Review by JoshB
It seems like with every Japanese toy line in the 70's and 80's, you had certain levels of toy, for those with different budgets.
At the high end, you had the DX sets: expensive, intricate, often fragile toys: meant more for the collector than the child.
Then you had the ST toys: these kept the same materials as the DX, but were smaller and had less gimmicks.
Below that you typically had plastic toys, known as PLA or PLA-Deluxe. These toys often were much more affordable, but still accurate renditions of characters from the shows. These were the mass-market toys, cheap things that collectors today often overlook.
Below that you had train station toys. These things were cheap, plastic (sometimes metal) impulse buys that were sold at train kiosks and festival booths. Impulse buys to keep the kids happy. But there are even levels below this.
At an even lower level were the novelty items. Paper goods, plastic weapon sets, necklaces and erasers. Things we now call Ephermera.
An interesting thing about these Japanese toys - Because they were so character driven, often the main characters would be represented in each tier of toy. That’s why you often see collections today with 17 different versions of the character on a shelf. But as the price point increased, the likelihood of less popular characters being produced decreased.
That’s where the erasers came in.
Called Keshigomu (or Keshi) these rubber erasers were cheap and easy to produce. Their low cost enabled manufacturers to make Keshigomu of a wide range of characters from each show, not just the main ones. It is for this reason that sometimes the only representation of certain characters ends up being erasers. It’s worth noting that the term Keshigomu applies to all erasers, not just Japanese character toys.
They were sold individually bagged, carded, stuffed in sacks, packaged with Train Station toys, with stationary sets, and even in deluxe boxed sets. Most average under an inch tall, but there are in fact larger, DX-style eraser sets, some up to 6 inches tall. They were made by all kinds of manufacturers – Popy, Takatoku, Bandai, Ohsato, Orion, and more.
Most of these eraser toys are unknown to casual US collectors, and the hardcore collectors often only get those related to series they collect. In Japan, they are more popular. There is even a Mandarake store that specializes in Keshigomu and other small toys. The major Keshigomu line US collectors would be familiar with is the M.U.S.C.L.E. toy line from the 80s.
History lesson over.
This Dougram Keshigomu is a little more intricate than the average cheapo eraser toy. This one actually comes with several weapons. The backpack, arm gun, and shoulder gun are all removable.
Made by Orion, It came packaged on a card, and likely hung from a peg, but undoubtedly this came packaged in other ways as well.
Why is it pink? Who knows? Maybe that’s just what color rubber they had available that day. Maybe Dougram is comfortable with his own sexuality? The world may never know.
Another cool thing about this Dougram eraser is that it’s just about the same size as the 1/144 collection series Dougram. It fits right in, sort of.
There’s not a lot to say about the toy itself, but it’s a good opportunity for a history lesson about Japanese Character Keshigomu and it’s place in the collecting world.
Comments6 comments posted
I had this as a kid! Mine was purple and came in one of those quarter machine gumball capsules.
Mine was yellow..and I still have him (since '82)
Bought ouside Naka meguro station for 100 yen!
That thing is MAJESTIC. It looks like it was recast from the tiny 1/144 diecast Dougram! (I'd like some comparison photos with the 1/144 toys, if possible)
More keshigomu reviews, please!
Yeah I saw the place at Mandarake you mentioned, they had TONS of these at all sorts of price points, they even had a bunch of the original molds.... if not for the deranged sales clerk and the no photos signs I would have snagged a shot.
There were bigger ones too..about 4 or 5 inches tall.. and they too were rubbers.