9 of the Best Old School Japanese Anime–Inspired Toys

  • CULTURE
  • All of us were once kids. For those of us who were born in the 90’s, we were the generation of kids that that played outside with our friends. We didn’t have cellphones at that time and communication was as direct as it can be.

    At that time, Japan introduced us some of the coolest toys we could have ever imagined. Moreover, it was straight from our favorite anime series. Kids nowadays have other things but will never get to experience the same joy of getting your very own anime-themed plaything. Let’s reminisce some of the best anime inspired toys that Japan brought us during the 2000’s and see if you remember them!

    1. Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Cards

    These come form the famous anime Yu-Gi-Oh! we all enjoyed as kids. We played this trading card game with our friends during recess time and after school. Some of us had a hard time understanding this game, with all the magic cards and trap cards not to mention our strong cards! We battled out with our friends to see who the strongest duelist was and traded excess cards that we didn’t need and we envied the kids with the rare cards in their decks. There were also the lucky kids who had their hands on their own duel disks! As kids, some of us never had the chance to own those because of how expensive they were and our parents wouldn’t cash out the money for it. Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards is still famous today, but we were the ones of the first who enjoyed it. Were you a Yugi kind of duelist or a Kaiba kind?

    2. Beyblade

    Inspired by the Anime Beyblade, some of us were also Bladers back then. Starting the game with a “3, 2, 1, Let it Rip!” we played Beyblade with our friends during our free time or on weekends! These toys were our advanced versions of spinning tops. Playing with beyblades and plastic arenas, this was actually one of the most fun and at the same time most frustrating games back then. Frustrating because sometimes our Beyblades would just spin in one position waiting until it runs out of spins. Our friends also would decide which anime character they were based on the Beyblade that they had like Takao (Tyson in the American Version), Kai, Max and Rei!

    3. Crush Gear

    Before remote control cars became famous, Crush Gears were our car toys of choice. We had a variety of Crush Gears to choose from and we shared this fun with our friends. The Crush Gears were also played by battling with friends but we needed the plastic arena to do that and mostly, our crush gears would spin and spin crashing into one another until one of them would turn over or get pushed out of the arena. I’m sure some of us also were screaming out the crush gear names like “Go, Garuda Eagle!” before releasing the toy.

    4. Zoids

    Zoids: Chaotic Century, Fuzors and Genesis. These were the Zoids that we had in our childhood and receiving a Zoids model kit was one of our happiest moments. Zoids were more for displaying than playing, not to mention this toy was on the expensive side, but we had our friends come to our houses and were showing then what zoids we had. As kids, most of us would have to ask for help of someone older in assembling our dear Zoids. Remember Liger Zero? Shield Liger?

    5. Gundam

    More geared towards the older kids, Gundam model kits like Zoids were ones of the coolest toys back then and still are now! Having a similar concept with Zoids, Gundams are also more of a display figure. Some of us never understood what the anime was really about except for the war but we did know that Gundams were cool. Most of our gundams then were either from the Gundam Wing or Gundam Seed series and we had to really do all it would take if we wanted to assemble a model on our own.

    6. Digivice

    Along with the famous Digimon series came our very own Digivices. From the Adventure, Tamers and Frontier series, each Digivice was better than another and we would place these toys in the straps of our pants or neck straps and would have a real digital pet. We all started with a baby Digimon and the goal was to train, grow, take care of it and battle other kids with Digivices. The Tamers Digivice also had a card slasher which then, also required us to buy digimon cards. I once had these and to me the Frontier Digivice was the best. Which one did you have?

    7. Battle B-Daman

    Battle B-Daman back then were Gundam-like toys that could shoot marbles. B-Damans were ones of the toys that you could buy parts for to add on your toy, like additional marble storage or nozzles and body parts. Customizable toys were popular but required some extra money. The Anime Battle B-Daman was released in 2005 and I think this was the last toy for some of us leaving the elementary grade.

    8. Tamiya

    I think Tamiya was probably every kid’s first toy from this list, not to mention it is the oldest too. Tamiya was the first of the racing toys we had and I think it was also the first popular motor toy before Crush Gear. This toy was famous for being used in “tournaments”.

    9. Pokemon Trading Cards

    Along with the long-running Pokemon series their own trading card game came out. Pokemon Trading Cards were sold in Japan on the same year the first game was released. Probably any kid back then yearned to become a Pokemon Master. We had Pokemon decks and would buy booster packs to have stronger cards. We traded cards with our friends, would battle them and toss the coin to see if the cards will work! Have some of you ever made the mistake of giving away energy cards thinking it’s of no purpose anyway?

    Back then we used our “okozukai” or pocket money to buy the toys we wanted or if they were too expensive, we would make deals with our parents to buy it for us if we do good in school. You were probably one of the cool kids then if you owned any of these toys. I was actually smiling while writing this article thinking of how cool our childhood was and how thankful I am for Japan that made the things we watched into reality.

    The kids who owned these toys back then now are probably about 16-25, and looking back at it, I regret that I wasn’t able to keep at least one of them! If you, on the other hand, do have one left, then you’re lucky to have some good childhood memory to keep! It’s a great thing to reminisce our childhood even for a little while to get rid of our daily stresses. Have you ever had one of the toys from the list above? Have these toys made it to your country? Mention them in the comments and let’s see what you had!

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