • Otakumouse | Sun, 2014/01/26 at 10:43 PM

      Thanks snowonsummer! Yeah, gotta sacrifice a bit of design and focus more on content > < Hope the new site works well for you :) Still got lots of tweaks to do to perfect the initial build. Comments and suggestions are very much appreciated!!!

  20. Jorge Teran | Wed, 2014/03/19 at 4:41 AM

    First off i want to say congratulations on your site! ive been following what youve been doing since i saw your post on the v1 otakupro theme around 2012 and its inspiring too see someone who can do what i dream off eventually accomplishing. I love the otaku culture and love graphic/web-deigning as well as illustrating. From looking at your site and others out there I’ve also taking the initiative to follow the same path you currently tread. So once again thank you for the inspiration!! :)

    • Otakumouse | Wed, 2014/03/19 at 10:24 AM

      Awww! That’s very nice of you sir. I really appreciate it! Thanks soo much! :)

  21. Dave | Mon, 2014/04/07 at 12:30 AM

    Why would you get Dragon Toy: Sakakibara Kozue? Is it because it’s too risque? But how come you’re totally fine with full frontal nudity of Elsa. BTW I preordered Elsa tan version out of excitement but quickly cancel it the next day. I also don’t have the guts to display it in my bedroom because I’m not alone in my home.
    But I did preorder my first sexy but semi-risque but still is risque in my opinion, Super Sonico berry version. Once I got it, I’m not sure if I should display it….

  22. Idol | Sat, 2014/05/31 at 5:06 PM

    Lufet! :P

  23. Denny | Sun, 2014/07/27 at 4:21 PM

    The first Thing I want to say that your Blog looks really great. Colors, Design and Construction. Your Preview and Review Posts help me in my buying decision. The Selection of the Figures are also very good. Overall, it is in my Opinion the best Figure Blog. I am from Germany. Please keep it up, and provide me with lots of Information. ^_^°

    • Otakumouse | Thu, 2014/07/31 at 1:59 AM

      Aww! Thank you very much Sir!!! Appreciate it!!! ^^

  24. jose | Sat, 2015/02/14 at 4:50 AM

    I really like this page especially your review of corse the design and the photo its great, one day would like to review also, you have agreat collection

    • Otakumouse | Sun, 2015/02/15 at 12:07 PM

      Thanks Jose!!! :)

  25. Kay | Sun, 2015/10/25 at 10:52 PM

    Hey! This is my first time visiting this site and I just saw the question “What do you think of the white color scheme?” in the upper left corner and said, why not leave a first impression of the site? :P

    First of all, I really like the grid like function when you first get into home page, it makes it really easy to click on reviews or figures you’re interested in, it’s also really nice how you break up of the monotony of just using grids by varying the spacing out of content as you scroll down. And the tabs are super easy to see, which is always nice (I once visited a website and I couldn’t find the home page tab ;-;…)

    The use of a few standout colors among all the white is really interesting and makes things stand out. However, I did notice that some of the color choices for the article titles in the review section made my eye sort of…blinded by it? not sure how to describe it. It could be the use of yellow and light blue which are really really light for the white, and sort of either blend in with the white out of the corner of my eye or when I focused on the yellow makes it hard to see what the title is saying. These colors are sort of the flagship of your website, so this might just be an inevitable downside of using white background with these light colors.

    Going over the text for your about page, although the differing using of normal and light gray is interesting, the light grey again makes it hard to read it at first but it’s not as bad as the light blue/yellow titles.

    Overall, I like how clean and accessible (minus some color changes) your website is and I hope you continue this pattern! ^_^. feel free to ask me for any clarifications.

    *just realizes how super long this is o_o*

  26. Michael | Sat, 2016/03/12 at 2:45 PM

    Hello sir,

    I’ve been following your Phygure magazine since the release of the first issue. Would like to ask some pointers on what camera should I use as your magazine really inspires me to do photography. I’ve been thinking about the mirrorless camera as my first choice. I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

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Who's behind Otakumouse

Nico Cardenas is the creative mind behind Otakumouse. He loves everything Japan particularly the country's "otaku" subculture. He's a gamer, figure collector, and a hobby photographer. He currently works as a full time Designer based in Manila, Philippines. Learn more about Nico

Shoot him an email at: needlemouseinteractive@gmail.com.

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