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When I first began talking about the arrival of Japanese super-property Yo-kai Watch here in the New World, I truly wondered if American kids could possibly grow to love these distinctly eastern ghosts and ghoulies. If my children are any indication, the answer is a resounding yes.
Since I wrapped up my review of the debut video game, my son has played it to completion and now continues to roam the world further attempting to expand his collection of spectral spartans. My daughter, on the other hand, much prefers the cartoon–though, by her own admission, that’s mostly because “Jibanyan‘s voice is so, so adorable, Daddy.”
Suffice it to say both were pleased when a selection of toys from Hasbro‘s domestic Yo-kai Watch product line arrived on our doorstep.
Chief among this offering was the titular Yo-kai Watch, the device that allows child protagonist Nate Adams to locate and summon these spirits of the natural world. My kids actually managed to score an import version of the same device for Christmas, and there were some pretty clear differences between these two iterations.
The Hasbro version was both lighter in color and significantly larger than the (already enormous) Bandai original. The functionality, however, was easily comparable. Both versions accommodate their respective Yo-kai medals, though the American and Japanese medals are machined differently meaning there’s no trans-Pacific compatibility–think of it as old school region-locking.
Moreover, once inserted, each medal produces summoning sounds directly from the television series, including the relevant tribe song and Yo-kai name. This makes it perfect for roleplay… not to mention embarrassing your kids by dancing wildly to those catchy tunes. (The Charming tribe summon is my jam.)
The Watch ships with two exclusive medals, Whisper and a special Jibanyan. (The Japanese model instead came with Jibanyan and Dismarelda.) You can add to your collection with Yo-kai Watch Medal Mystery Bags. Each blind-pack contains three character medals. These are randomly distributed, so you never know what you’re going to get. Hasbro was nice enough, however, to release a rarity chart to let you the odds of obtaining your kids’ favorite Yo-kai.
These medals, I must also add, each come with a QR code on the back. This can be scanned with the Nintendo 3DS camera and used to unlock in-game coins for use in Yo-kai Watch‘s Crank-a-Kai capsule machine. In a world already rife with toys-to-life interactivity, it’s a subtle but perfectly effective added feature.
Since there are nearly 100 different medals (between the first series and the soon-to-be-released series 2), storage can quickly become an issue. To that end, Hasbro has also released the Yo-kai Medallium, a special collection album.
It comes with 4 plastic storage pages (each will hold 12 medals), 2 foam-core “Tribe Pages” (which will display a total of 8 medals), as well bonus sticker sheets, and–you guessed it–an exclusive medal. The binder itself is of really solid quality, though the rigid plastic spring clips can be a struggle for tiny hands.
Lastly are the Yo-kai Watch Medal Moments figures. These are tiny collectables that, while lacking in the articulation department, are delightfully designed, and each Yo-kai comes with its appropriate medal that can be both used in the Yo-kai Watch or stored on the figure itself.
Yo-kai Watch is a fantastic property. The video game is simply phenomenal, and the anime is yet another show that the kids and I can enjoy together. For me, though, the best thing about this toy line is the price point. The Yo-kai Watch retails for $19.99, while the Medallium is priced at $14.99. With the Medal Mystery Bags coming in at only $2.99 and the Medal Moments figs not much more ($4.99), you can slowly begin to flesh out your collection without really breaking the bank.
Between the price, quality, and bonus in-game functionality, Yo-kai Watch toys have a lot to offer. Only time will tell if the property truly becomes the Pokémon-level juggernaut here that it is back home, but it’s certainly managed to capture the attention (and imagination) of my family.
Review materials provided by: Hasbro