All About Japan

The 5 Best Japanese Toys of All Time

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With names that everyone around the globe has heard of, Japan has made some of the best-known toys in history! From Pokémon and Tamagotchi to classic Transformers, just who will win that ultimate prize of Japan’s greatest toy? Find out in our Top 5 list of Japan's best toys of all time!

5. Power Rangers (1993)

First up on our list are those Mighty Morphin Power Rangers! Taking the world by storm in the early '90s with their colorful suits and helmets, martial arts, and of course their cool Zord robot vehicles, what more could a kid ask for in a toy? The series was an adaptation of 1992's Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger series, co-produced by film company Toei and toy giant Bandai, leading to a plethora of action figures and combining robots to play with.

4. Tamagotchi (1996)

Created by Akihiro Yokoi, Bandai's Tamagochi pocket computer game hit Japanese stores in November 1996, just in time for Christmas. Almost immediately, it set off to worldwide fame, selling in excess of 80 million units to date.

The concept behind the game was basically to hatch an egg and rear it to adulthood by tending to four kinds of meters: the Hunger meter, Happy meter, Bracelet meter and Discipline meter, which would allow your pet to grow up into a happy, healthy adult. But if your parenting ability wasn't so good, your pet could end up dead!

3. Pokémon (1996)

Created by game designer Satoshi Taijiri, Pokémon started off life in Japan as a game on Nintendo's Game Boy in 1996. It was released in the U.S. two years later before ultimately going on to dominate the world!

Starting out as a role-playing game, Taijiri based the idea on a popular pastime that's still popular among kids in Japan today: collecting bugs! In addition to being the second-best-selling video game franchise of all time (Mario comes in first), Pokémon ultimately went on to super-stardom with card games, plushies and dozens of dedicated video games and crossovers. Ultimately, the Game Boy was just the first phase of Pokémon's evolution!

2. Tranformers (1984)

Debuting in 1984, the Transformers are a classic toy made through a U.S.-Japanese collaboration between toy companies Hasbro and Takara Tomy. Before Optimus Prime and Megatron were conceived, however, Takara's main range of toys consisted of a cyborg toy line known as Microman (1974) and a transforming robots line known as Diaclone (1980), and it was a selection of these toys that would ultimately be rebranded as the first-generation Transformers that we know and love today. Thanks in part to Michael Bay's series of movie reboots starting in 2007, Transformer toys are as popular as ever even today!

1. Game Boy (1989)

And if you didn't guess already, Japan's greatest all-time toy is the legendary Nintendo Game Boy! First released in Japan in 1989, it was a revolution to the electronic gaming world. With removable game cartridges and coming in a (more-or-less) pocketable size, it revolutionized the gaming experience in a way that wasn't matched until the advent of the smartphone. Watch the video above and see where it all began—in all its yellow-green glory!