The International Tokyo Toy Show 2011 runs though tomorrow (June 19) at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center. If you’re looking for a cheap diversion, this trade show is open to the public and admission is free. During my visit today, many of the exhibitors were encouraging children to test-play the merchandise.
Toy sales in Japan amounted to 669.9 billion yen in fiscal 2010, a 3.5 percent increase over the previous year, according to a press release from the Japan Toy Association, the show’s organizer. The association takes this to mean “the traditional adage ‘the toy industry is immune to economic slumps’ is very much alive.”
That is certainly to be hoped. In the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the ensuing nuclear disaster and resulting electricity shortages, Japan could certainly use an industry that is immune to economic slumps. Whether the toy trade will continue to fit that description remains to be seen. Fiscal 2010 ended on March 31, just three weeks after the quake, and many industries that are now reporting positive results for that year will find a repeat performance in fiscal 2011 to be more than a little challenging.
But in a more cheerful vein, here’s a quick look at a couple of the products that caught my eye at the toy show today:
A portion of the Happinet pavilion is made up to look like a sushi restaurant to promote a 3,800-yen game in which players try to stack sushi plates on a revolving platform. The bottoms of the plates have irregular shapes, so deciding which plate will balance best on the existing stack is part of the challenge.
Would you like some beer with your sushi? In an ice-cold mug? How about a mug made of ice? The Kawada pavilion had an appealing summer toy for adults in the form of a 1,280 yen set of plastic molds and handles that lets you make a beer mug out of ice. It might be fun to use in conjunction with another item from a different part of the show – the Beer Hour server from Takara Tomy, a plastic device meant to ensure that canned beer has a proper head when you pour it.
Running away with the prize for weirdest item that I saw was a faux chemistry set in the Bandai pavilion that lets its users play mad scientist in the bathtub. The target audience is boys of primary school age who will mix two different ingredients in a beaker or flask and then watch the resulting substance change color and expand dramatically as it swells up to become a thick foam that appears to be at least as solid as shaving cream. This foam can then be dissolved in the bath – it seems that a certain amount of splashing is required – to change the color of the water.
The product is called “Mazemazenerurun Nyuyokuzai,” and it is meant to be the first in a series of products sold under the aegis of a crazed-looking mortarboard-wearing mascot named Ofuro de Jikken-kun, whose name translates approximately as “Young Mr. Experiment, in the Bath.” The sets will sell for about 250 yen.
One of the newest additions to Beverly’s line of crystal puzzles is this model of the Tokyo Sky Tree. The new Tokyo landmark also appeared in a variety of other products throughout the show, including puzzles, models, and a 126-centimeter-tall coin bank from Wiz that claims to be able to hold 634,000 yen if filled with 500-yen coins. The show catalog also included a “Tokyo Sky Tree Balance Game” from Takara Tomy. Players must stack components of a 63.4-centimeter model of the 634-meter tower and hope that it doesn’t topple and smash before they are done.
I wonder if that’s really the image the Sky Tree builders want to project.
Tags: tokyo toy show