Some rather adorable Pokemon have recently stepped into the limelight. They’re the Pokemon Petite Pals, a line of toys from Tomy made with little girls in mind. Except, these new friends are actually some new ones we never knew we had. Each of these little buddies originally appeared years ago in Japan, and now they’re ready to find fame in other regions.
Let’s get the history out of the way! Pokemon Petite Pals are actually PitaPokes. These toys first made their debut in Japan in 2012. This first series had an array of small sets that provided people with one Pokemon, two accessories and a plastic bubbles with some sort of environment image under the surface on which you can place these items. The Pokemon and accessories each have a tiny suction cup on the bottom. In addition to these smaller clusters, there were larger sets that offered two Pokemon, two large accessories and two smaller ones. The first line included characters like Pikachu, Eevee, Espeon, Flareon, Jolteon, Leafeon, Vaporeon, Umbreon, Cubchoo, Emolga, Lilligant, Litwick, Oshawott, Panpour, Pansage, Pansear, Sewaddle, Snivy, Tepig, Tympole, Vanillite, Victini and Whimsicott.
As the toys grew in popularity, more sets appeared. There was also an opportunity to get Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle characters from Pokemon Centers with specific packaging. A little living room set gave Pikachu, Eevee, Snivy, two tea cups, a bowl of donuts, a counter, a table and a couch. It is in 2014 that the sets that will look most familiar to people in North America appeared, as these are the ones being released in outside of Japan now. These lines abandoned the spheres in favor of small, circular hills for the Pokemon and their two accessories, with the larger sets providing flat surfaces. It is in this run that Chespin, Dedenne, Fennekin, Fletchling, Froakie, Helioptile, Pancham, Pichu, Piplup and Swirlix joined the line. About this time is when the larger tree house and house sets appeared.
During the February 2017 New York Toy Fair, the PokePitas appeared as Pokemon Petite Pals. The line appearing on our shores is a bit smaller than the original Japanese launch, but is also more comprehensive. There are six small sets. These take the circular hills from the second wave and pairs them with Pikachu, Cubchoo, Dedenne, Eevee, Flareon and Froakie. The second wave’s festival and small house sets have been repackaged and paired with different characters, so people can have a Garden Hut with Eevee and Pancham and a Garden House with Pikachu and Vaporeon. The larger house and tree house from Japan? They are here as the House Party and Escape in the Forest Playsets.
So how are these little toys? Well, they are rather impressive. The value is rather good. You get a small hill, which has a storage space for the tinier toys, one Pokemon and two accessories for $6.99. The larger sets range from $12.99 to $24.99, with the smallest of these offering two Pokemon and the largest giving four. The contents of the sets differ from the Japanese releases, but still offer a diverse array of toys. The paint job on the characters is good, they look adorable and it is fairly easy to stick characters to surfaces, thanks to the suction cups.
However, I do think the quality of the toys may have decreased as time has gone by. I happen to own two toys from the original Japanese run, Tympole and Whimsicott. The Pokemon from that original PitaPoke line stuck to the surface of their domes better, since there is a clear, smooth plastic dome over a small picnic or ocean scene. For the North American line, we have stickers over curved surfaces for the small sets and flat plastic surfaces with a sticker on top. The quality of the Pokemon and their accessories remain the same, but it is far easier to stick any and all of these accessories to the smaller, older domes than the newer, sticker-covered surfaces. It is a shame, but clearly a cost-saving move was made somewhere along the line.
Sticking issues aside, the Pokemon Petite Pals and PitaPoke toys are quite adorable. It is easy to place and pose the characters, setting up little scenes. Everything fits well together, with interchangeable items that go with everything. While some of the older figures are quite expensive now, it is possible to find Japanese single-figure sets for around $7, the same price as the North American ones. People who love these characters and are looking for some small figures of their favorite characters will be pleased with these little Pokemon.