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Capsule Toys: Gachapon

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Weekend Waiting Line in Front of Capsule Toy Vending Machines by Adults:

Growing up in Japan, small children are constantly exposed to capsule toys, calling them “gachapon”, but realize that what they commonly called “Gachagacha” or “Gachapon” is a registered trademark of capsule toys sold from toy manufacturer Bandai only, like people calling any bandage “Band Aid”. Capsule toys are everywhere: in front of grocery stores, clustered at sundry stores, home appliance stores, etc.

Capsule toys were invented for small children at first. They would be sold inside vending machines that would dispense one capsule at a time. To children, these capsules captured wonders.

Despite the low price of JPY 200 ($2), capsules had miniature versions of toys/figures, like heroes and anime characters, with detailed shape and exact color of normal sized toys. In once capsule toys vending machine, there would be several characters from one anime so children did not know which character would pop out of the machine. This was exciting to young ones.

With this generation growing older, capsule toys are recently targeted towards teenagers and adults. Nostalgia becomes the trigger of buyer’s heart. Toy manufacturers are reviving anime characters which were once a social phenomenon twenty to forty years ago and now-adult fans of these anime characters are becoming collectors.

Although the price of capsule toys went up to JPY 300 ($3), it is nothing to adults; they would spend thousands of yen to collect all of the characters. On weekends, you see adults lingering about capsule toys vending machines and being all excited about finally getting the character they longed for. Another teen to adult targeted capsule toys trend is for manufacturers to produce very random themed series, like yakizakana (grilled fish), types of garbage cans, sushi, types of toilet, etc.

Whatever the reason these capsule toys are popular, consumers are thankful for the devoted toy manufacturers who go through the trouble of producing such precise miniatures that are sold only for JPY 200 to JPY 300 ($2-$3).