A surprising mode of transport.
Studio Ghibli is once again generating a great deal of attention and enthusiasm from fans with the release of its latest work, How Do You Live? or The Boy and the Heron, as it’s known overseas.
On the same weekend that the movie opened at cinemas around Japan, two new products were released at the Studio Ghibli-affiliated Donguri Kyowakoku retail chain, but rather than being related to the new movie, they were dedicated to two of the studio’s most famous films: Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbour Totoro.
Created by Tomica, the two products were the newest addition to Ghibli’s Dream Tomica series, which includes the plane from Porco Rosso, the train from Spirited Away and the Catbus from My Neighbour Totoro.
While those forms of transport make perfect sense for a Tomica product — the company is known for its diecast toy cars — the Kiki’s Delivery Service release seemed a little odd, as it was simply called “Jiji”, after the magical black cat from the film.
▼ Tomica is so synonymous with toy cars in Japan that when our reporter Saya Togashi heard about the new Jiji model, this is what she pictured it would look like.
Dream Tomica has seen dream collaborations with various anime series and video games brought into reality, but in these cases the characters, such as Snoopy or Pokémon, were featured on or in cars.
If Tomica started to do away with the vehicle aspect of the series altogether, there would be no end to the madness — you could simply add wheels to any character, even those without legs, and make them be the vehicle.
Sensing Jiji would present a paradigm shift in the toy car world, Saya was keen to find out what it looked like, so she purchased her Jiji Tomica, and would now like to present the “vehicle” to you.
▼ Ta daa!
▼ Jiji was on wheels, but in a novel way, sitting inside the birdcage seen in the film.
That birdcage didn’t have wheels, but at a stretch it could be seen as a mode of transport, as Kiki holds the birdcage with Jiji in it while flying through the sky on her broomstick.
▼ The soft cloth that covers the birdcage is also replicated in the toy.
The die-cast material gives the piece a solid weight, and the three wheels on the base help to propel the birdcage forward.
Tomica cars don’t have a pull-back motion, so Jiji can trundle along slowly while enjoying the view.
When you look inside the birdcage, you can see that even the smallest details are well made. Tomica says that in shaping the cat, they pursued a form “unique to Jiji, rather than being symmetrical” to highlight the fact that it’s Jiji and not the stuffed toy that was meant to be in the birdcage. This makes it true to the scene from the film where Jiji pretends to be the stuffed toy in the cage, to make up for the fact that Kiki lost it during her travels.
The woven basket construction of the cage is beautifully replicated, and though the toy looks large in closeups, it’s actually cute and tiny, as you can see in the photo below.
It’s an excellent collector’s item that’ll appeal to both children and adults…as long as you’re able to broaden your horizons and think beyond the usual forms of transport captured by Tomica.
The Dream Tomica Ghibli Ippai 06 Kiki’s Delivery Service Jiji retails for 1,320 yen (US$9.48) and can be purchased at Donguri Kyowakoku stores and online, and at online retail sites such as Takara Tomy Mall and Amazon.
Those who prefer more traditional forms of transport will fall in love with Tomica’s moving truck from My Neighbour Totoro, which was also released on 15 July. And if you’re a fan of Howl’s Moving Castle, there’s a desktop castle we wish we could put on wheels!
Related: Takara Tomy Mall, Amazon
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