Our love for all things Maywa Denki is no secret. We recently went wild about Mr Knocky, their unique drum toy, and also think their retro Otona no Kagaku Maywa Denki Automa-te Auto Writer Hand is cool as hell.
If you’re a fan of original gadgets, especially musical ones, then Maywa Denki are the folk for you.
This is a reinterpretation of the theremin (as we know, a popular instrument in Japan) but it reinvents the musical instrument in terms of look, sound and action.
For a start, it looks like a large musical note (or tadpole) with a face. You use the stem to “play” the notes and then control the “mouth” to adjust the sound that is produced.
The Otamatone Digital can play chords and has a back switch to change octaves. As before, you play the notes along the stem (they even provide you with “stickers” so you can see what you are playing) and vary the sound through the mouth, though now there are improved “modes” so you can create great sounds like a kick drum, snare, bell or cymbal.
Here’s Maywa Denki honcho Novumichi Tosa giving a demonstration.
You can play chords (even “power chords”) and “drums” on this tadpole. A mini theremin rock concert? You bet!
Here are several Otamatone Digital instruments playing “The Frog Song”.
The Otamatone Digital is available in black or white versions.
You can get the Otamatone Digital from Japan Trend Shop.
JapanTrendShop is having a sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, offering 10% off on all items in its online catalog.
Just use the code blackfriday2014 or cybermonday2014 to claim a discount on your purchases.
So now there is no excuse for not getting yourself that latest gadget from Japan.
How about this one? The King Jim i-glaco Touchscreen Cleaner is a special pen-style cleaning agent that dispenses a protective coating over your phone or tablet to stop dirt accumulating.
Another way to keep your life hygienic is with this Sharp Plasmacluster Ceiling-Mounted Ion Generator unit, which releases ions into the air to kill bacteria lingering in your bathroom.
Our favs are still ultimately the tech stuff, though, such as the Rolto iPhone Screen Printer by King Jim. So useful for recipes and other short lists!
And this is bound to be a hit with the younger members of the family over the holidays. The Omnibot Hello! MiP is a nifty two-wheeled robot from Takara Tomy dances and carries things for you.
Check out more of the latest arrivals at JapanTrendShop.
The tractor sees arguably Japan’s most popular mascot, the bear from Kumamoto Prefecture, driving a tractor while he goes about farming his region’s favorite offerings — water melons and tomatoes.
Stickers of Kumamon’s fruit crops decorate the chassis. The tractor also has two sizes of wheels so with some skill you can make Kumamon do wheelies. That’s something you don’t see every day.
We’ve seen some novel Japanese RC toys over the years, from cockroaches to cleaning mops and more, but Kumamon on a large tractor is certainly a new advance for the medium.
The R/C Tractor Kumamon is available in the full assembled and painted version with the controller on pre-order from JapanTrendShop.
Our previous favorite Kumamon toy had been the Soccer Robot Kumamon.
As the name suggests, it is a mini robot that can play football using an infrared controller. The robot is surprisingly agile and can move in eight different way.
Nanoblock, Japan’s homegrown answer to Lego, never stops evolving.
Just when you thought the micro building blocks had been used to transform every famous monument or building around the world, along comes a completely new direction for the Kawada series to explore.
Nanoblock has now started making railway sets and of course, you can customize the railways and scenery around the tracks with other Nanoblocks.
The Nanoblock nanoGauge Shinkansen Series E5 Hayabusa Electric Train is the first in this new nanoGauge series for Kawada and we shouldn’t be surprised that the makers opted for Japan’s most famous train to start things off.
Now you can build your own bullet train and tracks with the set, and then watch it zip around the loop.
It goes without saying that the best thing here is how you can also build up a Nanoblock city around the tracks. After all, landscaping is so important when it comes to railway modeling cultre. You could add all kinds of incongruous fantasy elements — like Tokyo Tower, Himeji Castle, a WW2 battleship, or something completely original.
Here is a video of someone making the Nanoblock bullet train model set.
Japan’s 100 yen shops are treasure troves. Enter these Aladdin’s Caves and you can find almost anything you need for your kitchen or home, plus all kinds of surprising items you didn’t even know existed, let alone could be purchased for a dollar.
Despite the price (these days actually ¥108 due to sales tax hike), the quality is usually pretty good (in proportion), though you’d best not buy batteries and so on if you want them to last more than a couple of weeks.
And some creative people have proved that with some skill, you can make even a cheap 100-yen-shop toy look amazing.
He took some plastic toys from a 100 yen store and painted them so they look incredibly real. When he shared them online, he got a massive response — nearly 10,000 retweets at the time of writing.
Take a look. This is a plastic toy gun.
And now here’s the “real” thing.
Likewise a plastic trumpet…
…becomes a genuine-looking musical instrument.
Okay, ultimately this is just the visuals. A bit of paint doesn’t mean you can start zapping alien invaders with your ray gun or blowing out great tunes, but it does prove that creativity and skill can do wonders with any materials.
Winter is coming, as a certain HBO series constantly reminds us. But in Japan as we can stuck into the chill of the winter, there is a bright spark part of the way through — New Year. Not only does this mean plenty of family time and traditional food, it also means lots of end-of-year parties with coworkers.
These are known as bounenkai in Japan — “forget-the-year gatherings” — and invariably involve lots of drinking and more often than not, games. And while office workers letting their hair down at such late December parties are probably not the official main target for this product, we reckon they will get some of the highest levels of satisfaction from it.
Forget the polygraph. Takara Tomy has now come up with a great gizmo for having some fun at work parties. It’s a wearable lie detector toy!
The Kokoro Scanner Lie Detector Headset will be released later this month and we are sure it will prove a big hit at parties with colleagues, students and family members.
What better a way to liven up a gathering than by testing if someone is lying or telling the truth?
How does it work? Well, the genius lies in how simple it is. No complicated wires or graphs. Just slip the headset on and answer whatever questions you are asked.
Assuming you are not a consummate actor able to control your body to perfection, the Kokoro Scanner measures fluctuations in your pulse. The logic here is that if you are telling the truth, your pulse will remain steady. If you are lying, you will be nervous and your heartbeat will increase.
The light on the top of the headset will flash green if you are telling the truth. If you get a yellow it means the headset is suspicious of your answer but not certain. If there’s a red light, then you’ve been branded a liar!
Okay, we’ve no idea if this works for real but there’s only one way to find out.
Chogokin Tower of the Sun Robot: Taro Okamoto’s Taiyo no To recreated as transforming mechanical action figureWritten by: Japan Trends on October 1, 2014 at 12:23 pm | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments
The Tower of the Sun is one of the great icons of postwar Japan and the Showa era. The huge sculpture is a kind of totem pole that was created by artist Taro Okamoto as one of the signature attractions at the 1970 Osaka World Expo.
After the Expo closed, the Tower of the Sun (Taiyo no To) was one of the few structures that was preserved at the park in Senri, north Osaka.
The park is now mostly empty — though we highly recommend the ethnology museum in its grounds — but Okamoto’s massive tower still greets visitors as soon as they enter the gates.
Well, the Taiyo no To has now become a die-cast model in the Tamashii Chogokin alloy series — and one that transforms into an action figure!
A kind of tribute-cum-remake of Okamoto’s vision, the Chogokin Tower of the Sun Robot is only “robotic” in name, though it is certainly mechanical. It has moveable parts, including a chest that opens up and an extendable neck.
Okamoto was a playful artist who believed in art for the masses, so we don’t think he would disapprove of this merchandising of his primitivist sculpture.
This is far from the first time that the Tower of the Sun has been turned into a product but it’s definitely the best we’ve ever seen.
Bandai Tamashii’s Chogokin is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary at the moment and as such has embarked on an ambitious series of releases. This includes the truly remarkable Chogokin Hello Kitty Robot Model, which is Kitty-chan like we’ve never seen her before. It also created a kind of “mutant” of six Fujiko F Fujio characters for the Chogattai SF Robot, which is just so many levels of awesome we don’t know where to begin.
Chogokin also has a series of models for “grown-ups” too, such as this Otona no Chogokin Series 0 Shinkansen Bullet Train Model and Hayabusa Spacecraft Model Kit (based in the JAXA design), for the more serious enthusiast who wants a challenge.
Still, nothing quite beats a Tower of the Sun Transformer-style action figure!
The Chogokin Tower of the Sun Robot is now available from JapanTrendShop.
Their biggest hit was likely the Otamatone Sound Toy, a remake of the theremin that came out a few years ago, though they are involved with new projects the whole time. Led by the irrepressible Novumichi Tosa, the boss puts himself front and center of the marketing. He’s the guy in the video below demonstrating Maywa Denki’s latest product, Mr Knocky. As Tosa shows, Mr Knocky is a surprisingly inventive drum instrument toy.
It doesn’t use batteries, instead relying on what Tosa calls “wire action”. As you shake the “mallet controller”, it makes Mr Knock drum. He has two drums and so there are two controllers. Switch the way you shake them to vary the drumming. This requires real skill to do well. You can hang Mr Knocky around your neck too if you want to walk around town playing his drums.
The second way you can play Mr Knocky is by putting the controllers flat on a surface (they helpfully have sticky pads to make this easier) and fitting them together. This makes them into de facto piano keys and now you can use your fingers to play the drums. Even better, get two Mr Knocky toys and combine the controllers so you have four drumming piano keys, all fitted together to make one mega percussion unit.
Here’s the full demo. Towards the end Tosa gives a showcase of some of the more difficult things you can do with Mr Knocky, such as “crescendo knock”, “paradiddle knock” and “unison knock”.
Here Tosa plays a Otamatone-Mr Knocky duet with himself!
Mr Knocky comes in two colors (white or black) and can even be given some extra character with the mustache accessory that is included.
But if you’re really keen on customizing things, take off Mr Knocky’s drums and replace them with other items like empty drink cans. The angle of Mr Knocky’s drumming arm can also be adjusted depending on the size of the ersatz drum.
Mr Knocky will be released in early October and can be purchased via JapanTrendShop.
Sega have created an interactive sandpit for kids. The Eederu Sunaba (translating literally as “Wow, appears! Sandbox”) uses projectors and special non-sticky sand so that kids can have fun playing god by re-modeling the landscape in any way they fancy. As they make hills, lakes and rivers with the sand, the projection mapping changes in realtime to match the shifting topography.
Sega plans to install the system in arcade game centers in Japan from this autumn, reports Nikkei Technology, and also in playroom facilities at showrooms for cars and houses, to keep the kids occupied while the grown-ups sort out the important purchase.
The system above the sandbox has a senor that measures distance so it can detect the changing height of the sound and generate imagery according to the shapes. If, say, it detects a hole it will create a river or lake image, complete with swimming fish. When the player piles some sand into a mound the projection will make a mountain.
Judging from the videos, the system seems very fast and intuitive, and the colors are great. There are lots of cool gimmicks like the shadows of aircraft flying over the scenery and the seasons change too. It seems to have no trouble interacting with multiple players at once.
It also detects movement. It projects animal characters and when the player touches these, they respond as they move around the landscape. Current examples of the creatures are ladybugs and beetles, though surely the possibilities are nearly endless here. (Future ideas could be tie-ups with Disney, Sanrio or other character-driven franchises.)
There are two modes. “Suna Asobi” (sand play) is for playing around freely in the box while “Dekirukana” (I can do it) mode allows players to draw pictures according to various themes, which are shown on a display for the kids to imitate.
It’s not necessarily the first sand pit of its kind; there have been Kinect sandpits and augmented reality sandboxes before. However, this may well be the first fully commercial example of a system like this.