For those who have ever had the pleasure to visit Japan or who are interested in Japan the presence of vending machines out on the streets could hardly go unnoticed. According to the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association there is 1 vending machine per every 23 people, no wonder you can find them almost everywhere and anywhere in big cities like Tokyo. Machines selling soft drinks, hot drinks, sake, beer, hot food on of course TOYS!
In Japan the vending machines that sell toys are called; Gachapon.
Did you know that the word Gachapon is a sound based word?
Gachapon is a so called onomatopoeic word which means it is phonetically imitating or resembling the sound that it describes. It is a combination of the two Japanese sounds; ¨gacha¨ derived from the sound that the vending machine makes once you hand-crank (turn) the little rotating handle in order to get the gacha capsule out and the ¨pon¨ from the capsule landing in the collecting tray.
The success of the vending machine is a unique combination of elements that might be the reason why it works that well (only) in Japan; it excludes the cost of labor, a vending machine requires less space and produces more revenue per square meter than any retail store, the lack of crime, cash based society, fascination for automation.
Japan’s vending machines tell you a lot about the country’s culture
by Harrison Jacobs (Business Insider)
With the whole Vending machine industry bringing in billions the Gachpon part is responsible for quite a serious chunk of that amount with roughly ¥30 billion (2017). Gacha-gacha or Gachapon is big business in Japan and it is an ongoing success with 150 new toys launching each month! Besides normal toy shops they have floors and even shops which uniquely sell Gachapon resulting in walls full of a wide variety of toy vending machines. These vending machines are responsible for a completely unique subculture of ¨capsuleists¨ and this isn´t something from the last few decades because with the Gachpon born in 1965 they´ve a rich history as well.
Gachapon: Tracing the evolution of Japan’s colorful toy capsules
by Tim Hornyak (Japan Times)
So far the short introduction about the Gachapon Industry in Japan and although you´re probably here to read about an Exclusive Beast Saga figure it is interesting to share the origin of it as well because unlike any of the other Beast Saga figures known this concerning figure was ONLY distributed in Japan via a Vending Machine and this might´ve been the main reason why it has gone unnoticed for many collectors who´ve been focusing on the general releases in 2012-2013. For some Beast fans/collectors it might not be a complete surprise knowing that the Gachapon release resulted in an exclusive figure because in a certain way history repeats itself here as well knowing the Beastformers (Battle Beasts) line in Japan also had a Gachapon release during the late 80´s resulting in some exclusive Beasts.
Beast Saga GachaBooster vol.1
In mid December 2012, 3 months after the release of the first Beast Saga Wave 1 (2012/9/8), the Beast Saga Gachapon became available. A line that´s designed specially for the Gachapon release by Takara Tomy A.R.T.S under the header; Beast Saga GachaBooster vol. 1. This release consisted out of 6 items, which could be pulled from the Gacha machine completely at random obviously, holding 4 figures (Lion, Shark, Panda and Hawk) and 2 special dice sets. With the dices being a universal size they could be used for the figures from the Gachapon release as well as with the Beast Saga figures from the regular releases. So although they were released in a different way they did fit perfectly within the Beast Saga release and promotion. But there are a few remarkable details…
Unlike the original single packed Beast Saga figures that were ¥500 each the Gachapon Beast Saga were priced at only ¥200 which is quite a huge price difference knowing you could get a complete Beast Saga figure from the Gachapon egg as well. But the difference in price had to be made up somewhere so there are a few details that are different in comparison to the normal Beast Saga figures. Because the Gachapon Beast Saga figures are
- Slightly smaller (only a fraction)
- Made out of a different material
- Less pronounced painted details
- Composed out of loose parts
- DON´T have articulation
With this in mind, and the fact that you could also pull ¨only¨ a dice set, the difference in price is more understandable. The missing articulation clearly is a setback for many collectors and also in Japan there were some comments about this but apart from all these details they´re clear Beast Saga figures and well designed. Whereas the Lion, Shark and Panda are almost exact copies of the original releases, just slightly smaller, there was one new and unknown figure that could be obtained from these eggs as well the White Hawk!
A lucky pull?
After inserting the ¥200 into the Gacha machine a couple of hand-cranks (gacha-gacha) and the drop of the egg (pon) the tension rises because what would be inside the egg?! With the Gachapon being a ¨blind-purchase¨ by nature it´s a matter of pure luck to find the figure you are after inside the egg. But if you were lucky you could pull that one rare Gachapon item in this case even a Gachapon Exclusive, the White Hawk.
In some cases some shops in Japan offered complete sets which you could purchase straight from the shop owner for a set price. This would prevent you from having to ¨try your luck¨ over and over again.
Inside the egg you could find a sealed bag that contained either the figure (parts) or a set of dices accompanied by a little pamphlet explaining about the item, the dice game, and showing the other items that were part of the GachaBooster vol. 1 release.
Sadly enough the figures that could be pulled from the Gachapon also didn´t come with an ID card unlike the Beasts from the original release. The only small little ID of them was found on this Pamphlet as well which also only showed the front.
All in all a nice score for ¥200 if you got a figure or where after one of the special dice sets…
The Japanese name that was given to this Gachapon Exclusive bird was ジェネラルホーク (General Hawk) but it was described by collectors as White Bird and White Hawk as well. And the last name is the one that seems to have been adopted by the general crowd the most which is why it is referred to as White Hawk.
White Hawk is obviously part of the Air Tribe and according to the description it´s the former General of the Wind Knights.
On the top right corner you also see the layout of the dice that´s entered the chest of this figure and which could be launched with the dice launcher (exactly the same as the original Beast Saga line) in order to play the dice game.
Composing the Figure
There´s no higher science need to compose the figures because once you´d opened the sealed bag that contained the parts there are only a few loose parts. All of which are quite easy to recognize and it is also quite obvious where to place them.
The White Hawk is composed out of 4 parts (main body, legs, 2 wings) and the dice that should go into its chest.
And once assembled this is how it looks;
Sculpt wise it is really nicely done with the feather details showing and another nice part of the design is the wings being half natural and half robotic. The subtle details that are applied in gold make it pop in a unique way giving a nice contrast to the White base color. Minor remark is that, often with figures with beaks, the paint of the beak can show some wear due to the rubbing of the figure inside the egg or the handling afterwards. As Beast collectors familiar with the vintage Battle Beasts line this is a common issue that´s been known.
Like all Beast Saga figures on the bottom of the feet the makers stamp can be found but in this case it doesn´t show ©TOMY only but it has a little addition; ©TOMY T-Arts referring to the Gachapon Exclusive design.
It is unknown how long exactly the Gachapon Beast Saga, and thus this White Hawk, has been available but with most Gachapon releases changing within 2 or 3 months max it is clear that it can´t have been around that long, probably from Dec. 2012 till early (Feb/Mar) 2013.
For those who might´ve missed this figure during its release you now know it exists and where it came from because until today for some it is still a mysterious figure due to the fact it has not been released in any other way than via the Gachapon making it a truly exclusive figure within the Beast Sage line, a Gachapon Exclusive!
This was the first post (1/22/2019) of the new ¨22 Project¨ dropping a new Post/Page/Update on the Beastformers Blog every 22nd of the Month in 2019. It was one of those subjects that´s been laying on the shelves for way to long. Although the figure was known and obtained straight from the beginning getting the actual eggs in which they´ve been released from the Gachapon in hand was a whole lot tougher so this has been a quest ever since 2013 in order to give a complete story and to show pictures with the original Gachapon egg out here. With the time passing and these showing up less and less obtaining the eggs seemed to become a hopeless mission but in the end the Beastformers Team succeeded and in 2018 (5 years later) two original eggs were obtained and the story could be completed. Although this article was specifically devoted to this Gachapon Exclusive figure the whole Beast Saga GachaBooster vol. 1 will be shared on the Beastformers Blog in time as well.
Hope you enjoyed the read and see you back soon or… on the 22nd of next month!
Enjoy the Beasts!
The Beastformers Team