Pokemon Center Report – Kuttari Plush + Monthly Pair Pikachu + Pokemon Easter 2016

There were a couple big releases on Saturday. I ended up arriving to the Pokemon Center fairly early and was the first person in line (for once!) Even with the three releases, the crowds were not that bad and were maybe on par with the number of people who turned up on Friday for card sleeves.

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Let’s start off with the latest batch of kuttari plush! This is the fourth wave from the kuttari series, which seems to be influenced at least in some part by the popularity of the Disney tsum tsum line. The third wave of kuttari came out at the very end of October (see my blog post covering the release here) and so this sudden release after 4 months was a little surprising but in a good way.

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The star of the release was definitely Pichu, whose existence was up to debate and plagued with conspiracy theories until now. For those who are unfamiliar with the Pichu Legand, Pichu was originally announced as part of the wave 1 line-up, which was released July 18th 2015, coinciding with the Pokemon summer movie. For reasons we will never know, Pichu’s release was delayed. Staff told customers at the time that Pichu would be released at a later date, but at what date and how much later, there were no answers. Wave 2 and 3 came and went with no mention of Pichu. I remember asking the staff at one point in November, jokingly, about when Pichu would be coming out and he had no idea what I was even talking about. Had Pichu’s construction been so horrifying, an Eldritch Abomination if you will, that all prototypes were buried, never to be seen again?

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None of our questions were answered as to why it took 8 months for Pichu’s awake and sleeping forms to see the light of day and the inside of a Pokemon Center, but at the end of the day I guess it doesn’t matter. The Pichu exists!

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My personal favorite out of this wave was Ampharos. I love his perfect snout
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And his sleepy, smug face is just too precious.

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Speaking as a Victini fan and collector, I loved how the faces turned out with his plush

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And his little butt wings are beyond adorable, but I ended up not buying one for myself because I felt his actual body shape looked a little weird when flattened out into a lying down pose.

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The other plush from the fourth wave include Croagunk

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Who looks less asleep and more straight up smug in his sleepy pose

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Piplup who looks appropriately cute both awake

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and asleep

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and not forgetting little Chespin!

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A part of me hopes there will be a fifth wave with Fennekin because I think he would translate well into the kuttari form (and also I love Fennekin!)

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Friday Pokemon Announcements – Kyoto Center Opening Part 2

Friday Pokemon Announcements have returned to Friday!

Although not entirely a surprise, we now have official photos and listings of everything coming out for the second part of the Kyoto Pokemon Center opening promotion. Unlike most of the items from part 1, all of the items listed as part of the Kyoto Center Part 2 promotion will be available everywhere in Japan from April 23rd and will not be exclusive to the Kyoto Pokemon Center.

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Pikachu Poncho Plush (Lugia | Ho-oh)
2,160 yen

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Pikachu Poncho Mascot Plush (Lugia | Ho-oh)
1,296 yen

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Metal Charm Set
540 yen

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Pin Set
680 yen

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Set of 2 Clearfiles
540 yen

Not Pictured

Set of 2 Stickers
540 yen

Set of 2 Frixion Pens
713 yen

Pokemon Card Game XY Break Special Set / Ho-oh + Lugia
1,944 yen

Until next week!

——
Kyoto Center Opening Part 2

Pokemon Center Report – Awakening Psychic King + Card Sleeves

The newest Pokemon XY Break expansion set, Awakening Psychic King, was released today in Japan, along with a couple auxiliary TCG goods, including two new battle decks and 4 Pokemon Center exclusive card sleeves.

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I guess the Center knew that the sleeves would be popular because even with a weekday release, they decided to put the sleeves behind the counter instead of on display in the store. This means no nice display picture, but I’d give up the in-store display for drama-free sleeve buying. The past couple of Friday sleeve releases resulted in me showing up to the Center very early and there being no line, but that was not the case today; the line pre-opening was longer than the line on Wednesday for the Kyoto Center promotion!

Everyone loves Eevee(lutions).

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Along with a non-exclusive Zygarde Perfect Forme design (not pictured) there was the very popular Eeveelution design

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Occult Maniac with Banette buddy

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Ho-oh and Smeargle

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and Octillary, whose name sounds nothing like Octillary in Japanese (random observation).

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These deck boxes, featuring the main Awakening Psychic King artwork, also went on sale today

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Along with two Perfect Battle Decks: Zygarde EX

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and Audino EX.

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The Audino and Mega Audino EX cards are especially adorable, and although I went in to the store today not planning on buying one of these sets, after seeing the card list (each battle deck comes with different sets of 60 cards) I’m tempted to pick one up…

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I did end up buying 5 packs of booster cards in the hopes that I would pull one of the new Minccino cards.

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Out of 5 packs, I pulled 2 Cinccinos. So close yet so far! Also another reason to buy the Audino Battle Deck because it comes with 2 Minccino~ (my babu)

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The second half of this clearfile campaign also started today. Customers can pick 1 clearfile from these 3 designs for every purchase at the Pokemon Center, while supplies last.

Not ready for the week of releases to be over? Stay tuned for tomorrow when a new batch of kuttari plush, the very first monthly pair pikachu, and this year’s Pokemon Easter promotion are released!

Pokemon Center Report – Kyoto Pokemon Center Opening Promotion

Today (March 16th) was the grand opening of the brand new Kyoto based Pokemon Center.

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Usually when there is a promotion for a specific Center, a couple items are released that are exclusive to that Center. This time, it seemed like half the promotion was Kyoto only. This, coupled with the middle of the week release, made for a very quiet release day, even in Mega Tokyo which is reknown for being a little hyper. But I’m not complaining! I like quiet release days.

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Along with the several items that had been previously announced (see this post) there were a couple “surprise” items, one of which, a full-size foldable fan, was Kyoto exclusive. Us scum in Tokyo did get some nice pens at least.

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My favorite from the unannounced items was this phone case. The design is really pretty and I love the Maiko Pikachu illustration.

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The notebook was also, in my opinion, really nice.

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The star of the show, however, was the Maiko Pikachu plush. There were two exclusive versions of the Pikachu plush (one boy and one girl) but out of the three, my favorite was the non-exclusive Maiko standing version, pictured here.

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Ho-oh, the main Kyoto Center logo Pokemon alongside Pikachu, is stylishly included within the kimono pattern.

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There’s even a classy Ho-oh on the obi.

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And of course, not forgetting Vivillon!

Basically, this plush is amazing and was definitely designed with adult fans in mind.

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For those worried about the umbrellas, they are made of sturdy, thicker than you’re probably expecting fabric, which means you can bend and squish them and they won’t lose their shape or get damaged.

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As part of the grand opening celebrations, these special Kyoto Center cards are being given out at all Pokemon Centers and Stores across Japan. Customers receive 1 card for every 5 booster packs bought.

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These limited shopping bags are also being given out at the moment, while supplies last.

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The shoppers feature the Kyoto exclusive Maiko and Okuge Pikachu poses on each side and are 1 per customer.

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Thanks for reading and stay tuned for card sleeves on Friday and a bunch of stuff on Saturday as the week of releases continues!

Friday (?) Pokemon Announcements – Kyoto Opening Part 2 + Ditto Transformation + Online Campaign 2

Today’s announcements brought exciting news for people disappointed by the lack of plushes from the up-coming opening of the Kyoto Pokemon Center.

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The plush we’ve all been waiting for! Along with the merch listed in this previous post, special Kyoto themed Pikachu plush will go on sale March 16th, the day the Kyoto Center opens it’s doors for the first time.

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The standing Maiko Pikachu plush will be available at all Centers and Stores across Japan, while the sitting plush versions will be available exclusively at the Kyoto Center.

All versions of the plush will retail for 2,400 yen + tax.

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We also received the official announcement for the Ditto Transformation promotion coming out March 26th, which was semi “leaked” in the latest edition of Pokemon Fan. There will be both mascot sized smaller versions and normal sized plush versions of Ditto in the form of Pikachu, Clefair, Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle.

Mascot plush will retail for 800 yen + tax and normal size plush will retail for 1,200 yen + tax.

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For people living in Japan, a special sticker campaign will start from March 26th. Customers shopping at all Pokemon Stores and Outlet Stores will receive 1 of these 5 Pikachu stickers for every 1,000 yen spent. Note that this campaign does not include Pokemon Centers.

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The second part of the Pokemon Center On-Line store’s grand opening campaign will start next week on March 19th. There will be three parts to this second wave:

1) A 68 cm very large sleeping Pikachu plush will go on sale exclusively from the on-line Pokemon Center store starting from March 19th at 10:00 am Japan time.
2) The original sleeping Pikachu plush will be re-released, along with every single plush from the recently finished Monthly Pikachu series, also starting from March 19th at 10:00 am Japan time.
3) On-line customers will receive 1 cup out of 3 possible designs for every 5,000 yen spent, with a maximum of 10 cups for 1 order (while supplies last).

This is the second week in a row where our Friday Pokemon Announcements were announced on Thursday. Will Thursday be the new Friday? Stay tuned next week when third time’s a charm!

—-
Kyoto Center Opening
Ditto Transformation
Pikachu Sticker Campaign
Pokemon Center On-Line Store campaign Part 2

Pokemon Center Report – Pokemon With You ~ Garden of Smiles ~

I went in to the Pokemon Center thinking this Saturday would be fairly low key, completely forgetting that Masuda was visiting the store for a signing event. From what I heard, around 1,000 people showed up to try and win one of the 100 available spots. (I ended up waiting for a chance to win as well, but did not.) Everyone waiting for Masuda, however, meant that all those 1,000 people didn’t descend on the Center until after noon.

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First up, a little bit of history. Pokemon With You was originally created in response to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, with the concept behind the series being encouragement and hope: no matter what happens or where you are, Pokemon will always be by your side. The very first Pokemon With You can badges, including Audino, Pikachu, and Victini (the face of the charity line) went on sale at the beginning of June, 2011, with all proceeds going toward helping children in the Tohoku region affected by the earthquake. Along with the charity line of goods, the Tohoku Pokemon Center, located in Sendai, opened December 4th, 2011, with Victini as one of the non-changing mascot Pokemon.

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Every year since 2011, a new addition to the Pokemon With You series is released. Along with the original can badges, the line-up typically includes a variety of items (handkerchiefs, dice bags, postcards, etc.) featuring the main artwork for that year.

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Like last year, there was 1 Pikachu mascot plush included as part of this year’s set of goods.

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The item I was most surprised with, in a good way, was the sticker sheet.

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Along with having one big sticker of the main artwork, it also includes individual stickers for each of the Pokemon, which is especially nice as these are fairly non-defaulty poses (Lucario taking a nap is my favorite)

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The biggest change this time around was the creation of a brand new line of goods: metal charms!

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These brand new die-cut charms feature the same designs used on the traditional With You can badges.

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Although the Pokemon With You series might not be to everyone’s liking, or maybe even that exciting, it and Victini hold a special place in my heart. I love the message that the charity line is based on, and it’s heart warming to know there is always someone with you (even simply metaphorically) when life gets rocky.

Friday Pokemon Announcements – Monthly Pair Pikachu + Card Sleeves + Easter 2016

The weekly Pokemon merch announcements actually came out on Thursday (it happens sometimes!) which was kind of a surprise as I was out at the time catching Eevees from the newest Kororin Friends release. None of the major announcements are really “new” but they did come with nice photos, so they’re worth mentioning!

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The very first installment of the brand new Monthly Pair Pikachu series!

Just like Freshman Pikachu started off the Monthly Pikachu series, this time we get two school kid Pikachus, ready for the start of the semester as well as cherry blossom season.

These plush retail for 2,600 yen + tax and will go on sale March 19th at all Pokemon Centers and Stores in Japan, as well as the on-line store.

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Card sleeves! These four designs are Pokemon Center exclusives and will only be available for sale at Pokemon Centers and stores, as well as the Pokemon Center on-line store. Each pack contains 32 sleeves and sells for 362 yen + tax.

Release date is March 18th (Friday). I strongly suggest pre-ordering these designs if you really want them, especially the Eeveelution design, as I have a feeling they will go fast, even with the 10 per design per person limits in place.

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Last but not least, Easter 2016! If you like Pokemon shaped as eggs, this promotion was designed for you. Release date is March 19th and will be available at all Pokemon Centers and stores, as well as the Pokemon Center on-line store.

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Merchandise Overview – March

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[Banpresto] Pokemon XY & Z – Kororin Friends (Eevee, Glaceon, Leafeon)
[Banpresto] Pokemon XY & Z – Kororin Friends – Large Eevee

3.5

[Pokemon Center] Pokemon With You – Garden of Smiles

3.10

[Banpresto] Pokemon XY & Z – Kororin Friends (Flareon, Jolteon, Vaporeon)

3.14

[Takara Tomy] Pokemon Get Collection Candy Figures – Kalos League Edition (Ash’s Greninja, Audino, Goodra, Gourgeist, Mega Charizard X, Noivern, Pikachu, Sylveon, Zygarde, Zygarde 10%)

3.16

[Pokemon Center] Kyoto Center Opening

3.18

[TCG] Awakening Psychic King (Expansion Pack)
[TCG] Perfect Battle Deck (Zygarde Perfect Forme EX), Mega Battle Deck (Mega Audino EX)
[TCG] Non Exclusive Card Sleeves: Zygarde Perfect Forme | Pokemon Center Exclusive Card Sleeves: Ho-oh / Smeargle, Eeveelutions, Octillery, Banette / Occult Maniac
[TCG] Deck Case (Mega Alakazam)
[Ichiban Kuji] Pokken Tournament

3.19

[Pokemon Center] Monthly Pair Pikachu
[Pokemon Center] Kuttari Plush (Ampharos, Chespin, Croagunk, Gallade, Pichu, Piplup, Victini)
[Pokemon Center] Easter Promotion
[Pokemon Center On-Line] 68 cm Sleeping Pikachu Plush, Normal Size Sleeping Pikachu Plush
[Pokemon Center On-Line] Re-release of all Monthly Pikachu plush
[Pokemon Center On-Line Campaign] Receive 1 of 3 on-line store exclusive mugs for every 5,000 yen spent
[MonColle] Ash’s Greninja Figure Pack (Ash, Froakie, Frogadier, Greninja), Mega Blaziken Attack Pose, Mega Lucario Attack Pose, Noivern Attack Pose, Zygarde Perfect Forme

3.23

[Banpresto] Pokemon XY & Z – Large Eevee Face Cushion
[Banpresto] (Re-release) Pikachu Mania! Face & Butt Cushions

3.24

[Banpresto] Pokken Tournament DXF Figure – Lucario

3.26

[Pokemon Center] Ditto Transformation Promotion
[Campaign] Receive 1 of 5 Pikachu stickers for every 1,000 yen spent at a Pokemon Store or Outlet Store (Pokemon Centers are excluded)
[Merchandise] Keyboard Pikachu Plush
[Merchandise] Mini Kororin Plush (Dedenne, Piplup, Torchic, Winking Pikachu)

Pokemon Center Report – Pokemon Red/Green Dot Sprites + Pokemon 20th Anniversary

This past Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the Pokemon franchise. Pokemon Red and Green were officially released in Japan on February 27th, 1996. Those kids who started playing Pokemon 20 years ago are 20 years older and still playing Pokemon. 20th anniversary festivities happened all over the world on the 27th, and Japan was no exception. Although the Pokemon Centers were not giving anything away for free, a bunch of nostalgic Red/Green themed merch was released on Saturday.

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I had a feeling even with the 20th anniversary happening, there would not be as many people at the Center compared to last weekend with the Splatoon shirt sales…and I was right. While there was a medium sized line in the morning before opening, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the 20th. The main promotion for the 27th was the Red/Green dot sprite promotion, featuring items based on sprites from the original games.

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There were a couple highlights to the Red/Green dot sprite promotion, with one being these three cushions.

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The die-cut cushions are available in Pikachu

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Lapras

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and Charizard designs

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and each cushion also features this neat sprite pattern on the back.

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UFO Catcher Adventures – Kororin Friends + I Love Mew + Pokemon XY & Z

Three different Pokemon related prizes came out last Thursday (February 18th).

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Let’s start with the most anticipated out of the three: the first installment of the Kororin Friends series. This set includes Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle.

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I went to several game centers on Thursday to catch plush and encountered the same general problems everywhere, except for Sega (pictured here). Their unique issue was the non-existent claw strength, making this machine pretty much impossible.

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First of all, the plush are medium sized, meaning there needs to be a certain amount of strength in the claw to get anywhere. Second, they are “top” (head) heavy. The tactic I found that seemed to work the best was to first focus on the head. By getting the claw to lift up on the head, you could inch the plush forward, and once it was close enough to the edge, aim for the back and tip it over. If the plush was already close enough to the edge, you could even skip step 1. I was able to win a couple plush this way in 1 or 2 goes.

The two problem Pokemon were Pikachu and Bulbasaur. Pikachu’s ears means he is even more top heavy than the others. If he wasn’t close enough to the edge and you tried to tip him over from his butt, he would simply fall on his face, and the claws were never strong enough to do anything at that point, so you were in trouble. If you aimed for the head and the claw was a little too strong, there was also the chance Pikachu would fall over backwards. Speaking of falling over backwards, Bulbasaur’s bulb meant good luck trying to lift him from the back since the added weight coupled with the weak claw translated to nope. If you lifted from the head, 50% chance Bulbasaur would fall over backwards or to the side.

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On top of that, a lot of the set ups had this unfortunate dip right before the chute. Depending on how the plush were positioned, you could potentially use this to your advantage for plush like Charmander or Squirtle, and maybe even Pikachu…if the plush were close enough to the front that lifting them from the back actually did something. Unfortunately, if Bulbasaur was in the dip, you had no chance at winning him because none of the claws were strong enough for that. I watched a lot of people waste money trying to get plush, especially Bulbasaur, up from the dip. It never worked.

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One game center had a dip, a border of plush, and then a second border of plush! Generally once you got them to this spot in the machine, you were guaranteed a win within the next 1 or 2 tries at least. Luckiest moments were finding a plush close to the edge and also positioned above plush in a way that they were fairly flat.

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All four together!

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On a side note, the Kororin Friends series is not Pokemon specific; these Iggy plushies are coming out tomorrow (February 24th) and are part of the same series. Thankfully no bulbs or large ears, so they might be easier to win (in theory!)

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These tiny mascot face plushies also came out on Thursday. I feel like most people won’t know of their existence because they’ve been overshadowed by Kororin Friends, plus they aren’t very plush-like. I thought they would be squishy, but their stuffing is very hard, and the designs are fairly generic. The main problem I had with this line of “plush” is their roundness. Most of the places I found had the disadvantage of the dip near the front. This meant even if you did pick up the plush, which was very possible, if there was a prominent dip, there was a strong chance that the plush would fall over backwards.

Your best bet would be to hope for a mountain set-up, like pictured, and aim for a plush about mid range to push it down and use the falling momentum to roll it down into the chute.

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Last but not least, these massive Mew head cushions also came out on Thursday as part of the I Love Mew line-up.

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My two main complaints with this plush is fabric and stuffing. Usually when Banpresto makes huge plush, they use velboa fabric, which is probably cheaper. But I still don’t like it. Also it’s easier to see in this photo but the stuffing, especially around the snout, is not even, and I’m not a fan of that either. I’ll stick with the smaller (but considerably softer) Mews!

The next batch of Kororin Friends comes out about a week from today (March 3rd). Who is excited for more Eevees?!