Play the meta-capsule toy game in Japanese thrift stores for real surprises
Join us for a little toy archeology.
After our recent report on the movement of capsule toys from the Martian mountain, reader Annie Aie asked a very interesting question: “What do you do with the extra capsule toys? I have always been curious. In the United States, I would give them to a thrift store like Goodwill. Is there a similar system in Japan?
This is a problem our capsule toy expert Saya Togashi is very familiar with, and after receiving three Olympus Mons in a row, he suddenly needed to unload a couple. Online flea markets like Japan’s Mercari could work, but given the shipping costs and the very low value of a single toy, you will likely have to create creative lots or sell at a loss to get someone to buy it.
▼ You Need To Know The Gacha Toy Scene To Know What’s Selling Online
If your toy is from a popular anime or manga franchise, you might be able to get a good deal at some specialty stores in places like Akihabara in Tokyo or Denden Town in Osaka. Anime figure stores might take them, as could the occasional store that exclusively sells second-hand capsule toys. and services for those who don’t like to leave things to chance or need to supplement old collections.
▼ You can often find YouTubers showing off their lots of used action figures
However, these places can only be found in certain areas, and they are probably not interested in the Saya Mountains on Wheels. For her, a much simpler solution was to take it to a regular “recycling store” which are places found all over Japan that operate on a business model somewhere between a thrift store and a thrift store.
You don’t donate any items, but you also shouldn’t expect to receive a lot of money for everything you sell, so going in with a bag full of double-capsule toys probably won’t cover the price of gasoline or train it took to get there. Still, it gets rid of them and keeps them circulating rather than clogging up a landfill somewhere.
Of course, we use the term “circulation” loosely, as they will likely stay in a bargain bin for years and years. It might seem like a mess too, but it’s actually pretty cool. Over time, these toys become snapshots of bygone eras – “time capsule toys” if you will – that can be experienced for just a handful of yen.
So When Saya walked in to pawn her mountains, she dove into the used capsule toy bin to see which moments in Japanese history resurface. The price tag on each item stated that one cost 200 yen (US $ 1.83) and three sold for 500 yen ($ 4.56). It was also nicely yellowed, suggesting vintage products.
The real beauty of buying capsule toys from a recycling store is that they don’t have the resources to bother to assess each and every one. The capsule toy industry would produce 250-300 new products per month, so you can imagine the influx they have to deal with on a regular basis. This means that the chances of finding a hidden gem among everything aren’t that far-fetched and worth the small price of admission.
So, Saya paid 500 yen for three toys and brought them home to do some research. Even if they end up being worth nothing, our reporter could still learn a lot about Japanese capsule toys of the past.
First, there was a little figure of a girl, unassembled and still in its original packaging.
After putting it together, Saya asked a little Chinese girl to serve a suckling pig.
She didn’t look like any anime character Saya could recognize, but luckily the original insert paper was included as well.
He said she was part of the Collection of figurines from Imperial Chinese cuisine, named “No. 11 Waiting Woman.” It was produced by famous figure maker Kaiyodo, and directed by famous artist Eiichiro Matsumoto, who helped develop the very popular line of animals using toilet pod toys.
However, on the last page of the insert, there was a mention of Suntory Oolong Tea, and Saya had a sinking feeling…
It was not a capsule toy at all! On the contrary, it was probably one of those bottle caps that drinks come out with every now and then.
Now in a completely disillusioned state, Saya also realized that the girl’s glans was straightening up, mocking her and the laws of gravity.
She checked online and confirmed that it was just a promotional giveaway in 2006. However, she also found all 13 sold for 4,000 yen ($ 36) on Mercari and spent an order … We are talking about THE Eiichiro Matsumoto here.
Moving on to her next find, Saya unwrapped his second object: an aerosol can three centimeters (one inch) high tagged with the Japanese word “mushiyoke”(Insect repellent) and the English word“ DANGER ”.
It was also written “BONUS” on the top, but Saya couldn’t figure out the meaning until she saw the English on the back that said “BONUS”. The reverse side also revealed “C2016HTB” five years old for this item.
Saya thought that HTB was the abbreviation for “Hokkaido Television Broadcasting”, whose program Suyobi Dodesho was known for his own line of popular characters which are still in the process of being released. While not technically a capsule toy, these figures are sold in blind boxes at convenience stores and supermarkets, making them more or less the same idea.
However, when checking online, Saya learned that it wasn’t even that. Again, this was not a capsule toy, nor even a blind box surprise!
Our reporter discovered that it was only a keychain given to those who had pre-ordered the DVD set of Suyobi Dodesho in which the show traveled along the Yukon River and encountered a lot of mosquitoes.
Once again, Saya was left with nothing more than predetermined free bees and not a capsule toy to find. You could claim it was a false advertisement, but she accepted it without hesitation. After all, it’s that same lack of surveillance that also allows hidden gems to sneak in.
Which brings us to final article…
There was no explanatory insert, nor any marks on it. It looked a bit like a rock.
The texture was bumpy like Godzilla’s skin, and the ball was about five centimeters (inches) in diameter. There was also a strap so you could tie what it was to your bag.
However, it was a bit spongy and made of a rubber-like material that seemed to get stickier and stickier with each passing year.
▼ Red arrows indicate wet footprints left on the table by this thing
Saya had recently purchased some rock-shaped capsule toys, so it was possible that this was some sort of an ancient precursor to these, dating as far back as 2018. ”, but no image resembling what she had raised.
She extended her search to social media and did a reverse search on Google Image, but nothing came out except photos of other people’s rocks they had turned into keychains. Our reporter also looked for other things like “ichiban kuji”Which are the types of items you might find exclusively in crane games. It seemed unlikely for such an ugly little thing like this, but Saya was getting desperate.
She was about to give up, when a sudden flash of inspiration hit her. She realized that she had searched assuming it was a boulder, but what if she let go of that preconceived idea and completely opened her mind to other possibilities such as dinosaur poop or a malformed rice ball?
With its newfound clarity, it was only a matter of moments before Saya discovered this thing’s true identity to be part of the 2011 Nature Techni Color Mono Mushroom Soft Strap 2 collection.
?? It’s a truffle!
In the end, our reporter walked away with a drink gift, a free DVD, and a sticky rubber truffle. But each of these elements had a certain character that could only come with age, and by understanding them, our reporter also learned a little about herself.
Saya wondered if in 10 or 20 years another person would end up with their mountains and try to figure out why someone would put wheels on a piece of dinosaur poop.
She wouldn’t want it any other way either, as the true capsule toy lover wouldn’t just want to throw one away when there’s a whole other life of surprising, disappointing, lovely, and mystifying people waiting for them.
Photos © SoraNews24
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