Saturday, August 31, 2013

Animal Crossing Chara Stamp Collection















































 A recent acquisition from NCSX, these were announced (on NCS' website anyway, which is by no means "official") on the same day that a new edition of the now-over-10-year-old gashapon and blister-packed series was announced. (The fact that a series of "insignificant" capsule machine and tiny packaged toys has gone on - albeit sporadically - for over 10 years, is uniquely Japanese to me)  Anyway, I had assumed that these were going to be of the same size and material as the other toys in the series, sort of unfortunately I was wrong.

This series of toys began in 2001 with the initial batch of houses, mini figures and furniture collection. They're really quite well-made, and detailed, too. The figures, especially the animal citizens, are basically miniature versions of their in-game counterparts. The furniture, too, looks just like the furniture in the game, shrunk down to the size of a fingertip. The houses are furnishable, and actually come with flooring and wallpaper - again, just like in the game. Later additions to the series saw a "plate" system sort of playset mechanic come along, as well as a two-storey home, like you could expand to in the actual games.

Then there were 50(!) character and furniture blister packs released. Other buildings were added to the series, a post office, Tom Nook's store, a police box, even a shrine and the museum. As a special "purezento", an upgraded Nook Conbini was given away (and I snagged it in a Japanese auction ^^), complete with a tall sign outside, clear windows that allow you to see inside, tables to sit items for sale on and a register. Then in about 2004 or 5, they started producing sets of gashapon houses and figures. Usually, this involved "modular" houses - broken into 4 pieces of "land" you can attach to form a foundation of the house (how else would they fit it into a capsule?), walls and a door, a mailbox, a fence, roof pieces and a chimney, these even came with hangable wallpaper and flooring - with a figure and furniture, and a set or two of 2 or 3 figures with a bunch of furniture. These releases seemed to coincide with a game release, and one for the AC movie that came out in 2006.


So naturally, for the latest AC release for the 3DS last year, they made a Tobidase! Doubutsu no Mori set for the 300 yen capsule machines again this year. So when the "Chara Stamp Collection" was announced, and looked almost exactly the same in photos, I assumed that they were going to be, well, the same. These are more like a stationery set than the previous entries in the AC series of toys.

Oddly enough, the older stuff seems to be of a higher quality than these, despite being more expensive and newer. (Thus being produced by a more "sophisticated" process, no doubt. If you doubt this, look at the difference between prizes/toys in the 90s and even those produced in the early 2000s) The old sets' figures seem to be made of some sort of... almost rubber? They're certainly not PVC. These seem to be painted PVC, but instead of details being molded into them like the old sets, there are stickers with graphics on them, which I'm really not a fan of. This seems cheap. On the bottom of every piece is a rubber stamp, with a saying or graphic or both. The sets with the houses do not have an open, decorable back, as the older sets do. Instead, there is a drawer that pops out, and for some reason there is flooring included, but honestly, there's not much to display. The houses themselves, too, are made of monochromatic plastic with stickers on them, and have no yard, mailbox, doors that open, fence, etc. Neat, though they may be, they are definitely a Duplo block to the much cooler Lego of the packaged and gashapon sets.