I thought it was just a conspiracy at first.
It all started when Hallmark came out with some new Hoops and Yoyo (if you don't know who they are, I suggest you search as they are the pinnacle of awesomeness) merchandise around summertime. Among the second wave of stuff featuring the characters...
Look familiar? If you're at all interested in modern Japanese culture, it will hit you right away. This is a Hidamari no Tami with Hoops on it!
Hidamari No Tami, or Nohohon, are solar powered toys that usually hypnotically nod their head from side to side or do some other repeated, relaxing movement. They are powered completely by the sun, no batteries required.
See? These things are super popular in Asia, especially Japan. The original line was made by Tomy. They come themed to pretty much any popular character, from Pikachu to Keroro to Stitch (I even saw a Cj7 one on Ebay a while ago), so it's kind of neat that Hoops and Yoyo have joined that caliber.
I must admit I think it's kinda cool that Hallmark got its inspiration from a Japanese trend, but I thought it would be a one-off thing. I was wrong!
Take a look at what just came out at Hallmark for this Christmas season, and tell me it doesn't remind you of something else that is super popular in Japan.
Yes, Hallmark has made one of its new releases for the 2008 holiday season a Christmas themed Little Taps knockoff. Even I didn't see this one coming!
Little Taps are a series of small figurines on bases that tap dance when you press a button. They're pretty amazing, especially when you realize that you can hook together as many as you can find and they'll all dance in sync to the same song. They're most commonly made based on Disney and Sanrio characters, and each one 'knows' three songs that it can dance to on its own.
Bonus points for Jack Skellington and Stitch dancing together in a chorus line. Epic, epic win.
The Hallmark ones only know two songs each, but you can still link them together. Also, as you may have noticed, they are encased in a plastic dome for some reason (the original Japanese ones never had any form of coverage). This partially makes them less awesome, but at the same time you can pretend you have captured Santa and are forcing him to tap dance for you.
What's next - Hallmark UFO Catcher? If only.