Tomica - faithfully recreated car miniatures that fit in your pocket
Tomica is a line of small die-cast model cars that has been manufactured by Takara Tomy (previously Tomy Co.) since 1970. The Tomica Limited Vintage line is made by Tomytec, a Takara Tomy subsidiary, while the rest of the collection is released under the Tomy brand. The name Tomica is a simplified version of "Tomy's Car." The Tomica line was a natural development from Tomy Co's hit toy train brand Plarail, and has been popular in a wide range of age groups since its initial release. Tomica celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2015. The year 2000 was a banner year for the brand, with the third Saturday of every month being deemed Tomica Day and the fan event Tomica Expo being started to celebrate the brand's 30th anniversary. The Tomica Expo is a touring event held in exhibition halls across Japan, featuring exhibits of new and old models, prototypes of future releases and more. Every ticket can be redeemed for a limited-edition Tomica Expo model at the event. Additionally, two new Tomica models are normally released on the Tomica Day after the event.
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There are several product lines under the Tomica brand - in addition to the main Tomica series, there's also Dream Tomica, Disney Tomica, Tomica Premium, and more. The first six vehicles were released priced at 180 yen in September, 1970, and since then over 800 Tomica models have been manufactured and sold. The series has gone through three price revisions since the initial release to account for inflation, increasing raw material costs, and similar factors. Currently, the Tomicar main series retails for 450 yen a piece.
What sets Tomica apart from other die-cast toy cards are the functional details such as working suspension and doors that open and close. (Please note some models do not have these features.) Another point of pride for the series is the variety of vehicles on offer - although ordinary passenger cars make up the bulk of the models, Tomicar also offers professional vehicles ranging from the classics (fire truck, police car) to the unusual (agricultural machinery, helicopters, ships). In order to prevent injury during play, most Tomica models avoid sharp corners or protruding side mirrors. All cars in the series come in uniform sizes, regardless of the real-world size of the car a Tomica model is based on. It takes about nine months to go from initial concept to the finalized product being released for sale. The Tomica line has expanded to include scenery to go with the cars, sold under the names Tomica Town and Tomica World. The Tomica Town series features Tomica-sized models of familiar buildings like a police station and fire department, as well as real-world brands and shops like 7-Eleven and Mister Donut. Tomica World helps you set the scene for your cars with landscape parts like parking lots and highways, and also includes play sets such as police stations, construction sites, and more. Takara Tomy also offers the Tomica System range of road and track components that let you build a completely custom track for your cars.
Japan currently has five stand-alone Tomica stores throughout the country, carrying ordinary Tomica models as well as Tomica-themed apparel, Tomica store exclusive models, limited-edition goods and more. Tomica's faithful recreations of real-world car models at a reasonable price have earned the brand a worldwide following of collectors, and has led to a bustling market for Japanese specialty shops dealing in out-of-production and other rare Tomica models.