You know that feeling you get when you open up a box of cereal, or Cracker Jacks and there is an unknown, but undoubtedly amazing prize to be discovered deep down inside? Or when you turn the knob on one of those 50¢ vending machines to win a random prize? You hope for this one, or that one, but you never quite get the collectible you actually wanted, so you just keep going back for more, and more until you do get that golden prize. Well, some genius finally realized the money-making potential of that obsessional prize-hunting behavior, and they are changing the game altogether.
Capsule toys. They used to really suck – dice, alien heads, putty, stickers, bad fake tattoos – but they evolved into something perfectly cute, weird, quirky, and highly collectible. In the U.S. I think it all began with “Homies” in 1998.
With these characters there was finally a figurine collection that both children and adults alike thought was cool. You could go to the supermarket and get a Homie from the machine, or the deli, or the movies, they were everywhere. And since you only had to pay 50¢, getting a new one cost less than buying candy or a soda. So people began to collect them, and search them out, and build fairly massive Homie collections (literally hundreds). And voilà, here we are 13 years later and collectible capsule toy mania is in full swing.
In Japan they have entire capsule toy stores. I wandered around in one in a daze for a good hour when I was there. But, if you are looking for some a little bit closer to home (and you happen to live in NYC), go check out Kid Robot, My Plastic Heart, or Toy Tokyo and start a new obsession!
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