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Learning is half the battle

If reading Zinc Panic seems akin to navigating a mindfield of foreign jargon, we apologize. We do not mean to alienate. At times, we fall prey to the convenience of using a single Japanese word to describe a concept instead of a necessary paragraph of English exposition. Thus, we present this brief primer (or refresher) to the pidgin of toy discourse.

anime [アニメ]
Animation. Generic term for the traditional cel-animated medium. Although the word has no inherent national context, anime has been adopted by the English vernacular to describe animation produced in Japan.
buriki [ブリキ]
Tin Plate. Informally used to describe tin toys. From the Dutch word 'blik.'
candy toy
Any inexpensive toy sold at the candy aisles of convenient stores or food markets. Although candy toys were originally mere extras included in boxes of candy, their prominence has grown to the point where the candy is secondary (and often inedible).
crane game
Originally used to describe a game where a player has to control a mechanical claw to pick up a toy prize (see also UFO catcher), 'crane game' has evolved to mean any sort of generic toy prize dispensing arcade machine. A toy offered through a crane game is commonly known as a prize good.
A catch that locks the position of a joint. Used to describe the specialized, heavy-duty joints on toys that lock (usually) to the 8 cardinal points. Aka "clicky" joints.
An abbreviation of deluxe. A common offical branding used to describe the toy that is normally dominant in a line of same-character toys distinguished by size and/or features. Vintage DX toys are usually considered to be "feature complete" in terms of gimmicks, sometimes at the cost of proportions or poseability. Compare to ST.
gangu [玩具]
Generic Japanese term for 'toy.' Used interchangeably with Omocha.
gashapon [ガシャポン]
Any inexpensive toy sold in plastic capules through coin machines. Although gashapon toys began as simple one-piece rubber miniatures, since the the mid 1990's they have become increasingly complex multi-media items.
gasshin [合身]
A combination with a humanoid/humanistic inherence. A specialized form of gattai.
gattai [合体]
Combination. Describing the particularly Japanese subset of toy design that involves of the combination of separate toys into a new disctinct whole. Gattai has taken on more specific, informal permutations: Great Gattai and Super Gattai.
gokin [合金]
Literally 'join metals', this compound word means 'alloy.' A scientific term used to refer to alloys in the metallurgical sense. In context, refers to toys that make use of diecast metals, typically zinc alloys. The name eventually became synonomous with "metal" in a toy as a result of the popularity of the Chogokin brand.
great gattai [グレート体合]
An informal phrase used to describe a combination of robots (or other mechanisms) where two or more robots are modified and assembled in an original configuration. The visual result is an entirely new robot. Compare to Super Gattai.
henkei [変形]
Literally 'change form', usually translated as 'transformation.' In context, refers to a mechanical transformation from one form or mode to another, typically from a vehicle or transportive mode to a mode that represents a humanoid form. Serves the storytelling purpose of adding interest to a character or toy and is a medium of extensive philosophical metaphor. See Henshin.
henshin [変身]
Literally 'change person', usually translated as 'transformation.' In context, refers to a human or organic being's transformation from their casual form to their powered up, secret, or hero form. Or in simpler terms, changing from day-wear to rubber-suit. Serves the storytelling purpose of concealing an alternate identity and is a medium of extensive philosophical metaphor. See Henkei.
hook toy
A typically inexpensive carded toy sold off a peg or "hook."
kaiju [怪獣]
Literally 'strange beast', usually translated as 'monster.' In context, typically refers to the various monsters, aliens, and odd creatures populating tokusatsu entertainment. Traditionally, a popular topic of vinyl toys.
kanzen [完全]
Literally 'perfect complete', usually translated as 'perfect.' In context, expresses a sentiment of perfection in the eye of the aesthete, and may refer to the "best possible" version of a toy, the "best possible" implementation of a robot's transformation in toy form, or the "most complete" compilation of material for a book.
An abbreviation of 'Original Animated Video' or 'Original Video Animation,' a video feature usually of smaller scale and budget than a feature-length movie, although OVAs may ultimately run longer than a standard two hour movie. A green light to produce an OVA is often a mark of some measure of success of an animated television show. OVAs are often divided into multiple segments and sold and/or televised seperately, sometimes with significant spans of time between segments due to marketing tactics or unintentional budgetary issues.
omocha [玩具]
Toy. Synonymous with Gangu.
prize goods
Inexpensive merchandise meant to be won thru playing games of chance or skill designed specifically to dispense such goods. The quality, and complexity of such merchandise can vary dramatically. Prize goods are often unofficially sold directly to the consumer. See Crane Game and UFO Catcher.
An abbreviation of 'super deformed,' this term refers both to the Bandai brand and generic contexts. A design style, often modifing existing characters, pursued for comedic or age down-classing purposes. Characteristics of the original SD style include enlarged head & feet and atrophied arms & torsos. The more modern SD style is characterised by an enlarged head and squat, simplified, but balanced proportions given to the rest of the body. Generically refers to the process of radically distorting an existing design to lighten its character, often creating a great sense of irony as deadly war machines are portrayed as "cute".
sentai [戦隊]
Literally 'battle group,' the compound is widely translated as 'squadron,' 'team,' 'corps,' and other similar phrases. In context, refers to the sub-genre of hero oriented storytelling that involves a team of heros fighting together as a unit, the sentai proper. Sentai is distinguished from lone hero storytelling in that it is designed to teach children the value of teamwork, and lessen the emphasis on the individual.

Also, a reference to Toei's 'Super Sentai' brand, which has introduced a new annual tokusatsu sentai show since 1975.
An abbreviation of 'standard.' Unlike DX, ST is an informal (but commonly used) designation that rarely appears in official branding. ST is used to describe a toy that is normally inferior to the DX offering in a line of same-character toys. Traditional ST toys are usually better proportioned and better fitted for joints than their DX line-mates, typically sacrificing gimmicks. Older ST toys often contain original features that run counter to or are not found at all in the toy's corresponding character. Compare to DX.

ST also refers to the Japan Toy Association's "ST Mark" standard of voluntary toy testing established in 1971. The appearance of this logo on toy boxes in the 1970's and 1980's led to the misconception that those toys were officially branded 'ST.'
super gattai [スーパー体合]
Sometimes used in offical branding, but primarily a aesthete's phrase used to describe a combination of robots (or other mechanisms) where a central component remains largely unmodified, and peripheral entities are attached to increase physical size. The visual result is an enhanced form of the original core. This type of combination is also sometimes refered to as a Power Up, although a Power Up may also refer to a simple addition of a single accessory. Compare to Great Gattai.
tokusatsu [特撮]
An abbreviation of 'tokushu satsuei,' literally 'special photography,' which corresponds to the english phrase 'special effects.' In context, refers to live action television and movies that make heavy use of special effects and low budget tricks of scale such as actors in giant robot suits in miniature city sets. The phrase is functionally used to distinguish live action offerings from animation. Often further abbreviated to 'toku.'
trading figure
Small, inexpensive representations of a line of characters sold in packaging meant to disguise the character within. Random selection will guarantee the purchase of an undesired number of duplicate characters, while desired characters cannot be systematically acquired. Consumers are encouraged to informally meet and trade (hence the name) duplicates or unwanted characters in order to acquire desired characters.
UFO catcher
A type of Crane Game where where the crane mechanism is disguised as a UFO, usually with elaborate LED decoration. See Crane Game.
©2004 Zinc Panic Collective