In Japan and among collectors of Japanese toys, "gashapon" is a term for cheap toys that come in plastic containers in vending machines. It's an onomotopoeic term, coming from the noise that the machines make.

Some gashapon trinkets are low-quality, like most that are sold in the U.S., but some can be very nicely made. Unlike most U.S. vending machine toys, some gashapon are based on licensed properties, and will often include simple model kits (~4 pieces) and figurines of various anime characters, either styled after the source material or superdeformed. To a collector of, say, Gundam, there are utterly addictive. Licensed Gundam figurines show up in gashapon machines that represent mobile weapons from the series that were never before represented as toys or model kits and may never be again. Gashapon toys are often unbelievably nice for something that costs pocket change.

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