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Gotta Catch 'Em All, in toy form.
In The New '10s, a new type of toy (well, a new version of it) became popular: the Blind Bag (or Box) Collectable. Blind Bag Collectables are series of toy or figurine sets where the items inside are packaged to hide the contents, meaning you don't know what you get inside until you open them. The idea has been around since the 1930s, but the idea really hit it big in the early half of the decade.

The not knowing brings an element of surprise to the sets—what's in the one you just got?—as well as makes them highly addictive because it's difficult to complete collections by just buying enough, especially with some in a series that may be harder to find. Though if someone wants to drop enough money to buy a whole box set, they may get all of them except rares. Blind bags are usually small and cheap to buy—no more than $5 in the US—though elaborate ones can cost more as well as those made in markets such as East Asia, where the figurines can be very elaborate. They're inexpensive to make, but the companies generally make back their money from people buying multiple packages over and over in an attempt to get the ones they want; due to the high chance of multiples, the secondary buy/sell/trade market flourishes to aid in finding selected items. Brands and series are also popular for online unboxing videos, as people don't know what they're getting (even if they buy a whole set at once and are guaranteed one of each barring any rares, they don't know what's in each package individually).

Many companies make original blind box series based on original characters, but there are just as many franchises, brands, and numerous licensed tie-ins.

Sites such as Kikagoods, Blind Box Empire, and SugoiMart specialize in selling blind boxes, often with brands directly from East Asia.

Compare Loot Boxes, the video game equivalent, Collectible Card Game, the trading card game equivalent, and Mystery Box, the supertrope.


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Branded Examples:

     Stand-Alone Brands 
  • Animal Jam Adopt-A-Pet: A plastic house-like container containing a small pet figurine which can be used to unlock the Virtual Pet in-game. There are about 200 of them. Good luck.
  • Bloom is a line of dolls themed around flower pots. When water is sprinkled on the top of the container, the doll's hair "blooms" out, breaking the seal and letting the package open the rest of the way.
  • Hatchimals has a series of blind bag eggs.
  • Flick-to-Stick Bungees: These figurines have little magnets on their bottoms, allowing them to stick to the magnetic disks, cards, and game boards that are included in certain packs.
  • Flush Force contains various gross creatures and mutated objects, with a water-activated opening gimmick.
  • Gogo's Crazy Bones, a series of little plastic figures which are primarily made to be used to play games. There are two versions - a 90's version and a 2000s version.
  • Gormiti began as a blind bag collectible series.
  • The Grossery Gang: A blind bag series themed after gross, rotten food.
  • Hairdorables: A blind box/unboxing series of small dolls with cool, unique hairstyles.
  • L.O.L. Surprise!: A blind package/unboxing series based on pop culture baby dolls. The first of girl-aimed toys to really take off in the era.
  • Lost Kitties: A series featuring cute cat characters. The toys come in milk cartons and, to complete the theme, they come inside creamer-shaped packages full of putty.
  • The company Penny's Box paired with doll maker Dollzone to make a small blind box version of their Antu dolls in 2022 and released one of the first widespread series of miniature blind box ball-jointed dolls, the Nature Secret series; this was followed by multiple other series. The 13-15cm tall dolls are more costly than the average blind box collectable at about $25-$30 each. The dolls have plastic molded removable hair (rather than wigs or rooted brushable hair), removable clothing, and are either elastic strung or vinyl-jointed with a large range of movement like their larger counterparts, allowing the same kind of posing; some dolls also come with extra exchangeable hands. Within a line (or brand) parts can swap along a series (and rarely between brands); e.g. the plastic wigs from the Nature's series can fit the heads of the "School Haunting" dolls. Series have four to six variants and and often include one to two "hidden" rarer dolls that are harder to find. The concept of mini-blind-box BJDs has expanded to other brands such as Simon Toys (with their Teenar and Liroro series), BEEMAI Bonnie, Lucky Doll, and NAGIDoll (to name a few).
  • Although it didn't begin as this, many recent Pinypon dolls are blind-box collectibles, ranging from things such as blind bags to bigger dolls that hide smaller ones inside of them.
  • Poopsie Slime Surprise: Slime-themed blind bags in the shape of brightly coloured unicorn poop.
  • Shopkins: By Moose Toys. Started as a series of grocery-themed blind bag figurines with faces. They have since expanded into the Real Littles brand and offer items such as miniature backpacks, lockers, and handbags; the outside bag/box/item is visible but have a mix of items internally such as mini notebooks, pencils, charms, toy cameras, and pretend makeup. Some have real diamond rings (which are very tiny).
  • Star Monsters: Similar to Gogo's Crazy Bones, in that they're little plastic figurines intended for use in their own games.
  • SuperThings is a blind bag line of superhero and supervillain objects. Each character is separated into both a team and an arch enemy, leading to a double collection. There are also silver Rare leaders, gold Super Rare Super Leaders, and a special character Ultra Rare per series.
  • The Trash Pack is a blind bag series where the characters are discarded junk and creepy creatures.
  • Treasure X is a line of skeletons and aliens that need to be unearthed from a gimmicky dig build, along with a weapon and treasure.
  • UglyDolls has had a wide range of blind bag collectibles, from small and simple ones that came in a large color variety, to larger boxed ones based directly on the artwork designs of the dolls. The movie was also given a line of blind bags, using characters from the toyline that have either a minimal appearance, or no appearance, in the movie itself.
  • Zuru Toys started Mini Brands (originally part of the 5 Surprise blind bag series; Mini Brands and its derivatives seem to be the only ones left in the series)in 2019, which are small reproductions of various grocery items. Each ball has five random items packaged together(like Kellogg’s cereals, products from Kraft Heinz, or Coca-Cola Zero Sugar), along with potential shelving, shopping carts, and starting from Series 4, money. There are also Palette Swaps of the normal minis which have special designs such as all-gold, metallic or glow in the dark, and Frozen Moments Minis which also were introduced in Series 4, which are harder to find. They were originally balls which split into wedges like an orange until Series 5, when they adopted the style of a wrapped ball with blind bags inside from Foodie Mini Brands. They later expanded into mini toys, with brands from companies such as Zuru’s previous toys, Hasbro(starting with series 2 wave 2) and various Disney brands ( in the Disney Store series). They also expanded into restaurant items ( Foodie Mini Brands), non-branded fashion items(Mini Fashion) and gross versions of popular brands( Mega Gross Minis).

     Franchised and Licensed Products 
  • American Girl started a series of Mystery Packs in 2021. The bags have sets of doll-sized accessories, often from larger items (e.g. food items from kitchen playsets, pencils and notebooks from school sets, or a camera that came in a past larger accessory set). Two sets from each set are considered rare and harder to find. There have also been themed all-in-one bags which contain multiple packs for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Easter.
  • Streamer Aphmau (Jessica Bravura) had a line released that included dolls with secret accessories, blind mystery eggs, blind bag clips, and plushies themed around the MeeMeows.
  • BattleTech got into this, surprisingly. In 2019, it launched a Kickstarter for a new box set release, and one of the add-ons for this were Salvage Boxes, which each contained a single random miniature from the ones being produced in the Kickstarter. These turned out to be immensely popular, so Catalyst Gaming Labs decided to make them available for general retail purchase. note 
  • Disney has dabbled in this genre quite a few times:
    • Disney Animators' Collection: The Disney Animators' Collection Littles come in pencil-shaped packages that connect together as holders for the toys. They come with toys based off Disney Animated Canon and feature very basic tutorials on how to draw the characters.
    • Disney D-Lectables: A line of Disney-themed ice cream cone-shaped toys in an ice cream tub-shaped container.
    • Disney 'Doorables: A line consisting of miniature Disney toys that come in door-shaped boxes.
    • At the Disney Theme Parks, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge has kyber crystals that can be used with the land's lightsaber and holocron toys. Since you can choose the color you get (which in turn determines the lightsaber blade color and sound effects), the blind bag aspect only ties into the holocrons as each crystal can get its corresponding holocron to play a different set of voice clips. The five Jedi colors have two possible sets of voices each, while Sith blind bags have red crystals and four possible voices (or a chance of finding a black crystal with a fifth voice set instead). There were originally two other crystals that had Magic 8-Ball voice clips (one Jedi, one Sith), but these were removed from the blind bag assortment and are now sold separately. The exact crystal shape is also randomized, but it's generally not something people care about.
  • Funko Pop!: Funko has a spinoff line of Mystery Minis vinyl blind bag toys of various properties.
  • There are several Jurassic World blind bag sets.
  • LEGO did this with the collectible LEGO Minifigures line, with an assortment of characters; some inspired by history or fiction, others more random. Most came with some new mold that hadn't been seen in an existing set. As well as generic series, they also had series focused on the GB Olympics, The LEGO Movie, The Simpsons, Disney, German Football, The LEGO Batman Movie, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchise, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, Looney Tunes and The Muppets.
    • Other similar concepts are the Power-Up Packs from the Super Mario subline (which features brick-built characters) and the Bandmates from the Vidiyo line (which contain both minifigures and additional tiles to use with the line's dedicated AR app).
  • Toy giant Hasbro released blind bags based off the fourth generation of their My Little Pony tv show, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Characters ranged from the show's mane characters to secondary characters to recurring background ponies. There were also blind sets with SquishyPops, who license with other companies.
  • Pokémon has done various series through other companies. Along with the Re-Ment series which sets the Pokémon in more natural setting such as the forest or lakes, there are also small toys and/or playsets frequently based on selected Pokémon. (Pikachu, as the Series Mascot, often is prominent in a line.) This also happens connected to the anime, promoting the newest generation airing at the time.
  • As part of the expansion of the Rainbow High line, blind box packages of shoes and handbags were released; while some were unique, others were rereleased items that came with the dolls already.
  • Ryan ToysReview, as a channel initially based on toy reviews, has sold various blind bag- and box- items, based on the channel's characters.
  • Sesame Street: The Sesame Street Surprise Plush Boxes have tiny plush version of Sesame Street characters.
  • Sylvanian Families sells smaller baby and toddler characters in blind bags.
  • Thomas & Friends: In 2015, Fisher-Price released MINIS, miniature plastic models of characters from the Thomas the Tank Engine television series. Although certain engines and rolling stock can be bought together in multi-packs (where they can be visibly seen), they can also be bought individually in sealed opaque bags.
  • Transformers dabbed multiple times into the craze:
    • In Japan:
      • From 2003 to 2007 exclusive redecoes of Mini-Cons were released in blindboxes under the "Micron Booster" name.
      • In the same time period, the Micromaster combiners (which were sold on cards in western countries under the Universe and Energon lines) were also released in blindboxes, alongside a reprint of the Multiforce from Transformers Victory as their final wave.
      • From 2005 to 2014, the Legends class molds from the Cybertron, Universe and movie trilogy lines were sold in blindboxes under the "EZ Collection" name.
      • During the Transformers: Prime toyline (whose Japanese release featured transforming weapon robots known as the Arms Microns as an addition), four waves of Arms Microns featuring both new animal-shaped characters and small-sized renditions of the main cast of the show were released as Gachapon surprises. The first two of them also got a limited release in Europe as blindbags.
    • In Western countries:
      • The Loyal Subjects (a toy company specialized in vinyl blindbags of licensed characters) did three waves of Transformers figures. The character cards included with them are infamous for copypasting the opening paragraphs from the Transformers Wiki for the character bios, to the point that one of them (Swoop's) used a joke caption found on one of them as the character's motto.
      • KRE-O (A short-lived competitor to LEGO made by Hasbro) had a few waves of blindbag minifigures.
      • The Transformers: Robots in Disguise toyline featured the Tiny Titans, a series of blindbag minifigures featuring characters from both the Robots in Disguise cartoon and G1, with the addition of a pair of Beast Wars characters.
      • The Alt-Modes line is a series of Super Deformed figures sold in blindboxes whose bodies can be replaced with small renditions of their altmodes by flicking the Autobot/Decepticon insignia-shaped tabs behind their heads.
      • The Tiny Turbo Chargers are another line of chibi Transformers, this time transforming and based on both the Transformers Film Series and Transformers: Cyberverse.
      • Transformers: BotBots are a line of chibi Shopkins-esque characters that transform into common objects, sold in blind packages or in multipacks where only one of them is hidden.

Fictional Examples:

     Film — Animation 
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet features a scene where Ralph tries to make as many memetic videos as possible in order to make enough cash to buy a new steering wheel for the Sugar Rush arcade machine. Amongst the gags is Ralph doing a blind box unboxing video for a fictional brand based off of a Show Within a Show. He opens the box and is instead swarmed with a bunch of bees (hitting two memes in one as "bee puns" are a trend in-universe).

     Video Games 
  • Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth and its interquel Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory feature Digimon Medals as a collectible. While a few of them can be obtained as Random Drops by defeating the corresponding Digimon in battle, most of them (which feature Digimon that aren't available by themselves in the game) must be collected from capsule machines scattered in multiple overworld maps, with a few ones in Hacker's Memory that are given to you by Victory Uchida in his once-per-chapter appearances (which can be missed if you don't know where to search him). These medals can be brought to a collector in Nakano to get some extra items upon reaching certain milestones, and his collection from either of the two games can be brought to the other one via Old Save Bonus.
  • Kirby and the Forgotten Land has a capsule machine in the hub area. Kirby can spend coins on it to collect mini-figurines. You can also find capsules in the stages, though you naturally can't see what figure you get until you open one at the end of a stage.
  • In Persona 5, there's an area where you can buy random collectables from a capsule machine. Morgana comments on the rarity of each one. If you get an especially rare collectable, you can trade it to a collector nearby for a useful item.
  • The WarioWare game Twisted! has the "Capsule Machine", which pops out a random souvenir such as a song, toy, figurine, or random item that can be interacted with.

     Western Animation 
  • The episode "Onion Trade" from Steven Universe features Steven buying out an entire Gacha machine just to get the last Ranger Guy from his collection— one particular figurine that Onion has but is stingy about trading away. Calamity ensues when Steven starts getting Gem technology mixed up in the trading. In the end, Steven finds out that the missing figure from his collection was the one that Onion originally stole from him in the first place.
  • The Simpsons episode "Lisa Simpson, This Isn't Your Life" begins with the Simpson family driving out to a gas station in the middle of nowhere just to get Maggie a very specific Happy Little Elves figurine found inside a blind box that is given away with every 10 gallons of gasoline purchased. Homer wastes half the day burning off dozens of gallons of gasoline just to get another box, but fails to get the one Maggie wants. He later returns at night and just breaks into the gas station until he finds the right one.

Real Life:

     Real Life 
  • The US has toy vending capsule machines, which have existed since at least the 1930s. Small capsules—nowadays of plastic—contain small toys, often things like bouncy balls, plastic jewelry, sticky hands, or little plastic toys. Cost range from a quarter to two dollars to purchase and often have flashy items on the front to lure the hopeful kid in, but the toy inside/received can vary widely in quality.
  • The practice of the Blind Box has existed in Japan through gachapon machines — the devices that video game Loot Boxes are named after — since at least the 1960's. There are arcades and an entire section of an airport, filled with nothing but gacha machines; they usually have receptacle bins to allow people to recycle the plastic capsules the prize comes in. After the turn of the millennium, marketing practices spawned from the idea by featuring series of collectibles that comes in packaged boxes. You could buy one blind box, or you could buy the entire package with the promise of getting the complete set; many do not offer this, particularly those only available at special events. Some, such as Tsukiuta, have started offering these in packs of three that are guaranteed to be three different ones—so even if there is no guarantee that you get one of each, there is at least a guarantee that, out of 9, you won't get more than 3 of the same one. Some stores offer older collections that are sold separately, bypassing the "blind" part, with the intent to allow those with duplicates to trade with each other to complete their collections.
  • They have been around in Austria for decades. In the 1970s there were so-called "surprise bags" ("Überraschungstüte" in German) sold for small money, containing simple toys, crayons etc.
  • Similarly, France had "pochettes surprises". Often mentioned in the same sentence as driving licenses whenever a French driver insults another.
  • Stores will sometimes sell mixed bags of "loot" around a theme such as horror, gamer, girls/boys, a brand, etc. They're stated to have over a certain value, but can be filled with candy, small toys, or random junk that may have not sold previously.

 
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Video Example(s):

Top

Snack Attack

Gangu and Tuggle partner together to make blind boxes that contain both chocolate and minifigures, which become a sensation around Cappy Town. Tiff goes to complain about it to Meta Knight, saying that they're using his likeness without permission, but Meta Knight is on board with it because his figure is one of the rarest and most coveted ones, feeding into his narcissism.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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Main / BlindBagCollectables

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