Rewind, Fast Forward, then Play! at the Tokyo Toy Fair 2014
The Annual International Tokyo Toy Fair was held once again at Tokyo Big Sight from June 12th to 15th. This year I got the impression that there was a sense of confidence and pride eminating from the Japanese Toy industry stronger than has been felt in some time. Building upon the successes of the past through continued Innovation and Transformation seemed to be the common theme was the running through the show.
Prestigious homegrown and international properties mixed and mingled confidently together while a handful of newer Entertainment/Toy cross-media properties held their own on the floor. Venerable lines including Transformers, Star Wars, Tamagochi, Gundam, Marvel Superheros, Ultraman, Sailor Moon, Kamen Rider, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hello Kitty (of course) were in full force while newcomers Yokai Watch, Tenkai Knight, and Majin Bone all contributed fresh new characters and toys to the mix.
There were several impressive exhibits looking back at the rich history of Japanese toy innovation. On the historical tip there was a 17-year retrospective of Tamagochi, a showcase of 50+ years of Takara Omnibot robots, a tribute to 40 years of Chogokin die-cast toys, and a collection of Takara Star Wars toys from the Seventies to present. Anniversaries also abounded: the 35th anniversary of Gundam, the 30th anniversary of Transformers - which received a "Lifetime Achievement" kind of award at the show, and the tail-end of the Sailor Moon 20th anniversary celebration (Sailor Moon the Musical, What?!!).
Bandai and Takara Tomy's bold & confident Japan-centric marketing plans for an American property like Star Wars were very impressive. Checking out on the newest iterations of the Tokusatsu Holy Trinity - Ultraman, Kamen Rider and Super Sentai - is always a personal highlight for me. And Bandai's turning Marvel's Avengers into a full-on Japanese style Anime/Figure/Gaming platform (think Pokemon meets Spiderman) was pretty mind-blowing.
The nanoblock universe - Kawada's hugely popular half-sized lego-style block - continued to expand in enchanting and unexpected ways - with an interesting mix of licensing and technological innovations plus the introduction of yet another all-new block scale.
There were several innovative products that stood out from the crowd in this years heavy competition, including Doki Doki Jintai Mokei - a game from Bandai subsidiary Mega House - that for me personally stole the show. It was also cool to check in with some of last years favorites to see what new and interesting twists had developed over the past year.
(Don “datadub” Kratzer)
Star Wars is now powered by Disney so that means massive rollouts of new product aimed at kids of all ages. You would think that Darth Vader, Storm Troopers and the Empire were the good guys of the franchise as they seem to be the most prominently represented - Super deformed, Samurai Style, Mini Ultra detail, Candy Box toy, Chogokin, Transforming egg, and more more more! That being said, Artoo Detoo had a good showing as well.
40th Anniversary Chogokin Diecast Special Releases including Hello Kitty, Mazinga Z, Okamoto Taro’s Tower of the Sun and a Super Doraemon Robot
nanoblock - the pint-sized reboot of Japan’s lego wannabe Diablock - continued to bring the thunder with their Toy Show offerings. Their new nano-gauge building block based fully functional train system was a clear winner along with nanoids - teeny weeny denizens of this new nano-guage world.
The showcase of the winning entries to their annual nanonblock competition showed the ingenuity of what can be created with a handful (or truckload) of these micro building blocks.
Wanting to leave no scale factor untouched - nanoblock introduced a brick scale called nanoblock+. The bricks are 75% of a classic Lego block opposed to nanoblock’s 50% size. Perhaps an over-kill move but seeing the sample playsets, it did present itself as a nice alternative - detail friendly like the nano but more manageable for smaller hands without being as chunky as those clunky old-fashioned Lego-sized Diablocks. Kid-friendly Pokemon and Hello Kitty sets may seal the deal.
Transformers 30th Anniversary Fun
2 different Transformers x ChoroQ crossovers, the first being super cute Bumblebee and Convoy (O. Primer). The second throwing nanoblocks and a remote control into the mix for a winning combination.
Two great tastes that go great together - the Evangelion Colorway Opitmus Prime (Convoy)
Bandai adds Godzilla monsters to its popular transforming Egg Kaiju series
The genius design of Hakovision from Bandai combines Projection Mapping, Smart phones and Hatusne Miku into a clever package that costs less than $10 (and comes with gum!)
This design on this Doki Doki Jintai Moke game is amazing - its like a Reverse version of Operation - one mistake and the patient explodes.
It would be a blast as a drinking game.
Fairisia is a working Smart Phone targeted at young girls - good luck explaining a data plan to a 10-year old
Last year it seemed like many makers had developed new toys and games that played off Japan's reputation for creating realistic looking plastic food. This year it seemed like the game company Eye Up had the category all to its self with a wide selection of balance style games featuring realistic looking Hamburgers, Rice Crackers, Flavored Lattes and Cream Puffs plus stranger games like Ha Ha Teeth (including fillings and cavities) and one that encouraged kids to play with matches.
Kyosho Egg and CCP are two rivals in the Remote Control vehicle category that last year were locked in a battle to see who could develop the smallest Remote Control Helicopter.
This year it seems like they have taken different directions in their development paths. Kyosho has been creating new 4 rotor quad choppers that promise better stability - including the Quattro X - a tiny quad chopper that fits easily in the palm of your hand. CCP has focussed on developing "playset" style choppers like the Combo Falcon that fires missiles and the Gyro Carrier Swat which comes with a carrier vehicle.
Kyosho Egg’s Quad-chopper lineup
CCP’s Remote Control Helicopter Action Playsets
Kyosho Egg’s massive Monster Hunter display for their new missile firing Remote Control Tank.
CCP’s is releasing Dragon Ball Z versions based on last years Remote Control Sushi Capsule cars.
However It looks like TAKARA TOMY may have outdone both Kyosho Egg and CCP with their remote control mini car - quad chopper hybrid - super cool!
The new Gashapon trend of armies of little characters to populate your table tops. There was a top secret preview of Stormtrooper version as well (not pictured)
Definitely NOT for kids! Hot Toys impressive line-up of 12 inch figures made its Tokyo Toy Show debut including some home team favourites like Captain Harlock and Metal Gear Solid heroes.
The newest Kamen Rider Gaim mixes Fruits and Samurai motifs - not the greatest combination - but that doesn’t stop Bandai from releasing mountains of great toys. And finally adult-sized henshin belts! For me, nanoblock is the real winner with Kamen Rider sets in both classic and fruit flavour.
Ultraman Ginga S and Ultraman Victory are the newest entry into the longest running Tokusatsu series. There were full reveals featuring the cast of the show, their vehicles and a range of new toys. Chibiri Seijin gets a cool exoskeleton Robot Suit and Ultraman Victory has the power to attach Kaiju Arms for scratching those hard to reach places.
DCT announced the upcoming Teen Age Mutant Turtles collaboration with Kaiyodo’s Revotech Build System, a new series of Gashapon toys and a TMNT motorbike.
Yokai Watch is the hottest new property that young Japanese kids are losing their minds over. A pokemon-style pantheon of Yokai (supernatural monsters from Japanese folklore) with a medallion and cards based play style that has both a digital and analog play modes. Several companies were introducing products based on the licence including some cure plushies from Sunrise.
The Sushi Robots are back with some new friends and Enemies/
Tamagochi had an impressive retrospective of their blockbuster digital pocket monster toy series and promised a big announcement next month.
Majin Bone is a cool new robot game property.
Sailor Moon kept a lower profile this year compared to last but the new Proplicas (Prop + Replica) seemed to be popular.
The New Avengers Disc Wars from Bandai gives Marvel Heroes the Pokemon Game/Toy/Anime megamix makeover.
In addition to a cool retrospective of its classic Robots, Takara’s Omnibot subsidiary showcased Hello Mip - a mini Sedgeway-esue Butler robot and Hello Zoomer - like an Aibo on Rollerskates - 2 amazingly advanced products that foretell the coming Robot Revolution at an affordable price from the Japanese toy market.
Hello ! Zoomer
Tenkai Knights is a fun new Robot Series that is based on a transforming Lego-sized brick.
The latest version of the Battleborg remote control fighting robots feature samurai sword action.
The E5 is a transforming Robot character based on the Japan Rails newest shinkansen engine.
One of my favorite products of late and a pleasant addition to the Toy Fair was the presence of Korg's Little Bits. This amazing system of Circuits and Activators lets you quickly snap together various components to build custom electronic instruments. And they have now teamed up with NASA to create an electronic experiment kit that lets kids learn about Space and Science in an easy hands-on way.
HG 1/144 GOLDEN BEARGGUY Ⅲ
Car Puzzle 3D
KYOSHO Avitron V2.0
METALLIC NANO PUZZLE PREMIUM SERIES MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM
Dual Layer Puzzle
NZ-999 NEO ZEONG
Godzilla 2014 City Diorama by Bandai
ROBO FISH ＆ Mermeroid
MICROMANARTS Love Live!
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