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Licca-chan's secret--the story of Japan's Barbie

http://dwqovw6qi0vie.cloudfront.net/article-imgs/en/2011/12/28/AJ201112280042/AJ201112280043.jpg
(Cinderella Licca-chan and Prince Ren are all here at Licca-chan CLUB 67 in Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Tokyo's Ginza.)

For the millions of little girls who had the original Licca-chan doll, assembled in 1967, they probably noticed a tiny little dent in the right nostril but didn't give it a second thought.
Chioko Fukao, 47, was shocked, however, when she heard the inside story during an in-house training course. Fukao is a member of the Licca-chan development team at Tomy Co., Japan's leading toy manufacturer, headquartered in Tokyo.
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The secret was revealed by Yasuhiro Kojima, 71, a former senior managing director at Takara Co., the predecessor of Tomy.
Kojima was the de facto "parent" who brought the fashion doll Licca-chan into the world. And of course, Licca-chan went on to become the company's poster girl. Kojima confessed that he had accidentally dropped the original Licca-chan prototype mold, which was made of clay, onto his desk. And Licca went straight into production, with a miniscule, telltale dent.
Even after he left the product development scene, Kojima continued to be involved with Licca-chan, lending advice as needed. Kojima challenged Fukao and her colleagues "to always develop products from the child's perspective."
It was the philosophy that Kojima lived by, and it still remains the founding philosophy of the product development team.
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Takara traces its origins to a tiny vinyl processing plant in Takara-cho, Katsushika Ward, in Tokyo. When the factory was founded in 1953, it consisted of a single six-tatami mat room. The company grew steadily, with hits such as the Dakko-Chan, the inflatable doll that could be attached on the arm, in a hugging pose (dakko).
Dakko-Chan became a runaway hit in 1960. Still, the bulk of sales came from seasonal summer toys, such as inflatable swimming tubes. The company needed a toy that would sell throughout the year.
Kojima was in his mid-20s, when company founder, Yasuta Sato, in December 1966 gave him an assignment to develop a new product that would help the company become a full-fledged general toy manufacturer in its own right.
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At the time, American dolls like Barbie were on sale in Japan. Kojima was told to develop "a house to carry around dolls."
But considering the size of the Japanese household, a dollhouse for Barbie seemed way too big. So Kojima set out to come up with "a small doll and its very own house, for Japanese girls."
Another key concept behind the creation of Barbie was to feature a "fashion doll" whose wardrobe could be changed to match the fads of the times.
Japanese girls were all into "shojo" manga magazines such as Nakayoshi and Ribon that target a young female audience. Kojima dug into the manga with gusto. In his book, "Licca-chan Umaremasu (Licca-chan is born)," published by Sobisha Inc., Kojima wrote: "I hit on a great idea. 'Why not create a three-dimensional replica of the dreamlike shojo manga world?' "
http://www.dosokai.ne.jp/licca/tachibana/img/licca_main.jpg http://www.dosokai.ne.jp/licca/gyoku/img/licca_main.jpg

The fanciful world of shojo manga was carefully plotted out. Licca's father was a Frenchman--who was missing; her mother, a fashion designer. Details regarding her family and her personality were developed and fine-tuned.
Katsushika Ward had always been the center of celluloid processing, dating to the Taisho Era (1912-1926), and the area had a concentration of toy manufacturers. Kojima went to Kamijo, a mold and die maker, in the neighborhood, for the face mold. He brought cutouts from manga magazines as reference material to help explain the image he was after. It was Shiba, a factory dealing with plastics in Edogawa Ward, which actually manufactured the doll. Thus Kojima was finally able to realize his dream doll with the help of skilled traditional craftsmen.
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Licca-chan went into mass production at the Taihei Shoyu (now Taihei) factory, an old soy sauce maker, in Sosa, Chiba Prefecture. The long-established brewery was trying to diversify its business and had set up a new department for toy manufacturing. Women from nearby farms, clad in overall aprons, would work on Licca-chan.
"We would draw the features by hand," reminisced Taihei's director, Yoshiko Hanazawa. "It's not easy to get the two eyebrows balanced, just so. But I must say we had some master painters."
Licca-chan had delicate limbs and chestnut brown hair. She had a sweet face, but her features had a whiff of lingering melancholy. The doll was named "Licca Kayama" and went on sale on July 4, 1967. It became a huge hit, selling 43,000 units in the first month alone.
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Rika Kayama, 51, is a real-life psychiatrist who assumed the name as her alias--a play on the Licca doll. As a girl, Kayama owned and played with Licca-chan.
"In real life, kids in elementary school weren't supposed to have any love life," Kayama said. "But Licca had a boyfriend! She was the existence that led 'the other life I couldn't live.' "
"Licca-chan Club 67" is set up inside the Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Tokyo's Ginza, where all Licca models, from the original to the very latest, are on display. The shop draws a wide range of fans from all age groups. The number of visitors this December grew by 50 percent over last year. Some days, there is a line waiting to get inside.

Yukie Goda, 49, from Wakabayashi Ward, Sendai, is a survivor of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake. She found her Licca-chan pinned underneath a fallen piece of furniture in her home. She fixed the crushed body and brushed out Licca-chan's hair.
It gave her much comfort. The doll was packed with her mother's love and memories from the time when she was a little girl.
"Licca-chan saved me, when I was thrust deep in anxiety and confusion," Goda said. "It made me realize what was really precious to me."

By AS on Jan 7, 2012
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上記広告は1ヶ月以上更新のないブログに表示されています。新しい記事を書くことで広告を消せます。