The Influence of Japanese Toys on Funko Collectibles

FJaviserrFrom the Desk of Fjaviserr
Javier is a big Funko fan with a particular passion for horror and SciFi. You can read his other articles here.

After World War II, Japan became one of the most important toy-producing countries in the world and the story continues on nowadays.

The tradition of the Japanese toy industry has a relevant impact on Pop Culture, with its packaging and toy designs being an important part of it. No matter what we collect, there is always room from those magnificent pieces in our collections.

From time-to-time Funko presents on its catalog some interesting items with the influence of the Japanese toy heritage. So, let’s review these amazing pieces.

 

Hikari

 

The debut of the Hikari series in the world of Funko was in 2014. This series is based on sofubi toys. Sofubi is a portmanteau of sofuto biniiru which means soft (sofuto) and vinyl (biniiru). The production of this kind of toy began in Japan in the early 50s, replacing celluloid toys.

Since the late 60s we can find a long list of characters such as Kaiju, Mechas, Monsters and Superheroes as sofubi figures. With the collaboration of MindStyle, Funko released its Hikari figures in different scales, 4, 8 and 10 inches respectively, highlighting Godzilla, the sofubi king par excellence, Astro Boy, Frankenstein, Megazord, TMNT and characters related with Star Wars, DC Comics, and Marvel, and let’s not forget our beloved Freddy Funko as well. With some exceptions, most of them are limited in pieces.

 

Hikari

 

In 2015 and 2016, the co-branding between Funko and Super7 brought us the Super Shogun series, reviving the style from these legendary figures of 24 inches, with three variants of Boba Fett and Shadowtrooper from the Star Wars franchise.

Those large-size toys had their origins in the early 70’s when Popy, a subsidiary company of Bandai, launched the very first Jumbo Machinder toys based on several anime and tokusatsu (live-action TV shows) featuring giant robots. The very first Jumbo Machinder ever made was Mazinger Z. After Popy’s success with the Jumbo Machinder series, several other Japanese companies, including Takatoku, Nakajima and Clover began producing large-size robot toys as well.

At the end of that decade, Mattel had the rights for some of those figures for their Shogun Warriors line, which was distributed in the U.S. and Europe. All Funko X Super7 toys are limited editions, with the Boba Fett Prototype being the most exclusive, with 400 pieces.

 

 

Following the same shape, but different scale, 11 inches, Funko released in 2012, another wonderful line, called Vinyl Invaders. These lovely items have the essence of the Shogun figures; however, these versions don’t have the spring-loaded launcher weapons.

The list is short, and we only find The Kiss Demon Robot, common and chase, and Batman Robot in six variants. For the treasure hunters, the three Technicolor Batman variants are loose, but they are limited to six pieces each and all of them are signed and numbered by Brian Mariotti.

 

 

The popularity of the 1966 Batman TV series in the United States, brought us an avalanche of Batman-related toys that were released in the 1960s and 1970s. It went over in Japan at that time as well, producing colorful and unique versions of the Caped Crusader.

So, it is not rare that Funko produced items based on the Japanese Batman versions. The most remarkable, on its catalog, is the Batmobile, as Wacky Wobbler Bobble Car, Pop! Rides, Ridez and Action Figure Set versions, reviving the style from Japanese Batman vintage toys of the ’60s and ’70s. The packaging of the Batmobile action figure sets shows us many details using an old-fashioned look and the graphics are amazing, completing the tribute with Japanese typing.

 

 

It is difficult to know if Funko will surprise us with new figures inspired by the Land of the Rising Sun toy industry, but at least we have a long list to hunt, must-have sets of Funko collectibles that bring the legacy of the Japanese vintage toys to our collections.

I hope you find this information helpful. Have an excellent week. Let me know if you’d like to know more in the comments below and keep on Popping!

 


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