Gashapon (ガシャポン), also called gachapon (ガチャポン), is a trademark of Bandai. Among the variety of vending machine-dispensed capsule toys that originated in the 1960s, it became popular in Japan and elsewhere. "Gashapon" is onomatopoeic from the two sounds "gasha" (or "gacha") for the hand-cranking action of a toy-vending machine, and "pon" for the toy capsule landing in the collection tray. "Gashapon" is used for both the machines themselves and the toys obtained from them. Popular capsule toy manufacturers include Tomy, which uses the trademark gacha (ガチャ, gacha) for their capsule machines, and Kaiyodo. In many countries and territories including Japan, China, United States, European Union(European Union trade mark) and the United Kingdom, "Gashapon" is a registered trademark of Bandai. The model of capsule toy has been adapted digitally into numerous gacha video games, such as mobile phone games and massively multiplayer online games (MMOs).
Gashapon machines are similar to the coin-operated toy vending machines seen outside grocery stores and other retailers in other countries. While American coin-operated vending toys are usually cheap, low-quality products sold for a few quarters (US$1 or less), Bandai's gashapon can cost anywhere from ¥100 (US$0.91) to ¥500 (US$4.56) and are normally a much higher-quality product, followed by other Japanese manufacturers. They are often constructed from high-grade PVC plastic, and contain more molding detail and intricately painted features. Many gashapon are considered collector's items, with rare ones fetching extremely high prices in secondhand markets.
Gashapon toys are often licensed from popular characters in Japanese manga, video games or anime, or from the American entertainment industry. These highly detailed toys have found a large following among all generations in Japan, and the trend is filtering to the world, especially among adult collectors. It is not uncommon for sets marketed specifically for adults to feature risqué female figurines.
Virtually all gashapon are released in sets—each series will have a number of figures to collect. They are, by nature, a "blind purchase"; people insert coins and hope to get the toy or figure they desire. Such an amusement element may become frustrating, as one risks obtaining the same item repeatedly.
Enthusiastic collectors will buy sets from gashapon stores in places such as Tokyo's Akihabara or Osaka's Nipponbashi (Den-Den Town). Depending on the store, the sets are usually cheaper than buying them randomly out of a machine.
Bandai has been selling Gashapon toys since at least 1977. As of March 2021, Bandai Namco has sold 3.711 billion Gashapon toys for ¥100–500 each, generating approximately between ¥371–1,860 billion ($3.38–17 billion) in estimated sales revenue, since 1977.