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  • A great shokugan/gashapon like product that all fans will love.

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  • However, the shokugan (cereal box toys) in question are sold out, so it appears the nakedness did not impede sales. Antenna


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  • Wow, above and beyond the call of duty! Thanks for the explanation, L. When you wrote 'snack toy' I had in mind something like miniature edible frisbees, you know, open wide and have a kind (and accurate) friend toss them in.

    September 7, 2008

  • Oh, sorry! I guess it's one of those situations where something is so familiar to you that you forget it's still a foreign concept to others.

    In Japan you can buy little toys (usually figures or miniatures) that come randomly assorted in sealed cardboard boxes (contrast with gashapon, which are capsule toys randomly distributed by the machine). The boxes are completely opaque, so you have no idea which one is inside when you pick up the box (though you can always try to shake the container and take a guess based on the sound it makes and how much the package weighs).

    These toys always come with a small piece of candy inside the box. Small means small here - something like a single piece of gum or a piece of ramune candy (which is kind of chalky but sweet). The quality is often poor, similar to the cardboard-like piece of bubble gum you used to get with baseball/trading cards.

    In the United States the gum actually came first. Topps included a small card with a baseball player on it as a premium, and eventually it came to be that people were buying the packages for the card, not the gum. I believe they phased the gum out completely by the mid-90's.

    It might seem that shokugan might be the same principle, where the toy eventually just became more important than the candy inside. But why keep up the pretense and still include the candy?

    To exploit a small loophole in Japanese tariff laws, of course.

    Importing/exporting Japanese toys for business incurs a tariff. Exporting them for non-business purposes incurs no penalty. (My boss once experienced this firsthand at customs, when the officer encouraged him to say that the toys in his suitcase were for his kids, though they were actually for company purposes.)

    Exporting food doesn't incur a tariff (or as much of a tax, I'm not entirely sure of the specifics). So by including candy and then marketing the product as "candy with a toy" they get around having to pay the tariff. Even when you go to a Japanese supermarket here in the United States, you'll see the aisle marked as "candy w/ toys."

    September 7, 2008

  • Are you able to explain this, L?

    September 7, 2008

  • "Snack toy."

    September 7, 2008