Did you know? [History of Capsule Toys] Origin of Capsule Toys is not Japan.

Where is the origin of Capsule Toy? When did the first Capsule Toy start in Japan?

Let's find this out!


The origin of Capsule Toy was United States

Did you know that GACHA, mostly known as Capsule Toy, came from the United States? The roots of Japanese Capsule Toys are in America-made vending machines.These vending machines were called a "silent salesman".

In the United States, first vending machines appeared in the 1880s. The main products of the vending machine were candies. Besides that, mint, pencils, perfumes, and razors were common in the early times.

As you can see in the photo above, American vending machines were generally made of wood or metal and were installed on the platform of the train station. It was also installed on the platform of NY station. And vending machines became known as "silent salesmen". The reason why everyone called so is that this machine was working 24 hours a day without any break. Other than platform of the station, machines were paced in electronics stores, general merchandise shops, restaurants, etc. Don't you think this name is quite nice?

By the way, it seems that vending machines in the early 1900s were gorgeous and complicated. As the photo above shows, this metal machine will vend you the goods by pulling the lever. Machines made by ADAMS mostly sold gums, but it seems that there were a lot of failures due to the complicated mechanism.


The history of vending machines leads to the Capsule Toys!

You can say that the beginning of vending machines is exactly the beginning of Capsule Toys. The following is the history of Capsule Toys that started in the United States.

  • 1907 : Thomas Adams' gum ball machine first appeared in the United States
  • 1930s : Capsule Toy vending machine booms in America
  • 1950s : Begins to spread in Europe
  • End of the war~around 1960 : Japan mainly manufactures toys for Capsule Toy
  • Around 1962 : Taiwan and Hong Kong mainly manufactured capsule toy manufacturing.


The origin of Japanese Capsule Toy is Mr. Hardman of Penny King

In the early 1960s, Mr. Hardman, the president of Penny King Co., Ltd. in the United States, introduced the Capsule Toy to Mr. Tetsuo Shigeta, the president of Pan American Trading Company, which is the origin of the Capsule Toy.

Mr. LO Hardman definitely is the key man in considering the origin of Japanese Capsule Toy. What kind of person was Mr. Hardman? See the article below.


LO Hardman, of Pittsburgh, Pa., are manufacturers and operators, and have been associated with the industry for six years. They have three employes, and feature bulk vendors. Mr. Hardman started in the business on a very small scale, and by reinvesting the profits, was able to build up a very nice business. He has featured compartment venders, starting with the Four-In-One Rotary vender that was manufactured by Earl H. Lohmuller, of Riverside, Illinois. This machine is now being manufactured by another company. Penny King now manufactures two and three compartment machines, operating many themselves. They operate about 900 bulk venders in all
(International Arcade Museum)

If Mr. Hardman had not introduced Mr. Shigeta the Capsule Toy, the scenery now of Capsule Toy in Japan today would have never happened.

After that, in 1963, Japan imported OAK's BIG BOY machine. All the contents were toys made in Hong Kong. After that, the market test was conducted in 1964.


February 17 is "Capsule Toy Day". The day the Capsule Toy vending machine was first launched in Japan.

The history of Japanese Capsule Toy began in 1965.

February 17, 1965 Tetsuo Shigeta establishes Penny Shokai at the recommendation of Mr. Hardman.

Stanley Charlet, who came to Japan as a toy buyer in 1965, asked Mr. Hisateru Hirose (later became president), "Would you like to spread capsule toy vending machines to Japan?" Then, they jointly established Value Merchandising. First machine was installed in Asakusa area. 1966 "Asahi Graph" magazine (currently suspended) featured about Capsule Toy.

Reading Billboard magazine at that time in the United States, it seems that Mr. Hardman was involved in the origin of the Capsule Toy vending machine gimmick that you turn the handle which is called "bulk bending". The fist product in the machine was a charm. It seems that it was produced in Japan and sold in the United States.

What's interesting here is that there was a Capsule Toy boom in America in the 1930s! Capsule toys of charms of this era are now very valuable.

America is the forerunner of the capsule toy boom that's happening now in Japan.

Don't miss the capsule toy movement that spreads from Japan to the world!

Blind boxCapsule toyHistory

1 comment



Lol & now funko pop pretty much replaced that as far as those type of collectables go

Leave a comment