Ninja Series 1 Bit Figs
Item No.: No. n/a Manufacturer:Bit Figs Includes:n/a Action Feature:Pops apart Retail:$0.75-$1.00 Availability: July, 2016 Other: Available from SSM Vending or in a vending machine
I don't know much about vending machine toys in the USA, other than in Japan they're better and more numerous. I've been following Bit Figs online for a while, mostly as something adjacent to Glyos that, while neat, was print-on-demand and I just don't really bother with those just yet. When I found out they were stamping them out as plastic toys in China, I figured I should jump on Ku and friends - Urai, Oni, Tana, and Iken. Each figure is about an inch tall - if you collected Fighter Pods or Mordles, they're the same size. These are a stronger plastic, and are no doubt here to trade on the popularity of blind bag figures and Minecraft - while being significantly, insanely cheaper. For indie and designer toy fanatics, it's the perfect meshing of mass market with indie, at a price you probably wouldn't be able to improve upon. However, the Ninja series seems to have 50 different figures - and I bought a bag of 260, and came up short. Ku is the Skeleton in the set, and also the most plentiful. Of the ninjas, he was the only one who showed up in all the colors and paint jobs - so we're going to look at him first.
For years, Marc Beaudette has been doing little pixel illustrations for each Onell Design release - and in the last year he's been selling 3-D-printed models of some of them. Ku looks a lot like the skeletal Pheyden, plus or minus things like bones. The head is more or less a mask, as you can see a little bit of it hanging off the back of their heads. If you luck into a painted version, the eyes are decorated in black or white while the rest of the figure is bare plastic.
There is no articulation, it's just a tiny little plastic guy. The detail at the size is mighty impressive, with a little hole in his fist and tiny feet. He won't fall over if you smack the desk, and it's small enough that you can probably fit a hundred of them in your pants for the purposes of gambling. I've been storing my Fighter Pods on the blind bag shipping boxes, and I don't know of a good off-the-shelf item that would work well for a similarly sized figure. But I do know they work great on my desk, and would probably stand up fine on top of most flat (but not too flat) monitors. So like whatever your job stuck you with, that's probably still fine.
The gag is that there's a Glyos socket in their bottoms, not unlike the 5mm socket in Fighter Pods or the holes in the soles of most action figure shoes. While there are still no Glyos action figure stands (whither the Hopper Block?) you can mount these on leg stumps or on wrists, so they can act as faux legs or as hand puppets for your other figures. It's quite charming - it's one of those little things that you can do in a line like this where long-term collecting is rewarded with bonus play features. Because Onell Design has a hand in these, it's a perfect fit.
When I started buying Glyos guys just over 6 years ago, I was wondering when we'd see parts in gumball machines and when we'd see them in stores, if at all, due to the choke-hazardy nature of a figure that comes apart. I would never have guessed the first mass-market roll-out would be as tiny, cheap vending machine toys. If you see these and already collect Glyos, you owe it to yourself to buy some Ninjas or Animals. For a buck, a few of these would be a killer deal. These won't change the world, but it's a nifty consumer product at a throwaway price. Seriously, I remember Panini sticker albums selling packets of those things 5 for a quarter 30 years ago, and this is way more interesting than that. Or a cruddy ring, or an eraser in the shape of a "B." Not that I'm bitter about such things.
My desk is usually covered with various little rubber figures, mono-colored minis, and the like so I'm quite pleased with these. I'm real excited to see what else they do - I missed out on Ninja Mites in the 1980s so this is a nice modern change. I bought these straight from SSM Vending - I drove there and bought a big bag of balls. I also bought the display card, which included 5 painted figures. I strongly recommend that if you do buy a bag, go get a card just to be safe. The per-figure price is higher, but you're guaranteed the (main?) five painted figures - and since you've got 50 total to track down, that helps.
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