toys

Amazing Lego artist spends six months bringing Hatsune Miku into the physical world

Amazing Lego artist spends six months bringing Hatsune Miku into the physical world

As so much of video game and animation character design shifts from sketching on a piece of paper to modeling on a computer, I’ve often wondered about the differences in the two skill sets. Not long ago, designing a character was about imagining how to express the three-dimensional human form using lines on a flat surface, but now, the arguably more valuable skill is being able to break that form down into minute building blocks, then render and reassemble them digitally.

The 3-D graphic method is a lot closer to building something out of blocks than drawing a portrait, so it’s actually quite fitting that one Lego enthusiast decided to use Japan’s favorite digital diva, Hatsune Miku, as his muse in making a life-size recreation of the virtual idol.

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See what 13 stuffed toys look like after a wash at the home spa

See what 13 stuffed toys look like after a wash at the home spa

People in Japan love their soft toys. And with so many cute characters to choose from, it’s easy to understand why. But with love comes a sense of responsibility, which means there will eventually come a time when your favourite stuffed character will have to face the wash. The only thing is, with their adorable, life-like expressions, a wash-and-dry for a stuffed toy ends up looking like a day at the spa followed by a visit to the amusement park!

Check out the adventures of some crazy Japanese plushies, as documented by their owners, after the jump.

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Awesome Korean airsoft park lets you live out your urban combat fantasies 【Video】

Awesome Korean airsoft park lets you live out your urban combat fantasies 【Video】

We’ve talked before about airsoft, and how the game that allows you to gun down your friends is ironically gaining seeing its ranks grow and grow in Japan. Unlike paintball, airsoft uses solid-state, BB-like ammo, so it’s a great way to unleash your inner remorseless 1980s action hero (or his gritty, 2010 reboot) without getting your fashionable combat fatigues stained with purple and orange splatters.

Most airsoft fields tend to be just that, fields out in the woods. But what if your combat fantasies are more Predator 2 than Predator, and you’d prefer an urban theater of operations? Is there a place where you can hunt the deadliest game: man?

Sure there is, at the Wanju Military Theme Park in Korea.

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Prepare to be blown away by Gundam projection mapping in the palm of your hand

Prepare to be blown away by Gundam projection mapping in the palm of your hand

Projection mapping is a big hit in Japan. Used at festivals and big events, the colourful and creative light shows project moving images onto buildings and objects, bringing them to life with accompanying music and drawing in adoring crowds.

The latest object getting the laser treatment in Japan is a life-size Gundam figure in Odaiba, Tokyo. While the figure has travelled around and been subject to projection mapping over the past few years, a new tie-in promotional product that has crowds going crazy. It’s a simple little box that, when used in conjunction with your smartphone or PSP, fills up with lasers, sparks and music in an amazing 3-D light show you’ll have to see to believe.

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Home sushi train kit commercial is cheesy/awesome

Home sushi train kit commercial is cheesy/awesome

A couple of weeks ago, we brought you news that Japanese toy maker Takara Tomy Arts had just released a revolving sushi kit for home use, which comes complete with miniature sushi train and sushi making tools. Aimed primarily at kids it looked like tremendous fun, but having seen the promotional video for the product we’d like to take this opportunity to upgrade the product’s status in our estimations from “tremendous fun” to the more scientifically accurate “OMFGWANT!”.

Full video after the jump.

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Bandai Japan releases hugely impractical “sprout” desk accessories, catchy jingle

Bandai Japan releases hugely impractical “sprout” desk accessories, catchy jingle

In the world of capsule toys, there’s always room for newcomers. Part of the reason so many people buy gashapon is the tiny thrill of excitement they get as they hear the capsule drop down into the dispenser and excitedly grab it to see whether they were lucky enough to get the toy they really wanted.

The toys themselves are often quickly forgotten about, doomed to a life of rolling around in the bottom of a bag or lining a windowsill turning a weird shade of yellow in the sun. But these new “desktop accessories” from toy maker Bandai, if their accompanying commercial video is to be believed, are designed to make their presence felt at every possible occasion, to the point of making your emails indecipherable.

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Not-so-mighty challengers assemble to determine Japan’s wimpiest Gundam!

Not-so-mighty challengers assemble to determine Japan’s wimpiest Gundam!

As the most venerated of Japan’s many giant robots, Gundam casts a gallant figure. Whether he’s appearing onscreen in his newest anime installment, or simply casting his silhouette across the landscape, to gaze upon him is to be keenly aware of his unmistakable power.

Unless, of course, his back just went out. Or if he’s working part-time at the convenience store to earn extra cash.

You know what? With so many variations of Gundam out there, we’re starting to suspect that at least some of them are, in fact, wimps.

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Revolving sushi comes to, and around and around, your house with this home-use set

Revolving sushi comes to, and around and around, your house with this home-use set

For me, one of the darkest days of 2013 was when the revolving sushi restaurant near my apartment closed down. Sure, I could always hop on the train and ride to another neighborhood for my fix, but that’s small comfort for those times when I want a selection of delicious raw fish and vinegared rice parading past me right now.

On that day, building a revolving sushi experience of my own replaced “supermodel grotto” and “garage filled with classic Mazda sports cars” as my eccentric millionaire daydream. But it turns out I actually don’t need such a hefty bank balance to fulfill this ambition, thanks to this sweet home-use revolving sushi set.

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Costume of Sanrio’s newest character lets you look like a fish without smelling like one

Costume of Sanrio’s newest character lets you look like a fish without smelling like one

In its never-ending quest for new, cute things, Japan sometimes latches onto things that the rest of the world might not apply the adjective to. It’s understandable when someone sees Hello Kitty or Totoro and squeals “Kawaii!, but by some twisted criteria, The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Jack Skellington and the rabbit Usavich, with his creepy drugged-looking eyes, are als considered “cute”.

So perhaps it’s not too surprising that you can now get a costume that turns you into the latest character from adorable mascot king Sanrio, despite that character being a filet of salmon.

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Gachapon maker to change the shape of capsule toys: “GashaPon Can”

Gachapon maker to change the shape of capsule toys: “GashaPon Can”

Only one month remains until the sales tax hike comes into effect raising the cost of most of the nation’s purchases by 3%. While for many businesses this simply means making adjustments to their prices, Japan’s vast vending machine industry is faced with a bigger challenge.

Due to their rigid payment and distribution system it’s difficult for them to expect customers to put an additional three one-yen coins into the machine. With the other alternative being to eat the cost themselves, companies such as Bandai are trying some creative approaches to the products themselves. The toy maker will begin selling can-shaped capsule toys (affectionately known as gachapon in Japan) at the end of the month.

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Donguri Kyowakoku, the store with nothing but Studio Ghibli anime items

Donguri Kyowakoku, the store with nothing but Studio Ghibli anime items

Shopping for anime merchandise isn’t always as easy as you’d think in Japan. While any toy store will be stocked with goodies from currently airing, elementary schooler-targeted TV series such as Pokémon or Precure, what if your tastes run towards more sophisticated fare, like the animated classics of Studio Ghibli?

If you’re looking for stuffed animals or accessories inspired by the films of legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki and his cohorts, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Donguri Kyowakoku, a whole chain of stores that sells nothing but Ghibli items.

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Why settle for a radio-controlled car when you can have an RC toilet instead? 【Video】

Why settle for a radio-controlled car when you can have an RC toilet instead? 【Video】

Before moving to Japan, I got to dip my toes in the overseas lifestyle by spending several summers at a U.S. military installation in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The base was a long walk from the nearest train station, making bicycles an attractive way of getting around town. Even if you didn’t want to shell out the money to buy one, you could always get one for the day at the local bike rental shop.

Unfortunately, the rental bikes tended to be old, heavy, and not always in the best state of repair. The locals referred to them as “banjo bombers,” since benjo is a Japanese slang word for “bathroom,” and the rental bikes were pieces of…feces.

Little did I know there was another vehicle even more deserving of the benjo bomber title, a radio-controlled toilet.

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New Disney Princess Lego on sale in Japan from March 7

New Disney Princess Lego on sale in Japan from March 7

From fierce legends to masculine superheroes, a lot has been said about Lego and its gendered marketing to boys. Now it seems the heroes on the more feminine side of the scale are finally getting a look-in, with the new Disney Princess line set to hit stores in Japan from March 7. We take a look at Cinderella, Rapunzel, Ariel and Merida in impressive Lego form and check out their adorable homes and accessories. These goodies will have your inner child squealing with delight!

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Take notes in the name of the moon with new line of Sailor Moon pens

Take notes in the name of the moon with new line of Sailor Moon pens

As fans the world over continue to wait for the upcoming newest installment of the Sailor Moon franchise, merchandising giant Bandai has been releasing a steady stream of goodies from the hit anime. Recently, we’ve seen compact mirrors and even lingerie inspired by the twin-tailed magical girl and her cohorts, and now comes a line of Sailor Moon pens.

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Anime fan’s level of obsession is a lot funnier than the reason he’s selling his collection

Anime fan’s level of obsession is a lot funnier than the reason he’s selling his collection

As media consumption patterns change in Japan, leading to less advertising revenue and lower DVD sales, merchandising is becoming an increasingly important way for anime producers to turn a profit. Not that the hardcore fans mind being given the opportunity to purchase a poster or coffee mug featuring their favorite character, mind you. And if the products happen to be limited editions, with the premium pricing such a designation entails, well that’s just a nice extra bit of otaku cachet.

One fan, though, is selling off his entire collection in one all-inclusive package. Quite often this sort of thing is the result of finding a flesh and blood girlfriend who doesn’t approve of decorating your walls with pictures of scantily-clad anime babes, but the reason for this collector’s fire sale isn’t anything nearly so happy.

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Insult or homage? Lady (Taking a) Liberty toys have us scratching our heads

Insult or homage? Lady (Taking a) Liberty toys have us scratching our heads

We’ve covered the strange world of gachapon toys on this site before. They are those vending machines that spit out an item in a plastic egg, and any bank of gachapon machines in Japan is sure to have a few bizarre offerings. Twitter user @dradon3 recently spotted this mystifying toy depicting the Statue of Liberty feeling free enough to let it all hang out. Says the ad copy, “Be free from all restraints that bind you.”

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You can look at this life-size Super Sonico anime figure, but you can’t touch

You can look at this life-size Super Sonico anime figure, but you can’t touch

Last Sunday, while the Tokyo area was still blanketed in white from the previous day’s snowstorm, we braved the cold and made the trip out to Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture for the winter installment of Wonder Festival. The bi-annual model expo is packed with the latest anime and video game-inspired figurines, including a fully-operational robot suit and hyper-realistic sculpture of one of Attack on Titan’s monsters from the torso up.

But the Attack on Titan figure wasn’t the only giant bust on display, as there was also a life-size statue of voluptuous anime character Super Sonico. In keeping with her exotic dancer-quality figure, though, her display area had some strip club-style rules, such as no groping allowed.

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New Attack on Titan model is both fear and awe inspiring

New Attack on Titan model is both fear and awe inspiring

While there’s no questioning that Attack on Titan is one of the most successful anime of the past several years, there’s still room for debate about the series’ giant monsters themselves. Sure, the titans stand 60 meters (197 feet) tall and are out to eat all of mankind. At the same time, though, they’re naked, often disheveled, and occasionally of pudgy build. Sometimes they look downright comical, even becoming the inspiration for lighthearted merchandise and cosplay.

So which is it? Are the titans supposed to be terrifying or silly?

After taking a look at this new Attack on Titan model, we’re going to have to put one more mark in the latter column.

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Sailor Moon fans can now buy transformation compact mirrors from a gashapon machine!

Sailor Moon fans can now buy transformation compact mirrors from a gashapon machine!

We’ve shared with our readers quite a few Sailor Moon products in our past articles, from sexy Sailor Moon lingerie to sparkly  Sailor Moon  chopsticks. Now, while fans may be delighted with the wide range of Sailor Moon goods available, particularly the cute gadgets from toy maker Bandai, there are so many of them that it probably isn’t realistic to try to collect all of them, especially considering that some of the items aren’t exactly cheap.

In fact, some of our reporters at sister site Pouch who are die-hard fans of the series, had just recently been wishing aloud that Bandai would come out with an affordable range of Sailor Moon transformation compact mirrors. Well, it seems their wish has now come true! Just this week, Bandai released a new range of lovely compact mirrors, and more importantly, they’re cheap and can be bought right from a Gashapon vending machine!

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Adult gamers act like small children by playing game meant for little girls, refusing to share

Adult gamers act like small children by playing game meant for little girls, refusing to share

Sometimes, stories and characters designed for kids score a hit outside of their target market. Witness, for example, all of the Disney-themed engagement rings and wedding ceremonies inspired by princesses created to appeal chiefly to girls far too young to be seriously planning their nuptials.

Sometimes, the popularity of a franchise can even cross gender lines. Sailor Moon rose to popularity partly because its leggy heroines and tongue-in-cheek humor appealed to guys, and then there’s the puzzling yet undeniable Brony phenomenon of young males ardently following the My Little Pony animated series.

Next up on the carousel of unexpected fanboy demographics: full-grown men who are hardcore players of Aikatsu, an arcade game solely intended for little girls.

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