Little Toy Cars and Big Toy Hype

A small subset of Anthony's Tomika collection
(Sorry for the fuzziness; it's a tiny crop from the
background of a much larger photo)

Today was Kyoto's Aoi Matsuri festival, but instead of enjoying that, Anthony and I went to the store to look at (but not buy) toys.

The most popular little toy cars in Japan are a line called tomika from the Tomy company (“tomika” sounds like the way a Japanese would say “Tomy Car”). They're about two inches long and well made, and at only 378 yen (about $3.15) each, they're a good value. They've been around approximately forever.

Over the years, Anthony has accumulated many. He has all manner of cranes, police cars, ambulances, busses, construction equipment, garbage trucks, dump trucks, etc. etc. etc. Some are shown in the snippet at right, and you can see two Tomika fire engines in the photos of his construction site from the other day.

The company keeps things interesting by releasing a few new cars each month. (In case you'd like to see, the current offerings are on their site over three pages: one, two, three.)

So anyway, today I noticed that one of the new releases for the month was a car from the Disney movie “Cars”. I recognized it because we watched that movie in our own car, while parked and waiting to board the ferry from Hokkaido two weeks ago.

I noticed that this particular Tomika was different from the others in two ways:

  1. it had no moving doors, windows, hoods, leavers, booms, buckets, masts, or any of the other moving parts that kids immediately search for and love.
  2. it was double the normal price.

That movie had been heavily hyped in Japan, even before it was released some long time ago, so I'm sure Disney is just raking in the cash. I've held a minor amount of Disney stock for more than 10 years, so I guess I should be happy, but this kind of thing makes the parent in me (and the human in me, for that matter) just roll my eyes and vow to never buy one of these ultra-hyped spinoff products.

I may buy the movie — we'd only rented it earlier — but that's a different issue.

One comment so far...

Never leave home without a few trusty Tomica in tow. When riding the train, our toddler often glues herself to the window in search of the ambulance in her left hand or the bus in her right.

From your “one, two, three” links, it doesn’t look like Tomica currently have a “forklift” in the lineup.

Can you imagine Life Without Tomica?

— comment by Andy on May 17th, 2007 at 12:30am JST (17 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink
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