The wonderful world of collectibles wouldn’t be what it is without the contributions of big-name brands. Companies like Banpresto put themselves on the map through decades of hard work, brand deals, and overcoming adversity. While they may not have the same recognition as names like Hasbro, Banpresto is responsible for many anime figures, games, and merch that everyone has come to know and love.
Have you ever wondered how brands like Banpresto grew into international success stories? From their beginnings in the gaming industry to striking deals with some of the largest toy manufacturers on the planet, the history of Banpresto action figures proves that they deserve a place in every collection.
Banpresto began as a video game developer in the late 1970s. Businessman Tasushi Matsuda originally called his company Hoei Sangyo Co. Ltd. or Hoei International. Matsuda dabbled in several areas of the coin-gaming world, from manufacturing arcade gaming cabinets to distributing games for other creators.
Hoei International dominated the Japanese gaming world. A partnership with SEGA led to even more success and allowed Hoei International to produce its own games. These early accomplishments made them attractive to other brands looking to create partnerships.
After a few victorious years, Hoei International revamped its business model and became Coreland Technology. Under this new image, Coreland aimed its focus on forming contracts to develop and disperse arcade games for creators like SEGA, Konami, and Taito.
Some popular games include Pengo, 4-D Warrior, and I’m Sorry, all of which brought massive profits for both Coreland Technology and their makers. However, this name had a short shelf life; after only seven years of business, Coreland Technology experienced a massive shift that would change the world of anime figures, arcade games, and RPGs forever.
Partnership With Bandai
You might ask yourself, “What does any of this have to do with collectible figures?” This history sets up the biggest turning point of the story: the Bandai acquisition. This moment launched Banpresto into the realm of anime figures.
Bandai is a giant toy company in Japan that bought Coreland Technology in the late 1980s. This purchase was mostly to boost Bandai’s failing finances. From there, the company assumed the name “Banpresto,” a combination of the term “Ban” from “Bandai” and “presto,” meaning “quick-tempo” and “magic.”
Bandai already made a name for itself with action figures and model kits. Banpresto jumped on the opportunity to use this new partnership to create figures, keychains, and other types of merchandise for their own games. This merger revolutionized the collectible world and left a long-lasting legacy.
The Rise of RPGs
This wouldn’t be a complete history of Banpresto action figures without mentioning the brand’s most successful projects to date: SD Battle Ōzumō: Heisei Hero Basho and Super Robot Wars. If you’re a fan of vintage RPGs, you’re definitely familiar with these games. Many credit Banpresto and these extremely successful games for launching the genre into the mainstream.
Japanese anime exploded in popularity in the late 1980s, which could account for all of Banpresto’s success. These games made cross-over media the norm and spawned several vintage anime figures that will immediately boost your collection’s value.
Manufacturing Game-Inspired Figures
The most important takeaway from the Bandai partnership was Banpresto’s move to manufacturing RPG-inspired figures. Its massive success allowed Banpresto to gain other licensing agreements and create collectibles for some of the world’s most popular animes. While they may have begun with figures from their own RPGs, Banpresto is now one of the leading toy manufacturers in the entire anime genre.
You can find Banpresto’s name on series’ such as Demon Slayer, My Hero Academia, Boruto: Naruto Next Generation, and Sword Art Online. The fun doesn’t stop there. Banpresto has branched out in recent years and creates lines from megahits like Stranger Things and Harry Potter. They even have a Disney line, where you can purchase super cute princess figures in Banpresto’s signature style.
Other Successful Products
It’s not just anime figures and toys that made Banpresto a worldwide name. Remember, Banpresto began as a video game company, and that’s where its roots lie. In addition to action figures, Banpresto also manufacturs arcade games, video games, prize machines, and children’s rides.
All of this merchandise works together as a team. Without the early success of Banpresto’s arcade games, they wouldn’t have had the chance to move into the realm of collectibles. Likewise, its successful action figure line keeps them relevant and gives fans opportunities to explore new ways to interact with their favorite franchises.
Merging With Namco Bandai Games
Banpresto remained a subsidiary of Bandai for over two decades. Through the Japanese financial crisis, failed mergers, and other hardships, Banpresto pushed forward to establish itself as a competitor in the collectibles market. Banpresto didn’t experience another significant change to its corporate structure until it merged with Namco Games in the early 2000s.
The birth of this partnership happened when Bandai joined forces with Namco to form Namco Bandai Holdings. Under this new deal, Banpresto now operates under Namco Bandai Games. This change made it possible for Banpresto to put its energy into manufacturing collectible figures for many beloved franchises.
If it seems like Bandai and Banpresto have a confusing entanglement, you aren’t alone. In 2019, Bandai Spirits fully absorbed Banpresto into their company. However, the manufacturer still uses the Banpresto name to honor the company’s legacy.
Banpresto's collectibles have everything you love about high-quality Japanese figures. Under Bandai Spirits, Banpresto is also responsible for most of the anime prize game rewards you see in arcades and stores around the world. While the company’s history may seem complex, it all adds up to create the famous anime figure name brand that collectors can’t get enough of.
Shop Banpresto Action Figures With Shumi Toys & Gifts
Learning all about Banpresto’s exciting story might feel a little exhausting; fortunately, purchasing their famous collectibles isn’t. Shumi Toys & Gifts makes buying a Banpresto action figure effortless.
At Shumi Toys & Gifts, you can be first in line for Banpresto products and preorder them with no money down! From anime figures to popular franchise merchandise, we have everything you need to expand your collection.