Miniatures from Japan

In Japan, everything from canned fish to giant roly-polys can be found in miniature form and available as capsule toys (also known as gachapon or gacha). You can even buy a half-sized capsule toy dispenser machine for your home or office.

As we've seen before with these city dioramas or aquariums, for example, some of the miniatures made in Japan are so detailed you'd almost be forgiven for thinking someone had shrunk them just like a scene in Ant-Man.

The payphone: a disappearing icon of the urban landscape

Along with advances in mobile telecommunications technology, public demand for public payphones have naturally decreased in the last 20 years. In the US, as reported by the FCC via CNN Money, there were 2 million payphones (0.7 per person) in 1999, but only 100,000 (0.03 per person) in 2018 (a fifth of them in New York). Meanwhile, in Japan, according to NTT as reported in Yahoo News, the number of public payphones dropped from 735,000 public payphones in 2000 (0.6 per person), to less than 158,000 (0.13 phones per person) in 2018.

It's quite clear that public payphones, while remaining as a valuable lifeline in times of disaster, are slowly disappearing from view.

NTT Public Payphone Miniature Figure Series

Thankfully, the familiar icon of the Japanese urban landscape is going to be commemorated later this year through a series of remarkably detailed capsule toys offered in collaboration between NTT and toy maker Takara Tomy's capsule toy division T-Arts Co., Ltd.

Each miniature is reproduced in painstaking detail. Let's take a look at the six payphones representing a slice of Japanese history from 1971 to 2016:

MC-D8 Digital Public Payphone circa 2016

For example, the most recent model in the series, the MC-D8 features a moving receiver and cable, a hook which actually moves up and down, keypad buttons which can actually be pushed and a coin return slot which can actually be opened and closed:

MC-3P Analog Public Payphone circa 1986

Duet Phone circa 1996

DMC-7 Digital Public Payphone circa 1996

New Red Phone (Shin-gata Aka-denwaki) circa 1971

Gold Public Payphone circa 1993 (royal wedding edition)

Product Information

  • Name (JP): 『NTT東日本 公衆電話ガチャコレクション』
  • Name (EN): NTT West Japan Public Phone Gacha Collection
  • Price: 300 JPY (incl. tax) / 6 types
  • On sale from: November 2019
  • Size: Between 44 mm (1.7") and 53 mm (2.1")
  • Availability: Wherever capsule toys are located in Japan
  • Website on Takara Tomy
  • Rights: NTT West Japan
  • Collaboration: NTT Technology History Center

By - Ben K.