Anyone who frequents the Japanese convenience store beverage case has probably noticed that some bottled drinks occasionally come packaged with collectible figurine, some of which double for actual bottle caps.

“Japanese people love figurines, so what?” you say. Well did you know that the first character to ever appear atop a Japanese bottle cap was the thirst-quenching superhero, Pepsiman?

Say it with me now: ♪Pepsimaaaan!♪

Pepsiman was created in 1996 as an official mascot for Pepsi Japan. Since then, Pepsiman has appeared in a series of commercials in which he runs at superhuman speed to the aid of thirsty people to deliver them an ice-cold Pepsi, often injuring himself comically in the process.

Pepsiman’s humorous antics made him an instant hit in Japan, though his Western superhero-like appearance and the American setting of the commercials led many Japanese people to believe that he was an American creation.

In 1998, Pepsi Japan began packaging limited-edition Pepsiman bottle caps with their beverages as part of a promotional campaign. The campaign was a huge success and other beverage makers soon followed suit, tempting customers with figurines from popular series such as Star Wars, Gundam or Planet of the Apes. Thus began the Japanese tradition of offering figurines and toys in little plastic bags attached to plastic bottles.

While Pepsiman hasn’t appeared in a commercial since 2003, he remains a cult favorite both in Japan and overseas, mostly thanks to a wacky video game, titled Pepsiman, released for the Playstation in 1999 in which the player leads the titular hero through several obstacle-ridden areas as he tries to reach a thirsty person like in the commercials.

Take a look some of the original Pepsiman bottle cap figures below, which were recently shared in gallery on Japanese website Vippers. Surprisingly, many of these bottle caps can still be purchased online from sites like Rakuten for about 200-300 yen ($2.50-$4.00 US). Not too bad for a piece of Japanese soft drink history.