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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

First Japan toy awards handed out

Staff writer

The Japan Toy Association presented its first annual awards Tuesday, honoring five products including Bandai Co.'s popular bubble wrap toy named Mugen Putiputi.

News photo
All bubbles: Shimpei Takahashi of Bandai Co.'s Communication Toy Team holds up a plaque and two winning toys, a Mugen Putiputi and Mugen Edamame, at the Japan Toy Association's first awards ceremony Tuesday. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

Bandai's Mugen ni Dekiru ("able to do infinitely") series received the Trendy Toy award for uniqueness and wide acceptance.

Since its debut in fall 2007, the company has sold more than 2.3 million Mugen Putiputi key chains, which allow people to pop or snap plastic air bubbles endlessly ("putiputi" is Japanese for "pop pop").

The association divided the awards into five categories: Innovative, Basic, High Target, Trendy and Universal. A total of 365 toys were submitted, with five nominated as finalists for each award.

The awards were created to energize the industry and give toy makers extra incentive to produce better and more attractive products ahead of the upcoming International Tokyo Toy Show, the association said.

"It was really difficult for us to choose the winners, because these toys were very well-made and presented," Toys Co. chief Teruhisa Kitahara, who headed the awards committee, said at the awards ceremony in Tokyo.

Bandai's Eye Clops, a digital 200-power microscope that connects to a TV, won the Innovative award for its simplicity of use and for generating interest in science.

Tomy Company Ltd. won the Basic award for the Byun Byun Circuit, a race track that enhances play with realistic sounds, for promoting toys that encourage the healthy growth of children, the awards committee said.

Another Tomy product — the Micro Slot Car Owner's Basic Set — a compact racing course small enough to be placed on a desk corner, won the High Target award, which goes to the toy that can best entertain wider age groups, including adults.

The Universal award for toys that can be played by children with disabilities went to Sega Toys Co.'s Omisede Okaimono Oshaberi-ippai Anpanman Register, a cash register featuring the "anime" character Anpanman, which speaks.

To be eligible for an award, the toys had to be produced by companies participating in the International Tokyo Toy Show and had to be introduced to the market between October 2007 and September 2008, the association said.

This year's International Tokyo Toy Show begins Thursday at Tokyo Big Site in the Ariake district and runs through Sunday. Thursday and Friday will be reserved for corporate visitors, while Saturday and Sunday will be for the general public.

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The Japan Times

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