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Everyone can do with some AWESOME POKEMON SWAG!
When Pokemon first burst onto the scene in the 90's, everyone hailed it as a fad. Sure, kids loved the toys and there were plenty of toys to feed the franchise, but everyone assumed that it would be short lived.
They were wrong.
And thankfully so! Like most games that come from Japan, Pokemon has been widely used on all manner of stuff, from school supplies to high-end electronics. Japan is very good at creating all manner of merchandise to support beloved series, and Pokemon is no different. Besides, it helps when America is eager to cash in on the amount of money that can be made from slapping Pikachu (or any of the other iconic characters from the game series) onto something and then making bucou bucks!
Stuck in traffic? Just use "Thunderbolt" and clear the freeway instantly!
But Pika-cars aside, I wanted to talk tonight about some of the awesome stuff you can get to support your favorite franchise, because hey, Poke-fans need to show their Poke-love! (Ok, ok, I'll stop it with the Poke-puns before you guys beat me over the head with a Master Ball).
My newest collectable...
The Japanese love their cell phone charms, and what could be better than a strap with a character attached? What can I say, I love how cute Minun is, and when I saw this strap on Ebay, I couldn't resist. Not only was my phone in dire need of a better phone strap (the one I had was made out of this funky material that unraveled really easily), but I love the cute little screen printed characters on the strap itself, and the little figurine is an added bonus. Of course, as this is a somewhat rare item, it was a bit expensive, but spending 15 dollars total wasn't too painful (and I wanted to give myself a little something special since I recently got a great yearly review/promotion/raise thingie). It looks great on my phone and I can honestly say that I really am glad that I bought it.
Which brings me to my second point, how Pokemon Merchandise makes you FEEL.
See? She feels the exact same way I do about Charmander!
Of course, I am biased because I love cute stuff, but there's just something about Pokemon that inspires that cute and cuddly feeling. Of course, beyond that, these are cute and cuddly creatures that can KICK YOUR BUTT (while looking cute-my mind is blown!). Of course, this does not mean that the cute-and-fuzzy feeling is the reason why people make Pokemon toys and other consumable items ("Pokemon gum? SURE! Let's just put Pokemon stock photos on the side and jack up the price 100%! Tell 'em it tastes just like Pokemon!"), but on the end of the person who buys these items, I would have to say that the happy factor is one of the driving reasons behind seeking out super adorable Pokemon merchandise.
Of course, I like function along with style...that's just how I roll.
I actually owned the Plusle Stylus shown above (although after awhile, it got kinda beat up...) It was functional as a stylus, but it was also a great accessory for my DS. I played many a Pokemon Trozei level just with the little stylus Plusle cheering me on! Sadly, you can't find these items very often anymore (although if you do see these items for sale, PLEASE send me a link, lol). But this is what I'm really talking about when I say that the Japanese tend to know how to market all sorts of useful merchandise for a series. They come up with a lot of VERY cool stuff, and most of it is just sitting around in coin-operated Gashapon machines (ie: those things you put quarters in at the grocery store to get some plastic thing only cooler looking and with cooler toy prizes).
Just in case you haven't figured out that I like Minun a lot....
Beyond the "toy stuff" you get to the somewhat more expensive realm of cosplay and character-wear. For example, hoodies and hats made of favorite Pokemon characters are popular items to wear to conventions or Pokemon events as well as just loafing around at home or walking around (if you're brave) in public on a regular day. Now I'm pretty adventurous, so I enjoy wearing ear hats already (I have at least 20 hats, most of which have ears of some sort, and plenty of which have faces/animal themes). While many of these sweatshirts are quite expensive (sometimes upwards of 80 bucks, as most are made by hand custom for the buyer), hats are more or less affordable, clocking in around 20-50 bucks depending on how complicated and unique they are.
And yes, I would probably wear this.
You can laugh all you want, but especially as a female in this society, my ability to wear cute/weird looking things is somewhat less frowned upon than most guys, and hey, I usually wear them for functionality as well-I ride my bicycle to work every day, and it can get pretty chilly in the mornings during the fall and winter. Of course, this also means that by the time I get to work, the hat has done its job and I'm desperately trying to get it off because I'm boiling to death, but that's ok anyway-no one wants to be greeted at the front desk of a government agency by a person with a Pokemon hat.
"OH SHIIIIIIII-----THEY TOOK OVER THE GOVERNMENT WITH PIKACHU.....it was SUPER EFFECTIVE!"
But even though everyone seems to be against consumerism (and I'm only really against the bit that involves "mindless" consuming), I think that there is a lot to say for being proud of your interests and wanting to show off a bit of paraphernalia that shows you're part of the group. From Pokemon to Star Trek to the Green Bay Packers to whatever car is popular in NASCAR right now-everyone wants to show their support and interest in what makes them feel like they're part of something. And Pokemon really does unite people of all different demographics and ages, from young kids just starting out with gaming to their adult family members and parents who grew up with the originals. From Japan to the US and in many spots in between throughout the globe, the name of Pikachu is a household word, recognized in a way that transcends cultures. That's some pretty powerful stuff for a series that is basically about electric mice and dinosaurs with fire tails!
This was the cake that EVERY cool 5th grader had....
There is always a new horizon, a new thing to slap the Pokemon name on and drive up hype for the fans. But swag does something beyond just line the pockets of large corporations. It also works as an identifier as to what your friends are into, and to how well you will be received for pointing out your tastes. I know which of my friends are "ok" to talk about geeky stuff with and which friends will give me that look like, "what, you mean you would rather go to the toy store and check out the new shipment of Pokemon stuff than get a mani/pedi? ARE YOU CRAZY?!" Just like the person who knows that they might get made fun of for liking certain stuff or simply just not be understood at all, so does the love of Pokemon generally tend to transcend that boundary. Even the girly girl friends that I have still know what Pokemon *IS* and are familiar with the game series. Even though I wish I could convert them all to the "dark side" and get them into gaming, I know that everyone has their limits and some people just don't WANT to know. They're the Scullys of the gaming world. Skeptical as hell and twice as dismissive. But you gotta love your friends regardless, and it doesn't really make me all that sad anyway, seeing that I have all of you good readers who share my passion for gaming! :)
Must. Resist. Urge. To. Want. Limited. Edition. Pokemon. DS-Lite.......*stare*
Lastly, the most interesting part of Pokemon swag is the "limited edition" factor. You might not know this, but in Japan, they're REALLY into the whole "there are only a couple of these made so it's totally rare!" thing. A lot of the time, they'll create "rare" editions of stuff or items that only a select few are made (even if they technically COULD mass produce it), just to drive up the price and the desirability of the object.
As seen above, the Pikachu DS-Lite is adorable. And while I do agree that when they did those "special editions" with Mario/Legend of Zelda DS-Lites, they SHOULD have also offered a Pokemon option. Pokemon is one of the core handheld games and is one of the only JRPGs that has reliably done well on handhelds. Of course, while this is obviously amazing, the $499 price tag for this piece of "limited edition" swag is probably not worth it to all but the most hardcore of fans.
*yawn*....That actually looks really...super....snuggly....ZZZZZ.....Hmm?! What?! No, I wasn't sleeping!
It's been a long day, so I should probably turn in for the night.
But before that, let me ask you, the amazing and wonderful reader of my blog, a few questions of interest.
So, what was your first piece of Pokemon Swag?
What is your VERY FAVORITE MOST PRIZED Pokemon item?
Do you ever feel self-conscious about showing your "Poke-Pride"?
And finally, is there a piece of Pokemon Swag that you wish you could get but you're kind of embarrassed about getting?
In other Pokemon Ruby news, my Mudkip just evolved into it's final form and my Ralts is also evolved into her final form! YAY, I am not TOTALLY rusty! :)