The tiny toys that are generating a HUGE buzz in Japan
There’s something so cute and playful about having miniature versions of larger, mundane items. Tiny objects, such as a miniature washing machine or a kettle, oven, armchair (the list is literally endless) allow us to indulge in the possibilities of an alternative life. In the same sort of way that you might create life on Sims, physically small objects allow us to imagine a life different to the one we are living. Especially for kids, playing with tiny versions of ‘adult’ objects can be particularly appealing. It makes them feel in control and important - feeding into their desire to aspire to those older than them.
Not only is there something interesting around taking ownership and creating your own world with tiny toys but tiny toys also ignite something in the human psyche which draws us to small, cute things as we are nurturers by nature. A Japanese study found that people tend to handle things with more care if the objects were considered ‘cute’ and there’s definitely something to be said about the craftsmanship and daintiness of tiny toy construction which does require this careful handling by both creator and consumer.
For the reasons above, some companies have seen the benefit of creating tiny toy lines. In the UK, Marks and Spencer created their ‘Little Shop’ which allows kids to collect tiny versions of their parents' grocery shop. It’s a fun and exciting way to get kids involved in the grocery shopping process which feels more like a game for kids, especially as there’s collectible options too!
This tiny toy trend isn’t anything new, so why are we talking about it now? Japan’s capsule vending machines have continued to explode in popularity in recent weeks and much of the ethos behind the success of these toys follows why people love tiny toys in general. Known as Gachapon in Japan, a new store has opened with 3,000 Gachapon (essentially vending machines), which is the largest of its kind in the world.
What’s slightly different about the Gachapon than other tiny toys, is that the vending machine type mechanism means there’s also an element of surprise - you don’t know what tiny toy you’re going to get! This makes the process of actually buying the toys half of the fun! There are many toys on the market that prove the surprise and delight method keeps people coming back for more - LOL surprise dolls, Matchattax, even kinder surprise. It’s human nature to be intrigued by something which is unknown.
Their drive behind producing these tiny toys is to create some so mundane and boring “it’s ridiculous” - apparently this is the highest form of praise.