The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, December 9, 2021

'Blind box' craze grips China's youth and mints toymakers a fortune
This picture taken on April 7, 2021 shows Vaan, the storekeeper of a toy store, showing a "blind box" toy at his store in Beijing. The toys, first popularised in Japan, have fixated China in recent years, also driving a booming second-hand market and decorating the desks of white-collar workers and livestreams of box-opening influencers across the country. WANG ZHAO / AFP.

by Jing Xuan Teng / Danni Zhu

BEIJING (AFP).- Tiny unicorns and cartoon girls in clown costumes line the shelves of Wang Zhaoxue's study in Beijing -- tokens of China's mania for "blind boxes" that has made fortunes for toymakers and even caught the attention of those in power.

The 18-year-old music student is one of the legions of young Chinese hooked on snaffling up the toys -- from pop art-inspired figurines to mini-archaeological treasures -- to complete whole "ranges" through endless purchases.

The toys, first popularised in Japan, have fixated China in recent years, also driving a booming second-hand market and decorating the desks of white-collar workers and livestreams of box-opening influencers across the country.

The blind box market was worth 7.4 billion yuan ($1.14 billion) in 2019, according to market research firm Qianzhan Intelligence, which added that could soar to 30 billion yuan by 2024.

Similar to the collectibility of baseball cards, most fist-sized packages hold toys, from fairies to miniature King Kongs, but buyers can often be landed with one they already have.

But once in a while, a rare or even "hidden" item -- one that does not appear in advertisements for the range -- will emerge from the box, the holy grail of the collecting craze.

Wang said she has in the past queued overnight for new releases at toy conventions and proudly shows off autographed limited-edition figurines in her family's Beijing apartment.

Her older family members are also fervent toy collectors -- her mother displays by the front door a group of baby-faced figures riding cats.

"It was something quite novel, which got my attention," said Wang, who has now amassed hundreds of the toys.

The element of mystery is a big part of the fun, although "if you shake it, and then feel the box, you can sometimes deduce what's inside".

Wang has turned her passion into a small business, customising duplicates and selling them online for hundreds of yuan apiece.

On the vibrant second-hand market, rare figures can fetch dozens of times the original price of an unopened box, which usually costs $10-$20.

Liu Xiaoli, a nickname, has been collecting blind box toys since 2018.

The advertising professional, in her thirties, pulls thousands of followers to a Bilibili video channel where she documents her box-opening adventures.

She has adopted a technique of weighing some boxes before opening them to build the anticipation of what might be inside.

"It feels good to see them all arranged neatly," said Liu, who has more than 200 toys.

Her favourites are modelled after a cherubic, doe-eyed character called Molly, produced by Beijing-based mystery toymaker Pop Mart, which made its $670 million debut on the Hong Kong stock exchange last year.

The competition is so intense that the most sought-after toys, such as the archaeology-themed blind boxes sold by Henan province's official museum, sell out almost immediately after their online release.

But the craze has not escaped criticism, with state media earlier this year comparing the trend to gambling and warning that the products bred addiction.

In a commentary in January, Xinhua called for more regulation of the sector and said the boxes should not be sold "blindly" to consumers, accusing some brands of "persuading consumers to keep buying and even hyping up a speculative second-hand market".

"One of the reasons behind the success of blind boxes is that they divide their products into different categories of rarity," Steffi Noel, a consumer analyst at Shanghai-based Daxue Consulting, told AFP.

"They set a barrier, expressing the idea that not everyone can get the most special boxes. It generates a sense of competition."

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

April 29, 2021

As auctioneers and artists rush into NFTs, many collectors stay away

Marie-Josée Kravis to replace Leon Black as MoMA Chair

Giacometti's iconic Homme Qui Chavire will highlight 20th and 21st Century Evening Sale in London

Samsung heirs to pay billions in tax, donate Monet, Picasso works

Records for Joseph Delaney, Howardena Pindell, Winfred Rembert, Betye Saar & more at Swann

'Homeless' by Bryan Adams exhibited in the UK for the first time at Atlas Gallery

Rare Picasso portrait of Françoise Gilot comes to market for first time in 35 years

Taschen publishes an immersive book scaled to Gio Ponti's kaleidoscopic universe

Morphy's May 11-15 auction combines collectors' favorite categories, from coin-ops to petroliana

Phillips strengthens leadership team with key global appointments

'Blind box' craze grips China's youth and mints toymakers a fortune

Freeman's sale demonstrates successes in American material

Exhibition reexamines Tara Donovan's seminal Composition (Cards) series

US Burning Man festival canceled again due to pandemic

Fashion designer Alber Elbaz buried in Israel

UK's Royal Shakespeare Company names first female head

Crescent City Auction Gallery announces highlights included in the Spring Estates Auction

David Roberts Art Foundation is to become the Roberts Institute of Art

Phillips London Photographs Auction to be led by Peter Beard's Portrait of Francis Bacon

Rare books auction includes important source for the study of da Vinci's works

Black Cube unveils permanent, interactive, concrete art installation by Matt Barton at Denver's TAXI Campus

New volume in Frick Diptych Series focuses on Titian's Pietro Aretino

Sussex auction house to sell St John's Barn Summers Place

Wayne Peterson, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, dies at 93

Autonomous DIY Competition: Cultivating Creativity

Best E-commerce solutions for your start-up

Simple living room interior design style to upgrade your space

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful