Greetings and salutations, dear reader! I’m very sure many of you have bought and amassed a collection of figures since you’ve ventured into the realm pop culture and anime. Whether that be a Funko Pop, that highly articulated Figurarts, a beautiful FX lightsaber, a scaled figure of your favorite character, to a humble prize figure from a claw machine or ufo cathcer. Well, it’s that prize figure that I’m interested in today. 

I know some of you have heard the term prize figure here and there sometimes, but I’m very sure you wondering what is a ufo catcher I speak of. Well to answer that, we’re gonna need to take a look at Japan’s arcades- better known as game centers. While most countries have largely abandoned the idea since the rise console gaming, arcades a far from extinct and very much alive in Japan. Many of these game centers can be found in major shopping districts around the country, with Tokyo’s Akihabara district being the largest.

Taito Station

There’s certainly lots to do there and lots to play- Rhythm games like Dance Dance Revolution and Taiko, racing sims classics like Initial D to Mario Kart, shooters like Time Crisis to fighters like Capcom’s Street Fighter! Safe to say, you’ll have lots to do with many people from all walks of life often frequent these arcades from high schoolers to salaryman and families with children.

SEGA UFO Cather

Its in these places, these game centers where you’ll find the claw machines. Claw operated games first started appearing in Japan as early as the 1960, with prizes such as plushies and small toys to be won- kinda like gacha. But it wasn’t until the 1980 when Sega released their UFO Catcher game to the public that people just started calling them “UFO Catchers” colloquially for all claw machines. The popularity grew as time went on to the point, they started including figurines in the prize pull to attract customers.

Now let’s get onto the subject of “Prize Figures” what are they and how do they differ from “Scaled Figures.” We’ve already established the fact you need to “win” them in a game of skill from claw machines or UFO catcher. In terms of quality, they are made of lower quality when compared a pre-painted scaled figure. Often at times, quality control issues do tend to happen. Fortunately, for collectors outside of Japan don’t necessarily need to travel all the way Japan just to obtain them. Many hobby shops and specialty anime stores do sell the figures, and usually go for around $20-$25 apiece. Despite the low price point and average quality, they’re still sought after within the community.

Additionally, we can also add Kuji figures in this category, too. While not the same as the one found in UFO catchers, winning them from the lottery still counts as a prize figure. Kuji figures are often times made with better quality control and is considered very rare.

UFO Cather Kuij Prize A
UFO Cather Kuij Prize B

When it comes to scale (size based on the source material), prize figures generally don’t really have one- ok, this is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, prize figures do not really have a specific sizing scale attached to them, and most of the figures do vary in sizes. Most of the time, they’re sizes are within the 1/12th (6 inch), 1/9th (7 inch) to 1/8th (9 inches). As far as we know, prize figures never go past the 1/6th scale, let alone the 1/4th scale as these are usually associated with premium scaled figures.

Earlier on, I’ve mentioned that prize figures are of lesser quality compared to their scaled figure counterparts, but they are by no means inferior. One good example is Furyu’s Bicute Bunnies, a line of anime girls in bunny suits and stockings. They are similar to Freeing’s own ¼ scale Bunny Figures, just smaller and more affordable. Additionally, Sega’s Kentai Collection figures of Nagato and Mutsu, with their backpack expansions equipped can sure hold their own against much more expensive figures on the market.

Bicute Bunnies

So, conclusion time, should you get your hands on one of the figures? Yes. Should you get from crane machines? Maybe. Are they better than the ones that cost over a $100? Well, that’s more a matter of perspective and how you’re willing to spend. Prize figures have their pros and cons just as much as scaled figures do. So, its best to do the research before you commit to it. But overall, these figures do serves a purpose and you get what you pay for.

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