Introduction to 1/144 trading toys world 

Part 1

by Martin Kaye and Roberto Masukawa



- “Trading Toys”," Gashapon” , or as they are often described  “Capsule Toys” .  They are easily found products in Vending Machines and have the characteristc  to came in “blind packaged”  boxes this is important to stimulate the demand and collectability of these items where repeat purchases are desired by the manufacturer to stimulate trading amongst children ( and adults!).  For the European market they have a similarity with Kinder Eggs, but the products of these new trading toys are much better and well made, they are pre-painted, pre-built and require a minimum of assembly.  In certain brands they came with accessories like decals, stands and electric engines!!  And then there are a smaller limited percentage of kits or items with “special”  colour  paint schemes and even  one or more limited edition aircraft.  These are often also known as “chase” items. 

This structure as I am sure you are aware allows for the sale of these items to be stimulated in a number of ways a) The basic collection of all colour variations, b) where extra decals are supplied the standard paint types can be varied through use of different airframe identifiers or theatre markings, c) specials and chase items are obvious the items all collectors will be seeking by swapping, trading or buying at premium. The Projekt Flieger Series for exemple was also unique in that it came with highly sought after “mini kits” (Also in 1/144) such as 20mm Vierlinks AA  guns, 37mm AA Guns, sdkfz222 Armoured Cars etc.

In recent times it has been noted that as well as interesting and collectable in their own right, these items can fill interesting gaps in the Kit market, due to their inexpensive cost they are ideal for remodelling and or repainting, indeed some people even collect them in volume to use for the act or “war gaming”.  And they bring some itens never released in traditional plastic kits market. 

As I have been asked to write this in the context of aviation modelling, I will now concentrate on those companies and ranges that have made a significant contribution to the provision of aircraft based Gashapon.

The main players in the aircraft market are Bandai, Takara, F-Toys (who seem to have an affiliation with Platz!), Café Reo, Dragon (Doyusha) and Furuta,  as did POPY (a Bandai Company) but whose series are now in demise. 

One of the first Series on the Market was Bandai who produced the “Wing Club” Series, this was a series of 1/144 WWII scale models from a number of countries and theatres of war, although this initial series had some quality and build issues it has gone from strength to strength and it's more recent series have excellent build quality. 

Bandai also released a hugely popular series of products under the POPY brand, this is the famous “Project Flieger” series.  “Project Flieger” was again a 1/144 scale series of “Luft’46” style German prototype and speculative “paper planes”, it ran for two series before being cut short due to its main designer moving on.  This was a sad day as many regard these series as the finest and most interesting and one that certainly could have had another couple of series without running out of steam. 

Dragon is more famous for their 1/14 4 Armour also released an early series of 1/144 Ju-87 Stukas, which was a fairly limited, but very interesting series of  six aircraft plus one special, and more recently has produced F-14 and F-15 series for the JSDF.

In the 1/144 scale Takara have  produced a number of themed ranged such as “Famous Aircraft of the World : Wings of the Luftwaffe” – “Famous Aircraft of the World” is a tie-in with a popular series of Aviation books, it is interesting to note that Takara regularly tie in their series with other commercial partners be it publishing deals or more frequently big Japanese blockbuster style cinema releases!  The painting on Wings of the Luftwaffe” has reach unreal levels of detail, down to the level that recent releases even have slogans painted on the bombs slung under the Bf-109s!  These FAOW/WOTL Series have been criticised by some for being to reliant on the Bf-109 & Fw-109! The upside is Takara’s ranges often have a large range of aircraft in the series, and have included some more interesting items such as V2,A4 and A9 variant missiles.

Takara also seem to have strong links with Hasegawa who appear to figure strongly in the design of these items.

Takara have also been the key player in the 1/144 and 1/700  Aircraft Series (they also produce a huge range of 1/700 Naval series, including some cross over Soviet ‘Ekranoplan’ items) producing a number of themed ranges, the 1/700 series provided a range of larger military aircraft such as the C-5, C-17, KC135, Airships, B1 & B2 and some WWII Items. 

F-Toys have broke free of the two main suppliers and have generally been more innovative in producing aircraft not covered in the ranges of the other manufacturers, so no endless stream of 109s and 190s here, but they have specialised in “twin engine” planes, such as Hs-129, He-219, Mosquito and P-38 etc.  They also produced a very nice range of Schneider Trophy Sea plane racers!  F-toys also specialise in producing Helicopters and have produced a wide range from Westland, Sea Kings to KA-52 Hokum’s  to V-22 Ospreys.  They have a series called Acroteam with some acrobatic teams of the world as Thunderbirds, Flecche tricolori, Red Arrows...

Ftoys also appear to be linked with Platz as they will often produce jointly branded product or complementary “specials”. 

Café Reo have been producing modern jet aircraft in their J-planes series and Area 88, items like the A-10, Buccaneer, F-8 Crusader  and also a series called “Big Birds”,  which have not been covered by the other producers these include items such as B-24 and G4 M Betty, now they are close to releasing the Big Birds 2 series with He-111,G3N Nell and P-61 Black Widow.

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If anyone would like further information on 1/144 or 1/700 Gashapon aircraft, or an article discussing the representation of armour in 1/144 Gashapon, please let me know.

Here's a link to my blog where you will get more info about these 1/144 tiems

And make a visit to 

Martin and Roberto

Photos and text © by Martin Kaye and Roberto Masukawa