Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gashapon (Capsule Toys) Turn 40!

Gashapon may be small figures, but they are very detailed. They have been around in Japan for over 40 years, and are still loved by many today! Yoshikazu Komiyama, a Vice President with Bandai (pictured), sat down with Yomiuri Shimbun to discuss the past, present, and future, of the popular collectible. He noted that their gashapons of Kinnikuman continue to be popular, especially with those that are over the age of 30. When they were first released in the 80s and 90s, these adults were still in grade school! It was also one of the first lines that Bandai used a metal mold for, and sold nearly 4.5 million figures! It seems these days that the only people still buying gashapon are those who want to experience nostalgia. They are just not popular with the younger set as they used to be.

In 1965, Japan began to sell the figures, and Bandai entered the market in 1977. Ultraman was one of the most popular lines back then, becoming a hot seller among young boys. In the first half of the 1990s, they experienced another huge boom when Sailor Moon had come out, because everybody wanted all of the characters in unison. And it wasn't just figures. It was also stuffed toys/plush, keychains, dolls, and magnets! This led to an all around toy boom in Japan. In the latter half of the 1990s, it was the same case with Dragon Ball Z. Since then, all ages have taken interest in gashapon, and now they are created with four fanbases in mind: small children, middle schoolers, high schoolers, and adults.

Now, there are only three companies which make figures in Japan: Bandai, Takara-Tomy, and Kaiyodo. Gashapon figures can be found in convenience stores, malls, and subway/train stations all over. But, sales are sluggish! In 2005, the sales peak decreased from 33.5 billion to 28.5 billion last year. Mutsumi Ichikawa of Takara-Tomy says that their animal figures are not as popular as they used to be, and in addition to competition from the other two companies to put out a quality product, children just don't care as much about these figures as they used to.

Despite the circumstances, Bandai is not about to lose hope on the over 250 kinds of figures they create each year. They are looking into adding new technologies, such as small devices that play sound. Komiyama makes mention that Taito released a similar product earlier and it was successful. He promises that Bandai will not give up on producing gashapon!

And now, we've got a surprise for you... after the jump!

In July of 2005, what was probably the very last piece of Official Sailor Moon merchandise was produced. This 11.5cm figure was created especially for Figure Maniacs, and was based on the manga version of Sailor Moon - even Naoko Takeuchi was impressed when she saw how well this figure had turned out! I own this one and I recommend anyone who can still find this to get it, you will not be disappointed. It also comes with a guide featuring not only the sets of Sailor Moon, but of other series as well (Sakura Taisen, Cowboy Bebop, Street Fighter, and Cutey Honey to name a few). We've scanned the covers and the pages with all the collections on them for you! There's even a page on how to detail the figure (though this is something I have no intention to try).


ArgoCityCub said...

I have this book and fig,I paid about $46 for it, The book has a lot of detail on the figs(figures)

As for the sailor moon fig,I haven't put it together. yet.

sailordees said...

If you put it together, my best advice to you is to put that Y-shaped clip that holds her leg up further down it (towards her ankle). You may have to twist the figure around to get it right. I have a small dent now (not that noticeable, maybe its supposed to be there?) but i figure the figure stands fine now so i should have no reason to move it. This took me longer to put together than the Bandai ones, that is for sure!