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Toy industry rides video game megahit ‘Yokai Watch’ to record sales

by

Staff Writer

Thanks to items related to megahit video game “Yokai Watch,” the domestic toy market saw the best sales in a decade in fiscal 2014, the Japan Toy Association said Tuesday.

The annual size of the Japanese toy market reached ¥736.7 billion in fiscal 2014 that ended in March, up 9 percent from the previous year, the association said in a news conference ahead of this year’s International Tokyo Toy Show, the largest of its kind. The show will open Thursday and run through Sunday at Tokyo Big Sight.

“The main contributing factor was ‘Yokai Watch,’ which became a social phenomenon. Its toys sold explosively as core products,” said Fumiaki Ibuki, a trade show committee member with the association.

“Yokai Watch” is a popular video game made by Fukuoka-based Level-5 Inc. that debuted in 2013 on the Nintendo 3DS. A related animated series, films and a manga have also proven extraordinarily popular with children.

“Yokai Watch” toys, especially toy watches and medals that appear in the anime, have become hit products. The association said the sales of character toys for boys grew by 78.6 percent mainly due to its popularity.

Other than “Yokai Watch,” it said toys related to Disney’s global film phenomenon “Frozen” also pushed up growth in the domestic market.

In addition, the market saw higher sales in new types of low-tech toys.

Kinetic Sand, a type of sand designed for indoor use that sticks to itself but not to most other materials or surfaces and does not dry out, has sold well.

The association also announced the next top toy trends expected to draw visitors’ attention at latest show, including products that are low-tech, wearable, that fly, that are interactive or that communicate.