Resin Heroes

The art of buying blind box toys



It was about 10 years ago at a comic book convention that I first discovered what’s known in Japan as “Gashapon.” Gashapon, or better known here as “blind box toys,” is a type of toy where while you know the line you’re buying but you don’t know exactly what toy you’re going to get. You’re buying them “blind.” It’s like how baseball cards are sold. Packs of cards are sold sealed so you’re not sure what exact cards you’ll end up getting in a pack. And like baseball cards some blind box toys are rarer than others and hence more valuable.

RoboCop Gashapon

RoboCop Gashapon

Until recently, all blind box toys were imported here from overseas. From these imports I’ve bought toys from Akira, Aliens, Star Trek and RoboCop to name a very few. Most everything I’ve ever bought from the imports are very detailed, have accurate likenesses and were all VERY expensive. I’ve paid $25 for a small 2x3x5 inch box for Gashapon. They can command these prices because of how rare they are here in the US and how hard they are to find locally.

You can find Japanese Gashapon toys on eBay, some still in the package and others opened so you know what you’re going to get – but where’s the fun in knowing what you’re going to get?

Sci Fi Mystery Minis

Sci Fi Mystery Minis

Over the last few years the idea of selling toys in the blind has been embraced by US toy companies and American versions of these toys have been turning up at toys shops and big box sellers too. There are blind box Legos, Walking Dead, Nightmare Before Christmas and superhero toys too. And since these aren’t imported from dealers to dealers prices on them are usually very reasonable. It seems like the going rate on US blind box toys is anywhere between $3 and $10.

It seems like some blind box toys are available at some retailers and other ones at other retailers. There’s not much consistency between what you’ll find at a (say) Target at one end of town and Target at another end. It can be frustrating at times to walk into a store expecting that they’re going to carry blind box Legos only to find out that they’re all out of the ones you’re looking for or all they have are ones from an old line.

Last fall over the course of a few weeks I bought about ten “Funko Sci Fi Mystery Minis.” Figures in this line include everyone from ET to Spock to the Rocketeer. Not including any doubles I got about six figures out of this set. The reason I got hooked on these was because they were easily available at a store very close to me.

Aliens Gashapon

Aliens Gashapon

For the most part I’ve been happy with the blind box toys I’ve bought over the year, but not always. Sometimes I feel like the value just isn’t there. I recently paid $4 for a tiny Walking Dead blind box toy that seemed to be worth about 25¢.

Why do I like blind box toys so much? I’ve always liked small toys, toys that don’t require a lot of time or effort to assemble and toys outside of normal toy generas. There aren’t too many figures of Judge Dredd or Mal from Firefly, but there are “Mystery Mini” figures of those two characters and I like that.

I also like the “what if” factor for the toys too — and this is why I don’t gamble. I like the idea that I could open a blind box figure from the 1986 movie Aliens and land on a rare Ripley in powerloader figure that’s worth about $50 is exciting. It can be thrilling to buy something for a few bucks and until you open the box it could be worth considerably more.

For me, though, after buying figures in just about any line of toys the feeling that I “need” to own a certain character from the line usually passes and I don’t need to buy anymore after a while. While there’s a certainty in buying something where you know what you’re going to get there’s little excitement. And since I’ve never been a collector that’s been obsessed about owning a complete collection of anything I’m usually happy with just getting anything I think is “cool.”