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[Sakura Gokin]

Sakura's Electric Gokin

text: Matt Alt, graphics: Robert Duban

January 2000

Updated: 10.16.04

Images provided by: Jay Brotter, Ken Hallack

[sakura icon] "Sakura" means "cherry blossom," flowers prized by the Japanese for their beauty and short lifespan. Much as with real-life cherry blossoms, the mid-70's toy company Sakura endured for only a brief period before disappearing: their catalog consists of a meager handful of toys. The main characteristic of the few known Sakura diecasts is that they all contain a battery-operated flashing mechanism.
"Kyo-go-kin" means "strong alloy" in Japanese. We've only managed to find two distinct pieces in the series - the Oni and a UFO. Both pieces remain obscure and nearly unknown even in Japan.

"Oni" means "demon" or "goblin" in Japanese, and they're a staple in Japanese myths and legends. The Sakura Oni is actually a character toy, licensed from the long-running animated show "Manga Nihon Mukashi-banashi," or "Animated Japanese Fairy Tales." The piece is oversized and bulkier than the average "standard" diecast, and features a battery-powered flashing eye gimmick. There are two colors, red and green. The red version seems to be slightly less common. The box of the Oni is striking; the chunky, hand-drawn kanji characters on the box are an instant standout.

Although it's called "UFO 1," this seems to be the only other toy in the "kyo-go-kin" series. It's very similar to the UFO diecasts sold by the Nakajima Manufacturing Corporation, but is encountered far less frequently.

Zakuraman is an all-original Sakura creation, and he's a real weirdo, with eyeballs that extend directly out from his face, a plastic cape, and a "tin woodsman" styling. As with the Oni diecasts, Zakuraman has battery-powered eyes. The AA battery is stored in a large plastic cylinder that is bolted to Zakuraman's back. Sakura used the somewhat redundant brand name "Diecast Gokin" to sell Zakuraman.The name of this character is often mistranslated as "Sakuraman."

[Image] Oni - green version Additional Images:
[Image] Oni - red version Additional Images:
[Image] Light-Up UFO No. 1- color ver 1 Additional Images:
[Image] Light-Up UFO No. 1- color ver 2 Additional Images:
[Image] Zakuraman Additional Images:

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