Reporting live from Tokyo, 'tis I, your Idle Hands guide to the highlights of Tokyo Toy Show 2015!
First, a bit of background on the show: Tokyo Toy Show is held annually at the Tokyo Big Sight International Exhibition Center (the same venue as Comiket) in late June. With two industry-only days and two days open to the public, it serves as a stage for companies to show off their current product line and introduce the world to their summer/fall quarter additions live and in person.
Unlike US Toy Fair, which tends to preview a company's year-long strategy, the Japanese toy industry has four big chances to show off their wares: Spring Gift Show in February, Toy Show in June, and Fall Gift Show and Christmas Toy Trade Show, which are both in September. Arguably the largest of these are the Gift Shows, with exhibitors from a wide variety of consumer industries, but Toy Show and Christmas Toy Trade Show are when the toy companies really go all-out.
That said, they do keep a very tight lid on information, which means you're only really seeing items that have already been announced and either are shipping or will be on the market in about 2-4 months. In other words, show potential buyers what they're getting and, on the public days, show the kids what to start begging their parents for! Keep the toy industry alive!! (Seriously, it needs it…the show barely fills two halls of the Big Site…)
So, nothing crazy super new (as they wouldn't allow photos of those), but they do tend to put all their crazy expensive collector-grade stuff on display…and lemme tell you, standing next to a Kuratas robot in person is pretty darn thrilling.
I hope that through this series of peeks at what I thought was super-cool at the show provides a better idea of what the reality of the Japanese toy and collectible landscape looks like from a somewhat savvy perspective. And, assuming you've got a good courier, what to keep an eye out for to import in coming months!
First up in my Tokyo Toy Show coverage is a Mahou Shoujo Lovefest! That's right Moonies and Cardcaptors, it's your time to shine!!
Bandai has been celebrating Sailor Moon's 20th anniversary since the actual anniversary in 2012, and last year, Cardcaptor Sakura reached the same milestone. (Y'all feel old yet?!) So, ladies and gentleman, who has the cooler merch? Who will win the 20th anniversary magical girl showdown?! Let's find out!
Back in the 90s Sailor Moon was Bandai's Girls Toy bread and butter, making it natural for them to form the core backbone of the current merchandising blitz. This year their display did not disappoint, with an elegant enclosure featuring glass cases adorned with delicate white carvings and a wall of lit curio boxes filled with plenty of pearls, jewels, and other feminine flourishes.
And what were these cases filled with, you ask? REALLY SHINY STUFF.
The centerpieces were unquestionably the two glass cases filled with just about all of their collector-grade items. The Proplica Spiral Heart Moon Wand, all five SM Crystal Figuarts Zero Senshi figures, the new version of Miracle Romance's Shining Moon Powder, a prototype of Sailor Neptune's Mirror, AND that crazy Wedding Tiara!
(I think this is the closest any of us are going to get to seeing that 370,000 yen tiara in person. Did anyone even order it? Can I be invited to their wedding??)
I'll be honest, my favorite Sailor Moon wand is the Cutie Moon Rod, and I was really impressed with last year's Proplica release with its Moon Kingdom display stand. Somehow, with this year's release, they have managed to outdo themselves…again! I particularly like the hidden button with the sliding cover and the beautifully detailed stand. It's a really special piece I think any Sailor Moon S fan would be thrilled to own.
Regarding Sailor Neptune's Mirror, I found it strange that they didn't show the actual mirror side of it…but what can you do? I was surprised at how yellow the gold is in person.
The curio cases showed off a variety of gashapon including the recently announced light-up charms and adorable little transformation pen keychains that will be available in the coming months. In addition, the Tamashii Buddy figures, 8-Bit Pixel Art collection, and Miniaturely Tablet candy holders, and…the entire Bath Time Collection!! Look at those loofahs! Those bath bombs! THOSE HAIR CLIPS! The ribbon and brooch motif is just so adorable! Can't wait for those to hit retailers the end of July.
Moving onto MegaHouse, another Namco Bandai Group company specializing in novelties and collector-grade figures, we have…a giant cake!
On and around the cake is the entire PetitChara! line, with extra attention given to the pearly Eternal Sailor Moon who spun in the middle, the OchaTomo figures, and the Cookie Charm box set. Truly, a display that looks good enough to eat!
The shelf above featured the full line-up of Sailor Moon World Uniform Operation figures. The detail on these are so great, I love their dramatic poses and facial expressions…except for Usagi, whose bang placement paired with the pointing figure I think makes her look uncharacteristically angry. The prototype of Minako looks great, and Naru is adorable! Unfortunately, no release date announced for those two yet…but they are definitely coming!
Finally for Sailor Moon we have licensed socks, tote bags, and microfiber pouches from Small Planet. Having bought and worn the heck out of the Sailor Venus costume ankle-height socks, I can veritably say that I am super-excited for the low-cut socks of the same design.
So Sailor Moon brought a ton to the party, but what of the Cardcaptor? Doesn't she have anything special planned?
Back in the 90's, Sailor Moon was Bandai's magical girl property while competitor Takara Tomy (then just Takara) nurtured Cardcaptor Sakura. However, cross-licensing between toy companies is very much a thing here, especially with the shrinking market…and that is why Bandai had two sets of CCS gashapon on display.
First is the die-cast metal charm set that came out last year. I own this, and the weight of the charms really makes you feel like you could be holding the actual Key of Clow.
Second is a sort of lifestyle goods set that includes a Clow Key pen, Star Key headphone jack charm, Clow Book mini case, pink Sakura zip-up pouch, and a small towel featuring CLAMP artwork of Sakura and Syaoran. Again, I own some of this set, too, and I highly recommend the Clow Key pen! I mean, not as an actual pen…it's amazingly awkward to write with due to its small size and the inability to store the cap on the back…but it's just the cutest darn thing to hold in the palm of your hand and pretend you're the Cardcaptor…wait…I mean, perfect to keep on display. Yes. That's it. Really. In any case, for 300 yen I was pretty satisfied with my purchase (and my luck getting it out of the capsule machine on only the second try)!
So, compared to Sailor Moon, who had like, ten gazillion (5+) gashapon sets on display, Sakura only had a measly 2. Surely Takara Tomy would support their hit classic magical girl property…? Er…
Takara Tomy's offer came from Group Company T-ARTS, the company that is not unlike what Megahouse is to Bandai in terms of licensed properties, except that instead of collector-grade figures they deal more with data card games and gashapon. So what'd they have?
Some really, REALLY weird-looking pouches. The Clow Book and Sakura Book with snap clasps on the book are clever, and the Clow shaped case is cute as well. That Kero pencil pouch though…he looks a little…long? Despite the wonky scale on some of the items, I can appreciate the effort to find new ways to inject some CCS into practical everyday life.
The acrylic blind-boxed keychains look nice, and the Kero and Spinny normal plush are just so cute and sweet. Cosplayers, I believe they are to scale!
Okay, full disclosure: Takara Tomy did a bit more to support Sakura last year with the introduction of Liccalize premium dolls of Sakura and Tomoyo, and Koedalize blind-box figures of the various human characters. Ensky, a fairly prominent licensee with absurd no-photo policies at their booth (boooo), and MOVIC, which does not typically display at Toy Show, both have a plethora of CCS merchandise on the market ranging from stickers to full-size Clow Wand replicas. Bandai also has a hefty replica wand available that ships this month, but for whatever reason did not have it on display.
I think it's safe to say Sailor Moon merchandising madness is not slowing down anytime soon. I do hope Sakura doesn't throw in the towel just yet - hopefully there are more adorable things on the horizon!
That's all for now! Until next time!! Lots more pics can be found in our Flickr galleries! Click HERE to dive in.