NEW YORK, January 31 — The Korean Society had a new art exhibition called Toy Stories: Souvenirs from Korean Childhood. The exhibition was a visual study of the Korean toy industry in the 1970s and the 1980s.
They filled the gallery with Korean toys and games. It was literally an explosion of plasticer and vinyl paint, and I was ecstatic. Some of the pieces showed some wear; it wasn't the mint-in box condition. Some kid probably played with them twenty years ago, but they were still very cool.
When I studied each toy, I immediately notice the heavy influence of Japanese pop culture. It's not a surprise that Japanese pop culture has infected the Korean toy industry. The two countries were so close in a geographical sense. There had to be some strong influences from Japanese pop culture. They had Korean toy versions of Kamen Rider (仮面ライダー), Battle of the Planets, Gundam (ガンダム), and Ultraman (ウルトラマン).
Kamen Rider (仮面ライダー)
Battle of the Planets
There were also some original Korean toys like Super Taekwon V (로보트 태권 V). Super Taekwon V (로보트 태권 V) was based on an original South Korean mecha cartoon called Robot Taekwon V. The show was very similar to the Japanese Mazinger Z (マジンガーＺ) anime series.
Super Taekwon V (로보트 태권 V)
American cartoon and comic books also influenced the Korean Toy industry. The exhibit had Korean action figures for both Spider-man and Superman. The Korean versions of American action figures seemed a little different. The Superman Korean action figure looked strangely similar to the Astro Boy (鉄腕アトム) Korean action figure. They were probably made from the same mold to save money.
Wait, are those butt cheeks on Astro Boy's chest?
Astro Boy (鉄腕アトム) and Superman. Separated at birth? Butt cheeks!