The Japanese collectibles market features a dizzying array of concepts, series and brands. It can be tough to navigate, especially if you don’t speak Japanese! In this series, we’ll introduce some popular collectible concepts, and tell you where they came from and where you can get them! In part one, we discussed illustration-based collectibles, like key chains and charms. In part two, we’re going 3D with collectible figures, dolls, and plushies.
Japan is incredibly adept at bringing characters to life as covetable figures and plushies, and we can only skim the surface of the full range of treasures available. We’ll focus on the small figures often found as capsule toys and arcade prizes, but increasingly available as a full set – what are often called trading figures. We’ll also introduce some “mascot” concepts – these are intended for you to put on your bag and carry with you as a personal good-luck charm. Enjoy these new takes on some of your favorite characters!
Popular collections include: Touken Ranbu, Ensemble Stars, Haikyu!
The popular Koedarize series transforms characters into small figures in the style of Takara Tomy’s iconic Koeda-chan line of tree-themed doll houses and playsets. The hallmarks of Koedarize style are oversize, squared-off heads and multi-color eyes. The distinctive look has inspired spin-off collections such as Koedarize A and and Koedarize R, which turn the character illustrations into acrylic key chains and rubber phone charms.
66 Action (66アクション)
Popular collections include: Dragon Ball, Kamen Rider, Megaman
The 66 Action series of Shokugan collectibles is straightforwardly named – these action figures stand 66 mm tall, and boast stunning detail and poseability despite their slight size. Originally bundled at random with a sweet treat, you can now order box sets to ensure you get the full collection!
Popular collections include: Sailor Moon, One Piece, Disney Princesses
Q stands for “quality” and “posket” is the Finnish word for cheeks. This seriously sweet doll collection renders popular female characters from home and abroad as doe-eyed beauties with gently flushing cheeks – often in two or more color variations.
Mochi-mochi Mascot (もちもちマスコット)
Popular collections include: IDOLiSH7, Bungo Stray Dogs, Touken Ranbu
Mochi-mochi mascots get their name from their supremely squishy texture. Transform into your everyday companions by attaching these stylized plushies to your personal belongings, or have fun displaying them – their uniform shape make them delightfully stackable.
Puni-puni Hoppe (ぷにぷにほっぺ)
Popular collections include: Kuroko’s Basket, Tsukiuta, Gintama
You know when something is so cute you just want to squish its little cheeks? The Puni-Puni Hoppe series was made to feed this urge. The character designs are expertly engineered for peak cheek squishability! Primarily consisting of mascot straps, this series has also seen the release of limited-edition 28 cm dolls – all the more cheek to squish.
Cord Mascot (コードマスコット)
Popular collections include: Love Live! Sunshine!!, Idolmaster: Cinderella Girls
You’ll never be lonely listening to music with these charming little figures designed to cling onto your headphone cable. Carry a little idol of your very own around with you wherever you go – guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
Popular collections include: Pokemon, Gudetama, Osomatsu-san
Putitto is Kitan Club’s sister collection to cup clinging veteran Cup no Fuchiko, and features no end of intrepid edge hangers. From life-like animals to anime characters, and all manner of things in between, these little figures are designed to put on a cup or mug, but will be equally at home on any ledge.
Popular collections include: Sailor Moon, Kuroko’s Basket, Gintama
Unlike the off-beat variation in Putitto designs, the Ochatomo series turns anime characters into a signature chibi design brimming with personality. Designed to perch on the edge of your cup or glass and keep you company, these tiny figures are true to their name – Ochatomo means “tea friend.”
Popular collections include: Love Live! Sunshine!!, Sword Art Online, Durarara
Toys Works’ Niitengo figures are named for their adorable chibi proportions – they’re 2.5 heads tall, pronounced ni-ten-go in Japanese. The heyday of these collectible cuties was in 2012-2013, and currently new collections are released about once a year. However, the spin-off series of rubber character charms is still going strong, with regular releases inspired by both old and new favorites.
Popular collections include: Fate/zero, Madoka Magica, Angel Beats
The Petanko series is named for the onomatopoeia for flopping down to sit on the floor- exactly the position captured in this collection. Production of the main series of tradeable figures has tapered off, but you can still get a wide range of previous releases. The concept is being carried on through a very popular collection of rubber phone charms.
Lifespan of a collectible release
Pre-order: Pre-orders (予約) often start as a new line-up is announced, or just after. They tend only to be available for the full collection, and often come with a pre-order bonus (予約特典) – normally an extra character design only available with the pre-ordered set.
Release: The collection becomes available for general purchase! Most collections are released as a full box set, but some sellers might offer individual units. How wide the release is varies from brand to brand – and as with any other popular product, if you skip the pre-order and wait for the general release you risk missing out.
Sold out: The fans rushed to stores, and the collection is all sold out! But don’t give up yet – if you missed out, you’re still likely to find full sets on auction and flea market sites like Otamart and Yahoo! Auctions, and also listings for individual units, especially of less popular characters.
No matter what stage the collection of your dreams is at, FROM JAPAN can help by letting you search major Japanese auction sites, flea market sites and online retailers. Happy hunting!