Toys Just Like the Real Thing
A papercraft motorbike. (C)Yamaha Motor Co.,Ltd.
Let's take a look at a few of the toys that allow Japanese children to enjoy the experience of making models that look just like the real thing. The first is Papercraft, a kind of three-dimensional origami that gives you a feel for Japan's precision manufacturing. One of the things you can make is motorbikes. Since the kit is produced by a major Japanese motorcycle manufacturer, the paper models are super-realistic. Download the instructions and data from the Internet, print the parts out on paper, and you're ready to start putting them together. Some parts are left uncolored so that you can make your own original motorcycle.
A beetle made from gelatin.
Gummix is just the thing for dinosaur and insect lovers. It's a new toy that lets you make ultra-realistic replicas of all kinds of creepy creatures using gelatin (gummi candy) and various drinks for coloring. One of the cool things about Gummix is the way you can get exactly the color you want by using different kinds of drinks. If you look closely at a real beetle, you'll notice that although the wings may be brown all over, the exact shade of brown changes slightly from one part of the wings to another. You can get a similar effect by diluting your cola with water. This will give you two basic browns, which you can then mix together in different proportions to reproduce the varying shades.
A scorpion-shaped eraser and crafting tools from the kimokeshi kit. (C)Happinet•FREX
The "Scary Creepy Kimokeshi Insect Eraser" ("Zekkyo Kaiki Bunbogu Kimokeshi" in Japanese) is another toy that lets kids have fun making things. You can make erasers shaped like insects, scorpions, spiders, and other creepy-crawlies. Go wherever your imagination takes you! Make an insect with ten legs or a red praying mantis. Your creation will be unique, found nowhere else in the world!
Gummix and Kimokeshi both come with all the tweezers, beakers, and other tools you need to feel like a real craftsperson. If you want to know how true-to-life your creation is, show it to somebody else. Or better still, put it on their desk when they're not looking and see how they react. The more realistic your creation is, the more surprised they'll be!
(Updated in November 2010)