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Shoot, squeeze and save at the Tokyo Toy Show

The International Tokyo Toy Show in Tokyo on Thursday. The event runs until Sunday.


FROM a piggy bank that demands your cash to a pump-action gun blasting damp toilet roll pellets: Tokyo's toy show has a bewildering array of gadgets to delight both kids and the young-at-heart.

Gone are the days of the humble pink porcelain piggy bank. Today's frugal kids get an Internet-connected, cat-shaped device that sings, chats and even demands to be fed with cash.

The BankNyan, one of the hits at the Tokyo Toy Show that opened Thursday, has sensors to judge how much money is being saved for a rainy day and - with its Internet connection - can even tell you if it is actually likely to rain.

The cat-faced machine, the epitome of Japanese 'cute', senses when a child enters the room and immediately strikes up conversation, using one of its 1,400 phrases.

But the piggy bank of the future is a demanding character: two of its stock phrases are "Give me all your money!" and "Now's the time to save." If it is successful in persuading the child to part with some pocket money, it calculates a running total - no more shaking the bank trying to guess how many coins are left.

It can also sense how much is withdrawn but does not give up its cash without a guilt trip, asking whether the child is absolutely sure he or she wants to take the money out.

Parents might want to start saving themselves, though, as such cutting-edge technology does not come cheap: the BankNyan retails at around 10,000 yen (S$121).

Much more low-tech but for the ultimate in toilet humour is the "skid shot", a pump-action toy shotgun with a loo roll attachment for bathroom ballistics.

The marksman pulls back a lever that feeds a small amount of toilet paper into a chamber where it is wetted and compressed into a perfect "bullet".

Up to two pellets can be fired at a time, making a satisfying "splat" on the wall or, at the show, a bullseye target.

Another toy sure to delight kids who love to make a mess is magic putty.

This gooey substance comes with a head-spinning variety of options: you can bounce it, stretch it, make it dance with magnets and several putties change colour under sunlight or at a certain temperature.

Made of silicone and satisfyingly squeezy, it also comes in psychedelic colours and with sugary smells made to resemble food products like caramel or bright-pink cake topping.

Parents be reassured though: it is designed not to stick to furniture or clothes, although a spokesman admitted: "It can sometimes get stuck in your hair."

Around 200 toy manufacturers from all around the world are exhibiting their latest delights at the show, which runs until Sunday and expects to welcome some 160,000 visitors.

While the show stresses its global nature, many of the exhibits are classically "only in Japan", with more Godzilla and Hello Kitty than even the most enthusiastic fan could handle.

A prime example: an applauding robot for solo karaoke singers. The singer takes the pint-sized companion with two hands sticking out of its head to the karaoke booth, and it claps in time along to the music and enthusiastically applauds when the hit is finished. AFP

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