This past Friday only gave us 1 bit of merch news, and it was a mini collaboration between Pokemon and Loft, a chain store that sells every-day items.
There are 6 items in the collaboration line-up and, unsurprisingly, they’re all every-day use items, with a Pikachu theme. The items went on sale starting Saturday, May 28th, and are available at all Pokemon Center locations, as well as some Loft branches.
Pouches (4 designs) | 1,080 yen each
Lunch Bags (2 designs) | 1,296 yen each
Smartphone Cases (2 designs) | 3,240 yen each
Smartphone Pouches (2 designs) | 972 yen each
A4 Clearfiles (2 designs) | 216 yen each
Diecut Memo Pads (2 designs – 60 sheets) | 540 yen each
(Link to Pokemon Center announcement)
Every summer, 7-11s across Japan sell bento boxes with artwork featuring the main Pokemon from the summer movie for that year. Preorders for this year’s lunch boxes will start from May 30th and similar to last year, there will be two types of boxes: the normal bento box and a box designed specifically for sandwiches.
The regular box will retail for 1,280 yen and contains 1 hamburg and cheese onigiri, 1 tuna and mayo onigiri, 1 croquette, 1 tamago-yaki, broccoli, star-shaped carrots, and spaghetti.
The sandwich box will retail for 1,180 yen and contains 1 tuna sandwich, 1 shrimp and broccoli salad sandwich, and 1 chicken and vegetable sandwich.
The regular box also comes with a pair of chopsticks; the sandwich box does not.
(Link to 7-11 page)
There were two big toy and figure shows over the past weekend; one specifically for up-coming game center prizes and one for figures. As seems to be the norm lately with Pokemon game center prizes, most of the plush were labeled as “do not photograph”, but some information leaked onto the internet anyway, along with up-coming Megahouse figures.
Three different Pokemon related prizes came out last Thursday (February 18th).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All four together!
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!)
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.
Last but not least, these massive Mew head cushions also came out on Thursday as part of the I Love Mew line-up.
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?!
[Game] Detective Pikachu
[Banpresto] Pikachu We Meet Again ~ Flat Pikachu Cushion
[Pokemon Center] Little Tales
[Banpresto] I Love Mew – Large Lying Down Plush
[Pokemon Center Campaign] Get 1 of 5 clear posters for every 4,000 yen spent at the Mega Tokyo Pokemon Center
[Mochi-Fuwa Cushion] Ditto, Snorlax
[All-Star Collection] Bulbasaur, Charmander, Mew, Pikachu, Squirtle
[Pokemon Center On-Line] On-Line store opens (10 am)
[Pokemon Center On-Line] On-Line Exclusive: Complete Set of Red/Green Gym Badges
[Pokemon Center On-Line Campaign] Receive 1 of 3 artboards for every 5,000 yen spent in the on-line store
[Banpresto] Pokemon XY&Z – Face Mascot Cushions (Chespin, Dedenne, Eevee, Pancham, Pikachu)
[Banpresto] Pokemon XY&Z – Kororin Plush (Bulbasaur, Charmander, Pikachu, Squirtle)
[Banpresto] I Love Mew – Mew Face Cushion
End of February
[Food Toys] Pokemon Towel Kids (4 types)
[Pokemon Center] Monthly Pikachu
[Pokemon Center] Mini Secret Base Dolls (Clefairy, Cyndaquil, Ditto, Lapras, Mudkip, Pikachu, Swablu, Wailmer)
[Collaboration] Splatoon Crossover T-shirts
[Magazine] Pokemon Fan #46
[Takara Tomy Plush] Cheerful Pikachu Belt Cover, Pikachu Hand Puppet, Washable Pikachu Plush, Pikachu Plush Rattle, Ring-Ring Pikachu Plush Rattle
[Premium Bandai] Pre-orders start for Snorlax cushion (pre-order period ends March 31st)
[Pokemon Center] Red/Green Dot Sprite Promotion
[Pokemon Center] Red/Green Nendoroid pre-orders start
[Pokemon Center] Big Size Plush (Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle)
[Takara Tomy Plush] Shoulder Pikachu Plush – Sleeping Ver.
[Takara Tomy Figure] Palm Pikachu – Mini Ver.
[Pokemon Game] Pokemon Red / Blue / Green / Yellow 2DS Bundle
[Pokemon Game] New 3DS Plate: Generation 1 Sprite Pattern (No.072)
[Merchandise] Pop Rings (Eevee, Pikachu, Wobbuffet)
[Nanoblock] Bulbasaur, Charmander, Pikachu, Squirtle
“Miki, you said you were going to give us an update on the newest I Love Mew plush like two days ago. What happened!”
Basically, Its’Demo happened. I will cover the Its’Demo Pikachu Plush Stocking Crisis and Necklaces: The Restockening (This Time the Fear is Real) in greater detail in my next update. For now, I will summarize by saying Its’Demo hates making money.
But this post is not about the hell that is cute Pikachus in love. This post is all about Mews, glorious Mews!
The Mew mascot plush came out Thursday and stock is still going strong everywhere 2 days later.
Mascot plush are designed to be small enough so you can attach them to your bag and proudly declare your love of Mew to everyone who sees you without the need to scream it in people’s faces. With that in mind, these plush do tend to run smaller, however, I feel like this set of plushies are actually fairly big for mascot size. I was a little surprised (and worried) when I first saw them in their mountain set-up, but after asking the staff for advice, catching them ended up being not too bad.
I have several techniques for catching this type of smaller plush in this specific “mountain” set-up.
1) Aim for the part of the plush that is closest to the chute (usually the legs/butt) and use both claws to lift the plush. With the right claw strength and prize, this should move the plush forward and depending on how close the plush is to the edge, sometimes you can win it in one go.
1.2) If the claw is strong enough and the plush is close enough to the edge, the same technique but aiming for whatever is furthest away from the edge (usually the head) is best. In theory, this should lift the head and tip it over forward.
2) Use either the left or right claw to pull the plush forward and to the side. For most machines, the claw is not strong enough to lift the plush, in which case, the one claw method is preferable. Depending on the location of the plush and the shield that separates that prizes from the chute, if you can get the plush sideways, you can then roll it forward and into your loving embrace.
3) If the claw has a stronger downward force vs lifting power, I sometimes aim for right behind the part of the plush that is furthest away (usually the head) to push the plush forward. This is an especially good technique to pop plush up over the shield if they’re stuck, and also my go to when the claw is simply too weak to do anything.
Having nice staff who are willing to help give you advice on what to do and who will move the plush into an easily winnable spot is also key!
Over 2 days of catching plush, I thankfully only had one plush get caught in the claw. This can be annoying if you’re out by yourself because you then need to find a staff member to rescue the plush but you cant stray too far from your machine. 9 out of 10 times, the staff will remove the plush and hand it to you. Sega game centers sometimes refuse to do this (more reasons why I try to avoid Sega for prizes).
The larger sized sitting Mew plush are also still in stock! This game center decided to give their display Mew a tiny backpack (and also unstitched his hands from his body).
I ended up winning one of the smaller sitting Mews for myself, to go with the larger version. They look so cute together!
Here is three out of the four mascots.
Can’t forget lying down Mew! Out of the four Mews, the normal sitting version is my favorite, followed by the giggling version. They are made of a softer fabric, like the My Pokemon Collection plush, but definitely not as soft as the larger Mew plush.
Friday was the release of the Pikachu Charizard Nebukuro (sleeping bag) plush, the first of the Banpresto crane game prize series vs the ichiban-kuji versions that came out last year.
Like most larger Banpresto prizes, these plush are velboa so not super soft, and the sleeping bag is a cotton material.
Most of the set-ups in the area I usually go to were D-rings (pictured here). There are two main techniques for catching plush from this machine:
1) Use one claw to pull at one side of the plastic tab the plush is attached to and then the other, using a see-saw motion to move the plush closer and closer to the edge of the bar before it eventually falls.
2) Use the claw to push down on the plastic tab. This technique doesn’t always work, but sometimes it can help when you’re closer to the end to speed things along.
Trying to pull the ring from the center does nothing, and this is the mistake I see the most. I also try to avoid D rings that are placed on a rubber ball vs a white bar like in the photo.
For being the first day and advertised as having limited numbers of prizes, I actually found the Pikachus fairly easy to win.
Unlike the kuji prize version, you cannot remove the sleeping bag from the plush, but you can move the hood up and down (although the ears kind of get in the way).
Adorable tag and little Charizard fire tail.
And that sums up the past two days of claw machine action!
The Tokyo Pokemon Center moved from Hamamatsucho to Ikebukuro a little over a year ago. Along with the change in location, the Center also changed it’s name from “Tokyo” to “Mega Tokyo” and changed the mascots from Pikachu, Froakie, and Charmander to Pikachu and Mega Charizard Y.
There was, of course, a big promotion in honor of both the move and the re-opening, with tons of merchandise featuring the original Poncho Pikachu, affectionately referred to as “Pikazard”, and as part of the promo, there were gachapon figures of Pikachu wearing his little Mega Charizard Y poncho in various poses.
The Pokemon Center decided to celebrate the anniversary of the re-opening by giving us the Pikachu Mega Campaign. Along with a semi re-release of the original Pikazard plush (the tags are different but otherwise they are basically the same), we also got 6 other poncho wearing Pikachus, including a Mega Charizard X version, and a brand new set of gachapon figures, this time not only of the original Pikazard but of the other Poncho Pikachus as well.
When the original Pikazard gacha set came out, it was originally limited to the Mega Tokyo Center location for the first few weeks. This upped the level of want for these figures and they quickly sold out (although they did get restocked and are currently still in stock). This time, however, all the Centers across Japan had access to to the Pikachu Poncho (or Pika-Pon) set at the same time, and as a result, the demand was not quite as crazy. As of this posting, there is plenty of stock.
On Saturday, they had a separate line specifically for the gacha machines, which were set up in a corner of the store close to where the Pikachu Mega Shop is located. Customers were limited to up to 10 tries at once, but you could play another 10 times if you went back into line and waited again. There was enough people to make up a constant line once the Center opened but wait time was only around 5 minutes max. The set had exactly 7 figures (Pikazard Y, Pikazard X, Mega Lucario, Mega Audino, Mega Altaria, Mega Slowbro, Mega Sableye) with no secret figures.
Although I do like playing gachas in certain circumstances, in general I dislike blind packaged figure sets because a lot of it is down to luck, and if you can only play a couple of times, the chances of you pulling the figure you want is not good…especially if you’re Miki and your luck is abysmal. Which brings me to my last point on this weekend’s gacha release: the Pokemon collecting community in general is very nice and everyone loves trading. I ended up playing multiple times in order to pull a full set, which meant I had extras. I hung out around the capsule disposal corner and made at least two people happy by trading them figures they had been hoping to get, and I got to practice my Japanese at the same time, so everyone was a winner.
Moving on to the figures themselves – I was very impressed with how they came out. With tiny figures, paint jobs can be hit or miss, which can lead to annoying situations where you’re after a figure and you get 1 of it, and there is a paint smudge or a misprint. These figures, while small, are not teeny tiny, and although I did notice a few very small paint problems on 1 or 2, for the most part the figures were big enough that this was a non-issue.
I mostly played for other people this time around (as I mentioned, my priority was to get a full set for a friend) but there were a couple figures I had to keep for myself, including both Pikazards. I wanted Pikazard Y for sentimental reasons, and X because they go together.
My main want was Mega Lucario, though, who I was able to pull fairly quickly. I was not disappointed with this figure at all. Look at that smug face!
I was so happy, I ran around the store posing him with all the other Lucarios.
Ahem. How does the new set compare with the original Pikazards? Size is the first most noticeable difference. Quality is next; the semi smudgy paint job on the original is more obvious next to the newer version. I also prefer the yellow color they used on the new Pikachus vs the originals as it’s less of a soda pop / neon yellow.
Unrelated to Pikazards, a brand new Ash plushie also came out this weekend. For being a human plush, I think it came out pretty well!
On a parting note, the next set of prizes from the I Love Mew Banpresto series is coming out on Thursday. I’ll be going out to catch a bunch of these little pink cuties and will try and get a report up on the same day, so stay tuned!