If there’s one thing Japanese people like to do it’s collect things. And when those things are small, cute or quirky characters, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll fight to get the entire set!
In the land of gachapon (onomatopoeia for the sound of a turning mechanism followed by the drop of a ball or capsule) capsule toys and free collectable figures, mobile phone charms and stickers, confectioners Furuta are well known for their Choko Eggu (choco egg) series that include a collectable toy inside the chocolate shell, not unlike Kinder Surprise eggs sold in Europe and Canada.
Since 1999, the company has produced collectible figures including Disney, Marvel and Nintendo characters as well as scale models of automobiles and cars. The figures are always of incredibly high quality and, with the chocolate eggs being sold for just a few hundred yen each, they’re a big hit with children as well as adults. In 2006, however, the company’s animal figure series, which features everything from cute rabbits to ferocious-looking dinosaurs disappeared from shops, much to the disappointment of collectors.
But now, to delight model fans and kleptomaniacs alike, Furuta’s figures are being brought back to the market as stand-alone models, and Japanese collectors are already going nuts.
The range of animals, bugs and other oddities are coming to the market as a new brand known as カプセルＱ (Capsule Q) this time around, meaning that instead of visiting onvenience stores and supermarkets to shop for chocolate eggs, fans and collectors of all things tiny and ludicrously detailed will soon be on their knees in video arcades and game centres with stacks of 100 yen (US$1.20) coins, gatchapon-ing like crazy.
The idea of collecting dozens of small animal figures may no doubt seem strange to many westerners, but Japanese people are notorious for their love of small, finely crafted objects. Capsule Q’s animal range is, of course, no exception with the figures being made from high quality materials and, despite being completely solid, giving the impression of being soft and fur, feather or scale covered no matter which angle you view them from.
And when we say these things are small, we mean small.
The new range is scheduled to launch from January, 2013 and will feature not just collectors’ beloved animal collection but also a Tyrannosaur Series and a series of collectables based on Japanese artist Taro Okamoto’s work including Osaka’s Tower of the Sun (pictured below), with new figures expected to be unveiled on a monthly basis from then on, claiming every inch of your home and 100 yen coin in your wallet.
As well as being lovingly crafted, many of the models have cool features like LED lights and moving parts, ensuring that even those who ordinarily might not pay models of this kind much attention will find something to amuse them and, we’d be willing to bet, find themselves hooked by that “just one more try” feeling and popping another 100 yen coin into a capsule machine.
The Tower of the Sun is faithfully reproduced in model form come 2013…
Those seeking something a little quirkier than animal models or the Taro Okamoto series may be interested to know that Capsule Q also plans to release a pet series, featuring shiba inu dogs and cats among others, shortly followed by a bizarre range of mobile phone charms including corn on the cob and bunches of enoki mushrooms, something Tokyo’s mysterious corn man would no doubt be interested in.
We’ll leave you with some photos of just a few of the figures headed to gachapon near you soon. We’re sure there’s bound to be something that will catch your eye!
[ Read in Japanese ]