Talking piggy bank and Japanese Barbie among mix of high-tech and familiar creations at Tokyo Toy Show

Exhibits on display at this year's Tokyo Toy Show include the Licca-chan doll (left) and applauding robots for solo karaoke artists (below left).
Exhibits on display at this year's Tokyo Toy Show include the Licca-chan doll (above).PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
Exhibits on display at this year's Tokyo Toy Show include the Licca-chan doll (left) and applauding robots for solo karaoke artists (below left).
Exhibits on display at this year's Tokyo Toy Show include applauding robots for solo karaoke artists (above).PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

TOKYO • You can bank on this piggy bank to remind you to feed it with coins.

Credited with the name BankNyan, it is one of the hits from the Tokyo Toy Show, which closed yesterday after a four-day run.

The piggy bank has sensors to judge how much money is being saved for a rainy day and - with its Internet connection - can even tell you if it is likely to rain.

The cat-faced machine, the epitome of Japanese "cute", senses when a child enters the room and immediately strikes up a conversation, using one of its 1,400 phrases.

But the piggy bank is a demanding character. Two of its stock phrases are "Give me all your money" and "Now's the time to save".

It can also sense how much is withdrawn, but does not give up its cash without a guilt trip, asking whether the child is absolutely sure he wants to take out the money.

Parents might want to start saving for themselves, though, as such cutting-edge technology does not come cheap. The BankNyan retails at about 10,000 yen (S$122).

About 200 toy manufacturers from around the world exhibited their latest delights at the show, which was estimated to have drawn some 160,000 visitors.

While the show stresses its global nature, many of the exhibits are classically "only in Japan", with more Godzilla and Hello Kitty creations than even the most enthusiastic fan could handle.

Another highlight: an applauding robot for solo karaoke artists.

The singer takes the pint-sized companion with two hands sticking out of its head to the karaoke booth and it claps in time along to the music and enthusiastically applauds when the hit is finished.

Then, there is the Omnibot Soccer Borg, just in time for football lovers - with the World Cup starting in Russia on Thursday - to match skills with their robot proxies based on what they will see on television broadcasts of the matches.

Another high-tech innovation impressing visitors was the "Printoss", for those wanting an instant souvenir of a happy moment.

In the shape of a small van, the Printoss is a mini photo printer.

The user takes a smartphone selfie, places the phone on top of the "van" and, a few seconds later, a small Polaroid-style photo is ejected from the back.

But even as the new gadgets made a play for visitors' affections, a perennial favourite - the Licca-chan doll - also hogged attention.

It is Japan's answer to Barbie and more than 60 million dolls in the Licca-chan series have been sold over the years since the character debuted in 1967.

How adored is Licca-chan? One survey revealed that she is known by 99 per cent of the population, with even grown-up women buying the doll that is fitted with the latest fashionable clothes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2018, with the headline 'Asian Barbie and talking piggy bank at Tokyo Toy Show'. Print Edition | Subscribe