Baikin Corp Wooden Prototype by Konno Industries

Here is a beautiful sample of an early 80s Japanese keshi figure and hand carved wooden prototype from Konno Industries’ iconic Baikin Corp gachapon line. Supposedly, Konno industries worked with a monk who specialized in temple carvings, to create these designs. Pretty amazing. Some of these precious prototypes showed up on the Mandarake auction site and were listed for 120,000 yen. Whew! Photos via Mandarake and Type-98

Toys Cabin Miniature Cassette Tape Swings

Here’s one for those who long for the days of the mix tape! Banking on that sweet, sweet Showa era revival boom, a new gacha and toy design company, Toys Cabin has released a series of miniature cassette swings (ball chain pendants) in Japan in gachapon machines in August 2017. Containing five different variations, each cassette comes with its own removal plastic case and insert. Set at a 1/3 scale, these mini cassettes may not be playable but the cassette reels do rotate. They are not officially licensed, but I think that’s part of their charm in a way.  Instead, Toy Cabin chose to use spoofed names for the set: DENOM (Denon), FOJIFOLM (Fujifilm),  Macell (Maxwell),  TCB (TDK), and of course, SOMY (SONY).  Although it may be long shot, I personally  hope they release a Minidisc set soon!

Image via Bookport

While younger consumers may get a kick out of the old school charms of these mini cassette tapes, this is likely another great example of gacha toy companies trying to hook adult customers. Nostalgia infused merchandise that capitalizes on Japan’s economic boom of from the 1950s to early 1990s, and authentic Showa era vintage goods are tremendously popular right now in Japan. Furthermore, this gacha release may be part of a larger trend. 
Japan Times has also written about the cassette tape renaissance in Japan. According to their report, cassette players, including boom boxes and portable cassette players like Sony’s iconic Walkman, played a tremendous role in the growth of the Japanese and global electronics industry. Although household electric appliance manufacturers began producing cassette player recorders in the 1960s, domestic sales of these devices, peaked at about 6.1 million units in 1989.

Related image
Image via Nubono88

Cassette tapes, Walkman’s and boomboxes are not only beloved among Japanese adults, it turns out hip young things dig them too.  “The current excitement over the machines is being boosted by demand from older generations who want to hear the sounds of cassettes once again and young people who are perhaps experiencing radio-cassette recorders for the first time.” says the author of the Japan Times article, Masatoshi Chino.  According to an organizer of a cassette exhibition at Seibu’s department stores, “There is increasing attention being given to nostalgia items, and manufacturers have not been slow to notice” Junichi Matsuzaki, 57, a collector of home electronic equipment, and  supervisor of the boombox exhibition, agrees that analog devices are making a comeback. “People don’t just want to hear digital music, they want to listen to music on many platforms. The fascination with records and other analog goods is spreading,” he says. “What makes the boombox popular is the number of unique designs and other things that make them instruments that speak to one’s personality — there is a strong fashion element.”

Looks like Toys Cabin had the right idea.

Those looking to snag these should check out:
Amazon Japan
Rakuten Japan

A: TCB: White tape with beach image
B: Denom: Black and orange tape with bridge image
C: Macell: Pink and red tape with sunset image
D: Somy: White and blue tape with moon image
E: Fojifolm: Blue and green tape with forest image

Product Specs:
Title: Miniature Cassette Tape Swing
Japan Title: ミニチュア カセットテープ スイング
Manufacturer: Toys Cabin
Release Date: August 2017
Material: ABS
Dimension: 1.5″
Cost: ¥300