Go to contents

Japanese Adults Fall for Toys

Posted March. 25, 2008 04:56,   


Do people want to go back to their childhood as they get older? In Japan, many adults buy children’s toys. Childless couples and unmarried people buy and raise pet-like robots, and more and more men in their 20s to 40s are into indoor radio-controlled airplanes.

Japan`s largest toy company Bandai, famous for digital pet "Tamagotchi," released its new stuffed doll (3,990 yen) in September last year. Surprisingly half of its customers are women in their 50s or older. It is possible to talk to the doll through infrared light. When touched or asked, seven built-in sensors make it respond to or sing for its owner. The doll’s personality changes according to how it is touched. So women who finished rearing children take care of their doll just like their children or grandchildren.

The Japanese toy maker even released a kindergarten product for dolls in its directly-managed shop in Taito-ku, Tokyo. Although customers should buy a school uniform (3,850 yen) to get an application form, the number of applicants reached around 8,500. One woman in her 60s, who visits this shop every week, said, “I like to come here every week, as this reminds me of the days when I took care of my children.”

More than 120,000 units of Neruru and Yumeru, talking dolls developed by Takara Tomy (8,925 yen each), have been sold. More than 80 percent of the customers are women in their 50s and older.

Pet robots are very popular, too. More than 1.08 million Dream Pet series of toys, which consists of a cat, an owl, a parrot and a kitten, have been shipped. If you pat a chick, a robot pet released in February, on the head, it makes a cute sound and flaps its wings. People who can’t raise a pet purchases these robots.

The most popular toy for men in their 20s to 50s is an indoor radio-controlled airplane. It was a hobby for some rich people in the past, but it has been popularized as technology development made the price of motors and cells cheaper and smaller. More than 200,000 units of Heli-Q, a radio-controlled toy helicopter released by Takara Tomy in November 2007, were sold until last month thanks to its cheap price ranging around 3,000 yen and advanced functions.

According to the Japan Toy Association, toy sales excluding TV games had dropped to 640 billion yen in 2006 from 722 billion yen in 2003 due to the decreasing number of children aged from three to 15.

However, as more middle-aged people began to buy these toys, toy makers joyfully began to develop new products for their new customers.

Japanese media analyze that these cheap, high-quality toys stimulate lonely and bored adults’ wish to retrieve their childish innocence, and the Showa phenomenon missing the 1950s and 60s is related to the current revival boom in Japan.