Sanei Boeki – A Plushy World

20171021_Super Mario All Stars New
 If you are after faithfully reproduced fluffy game characters like Mario & Co., Sanei Boeki is your brand! Besides their best-selling plush toy series, the Super Mario All Star Collection, you find many more cuddly friends to gather up.
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Due to my activities in the past when living and working in Japan, I curiously started to develop a fondness for a couple of Japanese toy companies. One of those is Sanei Boeki (三英貿易・さんえいぼうえき; San-ei Boueki), which grew somehow dear to me. If you are a fan of game merchandise and Japanese popculture collectibles, the name should ring some bells, but I want to introduce it a little further with this article. Welcome to their plushy world!

Sanei Boeki is a well-established Japanese manufacturer specializing in the making of high quality plush toys. It can look back on a long corporate history dating back to 1938 (昭和13年 8月; August of Showa 13), when it was first incorporated under the name of Kabushikigaisha Eishoukai (株式会社英商会; かぶしきがいしゃえいしょうかい; kabushikigaisha is a company form and translates to ‘stock/share company’). After the company facilities burned down as a result of the disastrous Pacific War during World War 2, the company resumed business in 1946, changing its name to the present known Sanei Boeki Corporation (三英貿易株式会社 ・さんえいぼうえきかぶしきがいしゃ). The main office is based in Iidabashi, Chiyodo ward in Tokyo, but it also holds branch offices in the big cities of Osaka and Sapporo as well as operates a distribution center out of the commercial hub of Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture.
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20171018_Sanei Boeki Mega Man
Bet’ya want to hang out with this fellow here, don’t you!? – While Super Mario, Splatoon, Kirby & Co. see a release almost on yearly basis, there are some rare productions like Sonic The Hedgehog and Mega Man (Rockman) series. You really have to be quick to get your hands on those, best by making a pre-order once the announcement is up. Like this 75cm special super-size 30th anniversary plush doll of Mega Man, for which stock is already out before it’s actually released to the market. Unfortunately, once the limited production number is reached, there is little to no hope for a supplementary production nor can they easily be found for secondary purchase on online sales channels like eBay and even if so, you will pay a hefty collector’s price tag.
Belonging to the world’s largest toy manufacturers, the two Bandai and Takara Tomy take the biggest market share in Japan, no way around it, but with its flagship products of high grade plush toys, which it supplies to department stores, mass marketers and specialized retailers across Japan, the company could earn a favorable reputation of its own in the toy industry. From sound making and magnet clinging plush dolls, to moving plush toys, plush mascot straps, plush hand puppets, over to mobile phone plush cleaners, they do it all. The company made it its mission to develop and distribute dream-inspiring products of excellency and high safety standards that cater for the customer needs of all buyer groups, regardless of gender and generation, from children to seniors.
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It stands nothing short to the two larger companies because its licensed product line-up features prominently with not a few of the most iconic game characters out of Super Mario (スーパーマリオ), The Legend of Zelda (ゼルダの伝説), Donkey Kong (ドンキーコング), Animal Crossing (どうぶつの森), Pikmin (ピクミン), Splatoon (スプラトゥーン), Kirby Star (星のカービィ), Mega Man (ロックマン), Pokémon (ポケモン), Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ) and who else. In other words, pretty much everyone who made it onto the Nintendo platforms, which is then also one of the guarantors for its lasting business success in this competitive market segment. After all, Japan is a huge playground for all kinds of characters, mascots, games and playthings.
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And since it already owns the rights for these classics, it has made it a virtue to release other licensed goods. Plush characters may be the main staple of this company, but Sanei is not limited to it alone and has many other character related products and collectibles such as pen cases, pens and pencils among other stationery goods, coin cases, totte bags, storage boxes, rubber mascot straps, memo pads, pouches, clips, notebooks, sketch books and much more handy items of these adorable characters to surround yourself with in daily life.
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It mainly focuses on game characters, but has more recently also added popular anime characters to its assortment with Detective Conan (名探偵コナン), Osomatsu-san (おそ松さん), Crayon Shin-chan (クレヨンしんちゃん), Nintama Rantarō (忍たま乱太郎), Ace Attorney (逆転裁判) and with surely more to come. If you want so, it all comes together at San-ei for your favorite fluffy Japanese anime and video game icons. From the screens directly to always-by-your side for a snuggle up.
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Always up for mischief, the Osomatsu siblings! For each of the sextuplets, there are these awesome revers cushions, that show a second face expression when flipped over to the back side. 
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However Sanei is not only producer of these well-known characters alone, it has also a bunch of own popular creations like the lovely, ball-like Toridango (ご とりだんご; lit. Bird Dumplings) and Nekodango (ねこだん; lit. Cat Dumplings), which neatly nestle into your palm as well as the waggling Pururun Animal (ぷるるんアニマル; lit. Shaking Animals) plush dolls, to just name a few among many more likable series it puts out in stores. These characteristic plushies find their ways also into theme parks, aquariums and other amusement facilities that have sprung up in all corners of Japan in recent years. They even expand into the world of professional baseball, where they are adored as mascots by baseball fans across the country.
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The style of domestic life has significantly changed over the years and so has the diversification of how plush toys are being used. In addition to plushies as traditional toys, it can be observed that they are also now coming more and more into habitual use and are closely related to our daily lives, be it in form of indoor decor articles as well as fancy accessory items. They make ideal gifts for such festive occasions like birthdays, housewarming parties, a child’s birth, school entry and graduation ceremonies, or being used as suitable items for get-well visits at hospital, award prizes of various backgrounds or as advertising articles.
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For promotional and advertising purposes of an own brand, the company offers the possibility of OEM (オーイーエム, Original Equipment Manufacturer), also knows as Jutakukaihatsu (受託開発・じゅたくかいはつ) in Japanese, basically meaning they can do customized productions based on conceptual or 3-sided (thriedral) drawings on demand. Those characters and mascots can then appropriately be handed out as give-aways during advertisement campaigns, exhibitions and public relationship events of any kind. Who doesn’t love a cute stuffed toy!?
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Sanei’s sphere of operation is Japan domestic, but their products, frequently find their way to abroad through third-party e-commerce sellers or on international online shopping sites, where they are well demanded items with foreign collectors. In the amazon.co.jp Global Otaku Store for instance, you will find all the latest releases and can even put in reservations, which is especially practical to assure your desired stock.
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I need to burst your bubbly bubbles there though, don’t expect a Made in Japan. Just like most other Japanese toy manufacturers, also Sanei Boeki moved its production to abroad due to price competition and lets the toys to be produced in China. A toy made in Japan is hardly to be found these days, but you mustn’t be concerned, all its products meet Japanese manufacturing standards undergo several safety check procedures during production, before being packed and shipped back to Japan and one last time before leaving the distribution center in Koshigaya.
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Puts you right back in time and in a comfy sleep! Bed yourself comfortably with these cuddly character cushions. The anniversary editions are especially sought after items for every collection. 
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All the soft toys are made of either 100% acrylic or polyester, which ward off mites and considered vulnerable parts for every plush, for the eyes and noses, special techniques and durable materials are being applied. Owning a few of Sanei plush dolls myself and given out at least a few as gifts, I can confirm their sturdiness. Once I gave two Yoshi dolls to little kids and the toys survived till this very day despite all the beating, throwing, stamping and pulling they had to endure. You wish you’d never be a stuffed toy!
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Durable they may be, but what is most important for every fan, is the faithful depictions of their beloved characters. No crooky, odd-looking faces or over-sized body parts, just the genuine thing, this is what really matters. For me personally, it’s with the three elements Sanei Boeki sets itself apart: top quality, faithfulness to detail and the most prominent character line-up all-in-one. This is why it makes the company is a personal favorite because it’s able to bring out the fullest of its products, reflecting the earnest consideration Sanei gives to their customers’ needs and sense of duty in truthfully manufacturing the designs each by each of these much admired characters.
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It surprises me every time how Sanei manages to enchant me anew with every product release. Even though I don’t necessarily have the surplus to buy them now, I always greatly anticipate new announcements since it brings me in a way a great deal of joy to just looking at these lovable goods. It feels like it touches a certain intimacy of mine. An equivalent perhaps to what the Japanese often refer to with Iyashi (癒し・いやし), translating to soothing or comfort. I’m not into the kawaii (cute) cult, so there must be something else to it. Its spirit and products are genuinely one of a kind, thus this company holds a special place for me.
Wario and Kirby by Sanei
Speaking of authentic, just look at these two! My personal favorites, so I made a little photo shot with them. Kirby’s worst nightmare to come true, with Wario entering its reign! Wario’s staring eyes and wicked grin creep you out, don’t they. Kirby on the other hand is all innocent and delightful, can’t help but to adore it.
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With this I reached the end of my article about Sanei Boeki. I hope that I could bring you this company a little bit closer and the affection I have for it. Also it’s my hope that I could make you curious for the brand, should you have not yet know about it. If you are into plush toys or know somebody, who is, you don’t get around to check Sanei’s refreshing and authentic character goods for your collection!
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Below some of their more recent and upcoming releases in the overview and available for you over at amazon.co.jp (images are clickable):
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Article Guide:

  • Words in royal blue color link to other articles/pages on MyLittle Dejima
  • Words in sea green color link to external references/pages
  • Words in simple bold, titles and article relevant information without external reference/page
  • For Japanese related words Hiragana (ひらがな), Katakana (カタカナ) and Kanji (漢字) are added for those interested in Japanese terminology

Edition History: 

  • Edition: First release: October 21st, 2017

©MyLittle Dejima

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