Japandemonium - Special Report!

Overview || 100 yen and free capsule toys || 200-300 yen capsule toys || 500 yen capsule toys || Collector figurines || Final Grumble


Andrew Duff - June 16, 2004 - 4:00 Central Standard Time

So what happens when itís a slow news week and I only get one letter for Q&A? Why, a very special Japandemonium report on everyoneís favorite collecting past time, capsule toys!

...whatís that? You donít know what a capsule toy is? Gotcha-Gotcha? Gasphon toys? Nope? Well, THESE are capsule toys.

Haha yeah, I know. At least Iím not addicted to crack. Anyway, Iím sure you recognize a few faces in the crowd. Capsule toys come in an amazing variety, from video games, anime, famous heroes, even adorable kittens, nothing is safe from being turned into a cool little toy. But with such a large number of toys, how do you, the contemptible foreigner, figure out what you want to drool over? Why, by reading this weekís Japandemonium of course!


Now, with a few exceptions, the vast majority of capsule toys are, and you guessed it, in capsules or in a small box. In either case, the toy you get is random. Yeah, you heard me right. Youíre sticking anywhere from a dollar to five dollars in a machine and hoping you get the figurine you want. Yes, I agree, anyone who buys these things has a serious mental condition. Regardless, capsule toys are VERY popular in Japan. Youíll see machines on most every corner, and in Electronic Districts such as Den-Den Town or Akihabara, there are stores that deal in nothing but capsule toys. And who buys capsule toys you ask? Well, most everyone. Iíve seen everyone from small children to old women stick in a 100 yen coin into a machine hoping to get their favorite figurine.

Terrible Addiction. Mmm, wasteful. Go, go, go! Totally random.
100 yen and free capsule toys

The most common figurines, they are usually very small, painfully cute, and the machines for them are everywhere. No one can seem to resist the pull of getting themselves a bobble-headed pikachu.

The next three pictures are of free capsule toys, the kind that you pick up when you buy a drink. Itís common to get a free plastic watch, small keychain, or capsule toy on most drinks in Japan. Coke-Cola is the most famous company for doing video game related promotions, and they had one a while ago for Final Fantasy figurines, which can now be found quite cheaply. Their most recent video game promotion was for the rerelease of EarthBound for GameBoy Advance, and the resulting keychain sets of Ness, Paula, StarMan, Mr. Saturn, Barf and a yogurt monkey were soon selling for up to and above $50 on ebay. And no, my set isnít for sale, Iím saving them for retirement. And...uh...the third picture is of the Dakara peeing boys. I could explain, but the picture probably dropped my readership in half.

Finally, the Dragon Warrior slimes were netted from various UFO Catchers. You know those silly machines where you put in a quarter and you try to get a scoop of small candies? Same concept, except Japanís have a huge variety of UFO Catchers, like these Dragon Warrior slimes, and often have special features that let players win huge bonuses. In the case of my girlfriend playing a UFO Catcher, she ended up winning a couple of pounds of Slim Jims. 0_o;;

Gotta bobble'em all! An expensive collection of garbage. Hahahahaeeeww Hooray, free booze! Frightfully squishy
200-300 yen capsule toys

As you can tell, the 2 to 3 dollar range has the largest variety of capsule toys. And while I have to concede that all of the figurines are cool, since most of these came in actual capsules however, the figurines tend to a variety of problems. For instance, all of the Zelda ones are really top heavy, and have a tendency to fall over regardless of how theyíre stood. On the bright side, their eyes swivel. Ooo.

.hackís capsule toys are pretty great, but all of them require small plastic stands to hold up the figurine, and even then, a crash in the night isnít unexpected. Worst of all is that the capsules tend to bend the thin plastic of their weapons, and it makes them nigh impossible to straighten without heavy objects to flatten them, and lots of patience.

Swively eyes! Hooray for axe girl! Tales of Symphonia Babababone. Naruto!
500 yen capsule toys

All right, this is when things start getting really cool. The capsule toys at this range are generally of higher quality and larger. Of course, at 5 dollars a toy, they should be, right? But wait, whatís this? Why does the last picture have figurines that are colorless? Well Iíll tell you why dear readers, itís because some companies are full of sneak, money-grubbing bastards. The odds of you getting the figurine you want randomly were too good to begin with, so they threw in uncolored versions of each capsule toy too. Companies like Square-Enix like to go a step further and add a colorless, metallic and colored version of each figurine, ensuring your hard earned cash will not earn you the capsule toy you actually wanted. Capsule toy stores make a killing off of his practice, selling colored sets of capsule toys for well above their street value.

Hail Overlord Laharl and his babes! Tales of Phantasia and...? Check out the fox creature in the girl's lap! Poor Yuna, Mint, I hardly knew ye.
Collector figurines

Mmm, here are the real deals. While most of the collector figurines are purchased by 30-year old men who still live in their parentís basement, a savvy foreigner knows to look for older figurines that most collectors have long since stopped caring about. Such as my Kidd figurine, which sold for a whopping $80 dollars in 1999, and which I picked up for $8. A quick check on Ebay revealed that the figurine was selling for $200. Iíd sell her, but the airline I took home saw fit to crush her and knock off Kiddís knife from her belt, and I doubt Iíd get anywhere near $200 for her. Oh well, sheís still teh s3xy.

Christmas Rei! *jaw-drop* 652 out of...?
Final Grumble

Well, I hope all of you learned something today, and not just that Iíve got an unhealthy collection of capsule toys. I unknowingly started collecting figurines when Final Fantasy 7 was released, and Iím sad to say I wasnít strong enough to resist Cloud, Tifa, Barret, Aeris, and my very own chocobo. It was quite the surprise to arrive in Japan last year to the glut of figurines that currently infest Japanís stores and street corners. For all of you just dying to hear some more disturbing facts, itíll interest you to know 99% of capsule toy girls have their panties specially painted. Youíll also be horrified to know that most have removal able dresses to show off said panties.

So thatís it. Hopefully next week thereíll be some real news from Japan for me to report, or else you can look forward to an exciting lesson on Japanís video game related doujinshi! Hahaha...just kidding. A whole Japandemonium on fan-made comics would probably kill me.

If you liked the column, or just want to send me a comment, feel free to email me.

Andrew Duff

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