COMMENTARY: These New Japanese Toys and Games Aren’t Just for Kids, Part 2

So Japan has toys that are compelling enough for grown-ups to enjoy? Figures. No, I mean action figures. As I mentioned in part one of this commentary last week, Japan has some of the coolest action figures on the planet, and much of why has to do with that country’s toy-buying market, which skews older than, say, in the U.S.

However, a lot of that sophistication is now making its way over to this country, in the form of toys that are either imported from Japan, or have their roots there. Some are kids’ items that have double appeal among older audiences, while others are purposefully aimed at grown-ups. That’s a bit of a blanket statement, of course, as any toy can appeal to lots of different demographics for varying reasons. However, we have a feeling adults will want to get their hands on these particular figures once they’ve cleared customs–probably even more so than kids will.

PrintThis spring, Funko will introduce its new line of Hikari Japanese Vinyl figures, which are inspired by the vinyl “kaiju” figures that have developed a considerable following among collectors in Japan. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: These New Japanese Toys and Games Aren’t Just for Kids, Part 1

Phil.April18.2014.1I may not be the biggest aficionado of Japanese pop culture, but I do consider myself a fan, having devoured lots of manga and anime over the years. What I also appreciate are the toys: Japan has some of the most exquisitely-made action figures and giant robots ever made, and in their native land, these items are generally aimed at adults.

Now when it comes to toys and games, Japan has long enjoyed a healthy foothold in North America—think of all the Pokémon, Hello Kitty, and Power Rangers products that have made their way over. So far in 2014, that trend has continued, with several new properties either just launching or expected to launch soon. But these are Japanese imports, meaning they’re sophisticated enough for grown-ups, even if they look like they’re for kids. [Read more...]

Nintendo’s Tomodachi Life Looks to Breathe New Life into Social Media Gaming

82977A 3DS package_NOA_mOn June 6, Nintendo will release Tomodachi Life on its 3DS system. The game, which is set in an apartment building on an island, lets players create Mii avatars that represent themselves, as well as their closest friends and relatives, and to watch those characters behave and interact with each other.

Players check in on the Tomodachi Life characters on a regular basis, solving problems as they arise, which range from being hungry to sadness, to issues stemming from their love life. While players cannot control the decisions of the Miis, they can influence them.

Whenever the player makes a Mii character happy—for example, through purchasing them a gift from the in-game store—the player’s on-screen happiness level increases. They also receive in-game money that can be used to purchase more items for the Miis, and these items rotate on a daily basis. [Read more...]

FAO Schwarz Hosts a Rilakkuma Day of Fun

RilakkumaThis Saturday, the world of Rilakkuma will take over FAO Schwarz in New York City. Rilakkuma, created by San-X, is one of Japan’s most popular characters, famous for its “bear in relaxed mood” lifestyle of eating, sleeping, and listening to music.

Consumers will have the opportunity to celebrate Rilakkuma Day and interact with a life-size Rilakkuma mascot and branded Lolita girls. There will also be merchandise giveaways while supplies last. The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at FAO Schwarz Flagship Store, 767 5th Ave., New York, NY.

Domo Helps Raise Funds for Earthquake/Tsunami Victims in Japan

Big Tent Entertainment, the licensing agent for Japanese pop culture icon Domo, has enlisted the support of its partners to launch a charity initiative to help raise funds for the victims of last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The company has teamed up with Fifth Sun to create two special designs featuring Domo and incorporating jewelry designer Udi Behr’s LOVE + PEACE + HOPE message. The designs will be featured on special-edition Domo merchandise with proceeds going to the Japan Society, an American nonprofit organization dedicated to the cultivation of a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan. One hundred percent of all funds contributed to the Japan’s Society’s Earthquake Relief Fund will be given to organizations that directly help victims from the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In addition to Fifth Sun’s participation, Domo licensees including Concept One, Hot Properties Merchandising, Music Skins, Coveroo, and Virtual Greats digital partners WeeMee and Meez have already come on board to support the effort. Each licensee will create special-edition Domo products featuring the LOVE + PEACE + HOPE designs.

Jakks Partners with American Red Cross for Earthquake/Tsunami Relief Fund

Jakks Pacific has partnered with the American Red Cross for the Jakks Cares Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief Effort. Jakks is seeking to raise $100,000 on its micro site, http://american.redcross.org/JAKKS-emp. The company will match all donations, aiming to raise a total of $200,000, which will directly support the Japan Red Cross disaster relief efforts.
Jakks encourages everyone to make a donation via its American Red Cross microsite at http://american.redcross.org/JAKKS-emp.

Donate to Japan Via K.I.D.S.

Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) is coordinating immediate relief efforts following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and 23-foot tsunami that hit the northern part of Japan. K.I.D.S. is asking retailers and manufacturers to provide donations of desperately needed new products—including blankets, undergarments, and apparel—and for the public to provide monetary support to the long-term relief effort by visiting www.KIDSdonations.org or calling 212-279-5493.
Additionally, through the K.I.D.S. 10-to-1 system of matching donations, the organization will donate $10 worth of new product for every $1 raised. Donations of $5 may be made by texting the word ALLKIDS to 85944.