EPL Prediction Competition 2018-2019 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

A bit weird, but cute

JAPAN: A tiny replica of an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus and a plastic cat squatting on sushi: just two of the weird-and-wonderful capsule toys that have become a multi-million-dollar craze in cute-obsessed Japan.

culture
By AFP

Sunday 24 December 2017, 11:00AM


Tokyo-based manufacturer Kitan Club spokesman Seita Shiki displaying figurines of women wearing a typical office worker’s clothes, whose arms or legs are designed to hang over the edge of a glass. Photo: AFP

Tokyo-based manufacturer Kitan Club spokesman Seita Shiki displaying figurines of women wearing a typical office worker’s clothes, whose arms or legs are designed to hang over the edge of a glass. Photo: AFP

The industry is now worth an estimated 30 billion yen (B8.63bn), with the fastidious attention to detail in the toys appealing to the Japanese sense of precision along with a well-documented love of all things “kawaii” or cute.

One store, in Tokyo’s famous Akihabara electronics district, is crammed with around 500 capsule toy vending machines stretching out as far as the eye can see.

“When I see something I want, I keep on turning the crank until I get it,” said Shota Makita, a 23-year-old care-worker on the hunt for a fun toy.

“There’s a sense of excitement about not knowing what I’ll get,” said Makita, one of a growing number of adult consumers of capsule toys, known as “gachagacha” or “gachapon” in Japanese after the cranking sound.

Store manager Yo Kono says the customer base has changed in the 16 years the shop has been open.

“At the beginning, visitors were mainly male anime fans... but recently the number of customers is growing with more female visitors and foreign tourists,” Kono said.

Capsule toys have been around for more than 40 years but the craze really took off in 2012 when Tokyo-based manufacturer Kitan Club launched its “Koppu no Fuchico” (“Fuchico at the edge of a glass”) product.

This figurine of a woman wearing a typical office worker’s clothes, whose arms or legs were designed to hang over the edge of a glass, became an instant hit with adults.

“We never thought of targeting children. Their numbers are dwindling and adults have more money,” said spokesman Seita Shiki.

Shiki chalks up the Fuchico capsule’s success to the fact it is “cheap and Instagram-worthy”.

Fans have been sharing photos of Fuchico on social media, which helped boost its popularity without the company even needing to advertise, he boasted.

“Fuchico was launched just as social media started to be used widely. It fitted with the times.”

Kitan Club, which makes various kinds of capsule toys, saw its sales grow from 800 million yen (B231.83mn) to 1.2 billion yen (B347.09mn) after the launch of the Fuchico series.

Thailand Property Awards

The capsule toy became so popular that the company was asked to create a pop-up shop at the cult Paris concept store Colette and to hold an exhibition in Taiwan.

Now many manufacturers are making capsule toys to appeal to adult consumers, helping to expand the market to around 100 new items each month.

Manufacturer Bandai, which occupies around 70% of the capsule toy market, said the products sell well because they are expertly made and they come in huge varieties.

When Bandai began making capsule toys exactly 40 years ago in 1977, the majority of them were cheap, sold mostly at 20 yen (B4.78), and were of poor quality, general manager Toshikazu Saita said.

“A wide variety of quality products are available at only 200 or 300 yen (B57.85 or B86.77). I think that’s a reason why they’re so popular now,” said Saita.

He said the quality of the products was down to specialists who “hand-carve prototypes by paying attention to angles and colours”.

“The attention to detail is very Japanese,” he said.

But to keep costs down, the actual toys are manufactured in China using the Japanese design as a prototype.

Shiki of Kitan Club agreed that attention to detail was what set Japanese capsule toys apart.

“For example, Fuchico’s knees and elbows are slightly sprayed with red paint to make them look real,” he explained.

“This adds one extra step but we feel we have to do this” even if it adds to the cost, he added.

It certainly appeals to Nana Sakuma, 26, who snapped up four capsule toys in the shape of Japanese food stalls from machines in the Akihabara store.

She said, “I’m really happy to find toys that are so real. When I see real things turned into miniatures, I find them irresistibly cute. I cannot help but buy them.”

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Phuket to hold mass merit-making event for Phoenix victims

They should be very careful of who and to which deities they make merit to, as we nearing the middle...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: Passing the baton

Fine 'Opinion'. 10 Governors in 10 years! It makes thinking that this 1 year Phuket station...(Read More)


Phuket pushes to splash B508mn on marine safety

When we will be informed officially by the Phuket Harbour Department where and when will be all boat...(Read More)


Phuket to hold mass merit-making event for Phoenix victims

Sometimes 'Merit-making' is like a blanket, covering and cover up. And always with high Offi...(Read More)


Chinese tourist drowns at Racha

Thailand clearly will never learn, just rely on putting up red flags all over, then blaming tourists...(Read More)


Foul stench of sewage in black-water canal spurs Phuket hotel wastewater inspections

I have long held that Kamala is one of the filthiest bays in Phuket. The south khlong fouls the sea ...(Read More)


Phuket Governor to appeal to Cabinet for B108mn to improve marine safety

The list of "improvements" are a telling indication they have no idea, stop being so lazy ...(Read More)


Foul stench of sewage in black-water canal spurs Phuket hotel wastewater inspections

“We are planing to inspect suspicious hotels in the area from Monday (Aug 21),” he said. Will n...(Read More)


Phuket to hold mass merit-making event for Phoenix victims

Poor wording, "merit-making" Merit, the quality of being particularly good or worthy, esp...(Read More)


Phuket Governor to appeal to Cabinet for B108mn to improve marine safety

So this is his final gift to his cronies before being shuffled to the next area where he can continu...(Read More)