When gachapon designers come up with new capsule toy concepts, they must keep in mind a series of considerations. Some of these many design considerations include theme (What is the general idea or concept?), play or novelty value (How will buyers interact with this toy?), buyer demographics (Who is this for? Kids? Adults? Women and Men? Both?), construction components (How do the parts function and fit together?), cost of materials (Can we keep this below budget? Is this a 100, 200 or 300 yen toy?), type of materials used (PVC? Nylon? ABS? Polystyrene? Metal?) paint application and color variations (What colors should we use?), licensing and accurate character likeness (Can we get the licensing rights to make this toy? Does this follow strict brand guidelines?), cute or cool appeal (will this resonate with customers and find it hard to resist?) and finally, size limitations (Can all of this awesomeness fit inside a toy capsule?)
A great example of all of these design elements, is the fantastic wind-up Pikachu Satoshi/ Ash Cap Gacha series or “とことこピカチュウ” by Takara Tomy A.R.T.S. Released in 2017 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pokemon (feel old yet?) this series of 2.5″ Pokemon figures, features 7 different Pikachus with a variety of different facial expressions and Ash caps. The Pikachu Ash cap theme has been quite popular since the release of the I Choose You Pikachu Pokemon Movie. For those who “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” there is also another series that offers cap-less Pikachu (and a Ditto style variation!– bets that’s the chase fig!) This Ash/ Satoshi cap figure seems to be made from the same mold used in the original set released in 2016. Although they feature different faces, hats and color application, they are made from the same slightly modified mold –an effective way to offer variation without investing in multiple molds.
Another interesting part of this line is that it comes in parts, and is made to be assembled by the consumer. As you can see from the attached photos, this Pikachu toy, consists of three core parts: Pikachu’s head, body and tail. The body and tail feature clips that permanently click in once they are constructed. Gachapon companies have been packaging their larger 200-500 yen figures like this since the mid 1990s when HG or High Grade figures (highly detailed, hand painted figures) became popular. By packaging their toys in parts, gachapon makers can offer larger, more detailed figures by maximizing the space they occupy in a capsule container. However, Pikachu still fits in the the provided capsule when assembled. So this aspect may be part of a size and space issue, but also a play component, that encourages a bit of building fun.
It’s also worth taking a closer look at T-A.R.T.S decision to make these Pikachu toys into wind-ups. Tomy, of the now Takara Tomy brand, has a long history of making wind-up toys. If you are a child of the 70s or 80s you may remember their extensive line of wind-ups including the iconic chromed out Rascal Robots, Phantom Feet Sneakers and chomping Pac-Man (with an orange ghost in his mouth!) that were sold in blister packs. Although Tomy stopped their large scale production of windups in 2006, it is great to see the T-A.R.T.S team honor their parent company’s legacy with such a charming nod to their past.
Those looking to purchase a set of these super cute Pikachu wind ups can find them on eBay.
Title: Little Pikachu Wind-Ups / Pikachu Movie 20th Ver.
Japan Title: とことこピカチュウ
Release Date: June 2017