Only one month remains until the sales tax hike comes into effect raising the cost of most of the nation’s purchases by 3%. While for many businesses this simply means making adjustments to their prices, Japan’s vast vending machine industry is faced with a bigger challenge.

Due to their rigid payment and distribution system it’s difficult for them to expect customers to put an additional three one-yen coins into the machine. With the other alternative being to eat the cost themselves, companies such as Bandai are trying some creative approaches to the products themselves. The toy maker will begin selling can-shaped capsule toys (affectionately known as gachapon in Japan) at the end of the month.

Bandai’s successful line of capsule toys under its brand GashaPon have traditionally popped out of their 400,000 machines in plastic spheres around five to seven and a half centimeters in diameter for a price of one or two hundred yen (US$1-2) each.

Afraid of the limitations of shrinking the toy along with concerns of potential future tax hikes, Bandai has decided to go big – and cylindrical. GashaPon Can will distribute toys in a plastic tube that opens like a glasses case. The can measures about ten centimeters in length and six centimeters in diameter.

This will allow larger toys to fit inside and give Bandai more room to adjust their pricing. The first wave of GashaPon machines will distribute two types of toy trains based on the Retsusha Sentai Tokkyuja series (think Power Rangers with trains) for 400 yen ($3.90) each.

If successful, Bandai plans to add a further 20,000 machines per year selling larger items for between 300 and 500 yen ($3-$5).  It’s too soon to say what this will mean for spherical gachapon in Japan, but let’s hope they stick around for years to come. Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I like my coffee black, my games 2-D, and my capsules ball-shaped.

Source: Gashapon, Asahi Shimbun via Hachima Kiko (Japanese)
Images: Facebook – Gashapon