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Japanese Gashapon Figures
So, what are Gashapon Figures?
Gashapon figures are hugely popular in Japan, and they are basically toys based on popular comic books such as Manga, video games and anime. They also include popular icons in Japan and some American entertainment licenses.
The term Gashapon is coined from the sound produced by the machines that dispenses these toys, but outside of Japan they are commonly referred to as trading figures.
The Gashapon figures are generally made from a high grade PVC material and are molded with careful detail. They are also painted excellently compared to other figures in the market, making them a perfect collector's item.
The Gashapon figures are available in several different formats. First there are the geshapon machines which are similar to any coin operated vending machine common in grocery stores. Buying from these machines can be described as a blind purchase whereby someone has no control over which trading figure he or she is going to get from the machine. This means there is a great chance of getting the same piece with every purchase.
In each series there are usually between 5-7 different figures to collect with some of the figures being harder to find than others, add this to the extra popularity of some of the figures and you get a secondary market where some of this figures can sell for up to 10 times their original price!
They can also be bought from stores in some of the major cities in Japan such as Tokyo or Osaka. This is the best option for an avid collector since you can choose the figure that you want and you can also often get better deals than buying from the machines.
Another common way to buy the toys these days is the blind boxes. With this option the same Gashapon figures are sold in sealed packages meaning that collectors buy them at random. The only difference is that they do not buy them from the machines.
Finally the figures are also sold as bottle cap figures. These are available in blind boxes as well as from the machines. Each of the toys in the Japanese Gashapon figures market is provided in series. This makes it easier for the collector to get the exact piece they are looking for. Apart from the comic characters there are also others based on explicit themes such as those depicting nude or semi nude women.
These are mainly aimed at the adults and generally cost more than the ordinary capsules.
Some series of these figures also have "chase" figures. These are figures that will be slightly different to the common or base figure and will be randomly "inserted" into the cases of blind boxes at a lower ratio, e.g. 1:12 blind boxes, similar to the chase cards in American trading card sets.
Popular Gashapon Figures
Perhaps the most popular action figurers in the Japanese Gashapon figures market are those based on anime characters. Five of the most popular action figures include Queen Blade, Neon genesis Evangelion, Final Fantasy, Ikki Tousen and Death Note. These titles do not refer to any single trading figure, rather a series of action figures from the books by Hobby Japan and other famous Japanese producers. They also differ in their presentation form with some presented as video games, toys, novels and action films.
Queen's blade refers to the female anime characters such as Reina, listy, Airi, Melona, Nanael and Tomoe among others which are sold in the form of toys.
Final Fantasy comprises of science fantasy console role playing games and includes different characters such as Biggs, Cid, Wedge, Chocobos and Moogles.
Neon genesis revolves around the efforts of a paramilitary organization referred to as 'Nerve' who fight monstrous "angels" and is available as video games, movies and TV. The main figures include Asuka Langley soryu, Rei Ayanami, Shinli ikari, kaworu Nagisa and gendo Ikari.
Ikki Tousen referres to a lone rider who has the power to fight a thousand. It's based on a romantic story of three kingdoms from a classic Chinese novel. The cast involves a number of young girls in short skirts who are involved in various compromising situations including rape scenes. Ikki Tousen has a number of figures including Inabaya, Gakushu, Hajime Iijima and Stephanie Sheh among others.
Finally, Death Note revolves around a young student who discovers a supernatural notebook that gives the user power to kill anyone by just writing down the name of the person in the book. Death note is available in different Gashapon figures including live-action films, video games, light novels and Manga. The main figures are light Yagami, Misa Amane, L, Mello, Near and Shinigami.
Gashapon Video games
Video games also play a big role in the Japanese Gashapon figures market. The random payouts from geshapon machines have inspired trinket-collection and mini-games for various video games. A good example is the Mario games whereby players insert coins to get trophies of a Nintendo nature in return. In this case the more you spend, the higher your chances of securing a new item.
There are also special games such as SD Gundam Wars in which the player is required to buy certain toys in real life. The toys are usually bundled with a password that unlocks the corresponding character in the game.
There also online versions of the games whereby a player taking part in an online game gets a real money ticket that can be used to buy Gashapon figures from the Geshapon machines.
Actually the Japanese Gashapon figures market is full of many games that will keep any collector occupied. These games are provided in different versions search as 'work time fun' for PSP, 'Gotcha force' for Gamecube among others.
Where to Buy Japanese Gashapon figures
Collecting action figures of your from favorite comics, movie stars, cartoon characters etc has become a hobby for many people all over the world.
With the high popularity of Japanese comic books, it's no doubt that many people would like to purchase these figures. However, the problem lies in high prices for popular characters or the inability to choose the figure you want to buy especially when buying cases of blind boxes.
However, you can overcome these two problems if you choose to buy these figures online. Online auctions are the best places to purchase these figures since many collectors will offer their duplicates for sale here. Also many online retailers will "break open" cases of the blind boxes and sell the figures individually, therefore giving you the ability to choose the figures you want, but often in this case the more popular and "rarer" figures are marked up with premium prices.
It's also possible to find people selling used action figures when they want to upgrade their toys. Buying online ensures that people living outside Japan can access the Gashapon figures as easily as someone who is in Japan.
You also get the chance to purchase rare or vintage pieces.
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